The fourth game was a disaster in most respects. Our pitching faltered, the hitting did not come through, and Alex took a beating. Playing third, he dove for a ground ball and cut up his elbow. Then, another grounder took a bad hop and hit him in the Adam's apple, leaving quite a mark. I told him later that you could see where it said "Rawlings - Official Size and Weight" on his neck. Others told him they could see the stitching from the ball.
When it hit him, he bent over, put his hands on his knees, then rubbed his throat and went back to his position. It was obvious that it hurt, and he was taken aback. His coach came out to talk to him, and the conversation went something like this:
Coach: Are you okay?
Alex: I'm fine.
Coach: Can you keep playing?
Alex: Yes, I'm fine.
Coach: I'm taking you out anyway.
So Alex sat and watched the rest of the game. The next day, playing their fifth game in three days and with nothing to play for except pride, the Stars went out and hammered the opposition, winning 12-6 and finishing the weekend 3-2. Alex started and got the win, while going 2-4 at the plate.
In many respects, the last game of the tournament was the best -- the teams were competitive, and the Stars had to find out what they're made of. A win meant nothing in the context of the tournament, but it meant everything to their pride and self-confidence.
We can all learn a lot from teams that pull together in the face of adversity and persevere, if only for pride. These boys can be proud of themselves that they didn't quit and didn't phone in the last game -- they put forth a tremendous effort, even when one of their best players got spiked at second base and had to sit out the rest of the game.
I think we would all be better off if we lived the principles we try to teach our children.