Game #15: The party's over

It was rarely pretty, and often ugly. But I did have some fun. And now my debut season -- the regular season, at least -- with the MSBL, is over. The playoffs are in a couple weeks, but it’s
OK. I don’t expect my team to go far …

My team, the Sox, ended the season tonight with another loss, and finished the season with a record of 1-13-1 … Actually tonight I was playing for the team that beat the Sox, but more on that later …

I’ll begin where I left off -- with me being given away to another team that didn’t have enough players and sinking a season-low in confidence. My batting was suffering, and I continued to have problems in the field … So when returned to play on the Sunday the 13th, I was resigned to the idea of relaxing and just having fun. I knew there were only three games left to play in the season. I saw no sense in continuing to beat myself up over the my less-than-perfect play.

Turns out it worked. I finished the season strong, going a combined 5-for-9 in the last three games; I showed I was capable of playing the field too and even got a couple inquiries about my services for next year…

And tonight was a blissfully bittersweet ending to all of it.

It was the same story when I arrived at the field tonight. As usual, I was one of the first players to report, and promptly began warming up with anyone who would take me. Then I went with a few of the guys to practice hitting in the batting cages. Knowing all about my troubles hitting the curve ball, Ange threw me a good mix of curves and fastballs. But when I did get myself into a habit of waiting on the curve, I was forgetting about the fastball and swinging late on it …

When I returned to the Sox dugout and the game was about to start, Coach called me over and said he was sending me to the opposing team again because they didn’t have enough players. So me and Jimmy, another player who also had been neglected and under-used this season, went to the other team, which also reeled in a couple players who had played in another game and were still hanging around the stadium …

‘Where d’you play?’ the new coach asked me when I stepped inside the dugout.

‘Anywhere you want to put me,’ I said.

‘I’m thinking about center field.’


… But that wasn’t the only good news. I was now playing for the best team in the league, and once again, Jarvis was on the mound. He mowed down just about every Sox batter he faced, which meant the three of us in the outfield didn’t touch the ball all night …

In the meantime, I was batting sixth in the lineup and got my first at-bat with two outs in the second. As I strode to the plate, Ange, who was playing third immediately went to the mound and was no doubt reminding the pitcher about my struggles with the curve.

‘No love,’ the umpire said, knowing all about my situation with the Sox.

‘There’s been no love all season long with this team,’ I said.

‘So now you gotta step up there and pop one,’ he said.

That’s just what I was hoping …

… So I swung at the first good pitch I saw. And popped it up foul along the first base side. The pitcher ran into to catch it, I was out.

But the second time was the charm.

Once again, I was swinging at the first good pitch I saw, and this time, I got it. I launched a deep, deep ball to left field, and as I jogged toward first base, it looked like it might carry. But the left field caught up with it and made the catch -- on the warning track. As I stopped midway between second and first, the second baseman turned and looked at me with a dropped jaw. I just looked back at him and shrugged like Michael Jordan after he hit all those three-pointers in Game One of the NBA Finals years ago …

After taking first on a walk during my third at-bat, I tried stealing second on the first pitch, but was sent back when the batter fouled off the pitch.

‘Dang, now you trying to steal second on us,’ Marcus, the second baseman said. ‘Are you mad at us or something for giving you to the other team?’

‘Marcus, I’ve been trying to tell you guys all season that I can play,’ I snarled. ‘ You guys keep casting me off to the other teams, I’m gonna show you I can play …”

So I stole second on the next pitch. I would go to single and score in my final two at-bats and the team I was now playing for clobbered those pitiful Sox. Exchanging high fives and smiles with the winning team afterward came down as a defining moment of the season while the bickering continued in the losing dugout.

‘Do they always fight like that?’ one of the guys asked me.

‘Oh yeah. It’s the worst team chemistry you’ve ever seen over there.’

I’m not gonna lie. I shook hands with my former teammates, and then met Kates and gloated about the game all the way to the car …

What a season it’s been …

a Game one ... we lost, 19-9.
a Game two ... we lost, 11-5 ... or something like that.
a Game three ... we lost, 8-5
a Game four ... we won! 10-8.
a Game five ... back to losing.
a Games six, seven, eight, nine and 10 ... all losses.
a Game 11 ... another loss.
a Game 12 ... Call it a tie
a Game 13 ... I went 1-for-3 with a single and two strikeouts. After singling, I got moved over to third on a pair of singles. And then scored on a mighty grand slam by our solid-hitting second baseman -- it was by far the highlight of our season as a team. The slam gave us a 7-5 lead, but do you think we held it? Nah. ... we lost something like 11-7 ...
a Game 14 ... I went 2-for-2 with two nice singles, both at the hands of Jarvis. What a gas ...

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