Monday, May 23, 2005

Little League Day

Yesterday was Little League Day at the Safe, which I attended with the boy and some other members of his coach-pitch little league team. The cynic in me was expecting to have many opportunities to compare the boys seated around me to those in the home jerseys a considerable distance below me, but it turned out that the Padres resembled the little-leaguers Sunday. Well, they hit like them, anyway.

In between settling arguments about Gobstoppers, dodging flying popcorn, and intervening in battles where the combatants wielded swords improvised from rolled-up little-league day posters, I'll admit that I might have missed a few plays -- even a stray inning here and there.

But I'm pretty sure that was Aaron Sele (he-who-has-not-made-it-out-of-the-seventh-inning) who chalked up a CGSO. I don't recall anyone even making it to second. The man was in charge, and kept the hitters off-balance with a Moyer-like mix of pitches ranging in speeds from about 68 to 86.

"Hey -- those numbers are the same except for backwards!"

"Yeah. I know. Watch the game."

There was not even a moment where Sele looked like he was in any particular trouble. Twice in the first couple of innings the Pads (the "bad guys") had a runner on with one out. Both times they grounded into a double play. The second (3-4-3) was very nicely turned indeed.

This was not, unfortunately, a game that had any chance of holding the attention of first graders. I think I was asked an average of 7 times per inning what the score was. That number is pretty high considering how quickly the Pads came and went every inning, and that there were no trips to the mound to calm Sele down, pinch him, or otherwise remind him that he was pitching like very much unlike somebody who managed to win the 5th starter spot at the END of March.

Even so, somehow all the kids seemed to notice when Ichiro! came up to the plate. That's when they all lowered their weapons, held on to the popcorn, and began to chant. I-chi-ro! That is, until he got out, which he did all five trips to the plate. The kids were astonished. Ichiro! struck out. He ran as fast as he could and he got still out. Yet, from way up in the $10 section, Ichiro! didn't look all that angry. This was tough to accept for kids whose eyes well up when they get forced out at third on a ground ball to the left.

But we won. So the kids went home happy, tired, full of sugar, and only a few bruises worse for the wear. Let's just hope the M's can keep pounding the wall with those deep line-drives. There were many. Of course, it would have been nice to see a few sneak over the wall, but us beggars...we shouldn't be choosers.


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