Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Does Steve Bartman Know What's going on in Chicago?

Here come the insufferable Cubs!  I'm not bitter because half of their good players came from Boston.  I promise.  I'm tired of listening to the Cubs talk.  I asked C who he was rooting for int eh World Series.  He scoffed and answered "Cubs!  What you want the Indians to win?"  No, I just don't care as much as everyone wants me to.

The Indians are not that much better.  They lost their last appearance on a walk off single to the Florida Marlins.  Add the fact that Lebron James is glomming on to the team with his Cavs buddies and the Indians are becoming insufferable too.  But we're not here to talk about the Indians.  Although I was expecting James to call Cleveland the "City of Champions."

The Cubs haven't been in the World Series since 1945.  They haven't won since 1908.  The Indians haven't won since 1948.  I get it.  These are Major league Baseball's longest champion  The desperation series.  The Suffering Fanbase Series.  THE FUTILITY SERIES.  Some team will have the longest Champion drought in two weeks.

Steve Bartman in Happier times.
Which brings me to one of the most fascinating stories in all of Baseball history.  Back in 2003, The Marlins (there they are again) were playing the Cubs in the NLCS.  The Cubs were a few short outs (5 actually, but that detracts from the urgency of the curse) away from going to the World Series when a foul pop was lifted into the Left Field stands.  Moises Alou was loping over to the stands when...you know what happened next.

Bartman then went into hiding.  No one was sure what happened to him.  They made a 30 for 30 Film about him.  They purchased and blew up the baseball that Bartman could not grasp.  Everything an insufferable fan base would do make a buck or draw attention to themselves.  When the inevitable questions about Bartman surfaced in earnest last year when the Cubs made the NLCS, all we knew was that he remained in the Chicago area, he had a spokesman and he did not want to be involved anymore.    

When the Cubs made the series this year, chatter started about Bartman throwing out the first pitch of Chicago's first home game.  Uh, are you kidding?  What if the Cubs don't win the World Series?  What if Kris Bryant breaks a finger? What if Jon Lester throws a ball away on a come backer? What if Anthony Rizzo strikes out?  It's all Bartman's fault!  Throwing out the first pitch would have been the worst idea in modern history.  Not that Bartman gave it any thought, his spokesman immediately retorted that Bartman unequivocally wanted nothing to do with the Series.  He did mention that Bartman was rooting for the Cubs, although I think more to remove his curse than actually having a vested interest in the team's fortunes.

So here we are.  A vociferous supporter wanted nothing to do with his team's first world Series in 71 years because he was afraid of the backlash.  Maybe he should just come out and say he was rooting for the Indians and move to Northeast Ohio...unless the Indians lose.  Then he would be royally screwed.

Nevermind, stay in Chicago.  And accept the invitation to throw out the first pitch next year on Opening Day. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

2016 Sandwich Tournament Triumph

I had watched too many of these Sandwich Summer Blast Tournaments.  First C from when he was 9 years old until he was 12.  Then G at the same time.  8 years, really.  In those 8 years, I had seen 1 win.  1 WIN! And I had seen perhaps 18 losses and a couple of ties.  I wish I were exaggerating. 

Star of the Game
You see the Sandwich Tournament, held ever summer for 8-12 year olds, typically pitted some of the best teams in eastern Massachusetts against each other.  And while C and G both had good teams, they were no match for Walpole, Milton, Braintree and the Cape teams.  We just did not take baseball seriously enough in our small little corner of the world.

And 2016 didn't seem to be that different.  We went 1-2 in Williamsport and 1-2 in the Pembroke tournament.  And while we had a winning record in our regular season, the tournaments were where things could really be defined.  Was G's team a good team?  Or was it a team that excelled when it really didn't matter. Although I did not coach the team anymore, I was hopeful that some of the raw talent that I had seen would actually start to show itself.  And I really wanted to beat the teams that we normally lost to.

Thursday.  The draw could not have been better.  We drew the Sandwich B team for our first game.  Usually the worst team in the tournament year after year - well one of the worst teams - it would be nice to start the tournament on a high note and gain some confidence going into the weekend.  A 22-0 win did the trick.  G even got a star of the game award for going 4-4 in the game.  I think he was pissed though because he was thinking to himself that he would not get another one.

Saturday.  Usually moving day in this tournament.  We faced a tough Martha's Vineyard crew who had tied us two of the three previous years.  Not this time though as we proceeded to slaughter rule them 14-4.  The hitting was certainly off to a good start.  And the hitting didn't stop in G's start as we beat a hungry Westwood team 8-3.  G surrendered only a couple of runs and our hitting was instead led by the bottom of the lineup as a couple of kids who had never hit home runs before in their lives struck it big in this game.  We are now 3-0 and very likely the #1 seed.  I can see all of the other teams chuckling; thinking that this was a mirage...a joke.

