The Lessons Learned
The first batter hit a screaming,diving fly to right center, which the right fielder went all out for and had it skip off of his glove for a… three base error????
Not a great start when it was followed by the shortstop leaving the ball on the ground for what might have been (you cannot assume) a double play. Before we were comfortably in our seats at Banner Island, it was 1-0. Over the first five innings the deficit grew to 4-0 and to make matters worse, my beloved Stockton Ports were being no-hit.
My wife and I were spending one of our precious “Date Nights” at Banner Island Ballpark (on the banks of the Stockton Deep Water Channel) for the finale of the 2012 season, a year that wasn’t really the greatest – at least in wins and losses – for the Ports. One year after going to the California League Championship Series, we suffered though an early season seventeen game losing streak, a bunch of close game losses and just a general frustration that the team seemed so much better “on paper” but nothing was seeming to come together.
And Game 140 started out for the first half of it to be just like most of the season.
Then, a weird hop led to a two base error and suddenly we had a man on 2nd Base. Our shortstop, Cabrera crushed a pitch to left field and just like that, the no-no was gone and we were only down 4-2 in the 6th.
In the seventh, we added another home run, when after a small kerfuffle, Dusty Robinson homered to Center and flipped his bat as if to say, “Take that!” Now it’s 4-3
The bottom of the 8th saw Stockton add another home run that tied the game. Visalia goes in order in the top of the 9th. The score 4-4 into the bottom of the inning.
The whole season has really been a lesson. A lesson that tough times are just that, an opportunity to show what you’re made of, win or lose. For me as a fan, there were times when I wanted to just quit. After all, the Ports weren’t going back to the playoffs, it’s just a developmental league, right? Winning isn’t as important as other things, right? We’d seen a sit-in manager shit-caned by the league in July for seeming to have that attitude, (see game of June 24, 2012) but really, is that what he had done?
Of is it possible that he was trying to teach the same lesson? That winning and losing does matter, but it’s a bigger picture? That the breaks eventually even out, and it’s taking the opportunity when you see it that is the biggest difference between winning and losing?
With one out in the bottom of the 9th, our catcher hit a towering pop foul towards first base. The only question was who would get it, their first baseman or right fielder? Or even 2nd basemen as oddly, the three began to twist and turn as if the ball, clearly a foul pop seemed to be drifting fair. In that moment of opportunity, it was suddenly clear that the ball was fair and that all three of the Rawhide players were unprepared to catch it. One made a valiant attempt, another ran him over. The ball popped to the ground and rolled away.
When the play ended, our catcher, Ryan Ortiz was standing on 3rd Base with what was described as the ugliest triple of all time.
An intentional walk set up the double play, and our second baseman, Michael Gilmartin stepped up.
When everything is said and done, 2012 may go down for me as one of the best seasons ever. Sure, we lost more than we won, but it was clear that the young men on this Ports team learned about how to be men, how to always try you hardest even when things seem to go against you.
What the really learned, was how to be winners.
Gilmartin singles to center. Ryan Pineda, pinch running for Ortiz scores.
Ports 5 Rawhide 4.
Season over. Lessons learned.
Looking forward to next season…