I'm so tired (and dehydrated), I can barely hold my eyes open. Today, in 95 degree weather with a heat index over 100 degrees, my softball team played 5 consecutive games. We started at noon and ended just under 8 hours later, about 7:45 p.m. Insane.
We did it to ourselves, of course, by getting stuck in the loser's bracket so early. It would have taken 8 wins over the weekend to win the title for the 3rd year in a row. We won 6 games, 2 yesterday and 4 today, the lost in the finals against Hardin Law.
In the noon game, we knocked out the DA's first, literally and figuratively. Their pitcher got tangled up with J.R. in a play at the plate, got upended and hit his head on the ground, knocking him unconscious. An ambulance was called and we learned later that he had a concussion and a separated shoulder. In the second game, we gonged N & H.
Next, it was my old law firm, MH(HS), where I started my career (in law and law league softball) in the mid-90's. They're great people but I do like to beat them, and we did. By that point, I was really dragging. Tired, dehydrated (although I drank water and gatorade all day) and just spent.
When it came time to play the young bucks from Bass, I was running on fumes. They nicked me for a few runs early, then we came roaring back. I was pissed in the first inning when one of their young guys whistled a ball past my right ear. That's always a sore spot with me, especially in the law league, as I've always felt there's no place for hitting a line drive at the pitcher's head. The kid that hit the shot didn't apologize, which made me a little madder. Between innings, I talked to our umpire, Leroy, and suggested that if it happened again, I was going to turn a couple of our hitters lose on their pitcher. He may have mentioned it to them, because it didn't happen again. We got on the gas, started hitting, and won the game.
That win gave us Hardin Law in the finals. Of course, we would have had to beat them twice, which wasn't likely to happen. They're loaded and our players were gassed. I was incensed to learn that a few of our guys were thinking we should forfeit rather than get run ruled. Needless to say, we took the field. Without going into great detail, we played them tough and in the end, lost 18-14 when Steve-O popped up with the bases loaded and 2 outs in the bottom of the 7th. He was the tying run and I was convinced he was going to hit a home run to tie the game. I also was terrified we might have to play another game.
I've never been as proud of my team, losing in the finals, as I was tonight. We gutted out 4 wins, 2 of which were against good softball teams. We're the oldest team in the league and we were dying out there but somehow, we found a way to stick together, keep grinding and win. It was an epic run. Damn, I love my teammates, every one of them - Tabitha, Laurie, Katy, V, Shawn, Big John, JR, Timbo, Ross, Richie Rich, Steve-0, Shelley and Huge. What a day and what an NBA Tournament.
We made the champs, who had only played one other game today, earn it. And I love that.
Big John deserves special mention for hitting home runs in his last 2 at bats with his feet so blistered he could barely make it around the bases. Amazing.
In the top of the 6th inning, with the game close, one of Hardin's studs popped the ball up near the first base line. The ball was spinning backwards as I stumbled off the pitcher's rubber toward it, thinking if it hit the ground it would roll foul and give the guy another chance for a base hit with runners in scoring position. I didn't think I had a chance to reach the ball. I lunged for it, dove with a loud grunt and somehow, caught the ball in a pile of dust right in front of our dugout out he first base side. Our team erupted in cheers as I rolled over and got up, skinned knees, elbows and all. Fuck being 50 years old, I thought, as I walked back toward second base to collect myself.
I got the next batter to fly out and as I walked back to the dugout, feeling pretty good about myself, J.P. opened the gate by the dugout and met me on the field to congratulate me. As I slapped his hand, he looked up at me and I could see the pride in his eyes. I mean, he was visibly proud of me and my heart soared to see that. It was a snapshot moment and one I won't forget.