August 22nd, 2002

Enterprise Bridge

LLWS Days 6 and 7

If you missed last night's Kentucky-Texas game, you missed one of the most fantastic baseball games in history. Two pitchers that threw no-hitters for six innings of regulation, one of whom finished his nine allowed innings with no hits and 19 strikeouts, the other who gave up only two hits but threw 21 strikeouts. A game all present knew would shape into an epic by the third inning. A game we expected to be won on a couple of hits, some aggressive baserunning, and an error or passed ball--it would be close! But instead it was won on two home runs by two of the three Kentucky pitchers, back-to-back in the top of the 11th inning. If you watched SportsCenter today, you saw highlights. Two teams that played such goddamned brilliant baseball, it was a shame that somebody had to lose. Texas made an effort in the bottom half, but could only get one run across.

Harlem showed up with an outstanding team. They really did. In losing to a hot-hitting Kentucky in pool play, they still held that team to only two runs. Tonight they made the New England team from Massachusetts earn every inch of their victory. They worked counts, fouling off as many as 5 pitches beyond strike 2. They ran hard. They made brilliant plays in the field. They pitched fabulously. They kept the pressure on all the time--Harlem left 11 runners on base for the game. New England's Keith Landers was throwing with his back to the wall the whole time. He got some key strikeouts--against Harlem batters who were serious home run threats--in the fifth and sixth innings. When he came up in the bottom of the sixth with two men on, the score tied, he flew out deep to center. But for every good pitcher, there's a good catcher getting his back. Ryan Griffin came up next, worked a 1-2 count an additional three foul balls past strike 2, and found a pitch he could sent out past the right field fence to end it.

So this leaves me with good news and bad news. The good news is there's now no possibility I'll have to root against a US team in the Series championship game Sunday night. Any native Chicagoan will tell you, we don't ever root for New York teams. Period. With Harlem eliminated, that's a non-issue.

On the other hand, Saturday's US championship is going to be a bitch. I really like both the New England and the Texas squads. Oh well, my cup runneth over or something...

I like rain. Really, I do. I just wish it wouldn't fuck up my scorebook so much.