Since Mikias and Jemberu came home, they have played team sports. Soccer, football, basketball and baseball, they love them all. They have played on teams that have rarely won and on teams that couldn't seem to lose.
This year Mikias is playing in the Minor League in our town's baseball league. In Farm League, which Mikias and Jemby played in last year (and Jemby still plays in this year) the goals are to play your best and have fun. And they did. In Minor league, it is still important to play your best and have fun, but it is also important to win. Score is kept and posted on the league website along with division standings. It is truly a whole new ball game.
Mikias plays for the Nationals. They spent a good chunk of the season in last place. At the beginning of the season they lost a lot. By a lot. As the season progressed they won some and lost some but the games were becoming competitive. They were no longer losing by a lot. They were losing by a run or so. Win or lose, they were competing and it was fun. Fun for the players. Fun for the coaches. Fun for the parents. The best part of all is this; the boys were good at losing. They walked away from the games smiling, laughing and rushing to get something to eat at the Snack Shack. They would shout a "Good Game!" at their teammates and competitors as they got into their cars. I am pretty sure they all went home happy. I know for sure that Mikias did. Happy and tired (my favorite combination).
This past Friday night the Nationals played the first place Dodgers. The Dodgers had only lost one game this season, so were not accustomed to losing. They are a talented team. A lot of nice kids. A lot of good ballplayers. It was the kind of game I love. Competitive. Edge of your seat fun. The National went into the top of the 6th (which is the last inning in the minors) down by 3 runs. And then (OH MY GOSH!) they scored 4 runs. They went into the bottom of the 6th and held them. Our guys were elated. It was a sweet moment for the formerly last place Nationals. You could see by the expressions on the other players faces that they were feeling pretty down. It's hard to lose when you are used to winning.
I don't know about the kids, but I sure learned a lesson that night. There is a lot of pressure in winning all the time. Sure it's fun. Until it's expected. And then it doesn't happen. I think a win, especially against a talented winning team is that much sweeter for having lost a few. Or a bunch.
Mikias team played again this afternoon, against the Rockies. It was a great game. The Nationals were winning until the bottom of the 6th, then the Rockies won in a walk off. I am not just being a good sport, when I tell you that it was just as fun as the Friday night win. It was exciting and competitive. Mikias, who had been struggling at bat, hit a big, beautiful, double. The smile on his face as he stood on second base was my favorite moment of the season (so far) and I am sure it was his too.
This is what it's all about. It is about fun. Making a great play or getting the big hit. Hearing your parents cheering in the stands. Saying "Good Game!" to the other team and meaning it.
"You win some, you lose some." I think it's best that way.
Long live baseball.