On the Diamond: Miracle on dirt
ASPEN Improbable feats abound in our culture. There was N.C. State knocking off Houston to win the 1983 NCAA championship, and there was the “Miracle on Ice.” There was O.J. and Lyle Lovett (who looks like he simultaneously stuck his finger in a socket and sucked on a lemon) managing to court Julia Roberts. There’s still hope for me. Add one more shocker to the list. On paper, our softball match-up Monday with real-estate giant Related WestPac seemed unfavorable. They have holdings all over the world and are spearheading Snowmass’ $2 billion revitalization; we have freezy pops and stained carpeting. Still, I was confident. I enlisted the help of an Eagle County ringer. Scott, an old high school friend, standout athlete, agreed to make the trip. We soon found out this office manager can do more than copy and collate. You could tell Scott meant business – he showed up wearing cleats and wristbands.”If I hit that hill, is it a home run?” he asked as he gazed some 350 feet into deep left at Rotary Field.”I think so,” I replied. “Same with the Maroon Bells.”While he failed to interrupt Sardy Field flight patterns, Scott backed up his assertive talk. He opened with an RBI single to right-center, then connected on a three-run home run to center over a drawn-in outfield. The rest of the team took his lead. Every spot in the lineup produced – that’s just good coaching – and we jumped ahead, 9-2. Nate Peterson carried that momentum onto the mound, where he churned out groundball outs like he does award-winning sports copy. He struck out the side in the third – I think I speak for everyone when I say I shed a tear. (Afterward, Nate was more than willing to take much of the credit – I didn’t think it was possible for his head to get any bigger.)Still, the dugout was eerily silent as the game progressed – playing with a lead is about as common as George Bush winning a spelling bee. We waited for our usual implosion to spoil certain victory; the pressure increased when Scott and I collided while tracking down a fly ball in left-center, leading to three runs. I’m surprised Scott was able to walk away unscathed after running into this 165-pound brick wall. We showcased some resilience, however. We struck for two runs in the bottom of the sixth to widen our lead to five, more than enough to absorb the damage of yet another three-run homer in the seventh (random rec league drug testing, anybody?) and prevail with an 11-9 win. Improbable? Unexpected? A miracle of epic proportions? It sure was. I now know how Lyle feels.