The game ended with a score of 4-3 but it wasn't an easy victory at all for the Luray Wranglers. I'm sure dad will have plenty to say about the balls and strikes but I just wanted to put some thoughts out there.
Playoff Thoughts: A Note to the Turk Nation
This playoff thing is going to be fun, I thought to myself. It pins the best teams in the league against each other, letting them duke it out in best-of series. Luray had a pretty good regular season, tying with Waynesboro for the best regular season record and taking the Northern Division championship. This is going to be fun.
When I heard we were playing Harrisonburg, I didn't think twice about it at first. After the first game, I jokingly said, "Couldn't you guys have at least made it close?"
But after that first game, everything changed. It wasn't just one more game against the Turks, now. We were fighting for the right to stay. Our boys were fighting to sleep another day in their warm, Luray beds. Our boys were fighting to wake up in the Shenandoah Valley a few more times. A loss at Memorial Stadium would send them packing.
So I sat at home, afraid to venture down I-81 to see what could be the Wranglers' last game of the season. Instead, I listened in on the radio. After the game, I could breathe easy. A tomorrow was promised, again. For both teams.
Then tonight rolls around. Dad warns me before the game that no matter what, tonight isn't going to be easy. I didn't take it to heart until I got to the game and Sheli brought up Clay. "It's tough," she said. And I swallowed hard. I kept a smile on my face but it hit me. One of us would be very thoroughly shaken by the end of the night. One of us would have to say "goodbye" to their summer boys after the last pitch was thrown.
I didn't want the game to end. I was torn. I wanted our guys to win but I didn't want the Turk loyal to have to feel the pain that comes from all those last times. This is the last time he'll pitch. This is his last at-bat. This is the last time those boys will wear their Turk uniforms.
So when the initial excitement died down from CJ Lauriello's triumphant run to home plate, I didn't want to take the short walk downstairs. Not where I would be greeted with those faces. Facebook friends forever but I can't look at you knowing the amount of sorrow that must have been filling your hearts as soon as that ball passed the short stop.
I had wanted my team to win. I felt selfish, though, because my desire for the Wranglers to win meant that your season would be over. It had to happen to one of us, right? So I walked by, gave a couple of hugs and hated myself. Hating that inadvertently I had caused you pain. "No, it wasn't me," I said, jokingly. "It was CJ Lauriello."
The beauty of writing is that you can hit the backspace button. You can edit, cut, paste, delete and make it sound perfect. But what could I say to you guys? What could I say to those usually fresh, bright faces whose eyes were now brimming with the tears of knowing there is no tomorrow. When words come out of your mouth, you can't bring them back in, chop them up, paste them back together and make them perfect. They just are. And I don't know if I said the right thing. I don't know what I could've said.
I just wanted to type out that I am so sorry that it had to come down to tonight. To both of our teams playing for the right to stay just a few more days. Give a team nothing to lose, and you'll see how well they can play.
A certain youngster said to me after the game, "Have fun losing your next game." I wanted to say that I hope we win it all, now, so at least the team you lost to was the best.
Both teams played their hearts out tonight. No matter who won, this would've been the same: our boys of summer went out and played the best ball they know how.