Friday, September 19, 2008

Sometimes, it's easy being green

It began with a bunch of scrappy kids whose only hope was that they were made with bits of real panther. It was the dream on the breath of four seasons of kickball. It was the vision through the darkest of ill-lit innings. It was the hope of countless players and fans who dared not say it aloud.

Well, you can say it now. The dream is here. We’re wide awake, and our beloved Green Team has won the championship. Pause a moment. Let the words linger. We’re kickball champions.

I don’t think any of us will forget how that big red ball — just a dark gray ball, by that point in the night — looked as it hung in the air after Big kicked it. I don’t think we’ll forget the sound of it hitting that outfielder, invisible in the dark. And I know we’ll never forget the players and fans rushing the field when everyone realized that the ball hadn’t stayed in the fielder’s hands. When we realized we’d done it. When we realized we'd won.

And make no mistake, history was as thick as the clouds on Thursday. “I want retribution,” said longtime Green Team outfielder Amanda Hines before the game. She was referring to the Green Team’s first iteration, the Waltham league’s Middlesex Panthers. That team made it to the tournament championship, only to get shut out 4-0.

It wasn’t easy to pick up the pieces, and we weren’t always sure if the team would make it through. The Panthers regrouped in Somerville as Last Ones Picked for a season that struggled more than had been hoped. They tried again as the Strangers In The Alps, only to be upset early in the tournament. We’ve had to watch star players leave because of scheduling conflicts, we’ve had to console players through injuries, and we’ve had to gawk as players took their tops off or made out with each other as the tequila flowed like wine. It hasn’t always been easy.

And this season wasn’t always a cakewalk, either. Who can forget starting the semifinal game up 2-0 only to fall two runs behind and finally squeaking by in Special Tournament Overtime? Or starting the season 1-for-3, including a 9-run rout by a team that didn’t even know the rules?

Well, the pea-thick fog of history is lifted. As I write this, the sun is a crystal-clear blue and the cool breeze is gently licking the face of my metaphors like a kitten in an Oliver Stone production of Shakespeare. We can put Thursday’s win in the piggy bank and save it for a rainy day.

Then again, maybe this team will be its own rainy day. The Green Team’s heirs, Rainin’ Sideways, have started their season strong with two solid wins. East Cambridge is looking more competitive, but the Ollies are too. One or two players at the post-championship celebration last night even whispered of looking forward to a sweep — off the record of course. And it could happen. A dynasty has to start somewhere.

But sweep or no, repeat champions or no, the Green Team will always savor this night. The night they took their mountainous, last-picked, panther-concocted team and elevated it to the middle of the color spectrum.

Congratulations, Green Team. Dig a hole and go to town — you've earned it.

Yuval “take this ball and” Shavit is a special columnist for the Green Team and spiritual advisor to’s Dan Shaughnessy.

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