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Senior Day

May 11, 2016

If you told me in the 5th inning of our game this afternoon with Pleasant Grove that we’d pull out a win, be on our way to playoffs, and I’d snap out of a very dark mood, I’m sure I wouldn’t have believed it.

We’d gone 4 1/2 innings and neither team had scored a run. We weren’t exactly losing, but given our four-game losing streak, and the fact most of our team has been in a serious hitting slump, it just didn’t seem like we had it in us to scratch out a win. I was already living our obituary and very, very sad about it.

It had truly come down to this very last game of the regular season: win and we move on to the post season, lose and we’d be done. It was a must win game.

I felt so bad for these guys–a team that had started the season with so much promise. They had risen to such national prominence and there was so much attention on them. And expectations. Baseball’s funny though. The mo can turn so quickly, sometimes for no good reason… a few bad breaks can turn into some unexpected losses and suddenly: slumpsville. They just seemed to unravel before our eyes, and their spiral down has been so very heartbreaking to watch.

Losing is part of sports and learning to lose with dignity and grace is far more important than winning. It wasn’t the impending loss that hurt so much. It was their fall, their unraveling after working so hard, after being a team of such phenomenal chemistry and good sportsmanship and thrilling excitement and energy. It was seeing that turn on a fickle combination of bad luck and overwhelm maybe? Understanding what causes these kinds of shifts is the work of psychologists, maybe, or some mysterious universal force. Not being woo woo, it’s just fickle and hard to understand.

They went from undefeated before the start of league play, to looking like they’d not even qualify for playoffs. FIVE out of eight teams in our league qualify for playoffs. It shouldn’t have been difficult at all for us to skate right in. Two of the eight will never, ever qualify. By the end, we looked like we were going to join those ragtag teams in the cellar. Us, the formerly #1 team in the nation. Miserable way to finish the season. Almost everybody loses their last game of the season (by definition), but to also not even qualify for a spot in the playoffs would be unimaginable.

That’s a spectacular fall.

And a loss today was also sad because it was so unexpected after this season and felt SUDDEN and final.For the seniors (and their families), it was grappling with the reality of having played their final game on the Blue Devil diamond, AND their final high school career game, and perhaps even their FINAL GAME EVER. It was going to happen now? And not only was it the end of all things baseball after so very long, but it put a icky final punctuation point on the end of that very sad sentence.

Weird, but I felt sick to my stomach. I was actually shaky.

Back to the game: no score going into the fifth, continued cold bats and sinking morale.

But then, bottom 5, Kreidler comes through with a booming 2-run double. He eventually scores from third on a balk. A balk! That definitely shifted the happiness. PG, shaken, went down 1-2-3 in the top of the 6th thanks to perfect pitching by Daniel, and in the bottom of the inning, we came up with a double, a bunt single and another towering hit by Kreidler, this time a home run. And with that–two productive innings–we took the game (6-0) and we’re back in the hunt.

And now all happy. Is that weird? Because of a win?

It’s just winning that game. I feel like from here out, it can be what it will be, but it will be on different terms. It won’t be desperate. There is time now to process where we are. The final league game on the home field by the team so deserving of early season accolades was solid. That felt better.

It was also SENIOR DAY.. which meant pre-game ceremonies honoring our graduating seniors, and a post-game celebration potluck dinner.  Such a good thing we won that game. It’d have been so difficult to celebrate the end of a season that went out on such a sour note.

Here are some shots of the pre-game festivities:

Seniors with the roses they will give to their moms, prior to the walk out: Peter, Ray, Solly, Gabe and Daniel…

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(Not the best, most flattering picture, but: roses!)

One by one, the senior’s name was called, and he walked out to the field, escorted by his parents. The announcer read each player’s answers to questions like: favorite high school baseball memory, plans for next year, future baseball plans, and parting thoughts. Photos were taken, then players and parents walked the line, fist bumping or high fiving everyone.

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It was very sweet.

I feel very sentimental about this. These boys have played baseball for 13 years in most cases, starting with T-ball. They’ve outlasted hundreds of kids who started the baseball program and, for one reason or another, didn’t go on–didn’t want to, wanted to but didn’t make it. These guys stayed with it. These are the one who played All Stars and District 64, who played on travel teams. They hoped they’d make the freshman team, then hoped they’d make the JV team, and really, really hoped they’d make the varsity team. And these seniors, ten of them, did–they totally went the distance. They all worked so hard and they became the best players in town.

I remember feeling like it was never a sure thing, and I was always so happy for Peter when he made it to the next level.

And now, he’s playing in his final season… in his final games!

And today, Senior Day, we celebrate them… their effort, their accomplishments, their endurance, their camaraderie. They made it. They grew up.

Sniff.

And whew, we won this one and are moving on to playoffs with a whole lot more mo than we had.

So the celebration dinner at the end was really fun!

There was food–Dickey’s bbq and lots of homemade salads…

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And celebration cake:

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And the flower shall bloom for a while longer…

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One Response to “Senior Day”

  1. Michael Ann Says:

    Whew! and Yay!


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