Celebrating Fourth Place

It’s something that happens all of the time (or so I’m told).  There are so many scenarios, so many television moments or movie scenes, that depict this kind of thing.  But, I am pretty sure it rarely happens with church-league softball teams all that often.

We were playing in the most epic of all church-league softball tournaments today.  We won our play-in game by one run last Sunday and were slated for up to three games this afternoon.  Our team is never the same, as there is always a vacation or work conflict or something that keeps us from all being there at the same time.  We’re pretty okay.  We won our first game 11-0 behind good defense and good enough offense to score runs each inning.

Prior to game two this afternoon, our “coach” said he would buy a round of drinks at a local pub after the game for the team if we lost the second game or after the championship game at 4pm.  This is what never happens in church-league softball: fellowship over (adult) drinks.  It’s weird how normal the proposal seemed in the moment.  It was normal because this happens on the regular within our church community, and weird because my experience with church says that church people don’t drink openly together.  Either way, I was hoping that we would lose the second game so I could participate in the free round of drinks, as I was working at 5pm and would not be able to play in the championship game.

Hoping to lose is not the best attitude to have going into a softball game, but it didn’t effect my play until the final inning.  We were down 12-4 and had to score 9 runs to tie and 10 to win in the bottom of the 7th inning.  Our team collectively gave up after the third inning in which we gave up 9 runs on a few errors and a lot of well-placed hits, but nobody let on to this fact.  There was one out when I came up to bat and hit a dinker to left field that was misplayed by the left-fielder which led to a double.  I like hitting doubles.

So, I was on second base with one out and down 9 runs.  The next batter hit a ball to left-center field in the air.  It was caught, and I tagged up and took about 5 running steps towards third to entice a throw.  This was a good strategy, except for the fact that on one of those five steps, I got tripped up on my shoelaces (did I mention this is church-league softball?).  Feeling in no-man’s land, I decided I would try to beat the throw to third base.  I ran to third, and as the throw arrived on target to the third baseman, I jumped trying to avoid the tag.  I was successful, except for the fact that in my jumping I also jumped over third base (for those unlearned in the art of baseball/softball, this is not a good thing).  The third baseman tagged me out and I made the final out of the game on a stupid running mistake.

No one was happy (except me) on my team, although we all had already determined that we were likely going to lose way before my stupid mistake.  We shook hands, prayed in a circle with the opponents (again, this is church-league), and returned to the dugout.

After the game, our “coach” said aloud, “I’m buying drinks for anyone who wants to go out”.  This was overheard by the next team that was entering the dugout and they joked about getting, er, drinks together as a team.  It was this strangely awkward moment in which our team seemed like the only church-league team on the planet that likes each other enough and feels enough freedom to go out for drinks together.

And we did.  We celebrated together both our season/friendships/community and our freedom in Christ over beers.  And it was good.

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