We traveled to Opelika, Alabama to play in a big tournament this weekend. We started Friday evening with an 8:15 game which actually began sometime right after 9 pm. Yes... 9 in the evening. As in when my kids are normally in the bed. But the boys did fabulously and pulled through a merciless 20-something to nothing score. Saturday, we all had lunch together as a team and made our way to the ball park for two afternoon games. The word for Saturday was HOT. Temperatures were soaring, the sun was high, and the Bandits' bats were on fire. The boys were hitting so well, and their defense was amazing. When I lay my little head on the pillow Saturday evening, I really thought we were on our way to winning a huge tourney.
Not so much.
The fire went cold sometime between 9:00 on Saturday evening and 9:00 am on Sunday morning. When the boys arrived to play game four of the tournament, they had completely wiped their brains clean of all previous baseball training. They weren't sure what to do with the bats; they could certainly swing them but didn't have the whole make contact with the ball part. Most were having trouble keeping a good hold on the baseball, which left me wanting to run out there with a little bottle of Elmer's. It was a tough loss.
I don't mind losing as much when I feel that the team that takes the victory is better. But this one wasn't, and all the adults walked away from the field scratching their heads and thinking, "What just happened?" Thing about kid sports is that you learn that your expectations may be consistently met but will never always be met. Just don't happen. Then you'll have that rare occasion in which none of your expectations will be met (as in the total nightmare that was yesterday's game).
It's tough as an adult knowing cognitively what a group of nine year old boys are capable of and then not seeing it play out. When I break it down internally, it's all about expectations. This season, the stakes are even higher. We feel it when we walk in the park... you can hear them whispering, "That's that team that won the World Series twice." You can see it the looks on their face as they stand back at a distance and watch you lose. That's tougher to swallow than the loss itself. Because that's what hurts the most ~ knowing what's come to be expected of our Bandits, and seeing them fall short. And in front of lots of people.
But I guess that's part of life, too. It's not all championship games, trophies, and fantastic double plays. It's slipping down in the dewy grass of the infield and missing that ground ball. It's getting too far off the bag and getting picked off. It's swinging at the curve ball, watching the one right down the pipe, or popping out to left field. It's not all perfect. Lots of mistakes. Lots of accidents. Lots of bad choices. And just like in life when sometimes we seem to be overwhelmed at one time with a ton of the repercussions of our poor choices or bad circumstances, our field was full of mishaps yesterday.
But what I know about our little team is this: they will be back at it tomorrow. They will lift their chins up, dust off their cleats, and get back to work on their skills. And they will pull it back together. I have no doubt in them.
What I do doubt is getting my normal energy level back by the end of this week...