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Saturday, December 12, 2009

7-8

It came down to not only the final inning, but the final out, and a 3-2 pitch count. A real nail biter. I'm pretty sure I heard communal prayers from the bleachers. And the Sox needed a little divine intervention.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Patch has played little league for several years now. Patch is a high energy guy and needs not only an outlet for his never-ending energy, but lots of mono-y-mono man time with Papa. Little league fills the bill for both objectives.
Enter fall ball 2009. His division was for boys ages 9-11, and Papa helps coach Patch's team. The White Sox had a rocky start. Lots of boys were justly afraid of pitches, and most couldn't throw from 2nd to home. The pitchers were just learning, and plenty of boys got hit by an occasional wild pitch. Everyone took the required "cup" rule seriously.

So even though the boys got better as they practiced and time passed, no one had their hopes too high when play-off season rolled around. Did I mention the swine flu is still running rampant in these parts? Well a little luck came into play during the quarterfinals, and then a whole team forfeited due to illness in the semifinals. One thing led to another and our Bad-News-Bears White Sox found themselves in the final play-off game against the grossly favored Mets! That in itself had divine intervention written all over it.

Not only did moms and dads come to watch this final game, but it was the kind of game that attracted Grandma's and Grandpa's and Aunties and Uncles too.  The boys started off loving it all and were dreaming of a huge trophy.
And there were wonderful moments that had mamas holding their breath and dads so proud they could've burst! Glimmering twinkles of moments that made us all imagine that our underdogs could have it all!
Like this moment when our catcher tagged the runner.
Or our wonderful starting pitcher.
Patch comes to the plate.
No, don't swing at that one! Too high!
Another strike! Breathe mama!
Contact! 2 RBIs, and he makes his way to second.
At third he gets some advice from his coach, and eventually he scores!
There we sat in the bleachers, amazed our boys had made it to the final play-off game!  The White Sox entered the bottom of the final inning ahead by 3 runs. It all rested on defense and our cute-as-a-button-but-getting-tuckered-out closing pitcher. By the time we got 2 outs, the Mets had loaded the bases, and the only sound of joy was that of nervous laughter.
Next batter... this behemoth of a boy. Did I say boy? I meant man, cause I this kiddo appears no less than 27 years old.
Sorry to say dear readers, but this is when I put my camera down. It was just too much pressure, and besides I needed my hands for that aforementioned communal prayer.

Let's just say that in this final inning, with the bases loaded, the winning run on first, 2 outs, and a full count, this man-batter sliced a grounder directly to the left of Patch who was playing short stop. Patch dove for the ball, barely snagging it in his glove.  He sprung to his feet, ran to second, and tagged the base just milliseconds before the runner hit the bag for the FINAL OUT OF THE GAME! White Sox win! Final score 7-4, White Sox!!!! The crowd roared, and fathers were seen weeping with pride! The dugout cleared and boys ran to embrace one another on the mound! The White Sox were the victorious, yet humble, underdog champions of their division!
Let's just say that. Ya... let's say that happened... over and over... until we start to believe it. It's a far better fairy tale ending than the reality of the situation.

Or we could be honest with ourselves...

In reality, it wasn't a fairy tale.  It wasn't pretty at all. Bases were loaded, a after a 4th ball the Mets walked a run in, but they were still down 2 runs. But in that same moment, the catcher let the ball get away from him, and the Mets took full advantage of the loose ball. A fumbled catch, an overthrow, another overthrow and the runners kept coming. Final score 7-8, Mets. The Mets were the victorious winners.  Our boys fell short.  Maternal sigh. There would be no joy in Mudville that day.

Papa is taking it far harder than Patch. I'd like to say the boys were gracious losers, but it's so hard to work for so many months and fall short. Especially when you're 10 years old. There were lots of tears. That cute-as-a-button pitcher, who did so so well, was crushed. Patch you ask? He's pretty unphased by it all. It's not in his nature to get worked up 'bout nothing.

Spring season little league starts in a few months. Good thing 'cause we're all in need of some recovery time.

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