On the up-side... our opponent this morning lived up to their names. One of the Las Vegas Dirtbags swiped a bag belonging to one of our pitchers, who had dropped it on the stairs leading up to the field. The pitcher had stopped to help Nate's grandmother Renee lug water and snacks to the dugout. Renee remembered seeing it walking downstairs on one trip to her van, then seeing it not-there coming back. In between, most of the Dirtbags had arrived. At 8:30am, the chances of anyone not involved in the game being present at Castle Park HS are infinestimal. The umpires and our families would've returned it, so that left only our opponents. Also, anyone honest wouldn't have turned off the cell phone inside to keep it from ringing. We were cool about it. Both our pitcher and Nate walked over to their dugout (on separate occasions) and asked about it. We made it clear that we wouldn't make an issue of it as long as it was returned. Louie just wanted his IDs, phone, keys, and prescriptions back. All we got were plaintive (but often smirky) claims they hadn't seen it, but if they did they'd say something.
After the game, the bag hadn't turned up, and the plate umpire offered to go with a couple of our guys to meet the Dirtbags in the parking lot and try to mediate a solution. His presence would lend authority, and assure everyone that nobody would start a fight over it. It was awfully telling that the Dirtbags tore out of the parking lot as soon as they saw people coming down the stairs. Our whole team was pissed now, so we hung out in the lot to confront them when they came back for their semifinal game at 12:30. One of my teammate's mom was leaving when she noticed Louie's bag lying on the side of the road just down the street--it had clearly been ditched. Aside from his driver's license, cell phone, and some of his medications, it was intact.
Half an hour later, the Dirtbags returned. Most of them were pretty reasonable. One was a bit officious, nearly trying to provoke a fight when asked to prove the stolen phone and ID weren't in his bag. But between moderately calm reasoning and occasional mention of phone calls to the league and the police, not to mention changes in their own stories (the eventual culprit went from "I was first up the stairs and I saw it" to "I was last up the stairs and I remember not seeing it!",) we got their manager to agree to look into it. Renee overheard the guy talking to someone on his cell a few minutes later, telling them, "Look this is getting serious, if you don't have it, then go get it back." A few minutes later, Louie got asked to walk over to the field, and the culprit pulled his phone out of his bag and gave it back. No DL, no drugs, but he coughed up the phone.
Gee. The (Nextel) phone's SIM card was missing. That wasn't accidental or careless.
There was a lot of talk of acts of revenge--go figure, I play ball with a bunch of college-age kids. Calmer heads prevailed and Nate called the league. It was bad enough one of them had stolen from us, but their whole team covered for the guy. It's nice that Louie got his phone back, but it wasn't everything and we had to back them into a corner (figuratively) to do it. We were hoping the league would disqualify their team and let us play instead. In the end, we didn't get to play, but the league's head umpire came out to the site (!) and questioned everyone involved. And then he ejected the culprit and the Dirtbags' manager (failure to control his team) from the semifinal game in-progress and the tournament.
The up-side, in case you missed it, is that people who fucked with us got theirs in the end. Not as badly as we would have liked, but enough that we're satisfied. And somewhat entertaining.