Friday, June 20, 2014

More Winners

You might be familiar with a little trend on Facebook called "100 Happy Days". I don't know much about it, but I gather that the point is to post something that makes you happy for 100 days in a row. It's a nice idea. I don't post on Facebook every day and I don't want to, so I'm not joining in, but it does make me think about how I might shift my outlook just a little and feel a lot luckier than I do. Despite everything that has gone wildly wrong, so many things are going right these days.

So here are some happy thoughts for today. This year, Smunch spent a second baseball season (as is customary) playing in the Bronco division of our local PONY baseball league. Last year, as you may recall, was a stunning success. It would be hard to measure up to that.
This year, Smunch played for the Pirates. And he was on the older side on this team. In fact, he wasn't even the shortest kid on the team. There were THREE players shorter than he was...which is kind of a big deal when you've been the shortest for so long. Admittedly, this was a pretty darned short team in general.
The coach was a good guy. He had a short major league career with the Atlanta Braves, or say they say. Smunch got to play a lot and got to pitch, even though he was far from the most menacing pitcher on the team.
Geez. He looks intense.
As with last year, I managed Mam's softball team. And as with last year, I missed much of baseball because I was a a softball game or a softball practice. By the end of the season, Smunch had lost a lot of patience with that, so I started finding other moms to sub for me at practice when Smunch was playing in the days leading up to the playoffs.
That's the only reason there are any pictures, really.

The Bronco divison included 10 teams. The playoffs include four games of "pool" play (two pools of five teams each) and then single-elimination bracket play. It meant a lot of baseball between May 29th and June 4th for the Pirates. Nevertheless, at the end of pool play, they were the only team with a 4-0 record. They went on to the semi-finals Friday night where they played a tense game against the Nationals, who they had mysteriously not played against the entire season. The Pirates won 4-3. So, Saturday was the big day of the Championship Game...again. And again, Smunch's team faced the Rangers...who were again, "the dreaded Rangers".

But these weren't the same kids, or even the same coach as the team from a year ago. One of their players, having been warned about he propensity to "truck the catcher" at homeplate, had left the team since the last time the Pirates played them. Another of their players was tragically undergoing treatment for cancer. It almost made you want to root for them...almost.

Last year, I'd had to juggle Mam's travel softball tournament with the championships. This year, I was lucky. The championship fell on a weekend with no softball tournament. So I was there for the entire game. Smunch initiated a wicked-good double play from his knees at second base, but that was the most memorable part of his performance.

These games make me tense. I decided that I would pay attention rather than take pictures. I'm not sure that was a good plan. I need the distraction. The game see-sawed back and forth and it seemed like an eternity before the final out was recorded...the out that gave the Pirates a 5-4 victory.
This was not the Giants team of last year either. There was none of the same celebrating on the field that that team did. There wasn't quite the same joy, but perhaps it's because the game was so tight that there was mostly just relief at the end.
Two of his former teammates from last year's Giants were on the Rangers team this year. Smunch was the only former Giant in Pirates uniform...the only kid in the whole league with consecutive 2013 and 2014 first place trophies.
He took it all in stride. Apparently, it's less of a big deal to win the championship if you just did it the previous year. Spoiled any?
And what did I do to celebrate? Well, the kids went home with their dad and I did the kind of thing you'd expect me to do when there's a team party the next day. I made a cake. And I had a lot of fun doing it too.
We had a wonderful picnic in the park late Sunday afternoon. The kids, dressed in shorts and T-shirts, played wiffle ball while the adults chatted and snacked. It was roasting hot, which made the cake a tad melty, but nobody seemed to care.
And there it was. Another successful season in the bag. No big deal. Looking forward to doing it all again next year!

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