I learned a valuable lesson tonight. It’s something that bounty hunters, bloodthirsty pirates, ruthless despots and Type A assholes all know by heart, but I’d never had occasion to learn:
NEVER LET UP.
Now, maybe I should have known this by now. It’s a lesson you can pick up in the sporting arena (as I did tonight, coincidentally), and I’ve been playing sports for more years than most people alive today can count. Also, my Dad was my Little League baseball coach — and if that won’t instill some pretty gung-ho, never-say-die, baseballs-to-the-wall fire in you, then nothing short of a napalm enema will.
(Although to be fair, the napalm enema would probably instill some flavor of always-say-die fire into you. Possibly ‘immediately-say-die’, whether your baseballs are ‘to-the-wall’ or elsewhere occupado.
It’s only an analogy. We should probably move on. And not dwell on how your proverbial ‘baseballs’ might wind up ‘occupado’, exactly. Or how to get napalm into an irrigation bulb without melting your fingers. Should we move on? Yes, let’s.)
The point is, NEVER LET UP.
I learned this lesson during a softball game tonight. Our team got to the field, warmed up, and when the game started we stormed out of the gate, strong.
“Usually, we sort of drizzle out of the gate, weak. We have this damp palsied little post-gate flop that we’ve mastered, and that’s our go-to opening move.”
This is not like us. Usually, we sort of drizzle out of the gate, weak. We have this damp palsied little post-gate flop that we’ve mastered, and that’s our go-to opening move. Gates open, *squish* *ker-PLOP!* That’s us.
But not tonight. Tonight, we tried the storming — and I have to admit, I rather prefer it. Instead of finding ourselves behind, all dusty-bottomed and soggy-underpantsed, the storming actually launched us to a lead. A big lead. Three innings in, and we were up 10-0. That’s some solid storming right there.
And on we stormed, thunderclapping with our bats and hailing down balls to all fields and waiting patiently for the analogy to fall completely apart so we could go back to playing softball. But it didn’t for two and a half more innings, and entering the bottom of the sixth, we found ourselves up 15-0.
We’ve never been up 15-0 before. We’ve never even dreamed of being up 15-0. One time, I remember our second baseman saying, ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be cool to have a 3-1 lead sometime?‘ And we all nodded and sighed and stared wistfully out at the diamond, wondering how a whopping 3-1 lead might feel.
So 15-0? We didn’t even know where to stand any more. I coached third base one inning from the dugout. One guy took his at-bat from the back seat of his car.
(He doubled and drove in a run. I don’t know what to tell you. We were storming.)
So with just two more turns at bat left for the opposition in a seven-inning affair, we did what you’ve been waiting fourteen paragraphs for me to say we did: WE LET UP.
We didn’t hand the other team anything, mind you. But we shuffled people around a little. We put in a different pitcher. Moved some outfielders to the infield and vice versa. Let our guard down a little bit. Turned the crank from ‘storming’ to ‘light misting with a refreshing sea breeze off the coast’. We could always ratchet back up, right? …right?
They dropped eleven runs on us in the bottom of the sixth. Eleven. If we’d stormed out the gate at them, they just typhooned us into a wet drippy mess. We couldn’t catch, we couldn’t throw, and we couldn’t get an out. We were flustered and flummoxed; our flabbers fully gasted. And eleven runs later, we were only up four with an inning to go.
Still, we could hit. We never turned the nozzle down on the bats. We’d get up to the plate and unleash the fury of a thousand fluffy cumulonimbii on their butts, and go back up by a dozen or more. The storm does not abandon one so quickly.
Except yeah. It does. We dribbled a one-out single down the third base line, then got doubled up on a line drive. One hit. No runs. Light drizzle, at best.
We unshuffled our defense, kicked our ‘reliever’ with the four-thousand ERA off the mound, and tried to regroup for the other team’s last ups. They pounded us with a few more hits and made us very nervous, but we did, in the end, pull out a squeaker, 15-13. With the tying run on base. And our storm washed out to sea.
Will we ever see the storm again? I don’t know. When it finally came to us, we nearly squandered it. So it might play hard-to-gush for a while, give us time to think about how we pissed away a big lead by letting up. And how, from now on, we’re going to:
NEVER LET UP
I only hope storm gets the word that we’ve learned our lesson, and surges back to us again. That drizzle-squish-flop number was getting awfully old. And I’ve only got so many pairs of dry underpants to change into.Permalink | No Comments