Baseball Is My Life....
Sorry...that's just reality here at Casa De Antagonist these days.
But on a positive note...Our team took second in the District! I know you don't get what a big deal that is and probably don't care, but for us, it's pretty exciting.
These boys have really been struggling. They are GOOD. But they don't seem to be consistent. When they are on, they are absolutely unbeatable. It's honestly quite amazing to watch 14 year old boys play with that kind of intensity. Baseball is a mental game as much as it is physical. They boys have to play smart to be good, and often, they do.
But when they lack focus and motivation, they're just abominable. I think part of the problem is that they are at a phase in their lives when baseball is no longer an all consuming thing. Some days, they just have other stuff on their minds. And it shows.
In many ways, the four younger players are the more dependable, because they are more consistnetly in the game than the fourteen and fifteen year olds (because of the way birthdates fall, we have a couple fifteen year olds who missed the cut off for the higher age group).
So the Coach, who is a great guy, has been frustrated with them. Knowing what they are capable of and watching them not live up to that potential is hard. And it's frustrating to spend our meagre and hard earned funds on tournament fees (each tournament costs anywhere from $300-$600 to enter) and then get sent packing after only two games.
Some tournaments gaurantee three games. Often, if it's a double elimination tournament, they offer a third consolation game so teams can get their money's worth. But it's a very small consolation to say the least.
The last month or so, however, they've really been playing some excellent baseball. Last weekend, they went undefeated in the tournament we hosted at our own park, until the championship game, where they were beaten by a really excellent team from Fannin County.
So we went into District with our spirits and our hopes high. But we also knew that the boys had to play their abolute best. There were only four teams playing, and only two would go onto the State Championship the week after next. All the teams with the exception of one, were tough teams to beat. All of us knew it would be an uphill battle to get to State.
On Saturday, we won the first game, lost the second. We had to lose two to be eliminated, so on Sunday, it was do or die. If we lost, the season would be over for the team. The boys knew that, and it was really just a crap shoot as to whether that would motivate them to do their best, or give them a thoroughly defeatist attitude.
It motivated them to do their best.
They played excellent baseball and defeated a team that had smoked us three times previously in various tournaments. It was a very, very close game...a real nail biter. At one point, we were down by 7 runs. But we came back to win it 12-9.
We still had to play one more game, but that win qualified us for State. The boys were absolutely ecstatic.
The team that had been the team to beat all season long, ended up in third in the District. This was a surprise upset, and really a good example for all the boys playing in this tournament.
You see...their star pitcher, who is somewhat of a phenom, got ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct on Saturday. The rules state that in such an instance, the player is ejected from that game, plus the next game. This resulted in two consecutive losses, and their disqualification for State. So their entire team paid for the actions of one player.
The second game did not go so well for us. We had to play the top seed, who were fresh and who also had the home field advantage. We had already played one very, long, very tough game in the blazing heat and crushing humidity and the boys were really done in. But we had to play again after only a fifteen minute break.
We got spanked pretty badly, 11-1, but it didn't really dampen spirits all that much, knowing that we are going to State.
I have to say, it's a different experience playing at this age level. Pubescent One is thirteen, and in many ways, I still see him very much as a little boy. But some of these boys are on the brink of manhood. It's interesting to see glimpses of the men they will become.
They are strong, and proud, and tough and tenacious. But also...vulnerable, sensitive, kind and compassionate. They are sometimes silly and vulgar, but sometimes serious and introspective.
They are emerging as adults, tentative and uncertain, but driven to find themselves and their place in the world. It's a lot like watching a toddler try on grown up shoes. They are awkward and clumsy, but so very determined.
These are the young men who will be shaping the face of our world when we are in the twilight of our lives. Sometimes, thinking about what the future holds and the precarious state of things, gives me a cold, hard, anxious feeling deep in my belly.
But watching these boys, I feel...hope.
They're good boys.
Just look at these faces...
Pubescent One is in the bottom row, second from the right, if you care. He really isn't as surly as he looks, he just dislikes showing his braces in photos. Thanks Lisa for photoshopping the team name out for me.