Since I started writing for this blog back in December, I would like to think that I have been very open and candid about what is going on in my personal life…as it pertains to Brewers baseball. Every once in a while, I write an article that has to do with them in a round about way. These articles also tend to be long-winded. This is one of those articles.
As the co-captain of my softball league team, myself and two of my dear friends, Don and Nate, set out to build a team that could win ballgames and still have fun together. This is a task that is easier said then done. You have absolutely no way of knowing how people will react to one another. So starting as far back as December, we began to assemble a team that would destroy the likes of any who stood in our way. Since this was a co-ed league, we knew that the key was to have the right female faction. The three of us called people, asked our friends, hell we even considered taking out a newspaper add to find the right women to be on our team. When we were finally pleased with our female roster, everything else just fell into place. Women are the glue of life…that’s right I said it. They are tough and do not take s— from anybody. Our girls are hard core, so we knew that all of the guys would fall in line.
I do not give Mark Attanasio enough credit. His job is really hard. Building a team is difficult work. Just because you have the best players, that does not mean you are going to steam roll every team that you play. You can trade for guys and call guys up, but that does not always work out. There is something to be said for trying to “build” team chemistry. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t (usually the latter). With so many elements to consider when trying to create a champion, it is easy to lose your way. There is one element that you can’t coach, acquire, or trade for. It is the hardest thing to find and it is something that every team struggles with. That one missing piece of the puzzle…heart.
This weekend, I witnessed what can happen when you are able to obtain that final element. On Saturday, my softball team the 45th Street Devils, took the field in a 3 game playoff series with a team who had beaten us twice during the regular season. Not just beat us, slapped us around. We were able to win the first game, which was huge for our momentum. The second game went to our opponents, in a very lackluster performance by both teams. As the third game rolled into the Top of the 7th inning ( 7 inning games, deal with it), we found ourselves losing by the count of 10-14. The Devils were able to get two runs right away and cut the deficit in half. That is when things got a little nerve racking. We made two quick outs and needed a miracle. That miracle showed itself in a 8 run, 2 out rally that lead us to a 20-14 victory. I truly thought that we could not do any better than we did that day. One out away from going home, but rather than accepting that outcome, we did something about it. Heart.
Here is my Brewers interjection before I share the Championship game outcome with you all. Our beloved Brewers have one of the best rosters in the game. That is a fact. The pitching staff alone is full of amazing players. So why do they suffer so badly on the road? This team has no heart. When things go bad, they do not know how to bounce back and have faith in each other. On the road, if the home team gets a lead early, the Brewers might as well hit the showers and fly home. In fact, if you could read minds, I bet half of the guys in the dugout assume that McGehee, Betancourt, and Counsell will be automatic outs everytime they step up to the plate. Part of a team having heart is also having faith in each other. You have to have faith that your teammates will be there to pick you up when you need them the most. The Brewers have little to no faith in each other and at this point in the season…I can not blame them. Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, and Nyjer Morgan seem to be the only players who can produce with any sort of consistency and the rest of the team just tries to not make an out.
Sunday afternoon roles in and the 45th St. Devils are tired. Most of us are lazy and out of shape, so the prospect of possibly playing another 20 + innings was daunting to say the least. We blew the first game. Had them beat, but we beat ourselves making stupid mistakes. That meant we were playing three games if we wanted to win the championship. The second game was not much of a contest, we demolished them quicker than a hotel past it’s prime in Las Vegas. So, on to game 3 we went.
Game 3 gets its own paragraph, it was that good. In the bottom of the 6th inning, we are down 5 runs with the top of the lineup coming to bat. Now in our league, the 7th inning is the only inning you are allowed to score unlimited runs. Every other inning has a 5 run cap (kind of a stupid rule, but it keeps games more competitive). The team plated 4 runs without recording a single out. Then with runners on 1st and 3rd, our power lefty Geno, launches a ball a good 300-350 ft down the right field line…for a single (5 run cap). Score tied now at 10 a piece, we hold them scoreless in the Top of 7. Now we just need 1 run to win the championship, which was easier said then done. The Devils went down 1-2-3 ( Dan struck out to end the inning…in softball). Nothing says Championship glory like extra innings. The bad guys went ahead and scored 3 runs in the top half of the extra inning. For the second straight day we found ourselves in a do or die situation. Our first batter, Katie, rips it down the 3rd base line. Single. Next batter, JR, draws a walk. Third batter, Amanda, rips a triple into the gap. Now we are down 1 run with Amanda on 3rd base with no outs. Up walks Chad, a good old southern boy, who was added to the team not more than 6 weeks earlier. Chad had one hit the entire day. Our little southern belle walks up there and just tries to hit it as hard as he can in order to drive in Amanda and tie the game. Chad crushes the ball straight into the setting Seattle sun, which became a problem when the left fielder had to turn around to try and catch it. Blinded by the sun, he could not find the ball and Chad slid safely into home. The most unlikely hero, did what young boys dream of. Chad hit a walk-off home-run in Game 7 (3 in our case, but you get it) of the World Series.
Most of you will not even read this far, but if you have thank you. Here is my point, finally. The 45th St. Devils never caved when things looked the worst. We never gave up on each other. Over the course of the season we became more than a team, we became a family. Yesterday I saw people with strep throat, strained quads, bad hips, broken foot bones, and busted knees fight until the bitter end… FOR BEER LEAGUE SOFTBALL!!! There were no endorsements, or $250 million dollar contracts waiting for us on the other side. We played to win. When was the last time anyone saw the Brewers do that? What I have just explained to you, through my own victories on the field, is what the Brewers will need to find if they want to win the World Series. They won’t be able to trade for it, manufacture it, or even buy it. It’s something that you have or you don’t have. Right now the Brewers do not have what my softball team has, heart.
This article is a gift to my softball team. While it was written with a Brewers purpose in mind, I did this as a gift to the memory of what we accomplished yesterday…as a team. Don, Nate, Katie, Geno, Bryon, Mo, Chad, Lindsey, Dan, JR, Keith, Luis, Amanda, and Talia : You brought me to tears yesterday, even as I am writing this they are welling up in my eyes. I will do battle with you anytime, anywhere. There are no words to explain how I feel about all of you. If the Brewers had 25% of the heart you all have, they would have already clinched the NL Central. I love each and every one of you. Losing is so much easier than winning, thank you for refusing to take the easy way out. Thank you for the best weekend of my life.
Thanks Gog. Go Brewers!!!