Purple wins 3 playoff games to advance to the quarter finals - XMen beware!
Going into the final week of the regular season, Purple had won but one game. Manager Ron Chesebro, having led Purple Haze to a first place finish the season before, wondered where it all went wrong. Would he be remembered in the long line of famous Purple Haze managers as the one who went from first to worst?
Facing the 8th place Green team in the last regular season game, managers Ron and Norm decided to make it a playoff elimination game with the winner going into the first week of the regular 8 team playoffs and the loser sitting out the next two weeks. Purple prevailed 20-16 to advance.
The following week, surveying the 5th place finisher Red team, Ron told Sal, "you're my pitcher for the whole game unless you keel over." At 87 years old, Sal had seen it all and simply shrugged and looked for a comfortable spot on the bench to rest until the visiting Purple took the field. Amazingly, Purple started strong, putting up 5 and 5 in the first two innings. Followed by the more usual 0 - 0 in the 3rd and 4th. Surely, they would fold, as they had so many other times this season. Midway through the next-to-last seventh inning, Sal, having walked a few batters, motioned to Ron that he was done and it was time for John Church to take over. John did just that, walking almost every batter he faced as Red closed the gap. But was there a secret strategy involved?
On to the last inning and Purple took a five run lead into the bottom of the 8th. And who took the mound (well, actually Dana has no pitching mound, but it sounds better anyway) for the fateful final inning? Well, none other than Sal, now rested after having John delay the previous inning with all those walks. Perhaps the wise old Ron Chesebro had planned this all along. Purple held on and won the game 23-19.
Now they would face Light Blue, led by "I've never seen a pitch I couldn't hit over the fence" Kevin O'Reilly, and their ace-in-the-hole "spring chicken" pitcher Chuck Eskins, some six years younger than Sal. With only moments to rest, surely it was curtains for the now exhausted Sal. Would John Church start the game as pitcher? In the first inning Purple scored 4 runs. But then put up what would be the only scoreless half inning of the game by either team. As Purple took the field, Sal slowly ambled out to the pitcher's spot. How long could he go? At 87, most of his peers were watching the game from heaven, wondering the same thing.
Light Blue started strong, matching Purple with a 4 spot in the first, and then adding 2 more to take a 6-4 lead after two innings. But something had changed in the makeup of the Purple team. Having averaged less than 13 runs per game in the regular season, their bats were rejuvenated. Purple put up two 5s in the 3rd and 4th! They were not done! Alas, Light Blue did the same to once again take a two run lead, 16-14 after four innings.
Time was running long in the game, mostly due to the large number of pitches that were not strikes. The umpire decided to make the 5th inning a one and sit inning, assuming that "this and one more" would occur during the 5th, making this a six inning affair. Or, more likely, the umpire figured a seven inning game might require the first time use of the AED.
Purple still managed three runs in the 5th. In their half of the 5th, Light Blue wore out Sal again, who departed for the return of John "I never faced a batter I couldn't walk" Church. Was the switcheroo strategy being employed again or was Sal really done for the day? This time, John crossed up a few Light Blue hitters and held them to four runs. It was now 20-17 in favor of Light Blue. The open inning awaited. The crowd (well, actually a small handful of spectators with nothing better to do on a Saturday afternoon) became anxious.
Purple batted and batted and batted. Even John Collins, having iced his shoulder after tripping and falling earlier in the game, batted, knowing to depart the game would mean an out would be recorded, ending their rally. When the dust and dirt had cleared, Purple had scored 7 runs to take a 24-20 lead. Who would pitch for Purple in the bottom of the sixth?
Well of course any nincompoop would know that Sal would once again trudge to the mound but how many would fathom that he did so without assistance? Light Blue was not done. They scored two and loaded the bases with two outs with Chuck Eskins due up. Chuck and his eagle eyes were not to be trifled with. He drew a walk and in came the 3rd run of the inning. Now it was 24-23 and the tying run was a tantalizing 70 feet away. But it was Purple's day. The batter grounded to 3rd and it was an easy step-on-the-bag to conclude this epic game. Remarkably, with the wind blowing out, not a single home run was hit.
Next week, Purple faces the Cardinal X-Men in the semifinal game. What further surprises await?