Remember playoff baseball? Remember this?
I'd say it feels like yesterday, but it doesn't. Right now, mostly because the Phillies' descent doesn't seem to be stopping, it feels almost as distant to me as 1980. But for a few weeks in late July and early August this summer, a Philadelphia baseball team gave us that ride again. It happened to be a bunch of 12- and 13-year-olds from Taney Youth Baseball Association, a collection of kids from various parts and backgrounds of Philadelphia that looked like us, played like us, and represented the old city with youthful joy. Since my co-bloglord David S. Cohen first boarded The Good Phight onto the Taney Bandwagon on July 30, we've had... what's that word... oh yeah! FUN watching baseball again.
Their quest to win the 2014 Little League World Series in Williamsport fell short tonight as their comeback attempt against a very similar team from Chicago fell short, 6-5, as the tying run stood a mere 60 feet away as the final batted ball off the bat of Jack Rice fell into the opposing right fielder's glove.
They were uncharacteristically sloppy tonight as they fell behind, committing three errors by making extra throws, some of which sailed wide of their targets and allowed a few of the Chicago runs to score. Perhaps the rain delay caused the ball to be a little slick, a notoriously tricky position to be in when coaching youth baseball.
Still, the details are not much matter. There's no shame in finishing among the top five or six teams in the world, really. When I think of Taney baseball, this comes to mind (missin' u Robin Williams):
It was so fun to watch stellar pitching, crisp hitting. Even the defense was spectacular, especially when you consider the age level. It was even fun, albeit a little quesy toward the end, to watch the media hype machine jump on Mo'ne Davis, Taney's pitching star who just happened to be a ... girl! It was fascinating to watch good coaching, on both sides (of particular note tonight was Jackie Robinson West's coach, whose two mound visits were well-timed and extremely effective in settling his pitchers down in a positive, focused way. Because of the ESPN microphones, we were treated to a bevy of wonderful, inspirational coaching that was positive and respectful. As a youth coach for over 20 years (and one who had to help console my own son's team's championship game loss), I was stunned by the beauty and power of this gem from the Rhode Island coach David Belisle. I mean: Found baseball poetry!
Alas, we now return you to your regularly scheduled baseball season, unfortunately and already in progress. The Phillies are 11.5 games out of the wild card. (There are now two spots, so it's easier even than when they made the playoffs last time.) Kyle Kendrick pitches tomorrow! Huh? Huh? Oh hey! There's a Simpsons marathon on, so there's that.
Thanks Taney, for everything. We loved watching you play. We can't wait for it to happen again in Philadelphia.
(We're looking at you, Phillies.)