It is here that I could quite confidently write a dissertation on the role of "player".
I will spare you my copyright here, yet bless you with a bulleted version. I'm cool like that to the skimming eyes:
- Athletic parents have a predisposed mindset when it come to playing...ANYTHING.
- 4-6 year old leagues require a 2-3 adult pill intake of Tylenol before any game.
- There SHOULD be practices for this age limit as opposed to the "let's just show up for the game" approach.
- Parents that send more than one 12 oz. bottle of Gatorade into the dugout for a child that has a bladder that is only 48-72 months old are bonkers.
- "If you don't want to shake hands after the game with the other team because you got out at 1st base then that's okay" mentality quite possibly is what is wrong with America today.
In and amongst all of the above, the Mets found themselves in a magical place come mid-June.
Playing against the infamous Braves.
And from April-June, I watched Eli and Casey become part of something big.
A mish-mash of cleated vagabonds, these Mets slowly connected with winning.
And, the process it takes to get there.
Their performance in the playoffs astounded all who rocked the wooden planks.
Double elimination was the playoff set up.
The Mets course of play against the A's, the Twins, and the Royals was like a dream.
Which set us up to verse the Braves with one loss under their nylon stretchy belt already.
The game commenced at 6:00 PM. Temperature was about 98 degrees.
Some insurmountable plays by both squads.
Some really BIG mess ups.
The Mets lost 17-16.
Onto game two with a 30 minute recess between.
It is here I would like to interject that Kenny, so immersed in battle, could not speak to anyone during the recess.
I was a wreck of nerves and emotion.
4-6 year old baseball playoffs, mind you.
[Please refer back to bullet point 1 now.]
Game 2 was grueling.
We had to lose for the Braves to be champs.
I cannot tell you the number of times I watched gum drop out of the mouths of babes only to return to its molar homes. "Quit playing with the grass." and "Get your glove off your head." were shouted on several occasions.
But somehow, in and amongst the ridiculous-ness of a 4-6 year old double header in 98 degree heat, I found it.
It surpasses absurdity.
It exceeds conditions.
It trumps intimidation.
It excels in spite of defeat.
Eli Garrett, pitcher, rocked a double play only to go on and nail the third out in the bottom of the fourth inning.
His triple of the stitched sphere that knocked in the run to place the Mets one louder on the score board.
His eyes piercing and zoned.
Almost glazed, but with a wildness to the sight.
In motion and unwavering.
Poised, he made his mark.
And, all present that night saw it.
Especially his little brother.
Casey's knocks grew ever more poignant as the innings rose in volume. He found direction in his older brother's stature for victory.
And Daddy couldn't have been prouder.
Coach Thunder Dan actually gave the game ball to Kenny for his leadership and presence throughout the season.
The mark of a champion.
How is it made?
Where can you find it?
In glossy trophies and dirt filled cleats?
In unison towards a common goal?
In leadership full of energy and direction?