Bottom of the sixth, two out and the home team was down by one.
The runner on third, my son, had a foot on the bag and his arms hung down by his side. The kid at the plate had not gotten a hit all season. He had one strike on him. The runner on third, my son, leaned forward.
As the ball left the pitcher’s fingertips, Rory took off. The batter swung weakly at a pitch high out of the strike zone. Rory’s feet and legs slid across home plate and the catcher put the tag down on his belly, just above his waist. Safe, right?
The umpire’s right arm went up. His hand made a fist and his fat thumb extended.
“He’s out!” Game over. Season over.
The hapless Rockies had just lost their 15th and final game of the year. Winless the entire season.
They did not get an invitation to the Today show or Good Morning America. John Henry and Larry Lucchino did not invite them to Fenway Park to watch a Red Sox game in a luxury suite. The Rockies were losers in the purest sense of the term: O-15.
That’s harsh, you say. Well, what else do you call a team that does not win a single game?
My son, who was about 11 at the time, was a member of a team that two years before had won the league championship. He took the 0-15 season in stride. When we got home after the game, he threw a bunch of pizza pockets in the oven, took a dip in the pool and watched the Sox on television. He played some video games and went to bed.
Everything was cool.
His psyche wasn’t damaged. He went on to play on a travel team for the rest of the summer. They won some, they lost some. When September rolled around he went back to school and got good grades.
Just like the girls’ high school basketball team from Texas that recently lost 100-0.
The girls from Dallas Academy, which specializes in teaching students with ADD and other learning disabilities, hadn’t won a game in four years, so losing was nothing new.
As a matter of fact, the coach of the winning team got fired for running up the score.
The losing team has been on several national morning talk shows, and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has invited the team — the losing team, not the winning team — to a home game, where they will sit courtside. Their coach, Jeremy Civello, called his team winners and said he was never more proud of them. Good for the coach.
So who was the winner here?
The young women from Dallas Academy will go on to live happy lives. They will graduate and go to college. Some will go on to be doctors, judges or even secretary of state. They’ll have kids, pay mortgages. But before that, they will enjoy the Marvericks game, courtside, because they couldn’t score a basket.
By the way, Rory heads off to college in September. I have my fingers crossed, but I think he’s going to be OK, despite the 0-15 season.
Dennis Shaughnessey’s e-mail is email@example.com.