Last Saturday, Adam's baseball team unexpectedly defeated the Red Sox, advancing in the playoffs, and earning the right to play the dreaded A's.
The A's coach is the guy I referred to last week. He is widely reviled in the league. He's the only coach who has been thrown out of games for being belligerent with umpires. He yells at and swears at his players. Two years ago, when his team didn't have their usual first place finish, he had his players boo the first place team at the awards ceremony.
His crappy attitude rubs off on his players-- they are an unpleasant group of kids. When we advanced in the playoffs, other coaches and players told us one thing: beat the A's!
Our boys were nervous, but revved up for the game as Coach Rick gathered them for the pregame pep talk. He expressed confidence in them, and thanked them for putting in 110% effort all season.
The guys on the bench got up and made some noise as the game started!
We had a couple of good hits in the top of the first, but couldn't bring anybody home.
In the two games we played the A's this season, they got up by a bunch of runs and we never caught up. The guys were really on today, and kept the A's from scoring at all in the bottom of first! Coach Rick ran out to congratulate them.
Adam finally came up to bat a couple of scoreless innings later. He got ahold of the first pitch and bounced it to the shortstop, who threw him out at first.
Inning after inning the Yankees held the A's, allowing no runs. The excitement-- and tension-- mounted; our guys were also being held to a shutout.
Finally, in the sixth inning (the games are seven innings), the A's scored two runs. We were unable to answer those runs, and in the top of the seventh, the guy who was up before Adam struck out, and the season ended with Adam on deck.
To tell how proud we were of them-- scaring the shit out of the team that had beat up on the rest of the league-- it's hard to convey.
There was one other thing we were proud of. Jake, the kid who had struck out, was crying. One by one, they all went up to him and talked to him, reminding him that they won as a team, and lost as a team.
Coach Rick gathered the guys up for one last talk. He told them how proud he was of them. One of his favorite moments of the season, he told them, was seeing the A's bench, formerly cocky and arrogant, sitting sullenly and silently after their fifth scoreless innning. The Yankees had given it their best, and he'd enjoyed the season.
Later, when I got back home and looked at the pictures, One of the pictures really jumped out at me.
It took me back to my favorite picture of he and I together.
This picture was taken in September of 1996, when Adam was about 2 and a half years old, at my friend Larry Tucker's wedding. I didn't know it was being taken. Adam was holding his toy car, squirming around on my lap and I was explaining to him that we needed to be quiet for a few minutes.
The first time I saw this picture, I was struck by how he looked more like a little boy at that point than a baby. When I saw the picture I took today, I was struck by how he looks more like a young man than a little boy now.