I’m not trying to keep ya hanging about the outcome of the game last night; I haven’t been home much today. It was not a good night for the Raiders. I wish I had better news to report, but the 13-3 thrashing by Pearland Maroon was b-a-d bad. The boys in red were off in just about every possible way, but the concession stand at West U has 25-cent snowcones, so at least Macy was happy.
Tonight it’s do or die for the boys in red. We face the All Star team from the Heights, and plan to bring our game faces.
I spied him the other day at Town Square and spent a good little while wondering who he was meeting and where he was going in those oh-so-fine kicks. It also made me think about my own pair of super-fine cowboy boots, and how much I’d love to wear my boots every single day if not for my blasted plantar fasciitis and my aching feet. Sigh.
Those black & white cowhair boots and I go way back. I bought them at a kitschy little shop on South Congress in Austin in the early days of my editorial career. I paid cash for them from my hard-earned paycheck, and I loved them dearly. Still do.
I love how there’s just enough white to set off the glossy black hide. Or hair. Or fur. Or whatever it is. Don’t tell PETA, but I love the hide/hair/fur. I’m as nutsy-kookoo for animals as always, but that poor cow was doomed anyway, so that fact that his/her hide/hair/fur ended up on a pair of boots is a part of life. If I thought for one second that that cow had a shot at living a long, bucolic life eating grass into his/her old age somewhere in the great state of Texas, I’d say thanks but no thanks on the boots. But we all know the cows around here are destined to end up on someone’s grill or smoker; this is Texas after all. Funny how I wouldn’t think of eating that cow, but wearing it doesn’t bother me one bit.
Oh well. Thinking about boots is a nice distraction from last night’s agony of defeat.
Texas is a baseball powerhouse in general, and our neck of the woods is no different. We’re right down the highway from Pearland, whose Boys of Summer blazed a trail from Texas to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, last summer to go nearly all the way in the prestigious Little League World Series.
This truckload of Pearland boys could be from any Little League in Texas; hopefully in a couple of years it will be my kid’s First Colony team. We watched every game last summer, cheering for those boys in blue and hoping they would prevail. We laughed at the way the media zeroed in on the Pearland moms and their blinged-out team shirts. I guess not everyone “does” baseball that way, but around here, it’s de rigueur for baseball moms to have glitzy shirts, often with their kid’s number emblazoned in rhinestones. Writer Ken Hoffman said the Pearland team “tore through Texas tournaments and blew into Williamsport with tape-measure home runs, speeding- ticket-worthy fastballs and bedazzling mothers that the Little League World Series won’t forget.”
All Stars is an exciting time. Grueling, too, with practice 7 days a week until the games start. We plan our vacations around the All Stars schedule, and schedule our daily activities around practice. The first tournament begins Tuesday, and I sure hope the Big Red Machine blows through District and Sectionals the way they did last summer, blazing a trail straight for the State Championship in Tyler, TX.
Since I missed pretty much all of it last summer, I didn’t realize that our district, Texas East Little League, “stretches from the Sabine River in the East to I-20 in the North to I-35 on the West to San Antonio and from there to the Gulf of Mexico and back to the Sabine River,” according to the Texas East website.
We’re that little strip of green in the middle, District 16. Texas is a big state, the second-biggest in the country in both population and area, and baseball is serious business around here. I don’t know how many Little Leagues there are in Texas, but considering that this great state is 773 miles wide and 790 miles long and populated by some 25 million people (thank you, Wikipedia), I’d say there are a bunch.
I’ve written a lot about having missed so many of Payton’s games last summer. Don’t worry, I’m not going to re-hash it today. Suffice to say that if it had just been the bilateral mastectomy in mid-May, I would have been in fine shape for the All Star summer schedule. But no, the post-mastectomy infection had to surface, and the resulting hospital stays and surgeries meant there would be no trip to Tyler for me. From the moment that infection reared its ugly head, my life became one complication after another, and I began to live the famous Winston Churchill quote of “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” Just do it without being able to watch your kid play the best baseball of his life. From mastectomy to infection, to nearly 30 days in the hospital, to multiple tissue excisions, to saying good-bye to the tissue expanders, to a shaky recovery involving all manner of antibiotics and home health, to slowly very slowly getting a semblance of a normal life back to finally getting around to reconstruction, to the long recovery process after The Big Dig. Quite a circuitous route I took, with very little baseball.
So this summer, I’m going to soak it all up. Every scorching minute of it. Since Texas is in a major, seemingly unending drought, we probably won’t have to worry about getting rained out, like we did a few times last summer. I’ll be in my blinged-out shirt, cheering hard for the boys in red, and reflecting back on how much I missed last summer at the ballpark.