Thursday, June 28, 2007

Game Over

Tonight was it, the last game. Beforehand we had batting practice. Slorn hit one right back at Coach P. who yelled to Slorn's parents, "That's it, get him out of here, take him home, I'm done with this." Slorn started laughing and then so did Coach P. and then the other players and then me and it pretty much killed batting practice for the next few minutes.

It was a cool night today, a nice night to watch a game. My mother was there and her grandson put on a show for her, pitching a shutout inning, making a couple of nice catches, and fielding a hard ground ball in time to get the out at first. At the plate he hit two triples and a double, laid down a perfect bunt, and got robbed of a grand slam when the right fielder made a nice play on a line drive going over his head.

When he came back to the bench after his third extra-base hit I told him, "Next time get a little wood on the ball. I'm tired of these little squibbers you've been hitting all night."

He glanced at me and shook his head, certain it wasn't worth the trouble to respond. Coach P. punched him in the shoulder and said, "Come on, give your daddy a big hug and tell him you love him." My boy stared at Coach P. for a second, then turned and spit a sunflower seed at my feet. Punk.

We were again facing a team we'd dominated before, and again we fell behind early. Going into the fifth our opponents had an 11-10 lead, but we tied it up in the top half of the inning and held them scoreless in the bottom, with Slorn making a nice play at first to end it. Slorn, the kid who started the season telling us how he'd never play in the majors. Maybe, but he sure played some ball this year.

In the top of the sixth we scored once to go ahead, taken out of a bigger rally by a questionable call at the plate. The college-aged sister of one of the players was there, coaching third, a competitive player in her own right. She didn't like the call much, but the umpire's a volunteer parent and when we threatened to hit her with a tranquilizer dart she calmed down a little.

In the bottom of that inning, the last inning of the last game, my boy threw a strikeout and got an out at first. And then, with the tying run on third he got the batter to pop up, the ball going high over home plate and landing in fair territory, Coach P. screaming at the catcher to let it roll foul, the catcher not hearing or not listening and charging for the ball while the batter froze, not sure what to do until the catcher threw him out at first, ending the game and the season, giving us one last victory and one last chance for the kids to jump up and down.

Every player is better than he was back in March and best as we can tell, they all had fun. We finished with a 15-6 record for the year, maybe not the best in the league but pretty close. We didn't win those games by putting the best kids at the important positions, we won because every kid got a chance to play and they all made the most of it. Coach P. was right when he told the team having a good time was more important than victories. What we didn't know at the time was that by telling them to have fun we gave them what they needed to win.


Anonymous said...

What will you post about now that baseball is over?

Anonymous said...

Nice post, Snag.

Anonymous said...

That's so great. I miss those days! Blue Kid's baseball career is over.

Glad you guys had a great season. And glad you had *fun* too.

Snag said...

I will now devote more of my energy to the novel I'm writing, tentatively called "Of Moose and Men."

Anonymous said...

Oh, Snag... you need a more touchy-feely book. May I suggest, "The Five Moose You Meet in Heaven". Or could that be, "The Five Moose You Meat in Heaven"....or... "The Five Moose You Eat in Heaven"?