Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Still Playin' Softball

I play on a softball team. Our games are on Tuesday at 6:30, but this week we played Monday and Tuesday to make up for a rained out game. This is fast pitch with balls and strikes (not arc pitch, not windmill). I love this style of play because the strategy and flow of the game is much like "real baseball". That is because all three aspects of the game (pitching, fielding and hitting) are important. Our league is evenly matched, with most of the games being close. We have some slugfests of the 15-14 variety, but some nights we'll have a 4-3 game too.

I'd say the average age on our team is late 40's. One or two guys are relatively in their prime, but the rest of us are at various levels of decline. Some guys were surely excellent players when they were younger, while some were average, and the declines are in proportion to where we used to be.

I've been playing catcher the past few seasons. In softball this is usually the position to play when you aren't too good in the field. This is probably true for me, but what I try to do is play catcher really well. I observe the other team's hitters, try to figure out the best strategy to pitch them, and discuss it with our pitcher. However, we don't have many big meetings at the mound. I check out our fielding alignment and suggest adjustments when needed. I keep the fielders alert as to number of outs, and situations. About once a game there is a foul pop-up to go after (they are harder to catch than it looks, lots of spin). Fairly regularly there are plays at the plate. These are also harder than they look, and obviously, when there's a play at the plate its always important to the outcome of the game.

I always had a good eye at the plate and could hit pretty well. You'd never know it now, but I used to hit with some pop. Now I try to hit line drives, and sometimes will look for an outside pitch I can hit to right field. In fast pitch you have to be aware of the count, and if you are behind in the count, some pitchers will throw pretty hard, or try to get you to swing at tempting pitches out of the zone. Sometimes if I think a good pitcher is trying to get ahead of me, and if I think the first pitch is the best one I'll get, I'll jump on it. Sometimes I'll take a strike, just to look the pitcher over. I try to think about what I'm doing, but sometimes you can think too much, and it's better to just try to hit the ball "down and hard".

I have a few observations about softball, for what they are worth.....

There is a big difference between being 35 and 55.

If you hit the ball on the ground you have a much better chance to get on base than if you hit it in the air. The same could be said to Jose Reyes.

You can't win without good pitching.

If you throw to the wrong bases, run the bases poorly, or play sloppily, you won't win.

With first and second, on a ground ball to shortstop, the best play is usually a force at third.

With a man on second, and a single to the outfield, the best play is almost always to concede the run and hold the batter at first base.

If you are playing with 10 in the field (very common in softball), you have to decide whether to play four outfielders, or three plus a "short fielder". We usually play four, but in last nights game the other team killed us with a short fielder.

When the players on your team are nice, and the league is generally nice, it is much more fun. I played a few years for a Knights of Pythias Lodge team, where the people were not so nice, and I stopped playing because it just wasn't fun.

When I played for the Lodge team I was in my early 30's. I played shortstop and batted lead-off, in a pretty good league. Not only would the guys on my present team not believe this, I sometimes think I must have imagined it!

It would be nice to capture some magic

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Random Thoughts

I have watched some of the World Cup Soccer matches. The skill and athleticism is impressive. But what is the story with that humming sound throughout all the games? I heard the announcers say something about some noisemakers the South African fans are using. It is REALLY annoying. The networks must be furious about this........OK......I googled the question, and here's the story....its the "vuvuzela"

Another thing about the World Cup. I kind of like the smug and well spoken British announcers. They announce the games like a golf match.

Last thing about the World Cup, and soccer in general. As a spectator sport, and a sport to talk about during a game, and for strategy.....gimme BASEBALL. Not even close.

