I wanted to write down my memories of Saturday, which was probably the most sports-packed day of my life, just so I can look back at this entry and remember this day later, but I'm too busy to make any coherent story of it, so I'm just gonna throw out some bullet points, and get this over with.
Since my indoor soccer team had a bye on Friday, we decided to get together on Saturday morning for a scrimmage.
The only time the field was available was at 7:30AM, so I got up at 7 and went out and played soccer for an hour.
Went home and showered, then immediately headed out to Rittler Field for the Alameda Little League Championship Game. The Cardinals were facing the Astros. One of our neighbors was on the Cardinals, and my wife's nephew was on the Astros.
The Astros had reached the finals in dramatic fashion, scoring three runs in the bottom of the sixth to win the semifinal over the Pirates, 6-5. The nephew, who is the youngest player on the team, having just turned 11, drove in the game winner, a chopper over the third baseman's head with the bases loaded and two outs.
In the Championship game, the nephew took advantage of batting fifth in the order, as each time he came up, the team's best hitters had gotten on base in front of him, and he drove in three runs with a single and two groundouts.
The Astros' starting pitcher threw an excellent game, but he hit his pitchout limit with out out in the fifth, and the coach brought in the nephew to pitch with the Astros up 5-2. The nephew is a lefty, and can throw strikes almost at will, although he's still small compared to some of the other kids, so he can't (or doesn't try to, I'm not sure) overpower them. He got two outs on two pitches, and we headed for the final inning.
In the bottom of the sixth, it was still 5-2. The Cardinals kept putting the ball in play, and they found some holes, and they got the tying run into scoring position with two outs. The nephew got two strikes on the batter, and was oh-so-close to finishing out the victory, but the Cardinals batter got a base hit to plate the tying run.
A tie ballgame. Little did I know then, but that was going to become a theme on this day.
The nephew managed to get the last batter out, however, and so the Little League Championship Game headed for extra innings.
It was a very exciting and very enjoyable game. The crowd was fairly large and quite vocal and enthusiastic. I was impressed with how well these kids played; they fielded well; they covered and threw to the correct bases--I suppose that's why they each made the championship game. There's a good baseball culture in Alameda; I suppose that's why so many accomplished players (like Willie Stargell, Dontrelle Willis, and Jimmie Rollins) have come from our fair city.
The Astros won the championship in the top of the seventh, when they batted around and scored eight runs. Five of the runs were scored on home runs; not "Little League" home runs, but actual blasts over the fence, 208 feet away from home plate. The nephew continued on the mound to finish out the game in the bottom of the seventh. He drove in the winning run in the semifinal, and was the winning pitcher in the final, so he was one happy kid when it was all over.
After the Little League game, we headed home for lunch, and an appointment with the television: USA vs. Italy in World Cup Soccer.
At the time, I thought the game was horribly officiated, but looking back at it now, there was really only one horrible call: giving the American player the red card, when really only a yellow card was warranted. All similar plays elsewhere in the tournament have received yellows. After the US got a (more deserved) second red card, the US had to play with only 9 men, and there was no way they could win.
Still, the US managed to get a tie, thanks to a lucky own goal, so the result was just, even if the game wasn't.
After the soccer match, the family and I headed out to the Coliseum for the A's-Dodgers game. Once a year, we get a bargain price on a luxury suite for a ballgame, as part of our season ticket package, and our fellow season-ticket package mates chose this game to have a little fest. We tailgated out in the parking lot before the game, and then headed up to the suite to watch the game.
We were in the highest level of suites, way up in left field on Mount Davis. It's not the greatest of views, as the players look pretty small from up there, but I liked the angle, as it was pretty much the same angle I used to watch ballgames from back in the days before Mount Davis, when I would always sit out in the left-center bleachers.
For the longest time, it seemed like the A's would lose, as they could do very little against Derek Lowe. Lowe must really like the Coliseum mound or something. I've seen him get roughed up on TV against other teams, but I have never seen him have anything other than Cy Young quality performances in person. But Lowe ran out of gas in the eighth, and a clutch hit by Bobby Crosby gave the A's a sudden and surprising lead.
Huston Street came in to close the game, but was unable to. Just as in the Little League game earlier in the day, the trailing team was down to its last strike, but got a clutch hit to tie the score, and we went off to extra innings.
The game went on and on. The Dodgers ran out a succession of good relief pitchers having good days. The A's ran out Kiko Calero and Brad Halsey, the latter of whom danced his way out of numerous Dodger scoring opportunities.
There were about five different families in our luxury box, but by the time the 15th inning rolled around, my family was the only one left. I was getting bored, so I started sending text messages to Jon.
They had a second dot race. The red dot won the first race, so I had no doubt the white one would win the second. (The blue dot would never, ever win a race with a blue team like the Dodgers in town.) I was right.
The A's trotted out Steve Karsay in the 16th inning, and I thought for sure the A's would lose then, because it had become clear that Steve Karsay was pretty much done as a player. But surprisingly, Karsay had one last good game in his tank, and got through the next two innings unscathed. The next day, we learned that Karsay realized he was done as well, and announced his retirement. He went out with one last, marvelous, heroic performance, his first victory in almost four years. You always like to see a guy go out on top.
By the time Bobby Crosby came up with two outs and the bases loaded in the 17th, I didn't care if the A's won the game ugly: with a walk, HBP, balk...just win the game and get it overwith. Thankfully, Jae Seo complied and walked Crosby on five pitches, and the long day had finally come to an end.
So that's it. A day that started at 7:30am and was filled with soccer, baseball (and more baseball), soccer, and then baseball (and more and more and more baseball) all the way until 11:30pm. Sixteen hours of wall-to-wall sports. Whew!