Sunday.  And yes we were a #1 seed and got to face Sandwich B again.  Knowing that we would beat them handily, we started one of the pitchers who had never started before.  Although he gave up a couple of
runs, we still easily dispatched them 16-4.  Or something like that.  Come on.  Net up was Hingham.  Oh this would be a good game.

And Hingham would prove to be a good game...for us.  Notwithstanding that this team of clowns (not the scary clowns that are terrorizing college campuses, but the dumb clowns) brought in a couple of ringers to specifically play this tournament, they could not handle our lefty specialist.  And G hit a couple of ringers himself.  Our 13-3 win could not happen to a nicer crew of guys and kids.  Onto the semifinals.

And in the Semifinals, we would play arguably one of the best teams in the tournament, Walpole American.  They had one kid bigger than me and a couple of kids who looked like they played for Walpole High School.  But that was daunting to big G as he hit a 3 run Homer to give us an early 3-0 lead.  And while we would eventually enter the 6th inning tied 8-8 after we blew an 8-0 lead, our gutsy play would get us a to a walk off win, 9-8.  Onto the finals!

And what a finals.  G was going to be the starter for the championship game.  Honestly, I don't think I have ever been so nervous for one of my children.  but he was rocks solid.  Again, after the first tow batter reached base int eh First Inning, G came up and hit another 3 run Home Run, just like the game before!  YES!  And that was all we needed.  He pitched a great game (After pitching 4 innings yesterday against Westwood, he pitched another incredible 5 innings in this game, giving up just one run).  And Scituate came away with one of the most improbably Sandwich Tournament wins ever.  I mean ever!

And then after 4 games on Sunday, G, looking exhausted, asked "When is Cooperstown?"  The following week.  The following week. 

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Ode to Cooperstown Dream Park - Part 2

It took over two years, but we're finally at Part 2 of the 2 Part Series of Cooperstown Dreams Park.  As you may remember, Part of the Cooperstown dream had C going with his 12 year old team to play in the National Tournament.  His team did really well, going 4-4 in the 5 day tournament, one of the best showings by a Scituate team ever.

But this team was shaping up to be even better.  G's team was coming off of a great win in Sandwich (more to come on that) and was riding a 7 game winning streak.  The team was led by some great hitting and pitching, including G's tournament clinching home run and 1 run effort in the Sandwich championship.

As with C, two years ago, G did not want to go for the 4.5 hour ride to Cooperstown with us, choosing to go with a buddy of his.   That's OK, more quality time with C and DLG for Mom and I.  Oh what will we talk about that they will cringe over?

Day 1.  After we got settled in the Motel, we made our way to the Ball field.  It was Skills Competition day. "Sadly" we missed this two years ago.  As with all preceding years, the skills included fastest runner (Roadrunner), home run derby (King of Swat), around the horn (Plus) and outfield accuracy (Golden Arm).  Uh, we didn't win anything, so I'll just move on.

Day 2. Sunday afternoon was our first game.  Ugh.  This one reminded me of the 32-0 beat down that c suffered in his regular season game.  This one was 24-3.  and when we put a weak pitcher in there to eat up innings, I was thinking the score was actually 42-3.  Nope, just 24.  The second game that night went better.  We had our best pitcher going against a team from Edina, Minnesota.  And with one of G's buddies going long with a game winning home run, we were again encouraged. 

Day 3.  But the good times didn't last after another beat down, slaughter rule game against Lincoln-Way Vipers, a team from Illinois.  Not a great start, going 1-2 in the first 3 games.  But then the turnaround happened.  Against a team from Ohio, the team was clicking on all cylinders as it won its second game 4-2.  Now we had our last two pool games against two of the weaker teams in our part of the group.

Day 4.  G's start.  It would be against the Atlantic Coast Black Sox, from Virginia.  He ended up pitching a complete game while getting two hits.  Although he gave up 10 runs in the 20-10 win, he did strike out 10 in his 6 innings and only gave up 3 earned runs.  What a great showing!  Now we're rolling.  3-2 with the weakest team up next.  Although we had our 4th starter going against them, I was confident that we would beat them.  The team from New Hampshire did put up a fight only losing to Gray's team by the score of 17-14.  Not bad, ending up 4-2.

Day 5.  Playoff day.  With a 4-2 record, G's team got the 42 seed and 3 byes.  It seemed like an eternity for his team to play late in the afternoon.  G played a team from California in the first round of the playoffs.  G pitched in his second game and got the win on a walk off.  battling a bad groin (ouch), G limped around the bases struggling to move.  But his curveball was working hard and led the team to the next round against a town team from Farmington, Connecticut.  That game did not go as well as G's team was finally knocked out in the fifth round 13-2. 

But g was finally ours again as he joined us for some food and slept in our motel room for the first time in days.  Asked how he liked it, and he told us that the food was just OK.  But in the same breath started regretting that he had to leave.  We were on the ride home and he was already saying that he missed it.

"Can we play catch when we get home?"