Grief … most would define it as the feeling of loss – usually something that happens in our mind and body when something we hold ever so close to ourselves is lost. It happened to a bunch of us, one more time that we ever wanted to experience &/or remember, last year during the Copper Country Church League Softball championship games. We were the winners of the winners bracket and our arch nemesis had to beat us twice to win the championship. And beat us they did – twice – with painstakingly narrow margins to send us home, in grief, to say the least; and in turn, to deal with many stages of dealing with such grief.
As is common, our first reaction to this grief was shock [& denial] – we couldn’t believe that we had lost both games with very uncharacteristic all round performance, given how good we thought we were. Shock, being the natural anesthesia, did its part in protecting most of us from immediate pain [with some help from breweries & bars downtown]. But no sooner did shock and anger subside began a long and difficult period of pain and mourning – discussions often revolving around would have, could have and should haves. Pain showed no signs of relief as we heard the news about what our team’s pitcher and dear friend started going through. Returning a majority of the team from its 2009 edition, it wouldn’t be an overstatement to claim that the grief and the pain that life had sent our way brought us together, helped us stay closer and focused through out the 2010 season.
Regular season, like it had been in many a recent years, was a formality. We stayed undefeated through 12 games to win the regular season. Then again, we had won the regular season quite a few times before but winning the playoffs, for some reason, had always been a step [or two] too far away.
We beat the teams that we were expected to beat through much of play offs, including our arch nemesis to decide the winner of winners’ bracket – by doing pretty much everything right which we hadn’t in previous occasions. To their credit, they won the losers’ bracket and made it to the title game(s). Lo and behold, we did pretty much everything wrong and not taking anything away from them, they did every little thing right. And the result, a demoralizing 19-2 defeat. Bad side of this result was that that’s the worst we had ever played all season long. And the good side? We couldn’t play any worse.
So began the second [and final] game of the 2010 Church League – the ball took an odd bounce here and there, for either teams; the score swung like a not so simple pendulum and the lead changed teams, just like the weather in the UP. May be the good Lord wasn’t in the mood to call it a day and so, the game went extra innings with score tied at 9 apiece. An out, an intentional walk and a base hit saw our team have a runner in scoring position. With day light going down and heavens opening up with a few sprinkles, it was our rookie, Michael Rittenour, that jacked a warning track hit to bring the winning run home and bring home the team’s first ever championship.
Relatively wilder party ensued – Gatorade dumped on our manager, pie in the face for Michael, and phone calls to let our beloved members of the team, now staying elsewhere &/or that couldn’t play, know of the result. As many championship teams as I have ever been part of, this one meant [and still does] a whole lot more and extremely satisfying – for, the team as a whole came together to win it not just for ourselves, but for those that were once part of it and for one, that couldn’t play more.
To think that it was our destiny to win it all this season, would be a grave mistake – for, the same destiny – dressed up as our arch nemesis – kicked our you-know-whats in the first game. And for once, in 15 or so years for many of them and 6 for me, that we won’t have to worry about would have, could have and should haves; we won’t have to look at each other and hang our heads down – at least, not until we begin 2011 season.