So after thinking my playing career was through, I spent a fair amount of time toying with the team video. I really wanted to make it top notch. A couple times I thought I had it where I wanted but after another viewing I would go back and make more tweaks. Finally I had something at least passable so I took it to the playoff game along with a disc of pictures to give JJ. I was completely unprepared to play.
However...we did not have enough players. So I ran back to my car, grabbed my gear, and hustled back. The game was starting so I actually played the first inning in my work clothes and shoes...that is about as unprepared as you can get! No warmups or anything. Fortunately, I had no chances that first inning. Even more fortunately, by bringing me in at first, it moved Phil into the outfield and allowed Eric to shift over. This covered the gaps and turned a weak defensive alignment into a pretty good one. Phil made a couple catches that would have been hits and they either scored none or 1.
I was able to change into athletic pants, t-shirt and cleats while we were batting. We only had 1 bat at that point. My shoulder is still pretty messed up so I elected to bat left-handed since it hurts less. As it turns out...STUPID decision. See, the sun was directly in the eyes of anyone batting from the left side. I literally could not see the ball! So I made the third out of the inning leaving us a 2-0 lead. I guess they hadn't scored!
Defensively my first chance was not a great one. Steve made a terrific leaping catch and their runner was off first. I slipped behind him and Steve rifled his throw. Unfortunately, it was pretty far up the line. I hesitated, debating if I could make the spectacular play and lunged too late. Even if I started moving immediately I might not have gotten it but by hesitating I had no chance and it rocketed into the dugout.
Later I took a throw at first and their runner was advancing second to third. I tried to throw around JJ and it was my first throw of the day. Not a good combo. It was well off line and allowed them to score their first run.
It was still 2-1 when a bad inning rolled around. We missed maybe one or 2 opportunities but they would have been spectacular...one hit over Molly's head at second where she went back, Larianne came in, and it fell between them. If I were healthier, that is the type of ball I have always gone and snagged but it would have required a dive and no way was I doing that. Another couple dropped in front of Phil and Eric, nothing they SHOULD have caught, either would have been amazing to get to. Every ball found a hole. They built a 7-2 lead.
We came back a bit, picking up 4 to pull within 7-6. I led off the next inning. For whatever reason, this team was on my nerves. When they had a guy walk with 2 outs, they made the girl walk behind him. On one play at home Kasey was right on top of the plate to receive a throw and they started to chew her out for it so I yelled at them she was where she should have been and backed them down. I was really irritable for some reason.
Anyhow, they had me irritated enough I thought, screw it, I am batting right handed and I am going to CRUSH it. They overcompensated on every batter. When I went up there left handed they had someone about 3 feet from the right field line and left field almost empty. Now they had one guy on the third base line and the furthest right they got was about right center. Anything down the line...which is where I typically hit when right handed...was at least a triple. Sadly, his pitching was horrible. One bounced in the middle of the plate and was called a strike which kind of surprised me since he called 2 others like that balls. I would have had to golf it. With a full count, the ball bounced in front of the plate and I had walked which meant a double. Larianne hit one that got into short right on the fly...they mishandled it so I took off for third. I thought I had the throw beat easily when someone yelled, "Down!" so I slid.
A) I had the throw beat. Badly.
B) That field is brutal.
C) I was too close to slide.
So I doubled up my leg so bad they thought I broke it. Actually, that part did not even hurt. But I did rip a new hole in my knee that bled through the pants in about 30 seconds, ripped a gash in my "good" elbow about 7" long, got a huge strawberry on my back and jarred my already bad shoulder. Grr.
But it was totally worth it because Larianne made it to second on the throw. I scored on JJ's hit and Larianne made it to third. And then...I changed character.
All year I was the most conservative base coach. I would throw up the stop sign anytime I thought there was even a remote chance they might be thrown out. This time? I sent everyone. And it mattered.
Larianne is not particularly fast but I sent her anyway on a Texas Leaguer. She is slow enough I usually wouldn't send her. Still don't know why I did, but doing so was huge. It wasn't so much that she scored...it was that she drew a throw that had a chance of getting her and got our runner to second. She was safe, we were on second...which meant when I sent the next runner, he scored as well. By the time I sent Eric from second...because they kept throwing home, usually with no chance...I knew it was a bad send but did it anyway. They made a great throw...and he was safe by a half-step. He had one foot across the line, it was that close. And it demoralized them. They started barking at each other. They stopped even trying to get the runner at home and just tried to keep our runners from getting to second.
The damage was done, though. We were now up 10-7 and they were reeling. They did not score again, we scored 3 more. And that is when Kyle arrived. I was hurting so I gladly gave way to him and spent the rest of the game on the bench.
So now I am crippled up even worse but it was worth it. I made a couple defensive plays, scored in my last at-bat...no Fall Ball for me. We will check back in next year and see how we feel.