The hot show at that point in time was ER, when it was fresh and stunning and still capable of truly surprising you. The night before class, ER aired what was to become a landmark episode in which what was supposed to be a routine birth spiraled out of control on Dr. Greene and he lost a young mother in childbirth. It was a gut-punch episode. It finished with a dazed and confused father holding his newborn first baby trying to wrap his mind around the death of his wife. It was one of those shows that leaves you speechless.
The next day at class I recognized that father’s expression on every couple in the room, and I know I wore it as well. It took most of the class for our teacher to talk this gaggle of inexperienced pre-parents off the ledge.
I can’t even truly remember if it existed in the episode or not, or whether I simply have spliced it into my own mind as a part of my own personal “directors cut”, but the scene I pull up from my mental depths when I think of that show is an overhead shot of the now darkened trauma room which, for the bulk of the episode, was the epicenter of a pitched battle to save the mother’s life. The only signs of that battle, in the peaceful gloom, were the tape, and gauze, and debris strewn around the floor, and a tangled mass of sheets on the gurney. Mark Greene opens the door and takes in the scene. I know he is thinking what we all were thinking, and yet I can’t express it. There are no words to describe psychological shock, I guess by definition. Words are the results of cogent thought. Shock short circuits thought.
That scene would be a fitting image for the end of my fantasy baseball season.
My beloved Hellmets finished first in the regular season in our head-to-head league with a 110-50 record, the second highest win total in our league’s 21-year history (I won 119 last year). We crushed the competition in rotisserie style scoring, winning all 5 offensive columns and one pitching column. And we were rolling into the post season with a 24-game lead as winners of 46- of our last -60 games, tying a league record.
We qualified for our two-week World Series rather comfortably and then the wheels came off … After hitting .288 during the season and .295 over the previous six weeks, the Hellmets hit .227 in week #1 and it would be Thursday of that week before we were over .202. Yes, we were battered a bit with Gary Sheffield,
Still, the Hellmets fought back, at least offensively, hitting .310 in week #2. In the end, our 2007 World Series came down to batting average.
I lost by .003.
Baseball is 12 months a year for me, but let’s say conservatively I put 8 months of work into my team. My hitters had 7,800 ABs this year. There were 1,211 ABs in our World Series, and it came down to two hits.
If I get two more hits in my 625 ABs, or he gets two less hits in his 586, or alternatively, if I get one more hit and he gets one less hit in these two weeks … the Hellmets win.
Hey, I have won 7 of these things and my World Series opponent just won his 3rd, the second highest total in my league. There is no real need to mourn here. I have had my share and there will be more … I am just taking a moment to look over the remains of the battle. It was fierce too. Like that birth, my team just started spinning out of control, and short of thawing out Teddy Ballgame for Week #2 there was nothing I could do about it. I tried. And as a result there is a lot of debris around the death scene. Nevertheless, in the end, what was going to happen, happened.
Interestingly my son is 8 years old and this is the year he has fallen in love with baseball. He had his first little league experience this spring but in his age group they don’t keep score and no one strikes out. He and some of his teammates kept score during the games though, and they tasted defeat for perhaps the first time for many of them. I imagine we have sheltered our kids well, but when he makes a bad play, or drops a ball, or loses a game, my son now has to face it.
He plays Backyard Baseball on his computer and would have been perfectly content playing rookie level and beating every team 35-2 on the way to undefeated glory every year, but I pushed him out of that nest. I told him to up the level of the game and be challenged. And then I was punished for good parenting by having to watch him feel frustration and cry if he lost just a little too much in the beginning.
He is of course a Red Sox fan and he will have to deal with defeat there as well. If the Sox do not win the World Series this year an 8-year-old
I took him to Yankee Stadium at the end of August for the final game in the Yankees sweep of the Red Sox and I tried to prepare him as the lions in the
I said, just listen and let them have their fun. That is what being a fan is all about. We were still 5 games up I told him, and when the Red Sox clinch the division in a few weeks, we will remember this walk out of The Stadium, and all the ribbing we took, and that will make the victory so much sweeter. That is the unseen benefit of losing after all, is it not? You cannot truly laugh until you have cried. You cannot truly experience winning until you have lost.
As I try to find ways to wrap up my disappointment about this season and move on, I was curious about what my son would think about it. His relationship with winning and losing is still new. I was sure he would have an interesting perspective.
This morning I asked him …. “Aiden, when you lose in little league or have a bad game, or when you lose in Backyard Baseball, and you are frustrated and upset …what do you do to feel better?”
He put his hand to his chin and he thought for a second …. Then he looked at me and said … “I go win the next game.”
Amen, young man …amen.