Thursday, February 23, 2012
The Game-Winning Double: A Story/Rant
The Game-Winning Double
A Story/Rant About Childhood
by Jake Kilroy
Last night, I made a game-winning three pointer in a close game of basketball and I was pretty proud of it. That never happens. I'm terrible at three pointers. Everyone else makes game-winning three pointers and I've also played basketball almost every Wednesday night for two years now, so, let's be honest here, it's really not a big deal at all.
But it's a good segue.
So it got me thinking about my greatest moment in basketball, and, seriously, the biggest deal I can remember was straight up tackling a dude on Villa Park's team my sophomore year when he was going for what he thought would be a very easy fast break layup. I fouled the shit out of him. And then Villa Park's crowd booed the shit out of me. Orange's crowd, however, cheered like lunatics. They thought it was goddamn hilarious. We were down by, like, 20 points and I decided on a whim to do the most flagrant foul imaginable. It would've been less of a scene if I had just straight up pushed him.
Anyway, that lead me to thinking about my greatest moment in all of organized sports. So here now is the story/rant about...
The Game-Winning Double
In North Sunrise Little League, there was a fence that divided the younger kids' fields from the older kids' fields. It was T-Ball, T-Ball II and AA fields on one side, and Minors and Majors on the other. In fourth grade, I played in the Minors, which, I agree, sounds ridiculous. I was the spazzy kid who played right field that year. It was pretty obvious to the coach that I didn't give a shit if we won or loss. I just liked playing baseball. I liked running around. I liked being on a team with uniforms and sunflower seeds. I liked that some mom would give me fruit snacks for no reason. I liked being cheered on by my family. I liked thinking it was more than it was, you know, being on the Blue Jays in the Minors. But nobody thought it was more than it was than...everyone else on the team. They wanted to win and they would stress about it. And, in fourth grade, nothing should stress you out. All you're doing is watching morning cartoons and learning about the rainforest at school. Your biggest fear at that age is if the girl that you just hit in the face with a dirt clod noticed you or not. It took me years to realize of fucking course she did. It's a goddamn dirt clod. Who doesn't notice a dirt clod hitting you in the face when all you're trying to do is play hopscotch? Jesus, kids are stupid. Anyway, it was towards the end of the season and I was having less fun with each passing week. Every kid thought he was a coach, which, at that age, is irresponsible of parents to let their kids be that arrogant. If you're just as stupid as I am, you shouldn't be allowed to tell me how to do things. Hell, man, if I own more Bugle Boy shirts than you, I should be telling you how to do things. Now, I should point out that these kids wanted to win and they were just intense about sports. Whatever. They weren't like some of the kids on my first AA team. Those kids were assholes. Some fuckin' kid with a dopey-ass sorta-mullet gave me shit for a whole practice because I was wearing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle socks and not baseball socks. In my whole life, I swear, that moment haunts me. It's up there in the top ten. I was so bummed on that kid and I didn't even say anything about how poor he was. Man, if I had a time machine...anyway, I went home and almost fucking burned those socks like some lucid sacrifice to the gods of hip. "Please, fair gods, please let that plumber's kid think I'm cool so he'll leave me alone," I probably begged. But guess what? That kid was going to grow up to be his dad. And I saw his dad. In fact, that fuckin' guy was a dick too! And he was the assistant coach! All he did was smoke cigarettes, drink Diet Coke and tell me to be more like his incest mardi gras of a son. Dude's probably dead now and I shouldn't say shit about him. But back to his kid. What an asshole, right? I mean, shit, man, I just wanted to play baseball. Who was he trying to impress? The fucking duck on his shirt that said, "I'm The Boss?" Ugh. I'm not saying I hope he has lung cancer now, but...so, anyway, back to my time on the Blue Jays in the Minors. It's bottom of the ninth, a dude's on base and we just need one run to win. I step up to the plate. Did I understand the pressure? No. Like I said, I was an idiot and losing interest in baseball. Plus, what, I wanted to do everything I could to make these straight-faced yokels even more stoked on winning? Well, maybe part of me did. Part of me wanted to impress the hell out of them. But not because I wanted to hang out with them all the time. Well, ok, maybe some part of me really did want them to invite me over to play Mortal Kombat, since my mom wouldn't allow it in the house. But there was also a good portion of me, standing there at the plate, that just wanted to say, "Look, you can care about other things! Have you even seen It's A Wonderful Life? You need to prioritize what you want from life!" For me, it was my family being proud of me and candy. That's all I really wanted. Shit, at that time, X-Men and going to school were pretty high on that list too. But all I had to do at the end of this game was give it my best and my family would be proud of me. And then I'd go to school the next day. And then I'd get candy for doing well in school. And then I'd watch X-Men on Saturday. I didn't need a day planner back then, because every day was fucking awesome. A day planner would've just been a book of exclamation marks and smiley faces. If I was more of a sticker guy, I would've used stickers, but I'm not, so I didn't. Anyway, instead of just shrugging off the moment, I looked at my teammates and, if I recall correctly, which it's very likely that I'm not...my teammates believed in me. They didn't look at me up to bat and think, "Oh great, the kid who invented mitt-face out in right field, lord of the grass piles, is up to bat and we're going to lose because this chump bitch is going to see a butterfly." No, they actually looked like they were thinking, "Do it. Hit a home run and win the game." Well, I hit the ball, but it wasn't a home run. It was a double and it was just enough to get the runner home to win the game. My teammates lost their shit. They were out of their minds. If I had seen a butterfly in that moment, holy hell, that would've been something. They probably would've let me chase it until the field lights turned off. But they encircled me and rubbed my head and cheered. They had never been prouder of me than that moment, which makes sense, since I probably didn't do anything else that was impressive the whole season. They didn't even laugh at mitt-face. What the hell did they know? But, honestly, that's my greatest moment in playing sports. It was like out of a movie for me. Bottom of the ninth and the kid who literally danced in the batter's box won the game. Well, I learned my lesson right then and there: baseball is boring. Even at this incredible high point, I thought, this is it? This is baseball? This isn't enough for me. I quit after that season and focused on basketball. And that's why I never made it to the Majors. Also, if I could be honest here, I kind of do wish that one kid has lung cancer now, because fuck him.