Next topic - gulf oil spill. Man, there's a lot of oil down there! I don't understand the geology of how so much is shooting out of there for so long. Is this a typical well? An amazing well? How long would it have taken to "harvest" all the oil that's shooting out of there, had it not blown up? When I was in law school in Texas, a popular elective was "O&G" (oil & gas). I didn't take that class because I didn't see much use for it in Queens, but now I wish I knew the answers to my questions. All I really know about O&G is what I learned from the Beverly Hillbillies

While I was "researching" the Beverly Hillbillies, I came across the theme from another cool show. All I can say is...they don't make em like this any more

I'm always interested in what historical or cultural things people of different ages are aware of. The other day I mentioned "Joan Baez" in my office. Three people under age 35 "never heard of her". Is it just me, or is this evidence that we are in serious trouble? When I was a kid, my mom took guitar lessons. She wanted to play and sing like Joan Baez, and to my recollection, she did a good job of it.
Bonus clip: I love this song, Diamonds and's about Bob Dylan...

I am usually a big fan of "cover" versions of songs, but I don't know about the Judas Priest version of Diamonds and Rust

Last topic for today. The Mets are fun this year. They fight hard and they have some nice players. It should be a great summer.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Who Should Really Make a Will?

The answer to this question starts with a question.....

"Who would inherit from you if you did not make a Will?"

When I interview someone who wants to make a Will, the first group of questions I ask is THAT. There is a good reason I start with this. It usually lets me know who the "players" are. Not only that, later on, the people on my little family tree are the people who must be notified when I try to probate the will.

People are sometimes taken aback when I start off questioning them about their closest family members, and sometimes they even say "But I don't want those people in my Will". This is fine with me, but I still have to know who they are. This is because anyone who would inherit if there were no will, is someone I have to notify when the Will is being probated. Legally, we call these people "adversely affected" by the Will. They are the only people who have standing to contest a Will. Even if they are not going to be in the Will, I need to know who they are. If it's a close relation, say a child or a sibling, I will usually ask WHY they are being left out, and I make a written note of it in my file.

When somebody is left out and squawks after the person dies, having a note about it in the drafting attorneys file is VERY important. When I represent someone in a potential will contest, one thing I hate to see is a note in the drafting attorneys file explaining WHY the person is being left out. If I see this it is usually enough reason for me not to take on the will contest.

I am amazed at how often people do not consider the question "Who would inherit from me if I did not make a Will?" The place I usually see this is Estates where there is no Will, and distant relatives are inheriting. I see this often, sometimes with a lot of money involved, and I always think "Did the person never think of what the result of not making a Will would be?" "Could they have intended THIS?" Did they not have a friend or a charity that was more deserving than the cousin once removed (who never met the decedent)?

Think this never happens?


I frequently represent distant relatives in this position, and this is often a major score for them. I like these cases too, but at some point in the case it always occurs to me (and it sometimes occurs to people who actually knew the decedent) "they should have made a Will".

I have also had many cases where people told me "the decedent talked about making a Will", or "he told me he was going to make a Will", but for some reason they never did. I think there are several reasons for this....

Procrastination - an intent to do it in the future, and just not dealing with it.
Superstition - a fear that doing it will cause illness or death.
Cheapness - not wanting to pay for a Will.
Delusions of immortality - more people have this than one might think.
Monumental inconsiderateness - totally not caring what happens to others after you go.

Strangely, Wills are most often made by people in a tight nuclear family....say a married couple with two children. There are good reasons for such people to make Wills too, but the fact is, the results if they don't are not so different then if they do.

People who don't or can't ask the question "Who would inherit from me you if I did not make a Will?" are often some combo of cheap, procrastinating, superstitious, monumentally inconsiderate, and/or delusional (vis a vis their mortality) individuals. I don't mind this all that much, these end up being my largest fee cases, sure is puzzling.

Maybe they "just can't deal with it", and on many levels I understand and respect this. I also know that if you are the person someone SHOULD be putting in their Will, it is a difficult subject to bring up. I've had people ask me what to do in this situation. Not only is there is no easy answer, but every situation is unique.

I will say this.....if the person has talked about it, and you think they WANT to do it, help them get it done. But, as we say in poker, don't overplay your hand.

Yeah, this gets complicated. But not nearly as complicated as when procrastination wins out, and the person who should have made a will doesn't.

Next post - something not death related!!