Sunday, June 10, 2007

My Favorite Year

Coach P. and I both had the day off on Friday so we took a few of the players out to practice. We were playing at a new park on Saturday, one our team's never used before, and with a grass infield, the balls don't roll as far or as fast. It can take some getting used to. We hit grounders and fly balls and pitched and took batting practice and got my youngest to lie down on second base and dodge baseballs that Coach P. tossed at him. The last drill may not have taught anyone very much, but it was funny watching him roll around in the dirt to avoid getting hit. As we were leaving to catch the bus to watch the major leaguers, Coach P. and I agreed that if we won the lottery, this is what we'd do every day.

Saturday came soon enough, one of the biggest days of the season. It started with team photos, the kids lined up and grinning like chimps. After that, it was a rare day game, played on the new field, a little gem of a park located in the middle of our town. It has a sunken diamond and stadium seating and a scoreboard. It's the Field of Dreams without Kevin Costner or corn.

It has a concession stand too, and our team swarmed it, ordering burgers and hot dogs and bratwurst. There was a little time between photos and game time so we weren't too worried, although I told my kid that stuffing his face full of candy before he had to pitch probably wasn't a great idea. He squawked for a while but finally wandered away.

We were visitors so batted first, up against the team with the best record in the league. There's a rumor floating around that it was intentionally stacked with the cream of the crop. I know that's not true, but that's the story and it hasn't helped that they play aggressively, running kids when most coaches wouldn't. That's okay, though, it's all part of the game.

The first couple of innings were pretty uneventful, except for Coach P. offering to take our leftfielder to an air show later if he'd stop watching the planes overhead. Slorn, who'd told me earlier that he'd only had six hours of sleep the night before, spent a fair amount of time staring at his hands, but that's not entirely out of character so we let it pass.

The third inning, my son was pitching. The batter drilled a shot, one of the hardest hit balls I've seen this year, right at the pitcher's mound. Damnit, I thought, a double at least, but somehow my kid managed to fall backwards and catch it at his ankles for the third out.

The rest of the team pounded him on the back and it seemed to light a fire. We built and held a lead going into the bottom of the last inning with my son's friend pitching. He's a rock. We like to use him late in close games because he's the one guy we know can come in without having a panic attack. We got one quick out, then my kid made a nice throw from third to Coach P.'s kid at first to get another, and then our pitcher struck out the last batter and our team jumped up and down and shook hands with the other team and the ump, got their snacks, and headed home.

Yesterday was a perfect game. Every single player on the team did something worth seeing. Some scored runs, some got hits, some made plays. The kids went home knowing they'd helped us win and the parents went home with stories to tell grandparents and neighbors and coworkers.

When we started the season, we thought we'd be lucky to win half our games. Now, we're 9-4 and we've only lost one game in the last month. We've got some good players, but we don't have the best roster, not by a long shot. What we have are the best kids.


Righteous Bubba said...

There isn't any hot-dog vomit in this one either.

Snag said...

Working on it, RB, working on it.