I walked out of the ballpark and toward the car. The cooler was too heavy.
It was too heavy because there was still a bunch of bottles of water in it, and ice that hadn’t melted and food that was never eaten. Baseball was supposed to last longer on Saturday, but it didn’t, and the cooler was too heavy.
You battle and get the game tied up, and then the other guys put up two runs and you have one last chance to extend the game, or win it walking off. And it just doesn’t happen.
The walk to the car is long. Everything’s heavy. You wear it.
Ten minutes later you’re at a restaurant, and all the kids are laughing, not wearing Grapevine Stampede 13, Elite Baseball 11 at all.
A couple hours later, with the kids still hanging out, miles away emotionally from being bounced from their World Series, I see a tweet from Jim Sundberg, whose number I once wore growing up, just as the third basemen for Elite and the Stampede both had 29’s on the back of their jerseys.
Sundberg tweeted: “I actually became a better MLB player once I gave myself permission to fail. Also had more fun. Mistakes are ok. Grow emotional intelligence.”
And then: “The biggest detriment to a young athlete is their parents need for them to win.”
So much truth.
Later in the day, we’ve changed locations but the kids are still hanging out, and here we go again:
You get the game tied up, and then the other guys put up two runs and you have one last chance to extend the game, or win it walking off. And it just doesn’t happen.
Cincinnati 6, Texas 4.
The Rangers, at the halfway point, sit at 47-34. It’s the second-best record in the American League, a 94-win pace that the club has exceeded just twice in 41 seasons. There’s been a World Series season for Texas with fewer.
Elite finishes its 8U spring season at 36-14. Best year yet.
Losing sight of the good old days while they’re happening seems like a bad choice.
Granted, walking away from losses and not letting them wear you down is pretty easy to write a sentence about. Practicing the preach is another thing.
I’m the guy who, after a disappointing trial verdict about 15 years ago, had my client (one of you, in fact) trying to cheer me up.
But carrying a loss in a heavy bag — especially when you’re no more than a spectator — c’mon. (Says the blogger to himself.)
No, Kyle McClellan pitching in a tie game is not ideal, and Kyle McClellan drilling the leadoff hitter on a 1-2 count is worse, and Kyle McClellan serving up a two-run bomb to the number eight hitter who was 0 for 4 with three strikeouts on the night and had failed to get a bunt down a pitch earlier is brutal, but Joakim Soria is getting close to joining the bullpen, Colby Lewis and Alexi Ogando will make the whole staff deeper still, Wilmer Font just got promoted to AAA for a reason, it was just the Rangers’ second loss in 10 games, and no team has every won every single night.
Plus, you tend to have to throw your least dependable pitchers once you get to the 11th inning (but I recommend you ignore the fact that the Texas offense is 9 for 61 [.148] in extra innings this season — never mind that, please).
Even if you didn’t see Reds 6, Rangers 4, take a look at the whole box score, and you’ll agree that that wasn’t a ballgame the Rangers should have won.
But didn’t, and probably shouldn’t have.
Elvis Andrus said on Friday, when asked by Richard Justice (MLB.com) whether the Rangers had gone into panic mode when losing 9 of 11 earlier this month: “Not really. We’ve been playing together for a little while. We understand it’s going to happen. That’s the way baseball is. You’ve got to keep battling, keep playing hard and stick together.”
Dovetails pretty well with what Sundberg had tweeted Saturday afternoon.
Dwell on one loss, or even a string of them, and you lose sight of what’s coming together for Leonys Martin, or Dominic Mele. Or Nelson Cruz or Jake Storey, locked in.
Or Martin Perez.
Yu Darvish faces the Reds in a few minutes. I was in Goodyear for an awesome confrontation between Darvish and Joey Votto on March 23 that included Votto looking silly on one of those loopy curves and then looking altogether different by driving the next one about 800 feet. The two meet again in a bit — with Darvish and Mat Latos teeing it up, as they did that day in Goodyear three months ago — with the Rangers and Reds both aiming to win a series.
That March game in Arizona didn’t count. I’m not suggesting yesterday’s Elite game or yesterday’s Rangers game or this afternoon’s don’t count, but I’m pretty sure I’m not going to overreact if Darvish fails to record his first win since mid-May and Texas loses. I’m going to follow the lead of my kid and his friends, and of one of my own childhood heroes, and take the next setback in stride. I’m going to lighten my load, and keep my eye on the bigger picture.
But if the Rangers go ahead and win this damn series?