Somehow, It Just Wasn't As Sweet
There is a reason I always root for the underdog: Because winning unexpectedly is just that much more glorious. Not that I'm complaining, mind you, redemption is a sweet thing and I'd rather win than lose, but the difference between playing as the favorite and fighting as the underdog are very different things.
And so it was that Balligerent made its return to the fields at Bayfront Park on Saturday, eager to avenge our Rock/Paper/Scissors loss in the championship game of the Summer Season. We came in undefeated, not having lost a game since about Mid-July and not even having tied since the night before our glorious tournament run of two months ago. We had, for all intents and purposes, forgotten what it was like to lose at Kickball. For my part, I had become the quite the prolific kicker, coming from a beleaguered player who our captain hoped would not show up to a dependable slugger who could always drive in whoever was on base. But a funny thing happens when you expect yourself to win.
Our first game went relatively well, as we dispatched a team made up of Coconut Grove bar employees by the score of 11-3. I drove in my customary three runs and aside from an ill-advised run to home plate (I still have yet to ever actually SCORE a run) I played rather well. That was, until game two. Our opponents called themselves Globo Gym (how fucking original) and were made up of a hybrid of top male players who had been in the league since its inception a year and a half ago. Their girls, not so much, and, oh, yeah, my girlfriend happens to be one of them. It didn't help matters that she had slept with about half the guys on the team so in addition to having to play in front of her, I also was constantly getting the "Yeah, I fucked your girlfriend" look from every guy on the field. The field we were playing on was receiving a fierce wind off the bay making long kicks nearly impossible. So it took us 4 innings to score the first run of the game.
With the score 1 to nothing, Globo Gym had runners at the corners with no outs when one of their stronger kickers kicked a line drive right at a girl playing her first ever kickball game. Her eyes got as big as the ball she was trying to catch as she miraculously snagged the line drive for out number one. She alertly threw the ball to our pitcher who saw the runner from third trying to tag and score. Having learned an unfortunate lesson in last year's title game, he threw the ball to the catcher this time who tagged out the runner going home for out number two. In the confusion, a blonde on first decided she would try and go to second but was alertly spotted by our pitcher and pegged out for an inning-ending triple play. I was up in the next inning with runners on first and second with no outs, but just like when I was a kid and my mom came to my games, I couldn't play worth a shit with my girlfriend and the 7 guys she'd fucked before me watching. After a couple of whiffs I had a weak rally-killing popup that failed to produce an insurance run, and Globo Gym tied it in the top of the inning. Fortunately, as the home team, we were up last and scored one (again, thanks to our first-timer) for a dramatic 2-1 win.
We again faced The Yellow Team in the title game, who had brought Burger King hats to put on should their Raggaeton-and-Cameltoe-fueled squad capture the title. It was not to be, however, as even though they took a quick 1-0 lead, it was easily erased in the bottom half of the inning. While I did not play my best game, I did drive in the go-ahead run a few innings later, and the rest of the team tacked on four more. We took a 6-1 lead into the top of the sixth, and while I was glad to see our center fielder catch the final out to our championship season, and even gladder to see the Yellow Team trudging off the field in their paper crowns to a reggaeton beat, it was sort of anti-climactic. Everyone on the team expected to win, we played all day with a chip on our shoulder, and we began to get a little tight when things didn't go well. So, even though we won as expected, it somehow lacked the intensity of the previous tourney.
Perhaps it was because it was colder, or maybe because we only played three games, but after we won our title, there was somehow not as much joy as I had expected. There was no trophy to hoist. There was no hanging around and watching football in the park, and there was no celebratory outing afterwards. Some went home, some went to the Keys, and some may have gone out independently. But that feeling of group accomplishment was somehow lacking as a winning favorite, that "us-against-the-world" attitude lost somewhere between our season-opening tie and our captain's "If you're not coming to win, don't come at all" emails. I came to win, and we did. And it sure beats the fuck out of losing. But somehow, for some reason, it just doesn't seem as sweet when it is totally expected.