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Navel Gazing

Is Defector Good at Sports? A Hell Gate Investigation

Two giants in worker-owned media met for a fated clash with nonexistent stakes.

5:00 PM EDT on June 30, 2023

Our heroes. (Hell Gate)

Yesterday evening at McCarren Park, two giants in worker-owned media met for a fated clash. The game? Softball. The stakes? Pretty much nonexistent. But as you, our readers, know, while Hell Gate does cover sports from time to time, we're more pavement-pounding, hard-question-asking, power-disrespecting journalists than sports journalists. 

As for Defector—sports journalists are jocks, right? The match-up at McCarren was shaping up to be a classic David vs. Goliath story, with the hot heart of Hell Gate's journalists going up against the cold and steely strength of a sportswriting juggernaut. We were seeking, with our classic journalistic fervor, to answer one question once and for all: Is Defector good at sports?

Hell Gate's journalists and contributors slipped our white, red, and black caps low on our heads, shielding our eyes from clouds of smog and aphids on Thursday evening (you too can feel this hat snug on your dome, by becoming a Believer-tier subscriber). Cute dogs yapped their enthusiasm, as we cracked open icy Miller High Lifes and faced the task ahead with eager, anticipatory grins. A media reporter hurried to over to us, clearly recognizing who were the heroes here, microphone in hand. 

How were we feeling? Plucky. Tall odds have never scared Hell Gate, so as the top of the first inning began, Hell Gaters practiced their swings and took stock of our competition. At an adjacent edge of the baseball diamond, through the chain-link fence, Defector's forces loomed, great shadows burly and imposing against the silver of the dusk. Without warning, the shapes sprawled across the field—were these sportswriters? Giants? Demons spit from the mouth of hell itself? 

Undaunted, Hell Gate's batters marched out to the field. We soon faced underhand pitches hard as hailstones, and without fear. The game was afoot. 

Plink, plink! The Williamsburg air was suddenly full with the song of softball. Against all odds, we, the spunky underdogs, the Hell Gate heroes, stole an early lead from the maw of fate. Soon the score was 5-2 in our favor. Things were looking up—boxes of White Claws arrived, as well as Modelos and sour cream and onion sunflower seeds. Pups panted happily, and spirits were high. Hell Gate was doing what the naysayers said couldn't be done.

But around the fifth inning, something started to shift. All at once, Defector's teeth closed in around Hell Gate's neck, and in a show of merciless force, a Defector home run tied the game up at 5-5. 

The Hell Gate team had gotten complacent. Writer-editor Adlan Jackson was drinking beers on the field. We let our lead slip away, and suddenly, it was a dead sprint to the seventh and final inning, with Defector eking out a slim lead, 12-9.

Hell Gate contributor Rick Paulas hit a solo home run that briefly raised our hopes for a comeback, but all too quickly, the game was over. Defector had won, with 12 runs to Hell Gate's 10. A heartbreaking loss, and Hell Gate must solemnly report a bitter truth: Defector writers are good at sports, or at least better than us. 

The shadowy Defector forces assumed once more the shapes of mortal humans, and Hell Gate conceded defeat under the last embers of the June day. All of us high-fived in that line thingy that happens at the end of games, and retreated to burritos and beers together at a nearby pub.

The two teams posed together in a gesture of good will. (Hell Gate)

If any other media softball team would care to meet on the field of play, drop us a line: info@hellgatenyc.com

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