The Champs are Here!

I never get to do this much, so bear with:

Aside: Freddie Mercury was an incredible frontman. I wish I could have seen him live.

I know that considering what I’ve written before, it’s going to be difficult for you to believe this. Hell, I was there and I still don’t believe it. The Wrecking Crew won the Championship last night. Now, there are about 15 qualifying words that should come before “Championship,” but I don’t know what they are. My best guess would be something like “CORP Monday Night Bracket C Consolation” Champions. That about does it.

First Row, L-to-R: John, Doug, Matty. Second Row, L-to-R: Roger, Jay (Captain), Fitz, Zach. Top Row, L-to-R: Gil, Mark, Me, Jack, Junior.

So the deal was if we won the 6 PM game, we’d have to wait around to play the winner of the 7 PM game for our bracket’s championship at 8PM. T’was a rough night.

We won the first game pretty handily against our arch-nemesis. This is the team with guys all older than 50. What usually makes them so difficult for us to beat is the fact that they all make solid contact. Only one or two of them can actually hit it over our outfield, but all of them can hit line drives wherever the hell they want. But not last night. For whatever reason, they simply did not hit like they usually do. We entered the last inning with a 9-run lead and gave up five before we were able to secure three outs.

Our opponent for the championship game was a team we had beaten before, but never in any kind of blowout fashion. They are probably the team closest to us in terms of overall talent and make up. Anyway, it was a great game. There were probably four or five lead changes, which is saying something because we only play 7 innings.

Like I said earlier, I still can’t believe we won, and here’s why:

We had the misfortune of being the visiting team for the final game. I always like having the last at-bat regardless of the situation, but particularly with this team, as our defense is “problematic.” Anyway, it was tied going into the top of the 7th. We scored a single run to take the slimmest of leads. We took the field in the bottom of the 7th and I can’t lie, I was sure that we weren’t going to win it there. We rarely ever have clean innings. One would tie it and two would win it. The other team had the heart of their order up. It didn’t look good. But that’s when the most amazing thing happened: Old Matty showed up.

I’ve spent much of my life making fun of Matty. I eviscerated him during my best man speech at his wedding. I am fond of saying that he can’t read, mainly because he can’t read. Old Matty wasn’t perfect; he had a nasty habit of botching routine grounders. So when the first batter of the inning hit a routine grounder to Matty that kicked up off the heel of his glove I wasn’t shocked. I thought that was probably going to cost us the game. He admitted later that he thought the same thing. The next batter hit a single. The runner on first tried to take third base. That’s where the throw from the outfield went. The batter made it into second. No outs, runner on second and third. This is where things got crazy. And this is also where the other side of the Old Matty coin showed up, the side that is fucking incredible.

“Walk him, right?” Matty said to me. “Yeah.” I said. We needed the chance at the forces at home, a base hit would win the game anyway. We pulled the infield in and directed the infielders that the play was at home. Matty walked up to our pitcher and told him to walk the next batter with first base open. Matty stood about ten feet to the pitcher’s right. Our pitcher threw the first pitch wide. “Nowhere close,” I said. “Away-away,” Matty said. The next pitch was a ball, 3 balls, 1 strike (our league starts with a 1-1 count).

For some unknown reason, our pitcher did not throw the ball outside. He threw it high – it was probably going to be a ball – but near enough for the batter to reach. As I saw the ball descend, I also saw the batter load up. I’ve dreamed of this moment (kind of) all my life: a chance to dramatically scream “Noooooooooooooooooo!” in regards to something horrible and tragic as it was happening. I can thank Fitz for allowing me to cross that off my bucket list. So the batter takes a huge cut and hits a one-hop missile right at Matty, again playing about 70 feet away, but not ready for the play as we planned a walk. Matty ate it. His sizable stomach stopped the ball. I was shocked. I didn’t even move to cover first base. It happened too fast. He peeked at third where the runner was frozen too. I scurried to first, Matty made the throw. One huge out.

“What the hell was that?” Matty asked our pitcher after the play. After the game, our pitcher said that he thought that since he had gotten to 3-1, he just had to throw a ball, that the batter would take the walk. Yikes.

We walked the next batter to load the bases. Our infield was still in. There was now a slight glimmer of hope that we could somehow magically get out of the inning with maybe just the tie. The batter drilled the first pitch up the middle where it was somehow caught by our pitcher, Fitz. He did one of those oles to the glove side, the ball’s momentum taking him into a spin. If you’re struggling for the visual, think of Daniel-san’s drum technique in Karate Kid II. It was an amazing play. The ball was absolutely smoked. How Fitz got his glove up is beyond me.

So now the bases are still loaded. A single still wins the game. Fitz throws balls on the first two pitches to go to 3-1. A walk means a tie. In my head, all I could think was “You’ve come all this way, Dr. Venkman. Would you like to check the refrigerator?” To go to a tie because of a walk would have been heartbreaking. Fitz threw the next pitch. Predictably, the batter took it. Strike two. Holy. Shit. With the count and bases full, Fitz threw the pitch. The batter swung and missed! Strike three! Game over, man, game over!

I wish I could have seen my own face when after the batter missed. It must have been the wryest of smiles. Of all the crazy shit that happened that inning, the game ended on the rarest thing in softball: a swing-and-miss.

So that 12-pack of Coke pictured above is what the league gave us for winning the championship. You see 12 delicious soft drinks. So do it, but I also see a trophy. Ladies and gentlemen, the Wrecking Crew: your Summer 2012 CORP Monday Night “C” Bracket Consolation Champions. It just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?

Next game? 6 PM Monday. I love baseball (softball)!


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