Baseline Shorks

May 30, 2010 5:51 PM

"And the crowd was going wild!"

ryan at bat064.JPG

I may be wrong, but I'm betting that the 10-9 comeback win my nephew's Little League team pulled out the other night is going to be something all those 10-12 year olds and their families will remember for quite a while. A certain something happens inside the helmet when you're getting thumped and just start getting every hit or play accomplished just like you need to; it's a belief in your ability to overcome negative situations that stays with you a very, very long time, something they call 'gut check', and until it happens, you can hardly believe its stuff you can really call up when you're up against the odds. This wasn't "a couple walks, some wild pitches, two hits and a bunch of runs score" baseball either--it was *good* baseball.

I *am* sure it was a tremendous thrill for eight particular people and one dog to be at that game. While my brother Steve and wife Meredith have obviously seen a number of Ryan's games, it was the first for myself and my parents, who called in the bottom of the 2nd to say they'd arrived from Tampa (in town for another nephews graduation from HS) and received directions to the field. When most of your family is watching (including his two brothers, plus one's girlfriend and the family dog, Winnie) you can either be nervous or charged up, and it's not just over-the-top stuff from a proud uncle when I say Ryan was the latter while pitching 3 1/3 clutch innings of shutout ball. Hey, there were about 20 of his buddies from games that ended earlier hanging on the fence and yelling his name too.

As a watcher of-commentator on sports I was just as thrilled that a ten year old catcher (Donnie Dockery) did such a quality job behind the plate--the kid was only 'this big'; it was cool that pitcher/shortstop Kyle Pace didn't get down on himself for surrendering all those runs, just crunched two solo homers (including the gamer in the 7th); and when David Baynard, who reportedly "owed us a big hit" after an ordinary regular season, came through with a bases-clearing triple to tie the game in the sixth, that was the schizzle. In Little League you're almost required to cheer for each teammate to get something started, but when that cheering becomes actual results and causes an entire bleacher to rain attaboys! on their small heroes, its a thing of beauty.

It wasn't the sort of baseball perfection that Roy Halladay wrought in Miami last night, becoming the 20th pitcher in history to notch a game where nobody in the other uniform reaches first, and while it would be silly to consider the events more than remotely connected, almost anybody would recognize how smoothly Ryan's kick and delivery worked. it was fun as a fan and an adult to watch and sort of be part of something semi-important. As a baseline comparison, it was kind of like watching Kobe throw in 37 to finish off the Phoenix Suns, long range, absurdedly difficult shots you couldn't believe he was making with people hanging all over him. At the end of that game, much like with that playoff win my nephews team got, you just wanted to cheer the effort, maybe tell someone else about it.

So now I have.

Glenn S.

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