Sunday, June 28, 2009


For the last four days I was witness to a group of 10-year-old boys be utterly devastated by a loss in the first game of their All-Star Tournament. To lose when you play your game is tough, but acceptable. What I witnessed, however, was a devastated All-Star team and Tyrel was among this casualty; they had been bested by a solid Cedar American Team and all the Cedar National All-Stars could muster was a scant semblance of their baseball ability.

This is a song our family has heard before. Tyrel has played in three championships in various sports over the last year and finished as the “first place loser” in all three contests. Truthfully, I have run out of clever and believable things to say to the defeated 10-year-old who sleeps in my basement.

The Cedar National All-Stars seemed born to swim in deep waters as this loss now meant they would have to fight their way back into contention through the loser’s bracket of the tournament. But, this gang arrived the next day with brilliant, white uniforms (Color Country doesn’t wash out of white uniforms easily- thanks moms) and a hint of confidence behind their smiles.

When the game began they all went to work. I always contend the most dangerous opponent is a gifted team who just had their nose embarrassingly bloodied. The Parowan All-Stars were the unfortunate beneficiary of a focused and hungry gaggle of individuals who had shared some suffering together and now started to act as a team. Teams are magical because some how the sum of the team is always greater than the sum of the individual player’s efforts.

Day three of this odyssey brought Enterprise, a big unknown from a historically baseball town. Cedar National brought their white uniforms and easy smiles from the day before. This time, only the white uniforms were fast-fleeting. The Cedar National All-Stars commenced the work of baseball, but remembered this grand game is FUN. This ended with another one in the win column.

Saturday was a marathon. This sprint started against Washington. The Cedar National All-Star moms amazingly produced clean boys in white uniforms yet again. Now, a different element was added to the team ingredient, quiet confidence. A talented team with confidence emphatically did the work of baseball to hand Washington its second, and final, loss of the tournament.

With no rest for the weary, Dixie stepped in next. This contest ended for Dixie the same way it had for their sister team. However, I was grateful my son was able to witness a team and coaching staff who displayed how to lose gracefully rather than the awful rant of gesticulation and the red-faced words of the previous team’s coach.

The Cedar National All-Stars had rounded the corner and now faced Cedar American, again. The game started ordinarily enough, but soon Tyrel had a cramping left hamstring. At one point, this cramp got so bad that Tyrel was carried across the diamond in a fireman’s carry by his teammate, John. I hope Tyrel looks back on that trip across the field to recognize what he had become to the team and the team had become to him. I won’t soon forget the moment. Tyrel tried to hide his tears from the pain, but hiding tear stained cheeks is tough.

I spent the first part of every inning for the remainder of this game frantically faking like I knew how to fix a cramped hamstring. By the way, a baseball bat used like a rolling pin, accompanied by stretching, and forced hydration works. I felt this was all a smoke screen for convincing Tyrel to take the field and play on, and play on he did.

Through this charade Tyrel and I played each inning the Cedar National All-Stars found themselves the victor at the end of regulation. Now both teams had each lost one game. Game two with the same teams would shake out a champion.

The championship game saw smiles, the boys of summer having fun, the continued work of baseball, but now the vividly white uniforms were long gone. Instead, they were now something similar to the Great White Buffalo- worshipped but something only your ancestors might have seen. White uniforms after back-to-back-to-back-to-back games will never stay white.

Momentum is a chaotic force. If your team has it, you guard it, hoard it, fight for it, but most of all you hold on tight and ride the wave. If you desperately need it, you would give your left arm to have the pendulum swing your way. Cedar National owned it and kept it.
After congratulating their opponent, the Cedar National All-Stars and now 2009 Champions stormed the field in a celebration worthy of their journey. I couldn’t help but notice that Tyrel, overcome by the moment, had forgotten all about his tight hamstring. As a father I could not have been more proud of my son and this team. Relish the moment.

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