by Kevin Burton
My USA Legends got the game they needed to get Tuesday at the Beep Baseball World Series in Wichita.
And I survived five hours of baseball after five years off.
Game one of our tripleheader was a 4-3 win over Tyler. The Legends came back from a 3-1 deficit, scoring one in the fifth and two in the bottom of the sixth to win.
Beep baseball is a fantastic sport in so many ways. But what you do not usually have in the World Series is a slate of shocking upsets the way you see most years in the NCAA basketball tournament.
In beep baseball the team who is supposed to win almost always wins. I would say 95 percent of favored teams get the wins they expect.
That’s why observers pointed to the Legends vs Tyler game as the key game in bracket B. The game featured evenly-matched teams and ended up being the only competitive game all day in that bracket.
The Legends were rated 12th and Tyler ninth, so by the numbers the result was a mild upset.
We were never in any danger of beating the San Antonio Jets or losing to the Braille bandits from West Palm Beach Florida.
After winning two of three Tuesday, the Legends play an 11:30 game today against the Philly Fire.
The difference between winning two games and just one in round-robin play is huge. Winning on Tuesday improves a team’s trajectory through the double elimination part of the tournament. Losing two or three games Tuesday usually means you face one of the league’s best teams first thing Wednesday.
In our case two wins yesterday means we get a little more sleep, playing an 11:30 games as opposed to an 8:30 game.
Legends coach Rob Weigand was pleased with the defense, which was solid, much better than you might expect from a team that had never played a game together.
Our starting pitcher, longtime Denver pitcher Jon Walker called the Tuesday games “one great big practice.”
On one hand, teams point their efforts all year to the World Series, so it’s hard to call any World Series games practice. On the other hand, any flaws we showed on offense Tuesday will be forgotten if we improve during the rest of the week. In that sense the games were like practice.
The Legends are an interesting team because its players were all very good players in their prime and still have some game left. How much game is left is the question.
The advanced age of the team lead some to say they would rather play us later in the tournament, after the old legs give out, than on the first day.
All Tuesday games were delayed by 90 minutes because of a very hard rain Monday night. The opening ceremonies were cancelled and I’m told most of the canopies that tournament organizers had in place were blown away by winds of up to 60 miles per hour.
My only individual contributions yesterday came in the one game we lost. I had four putouts against San Antonio in what almost certainly was my last matchup again the great pitcher Kevin Sibson.
My usually reliable batting stroke was way off and I didn’t score any runs all day. There was more rust there than I expected. My defense seemed OK, although neither Tyler of West Palm hit anything close to me.
It was great to see old friends yesterday, teammates from the old Wichita Sonics and the later Sonics team I started in 2009. Over the years you forget most of the scores from games, but the people stay with you.
I was quite surprised to notice during the Tyler game that my baseball shoes had several worn places and in fact were barely holding together. I asked if anyone had any duct tape. That was a no, but Walker had some athletic tape. I showed him the condition of my left shoe and he said “How am I supposed to fix that?”
Truth be told, the other one was just as bad. I finished the day in shoes borrowed from Walker’s son Tim, one of our catchers. That was certainly a first.
By the time the week ends I may be held together by duct tape myself. But today, the ride continues, with the spirit at least, intact.