An Open Letter to The Team Who Won Their Only ABC Season and Then Bounced
You may not remember me. I only remember two out of four of you - the guy with the hair and the guy with the shirt. How’s your hair? How’s your shirt? How are the other two guys?
The last time we saw each other it was the summer of 2017 and I was putting medals around your neck. A rather intimate exchange, don’t you think? We quickly transitioned to the customary photo shoot where you hoisted the scoreboard, bit said medals, and ripped shots with locked arms and smiles wider than your opponents misses.
As I packed up the last of my measuring tapes and clipboards, leaving you in a sea of your own exuberance, our final exchange went something like:
Me: See you next season!
You: You betcha!
But that never happened, did it? You took your 8-4 regular season record and your impressive playoff run and you went _____ . You went where, exactly? Did the team’s glue guy take a job in D.C.? Did you try a kickball league next and turn into kickball lifers? Was it something I said?
This is the point where my brain starts spinning a bit. Because, yes, I know that not everyone comes back, but you guys we’re supposed to. I’ve seen the look of the unenthused bocce player, and you, my friends, did not have that look. Usually a taste of early success is the bocce nectar that keeps the bees buzzing. And your first season was juicy. Was it too juicy? Admittedly, that league wasn't the most premium collection of talent, but you still had to beat:
- The experienced drunks
- The perennial 7-5 team who we always pick as our dark horse
- The hodgepodge team of damn-good diehards who were looking for a league on a second night
- The nothing-to-lose loudmouths who get in opponents’ heads all too often
That’s not nothin’.
I had big plans for you. The next season, when we move everyone indoors and the talent consolidates, you were gonna go 6-6 and bashfully remind me each week that you have no idea what’s going on this season.
And then you were going to move to the big Monday league and go 4-8 and ingloriously remind me each week that you guess you just suck now.
April would come, and Chicago would courageously shed it’s winter skin, and you'd match that courage with another registration. New night, new venue. Then you’d go 9-3. Then you’d go 7-5. Then you’d whatever. Then you’d something else.
Let me level with you guys; the medals and the records might be the destination, but with bocce, we all know it's about the journey.
You never got to experience your first bocce fight (err, misunderstanding) or your first money game or that random coffee with the ref who thought you might be interested in the teachings of Bob Proctor or drunkenly getting dragged to karaoke. You never hung around late enough to throw turf in the back of the van with us. Oh, oh, what about the awkward situation where one of your teammates joins another team or when the only player available to sub for shirt guy is the one guy who you vowed you’d never play with or what about three months after when you invite that guy to the bar and shirt guy is like wait, I thought we hated this guy? and then you're like no, he's actually pretty cool, I think we just hated him because he is really good at bocce.
When I was about eight years old, I would go to my friend’s house to play Super Mario Brothers 3 on Nintendo. He’d always want to put in a cheat code, warp directly to World 8, and beat the game. But then we’d just move on to another game. I’d fight to play it out and explore new worlds, but he just wanted to taste that nectar of victory.
That friend went on to become a serial killer*. Don’t be like my serial killer friend. So team who won your first and only ABC season and bounced, if you’re out there, come back, it’s never too late.
*Ok, that’s a lie - I think he sells insurance or something but he doesn’t look super happy on Facebook.