Mandatory Fun: Tournament, Game 1

Today was our first tournament game, with single-elimination in effect. For the league we’re in, everyone’s guaranteed eight games – seven regular season games, and at least one tournament game. In the tourneys – you win, you advance. You lose, you’re done.

For a lot of the afternoon, the skies got progressively darker. There were periods of rain, but all updates on the Chicago Sport & Social Club site said that games were on. In the two years we’ve been playing, never have they cancelled a game due to weather. Today was the first day where we had rainy conditions on a game day, so it looked dicey.

But… when game time rolled around, we all got dressed and made our way to Skinner Park. Despite some dreary looking clouds overhead, the rain held off and we were good to go.

Folks, getting prepped and warmed up prior to the game.

When the ref showed up with the bases, we found out that he didn’t have a ball with him. Apparently, the van they drove didn’t have all the equipment and they didn’t check beforehand. Luckily for us, the team we were playing (Mobile Duckters) had brought their own ball to practice with, so we used that instead.

The ref didn’t have rosters for us either, so we resorted to filling out blank sheets of paper. I think the ref from the other field had to go back and track down equipment, so though we started much later than scheduled… I’m guessing we started much earlier than the other field did.

Despite the delays, we had a very good start, with us putting numbers on the board from the beginning. We weren’t doing a crazy amount of runs, but got into a very slow-and-steady rhythm. One or two an inning. While the other team scored, we were always able to keep them at bay – one or two runs behind us.

AJ and Christine made some great catches (Christine jammed her finger early on in the game, but kept playing despite the injury). Justin caught a deep kick out to right field, and both Chris R and Mike were catching machines.

I had a less than admirable start where, on the first play when we were on defense… as I turned to chase a ball going foul, I immediately tripped over first base and rolled in the dirt. Luckily, I didn’t fall on my face, but kind of an embarrassing way to begin.

I bobbled one ball that I should have caught, but made up for it by catching a high pop fly. There wasn’t as much action to be had on first base this game, but I’m happy I wasn’t caught away from the bag (when I should have been covering it).

Throughout the entire game, I think we played really well. A few bumps here and there, but nothing terrible and nothing unrecoverable. We held onto our lead through the sixth inning, which I think was a great thing for us.

There was, however, a bit of controversy. At the top of the sixth inning, Chris R caught a pop fly (resulting in an out). From there, he was able to throw the ball and hit a runner who had tried to grab another base. Can’t remember if the person was going for second or third, but the play happened around second base. Chris R threw it at the player, hit him (resulting in an out), and the ball bounced in such a way that it bounced right back.

At this time, a runner was rounding third and heading home. Chris R, with the ball once again in his possession, turned, took a few steps, and hurled the ball at the runner. The guy kind of jumped or dove, with the ball missing him. However, the ball hit the fence behind him, bounced off the fence, and then hit the player as he was falling to the ground. The guy scrambled to the plate, and the ref called him safe and counted the run.

There was a large ruckus about the play, but the ref ruled the fence as “out of bounds.” Though the fence is just past the third base line, it’s technically part of the field… and serves as a divider between the field and where the teams “dugouts” are. A similar fence existed on the first base line.

Had we gotten that out, the game would have been over… we would have been ahead by one run, and would have advanced to the next round. However, the run scored by the other team resulted in a tie. Which resulted in us rolling to the seventh inning. We didn’t end up scoring when we were at bat, and the other team scored… and won the game.

It was a tough beat, particularly since we were in the lead for nearly all of the game. But we played really well overall, and I felt we looked really good out on the field. We were talking a lot to one another on defense, more so than any other game I’ve been a part of… and I think that worked well for us. We adjusted to fill gaps, and keeping a run or two lead throughout says a great deal about our defense.

Shortly after arriving at Union Park Lounge post-game, we saw a work email come through. Mike immediately hopped onto a laptop, and began troubleshooting. No rest for the IT guys.

Relaxing post game with some drinks and some food.

On a whim, a few of us decided to look up some of the official rules, here’s the stance on how overthrows and fences work:

If the ball is overthrown and hits the fence behind the 1st or 3rd base lines, this is NOT considered out of play and the runner may advance, BUT at his/her own risk.

The emphasis above is part of the rules document, FYI.

// Edit: AJ got some video! Not of the entire thing, but of the double-play:

So – technically, the play was legit. And not only would we have won the game and continued on in the playoffs… Chris R technically scored A TRIPLE PLAY BY HIMSELF. That to me stings just as much as being knocked out.

I realize there are a lot of rules to know, but with the ref arriving late and without all the equipment… it just added a little insult to injury.

Still, all in all… the wins and the games don’t ultimately matter. It’s more about hanging out with coworkers and friends, and about spending more time with people from the office outside the office. To me, we’re not all about the wins. And I know this because we’re not out doing drills and practice sessions once a week. Our warmups include doing a shot of Jameson, prior to games.

As Tim said, after our game – “It’s about the highs and the lows,” the good with the bad. To me, our games are one team-building, and one part just hanging out with good people. Yes, in some ways it’s about building our company culture… but a large part of it is that everyone likes everyone, and we choose to hang out with one another. A rare thing, I think, when it comes to workplaces.

We had a well played game, with a questionable call, and a tough loss. But at the end of the day, the game to me is incidental. It just happens to be something we do to kill time, in the midst of us going out to the bar and hanging out.

Emmis The Menace: Tournament, Game 1

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