Day six was a day of epic ups and downs. The parents staying at the hotel had bonded, many horrible watery American beers had been consumed (for some reason the official beer of East Nepean is Coors Light in cans. On the way down, Mark's dad texted that he had gotten us a case of it and I asked Matt why on earth he had asked for Coors Light: Matt replied that it was baseball beer - everybody drank it and it was the easiest to share. "Except Dave Walsh. He won't drink it." I said "Let me guess - Heineken?" and he said "Yes". This won't be terribly funny to you because you don't know Dave Walsh, but trust me, if you did you would think I was both brilliantly perceptive and hilarious), and we were riding the high from the win. My sister had called us the day before and told us that she and her family were getting up at the ass-crack of dawn to drive down from London for the game today and then driving back home afterwards. Chris, our good friend and the best man at our wedding, was also driving in from Barrie. We were gobsmacked at the amazingness of our family and friends.
We had planned to have my sister's crew meet us at the hotel, but they were stuck in a traffic jam near the park and then found out it was an accident, so we directed them to The Mountaineer, which was a little place within walking distance of the ballpark that was popular with the coaches: three coaches came with every team, and one coach had to stay in with the boys after lights out every night, while the other coaches went out for
refreshments fresh air. As I put down the phone, we realized we could call Chris (who was watching a game at the park) and tell him to meet us there too. I called him and gave him directions and told him to look for my sister, who he'd met years before. After I hung up I said "uh, I guess that'll be a nice surprise for my sister". When we got there, we found out that he'd come in and stood there for a few minutes trying to decide if it was actually her, while she wondered who the long-haired stalker type was standing uncomfortably near their table. It all got sorted out before anyone got hit with a purse or a pint thrown in their face, and we had a nice lunch.
We walked back to the park. Matt and Chris and my brother-in-law Andrew went to the cars to get stuff and Jody and I and the kids started walking up. Fortuitously, Angus was at batting practice so he got to see his aunt and cousins, who he hadn't realized were coming.
We dropped by the gift shop .
There was still a game going on in Volunteer Stadium, so we sat on the hill and watched the game going on in Lamade for a bit. There was a kid on the Tennessee team named Trae McLemore and at one point I said that every time he came up I felt like singing Thrift Shop. Half the hillside seemed to burst out laughing, which made me think the game must be a little tense and I should probably lower my voice.
We went over to find our seats in Volunteer Stadium. Some coaches and parents from the Chinese team were there and they all high-fived us and wished us luck and said some other stuff we couldn't understand because it was in Chinese, but they were really nice. Also, they probably knew we'd be easier to beat than the team who was about to pound the ever-living crap out of us.
Then we thought it would be fun if I took poorly-focused picture of my sister and her husband and our children in between Matt and Chris, who would pretend not to know anything about how cameras work.
and it was.
I'm not sure what's going on here. I could know, because we've since been given DVDs of all three games by a really nice guy at TSN, but none of us have been able to bear to watch the third game yet.
It has something to do with Angus being told to swing a bat in slow motion,
and then the team being told to attack Angus.
and then Angus having to collect himself before the game starts.
The game, as many of you know, was hideous. We didn't know this at the time, but five of the Panama kids had actually been at the World Series the year before. And man, these kids could HIT. They hit everything, and they hit it right where it needed to go. There was a kindly American man sitting behind me that kept saying it wasn't that our team was doing anything wrong, the Panama team just did everything right. Angus started out pitching, but they hit everything, and he was getting visibly upset. The coach pulled him after the second inning, which a lot of people thought was too early, but Matt and I thought it was probably more to protect him than as a vote of nonconfidence. Things went from bad to worse. And this is where I thought our head coach, who's always been both amazing with the kids and a total class act, stayed true to form: instead of keeping in our more successful hitters in (faint) hope of not getting mercied, he put in all of our substitutes so they would all have a chance to bat in our last game. He let Angus come out for his at-bat, let everyone cheer him, gave him a hug, and then asked him to give up his spot to a substitute, which Angus did.
Well, what can you do? We were up against teams with bigger population bases, teams who play twelve months a year, and we're not even allowed to have a team until after June 15th. They'd won one game, which was more than the last East Nepean team had done, but of course that wasn't enough: they wanted to win two. We knew Angus was going to be devastated. We went up and waited for him. I tried to go funny - I asked him if he wanted to punch me. He tried to smile, but it was a no-go, so I told him he didn't have to talk to us, and we'd check on him the next day and to call if he needed anything. He spent a few minutes with Matt and then he came over and hugged us (Eve was touched that he hugged her even in the depths of his despair). By this time, Eve was crying too. Drastic measure were called for.
All week we'd been saying that when we ended up here, we would know that we'd spent too long at the ballpark.
We adjourned to The Mountaineer with some other parents to eat our feelings. Our feelings tasted like pride and disappointment, battered and deep-fried.
Eve started to feel better.
The next day, Angus texted us that he was feeling better, so we said we'd pick him up and all do some shopping.
Obligatory trip to Dick's sporting goods, where Angus fondled baseball gloves in a well-nigh indecent manner.
Angus had left his jersey in the van while we were shopping because he didn't want anyone to know who he was (Eve thought this was evidence of mild insanity). When we dropped him back at the park, he was a bit anxious that he was cutting it close for walking all the way back up the hill to make it for dinner on time. We texted the coach that he was back, and he got out of the van and walked towards the gates, trying to hold a bag, get on his jersey and straighten the lanyard that his player's pass was on all at the same time. He had one arm with no sleeve on and looked like a total dork. As I rolled down the window to yell at him to get his shirt on right, the person at the gate talked to him, and then motioned over one of the little golf carts that carried seniors and disabled people up the hill. I wasn't sure if they were giving him a ride because he was a VIP or because they didn't trust him to get there on his own. Either way, it was probably a good thing.
Since the beginning of the series, Angus had been cracking himself up by that little verbal construction that consists of rhyming a word with itself prefixed by "sh". You know - "luck shmuck", "black shmack", "better shmetter". As we were driving back to the hotel, he texted something, and then texted again correcting the spelling of the first text. I texted back that, while I appreciate the effort, he really didn't have to correct his spelling in texts. He texted "spelling shmelling".
I informed Matt and Eve that he was fine.