This kid is a stud. I'm not just saying that because he is my little cousin (son of my cousin Mike), but because he earned a Little League playoff win by pitching three strong innings in relief.
Joseph (like how I blurred out the last name so the ladies don't stalk him?) came into the game in the 4th inning with his team down 5-2, and proceeded to shut 'em down for two innings while his team came back to tie it at 5. But something happened in the top of the 6th. Or, should I say, someONE happened.
With two outs, Joseph gave up a run without giving up a hit, unless you count an easy pop fly that the someONE in left field just watched as it fell to the ground. Okay, it was hit pretty high, and these kids are all just nine and ten years old, but COME ON! YOU GOTTA CATCH THAT, MORON! FUCKIN' CAN O' CORN! I didn't yell that at the kid, but I thought it very loudly. And then, as if to say, "You thought THAT was inept?! Watch THIS," on the very next pitch said left fielder let a line drive RIGHT TO HIM - a certain third out - go through his glove, allowing the would-be winning run to score. I desperately fought the "that guy" urge to say things like, "ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME, BUCKNER? GIVE ME THAT GLOVE SO I CAN GIVE IT TO SOMEONE WHO DESERVES IT!" and "IS THE OTHER TEAM FUCKING PAYING YOU? I'LL DOUBLE IT IF YOU'LL RUN AWAY FROM HOME, NEVER TO RETURN!" and - because my cousin was on the hook for the loss - "YOU'RE FUCKING WITH MY FAMILY, ASSHOLE!" I succeeded in keeping quiet, but again, I'm sure my supersonic hyper-critical thought waves were making dogs bark for miles.
(Honestly, the reason I get so amped up about this shit is that I know I made many, many mistakes as a kid, and it's painful to recall them when observing a child go through the same thing. Especially now that I don't make mistakes anymore.)
Mirabile dictu (means "amazing to relate" - Mr. Brennan, my high school Latin teacher would be proud!), Joseph's team came roaring back in the bottom of the 6th and final inning to win, 7-6, on a two-out, walkoff, bases-loaded single. Most exciting Little League game I've ever seen.
So Joseph got the win after all, and the whole team celebrated together. Not even the telepathically abused left fielder was left out. In fact, I don't think anyone on the team blamed him in the least for anything. On top of this, the losing team seemed to be entirely at peace with their tough loss as they all lined up to shake hands with the victors in a show of good sportsmanship. It was nice to see. And humbling.
I'm glad I didn't actually say aloud any of those things I was thinking in the heat of the moment. Not just because heckling a child like an asshole would have been intensely embarrassing for me and my family. But because I would never want to say anything to hurt any child, and that's the truth.
But maybe that would have changed if Joseph's team ended up losing.