On the Diamond: Redemption song
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN ” I haven’t heard this much Journey since I last went to the New York State Fair.
Random, off-pitch celebratory cheers and the faint smell of deep fryer and chipotle barbecue fill the room. Sports editor Nate Peterson wears a permanent grin as he feeds one-dollar bills into the jukebox. I’m leaning against a portable air conditioner, beer in one hand and chicken wing in the other.
Is this heaven? Well, no, it’s Zane’s. But on this night, it sure felt divine.
For the first time this year, we were on top of the world ” the co-ed recreation softball league world. It might’ve been the beer, but boy was the mood intoxicating.
Our thrilling 9-4 victory over The Posse on Monday night might go down as one of the greatest feats in history. I’m thinking it’s right up there with Stonehenge, Dippin’ Dots and Kevin Federline managing to sell albums despite having as much talent as a hairy nevus.
I’ll admit I didn’t think we’d get there. I’ve been overly critical of the team (see last week’s On the Diamond), and I could sense some concern and intimidation as we watched the other squad warm up Monday. They had cleats, jerseys and enough players to field JV and varsity squads. We had a cooler, a bat with no pop and a cockapoo named Isabel Louise.
The Posse commanded the field, executing infield and outfield drills with true precision. Our haphazard warm-up session was momentarily put on hold while one of our players lauded the fact she managed to get a grounder lodged between her calves.
The start of the game was similarly auspicious. Nate somehow managed to walk in a runner, then did his best Rick Carroll impersonation, striking out twice in his first three at bats. After the first blunder, I initiated a perfectly timed slow clap. After the second, Nate’s girlfriend, Emily, (even after Monday, he still has a girl that agrees to be seen with him) and I performed the wave. It didn’t catch on, much like Nate when I told him he was pulling his head out when he swung. I secretly was hoping he’d pick up a third strikeout ” the dreaded “Golden Sombrero.” Then again, they probably don’t make sombreros with a large enough circumference.
I did my part to help spot The Posse the early lead when I bobbled a ball in the outfield, allowing two runs to score. It was nearly as humbling as the last time I attempted to unhook a bra.
Despite the best efforts of the sports department to keep the Times’ winless streak alive, suddenly ” and improbably ” we rallied. For a few brief innings, we actually resembled a competent softball team. I use that term loosely.
We came through with runners in scoring position and capitalized on The Posse’s myriad of fielding miscues. Our baserunning would’ve made Tom Emanski proud. Janet Urquhart had two clutch hits, and copy editor Emily Palm lined a pitch over the third baseman to drive in two ” now that was a good hire.
Jeremy continued to set the tone as our leadoff hitter, and Mr. Peterson regained his composure in time to line a ringing single into center to stretch our lead. Redemption is spelled N-A-T-E.
When shortstop John Keck ranged to his right to snag a sharply-struck line drive and clinch the win, the bench and the field erupted. I tossed my mitt, contemplated filling a Ziploc bag with some infield dirt and hugged everyone in close proximity. Even the umpire came over to congratulate us, not just ask for a beer.
Teamwork makes the dream work.
Minutes later, we discussed who would play us in the straight-to-DVD movie. For me, maybe that kid from CBS’ “Two and a Half Men.” For Nate, I’m thinking the Snoopy float from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. And for Paul Conrad, Danny Devito will reprise his role as the penguin from “Batman Returns.”
I’m sure there’s no sign being put up at the edge of town, no parade being planned. And let’s hope we don’t suffer a let-down Thursday when we face Dave Cook, his cut-off T-shirt and Plum T.V.
One thing is certain: I won’t stop believin’.