Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Batter's Up!

The Mets were losing 6 to 0 when I came in to watch the game. Son was in the dugout on a field they had never played before. One with proper stadium seating and lights on the field - and loads of gnats eating everyone alive.

"We're losing," he told me when he saw me standing above him.

"Eh. You were losing yesterday too and look how you guys came back in the end."

I'm not worried. It was game 7, I believe. And the Mets had only lost 1 game so far. But it's amazing how the self-esteem of children is a cup that has to be filled daily. Somehow it empties overnight then you have to fill it up all over again the next day. This was their third game this week because of rainouts the previous weeks. The game the night before was tense until the very end, but once they got the leg up, there was no stopping them.

It's actually way more interesting to watch than I anticipated. I had listened to the opposing coaches the first couple of games talk about stealing bases. The Mets were doing that so much - and winning by so much - that they risked embarrassing the losing team, so there was a moratorium declared on stealing bases. The Mets clearly knew how to steal bases but even I knew that if they wanted to get to championship level, they would have to do better than that. They would surely meet their stealing-bases equivalent one day and then what would happen?

But as time has gone on, I've watched them become better at hitting, retrieving the ball to get the other player out before he got to base, pitching and home runs - lots of home runs. You can see them working together more and more and it's pretty cool to see.

In this game, it was now Son's turn at bat. (That's my #3 below.) I called to him as he walked out. "Take chances, Son! You can do it!" He usually becomes a statue when he goes up to bat. Sure, he swings if it seems like he should, but otherwise birds could have mistaken him for a great landing spot.

Not this time.

His teammates called to him to swing for the good balls. His coach called to him to do what they practiced. I watched him bouncing up and down a little bit, emotionless as usual. The balls were mostly bad, fouls, enough so that he didn't strike out but he got to walk to first. That's cool. The next boy up was pretty good at hitting so they would be in a good place for sure.

Son's teammate swung, hit and sent the other team scrambling, their coach in a tizzy over all the fumbling and confusion. Son ran to second. Then third and we all watched the confusion continue.

"Run, Forest, run," Mr T. shouted.

The next thing I knew Son was home, his teammate on third and we parents were jumping up and down screaming in delight because they had done it again - they had come from behind and revved themselves up. They didn't need us anymore. They could cheer themselves on now but it was too late. We were all riled up too. Parents came out of the stands to watch over our little ballplayers. One coach's wife hugged on me as we watched. Another mom was wowing as she taped. A dad was reporting the scores to someone on his phone. We were cautious but excited, confirming with each other everything we were seeing to make sure we were all on the same page.

"Did you see your son," the hugger asked me excitedly. For once my ears weren't in overdrive driving to decipher her thick Spanish accent.

"Oh, I promise I did!" Mr. T was on the side of the field taking the pictures. Daughter was playing in the stands as usual but I had extra sets of eyes helping me track her constant comings and goings so I could focus on Son.

They played happily like the team they were. Mere minutes from the 2-hour mark at which they can stop playing. They were now 8 to 7 and their coach had declared them winners yet again.

Or were they? More confusion as our hopes to get out of the gnats were dashed. The other coach said something. The umpire said something. They had to play an extra 15 minutes? What?

We all looked at each other.

"Aw, they're just mad 'cause they lost!"

Whatever had happened, the game was not quite over and the batter for the other team was up.

I looked at the videotaping mom whose eyes got big. "Uh oh," we said to each other. This was the kid, if any kid could, who could knock that ball out of the park. If he hits and gets to home, we're tied. He hits but thankfully our boys are quick and he is out before he starts.

We erupt in relief. This was their best player. Surely the Mets would be able to hold off anyone coming in after him. And so they did - and won for the second time that evening.

This is where I am, my friends. Village Works is doing tons of vending, creating new cards and preparing for future events. Of course my job continues to be nonstop action and Son's cub scout activities continue, though they wrap up this week as he becomes a Webelo 1. (Yes!) But in between all this movement, I am watching Son play with his team, winning game after game, coming back from far behind or taking the lead and never letting go. We're freezing out there most times, being eaten by bugs other times, but somehow we're never bored by this 2-hour display of amateur athleticism.

I can't think of a better way to spend my time, watching my son realize that he can do something and have such a big impact on everyone around him. It's truly awe-inspiring.

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