In the police softball world, Jeff Blair is one of the co-founders of police softball.com and the SoCal Alliance. He is a member of our Hall of Fame, writes a regular police softball article for Softball Magazine and a former World Series Champion. In the police world, he made his bones as a highly respected gang investigator and he is finishing the last run of his career as a captain in a southern California agency. In the world of prognostication, he is known as the Swami. Every year he will make his World Series predictions and he is way closer to right than wrong. Today he is our 20 for 20 subject.
Name: JEFF BLAIR
Team: POLICESOFTBALL.COM. Former founding member of SoCal Alliance
Position: Used to play 2B
Nickname: The Swami
What is your baseball history? Tustin High School Frosh/Soph Hall of Famer. Never made varsity.
Your number and why you picked it? 44. Short guy, big number...duh.
Something about you your teammates do not know? I used to be the singer in a garage punk rock band in 1983. I got kicked out for refusing to cuss.
What do you enjoy most about being a LEO and least? The most, every once in a while you get the opportunity to do something that really matters. We jokingly refer to it as doing something epic at my agency, but the concept of getting tested in the spotlight in an important situation, is still something I enjoy. The worst? Everything to do with social media, facebook and fake news.
What team do you want to play most at the WS and why? The game I most want to see is a championship between Battleborn and Mid Atlantic simply because they have been the 2 best teams all year and I predicted that before the season started. Unfortunately, I do not predict this game will happen. I predict that ___________ will play __________ on the big stage on Sunday night. (check back this weekend and the Swami will fill in the blanks)
What team gives your team the most problems and why? Back in the day, Sin City Combo always played us well . We would steamroll through the tournament and then sputter against SIn City. That said, I was blessed to only lose a few dozen games in my entire Alliance career. We created magic and it became contagious. We won games we had no business winning simply because we were the Alliance.
Besides you, best player in police softball who is not a teammate? Ryan Coe is hands down the best overall player in the history of the game since I have been involved. He was the total package offensively, defensively, on the pitching mound and in the dugout. He simply refused to lose. He wasn't as athletically gifted as many players but his gamesmanship is unparalleled. He won the "inner game" (mental) every time. He made his teammates better and with him on the bump, we knew we were never out of the game. The best opponent I never played with? Donny Meyer. See Coe's description. He is the EC version of that.
Hardest pitcher to hit in police softball and why? Butch Crozier. When he is on the bump he looks 6'8" and as wide as a barn door. He gets in front of the rubber and it feels like he is right on top of you. Then he launches a fast knuckle ball that you simply hope to square up on. There is no directing your hit toward any gap with him, its simply, hit it hard somewhere. On a positive note the farthest ball I ever hit was against him in Va Beach. I hit it over the small pond in left field and after the game when we collected the HR balls mine was the only one to clear that water hazard. Take that Butch!
What is your funniest moment in police softball? The PO vs CO all star game we held at the World Series many years ago. Dan Spinelli is a coach for the PO's. He inserts himself TWICE into the game as a pinch runner on 1B. He then gets hit by line drives TWICE on the basepaths for running obstruction outs.
The best team in police softball right now? Battleborn.....but they might not win it. Wait until Saturday to find out what the Swami Ball sez.
What do you enjoy doing the most in Vegas? Favorite spot? I don't get to enjoy Vegas because Del and I (and wives) are at the field from dark to dark. I do enjoy the Triple 7 microbrewery and restaurant at the Main Street station near the Nugget. It has the best menu in town. You name it, they have it. Prime rib for 10 bucks, a legitsushi bar, stone fired pizzas, microbrews etc... It is the best hidden gem in Vegas. Walking distance from the Nugget
Best softball memory? 2008 World Series IF game against NY Metro. It was the softball version of Waterloo. Best game ever played by either team. It was a shame someone had to lose. IMO, both teams won that night. I cannot imagine the electricity of that game ever being recaptured. My good friend Pete Semelsberger was playing LF for us and he threw out the winning run at home plate, preserving a tie going into the 8th. In the top of the 8th he hit a double to drive in our only run. We held Metro in the bottom of the 8th for the win. We created the World Series celebration that night because it was pure and real. Afterward, Pete said that the moment was so special he had to quit softball. I asked why, and he explained that he had reached the epitome of the game in that moment, and anything that followed would pale in comparison. He said he would always be chasing an emotion that could never be duplicated....and that was it. He quit the game and took up golf. No joke, this is a true story.
Besides talent, what is the most important aspect of a championship team and why? Commitment to a common goal. WINNING! Every single guy needs to place winning the game as their highest priority regardless of how it impacts them individually. When you have guys sitting on the bench who believe they should be a starter, I guarantee many are secretly hoping the guy in their position makes a mistake so they can get in. Although it might not be apparent, that is a hidden cancer that will ultimately create division.
Game on the line, which player do you want in the field and which player at the plate? On defense, I would wager my life on Nate Baez. He is the Ozzie Smith of police softball. He makes plays that nobody should make. With the stick.... I'lll go with Mike Snyder. He hits it so hard that even if a guy gets in front of it he is likely to loose some teeth. Then you factor in that he is 250lbs and runs like a sprinter and you know he is getting on base 90% of the time one way or another.
Leave us with a thought. Being able to play POLICE SOFTBALL is an HONOR. Guard it with the same integrity you guard your badge. Don't allow cheating. Don't put the GAME above your BADGE. And take it from a guy who knows, ENJOY YOUR MOMENT. Time on the job and in this game goes by like the blink of an eye. Don't take any of it for granted. There will be a time, sooner than you realize, where you can't play the game at the level you are playing right now. Don't miss the opportunity to shine while your body allows it. It happened to me. I went over a decade without missing a SINGLE GAME for the most successful team of our era. I was on top of my game and loved every minute of it. Then one day, it was gone....my lower back started hurting, my eyes got fuzzy, and my reflexes slowed. Despite LOOKING like I was in the best shape of my life (I feel like I am now), I am merely a shell of the player I was. There is a difference of being in good physical health and being in softball game condition. I simply cannot believe there are guys who no show at tournaments due to BS excuses. They are pissing away their prime years and will never get them back. Get out there and go after it. THIS IS YOUR TIME.