Seven runs later, I knew it was probably over. Japan added another two runs in the fifth, and won 10-1 (or 10-2, if you ask me. The plate umpire wiped off Florida's last run, but he was wrong. The runner scored before the batter was tagged out at second base. Feh.) This being Little League, Florida joined Japan in the immediate postgame worship of the "Baseball God", the bust of Howard J. Lamade that rests beyond the centerfield wall. The postgame celebrations involved each of the teams throwing their opponents up in the air. Japan threw little Ricky Sabatino up first, in a photo that made the front page of the Williamsport Sun-Sentinel Monday morning. (I want to see about getting a copy.) Long after the interviews were over, and the grounds crew was retiring the field, a couple of players from each team hung around playing catch along the third base line. The game ended, they were all good friends again, hell-bent to squeeze another few hours of fantasy out of the experience.
Saugus, Massachusetts lost the morning game to Curacao. Michael Scuzzarella pitched, but he and his teammates clearly weren't in top form. His coach initially sent him to first base when he was taken off the mound, but Scuzz was too upset to be there, so they sent in a substitute instead. I understand how they feel... when you know you're out of the hunt for the big prize, it's hard to get yourself up for a game. Ohio looked the same way in the exhibition game I saw them in earlier in the week, as did Glenbrook North's basketball team early in the state third place game back in March. It's still a trip and a half to be there, but everything's relative, and losing the one big thing you dreamed about is a killer.
Today we're all making our way home. Out of sixteen teams, I think twelve hung around for the closing ceremonies. Four of the US teams (Arizona, Washington, Delaware, and Ohio) left on Friday or sooner to get back to school. (The Arizona kids actually started at the end of July!) The Iowa kids' principal told 'em to stay the whole week, fuck it that school started for them last Monday. This is special, once-in-a-lifetime, enjoy the whole experience. I saw one of the Guam kids at breakfast this morning, apparently they'd cut him loose to his parents. The rest of them boarded US Air planes out of Williamsport to the four corners of the globe, and I'm currently somewhere between St. Louis and Los Angeles. (Wouldn't you know, the one leg of the trip I have a DC power outlet on the plane, and it doesn't work!) I suppose the next couple of weeks or so are going to be like waking up from a dream for all of them. One will look across a classroom, meet the gaze of another, and they'll both just smile and shake their heads...
I'll get back late, late tonight. Tomorrow is termite treatment and catching up on a week and a half's mail, prepping for football... it was great to make the trip one last time. If I heard "I wish I were twelve again" once from people in passing this past week, I heard it a thousand times.