With the news that postponed games from my first attempt at seeing the Blue Sox would not be played, I decided to try and get down to Sydney in time to catch at least one of the last series. I needed to resolve the confusion of ‘Am I finished?’ into ‘Roadtrip unambiguously complete’.
With that in mind, I serviced the car (and paid for a new exhaust – who knew that tiny 3-door hatches aren’t supposed to sound like small jet-aircraft?) and headed for Sydney via Armidale and Tamworth. I won’t go into any detail about the drive, but I highly recommend driving from Grafton to Glen Innes across the Gibraltar Ranges. Magic. And the gorges along waterfall way are pretty damn stunning also. *
The first thing I did upon regaining phone reception was to check the standings and found that the Blue Sox had cinched third spot, so it was likely that the stadium wouldn’t fill up. Sad I missed the games in Sydney and Perth to see what happened, but thanks to the magic of the internet, I can catch up with those games at my leisure.
A hot and sunny day was the setting for the last game of the regular season and I wandered in to chat with a random stranger whose son is on the extended roster. I have spent a lot of this trip being mistaken for a player’s mother and answering “which one’s yours?” with the answer of either “none of them” or “all of them”, depending on how my team-allegiance is feeling on the day.
I had my lone dance in the stands (Yes, to Taylor Swift) while we waited for the first pitch. And then, finally, the absolutely very last game of the ABL Roadtrip was underway. All the Cavs fans I had met on the way into the ground were operating on very little sleep with varying levels of happiness about it. Knowing that the Cavs were out and the Blue Sox were in, I was expecting a bit of a half-hearted game from the Blue Sox and while they started slow, they didn’t take it too easy. But they certainly didn’t seem too distressed to lose the game 7-2 and the Cavs didn’t look super-excited to win it.
Over the course of the previous week leading up to the end of the regular season, Trent Oeltjen had announced his retirement. Then Justin Huber announced his retirement to take up leadership of the Melbourne Aces. And then, at the last minute, Darren Fidge announced his retirement too. And Tim Kennelly hasn’t officially retired, but recognises that his new calling as a Firefighter is almost definitely going to interfere with his availability to play baseball – so he’s probably retired? Maybe?**
I roamed down through the stands to sit with Jess and after a while, Mitch and Bob came over as well. Bob cheerfully and loudly supported the Cavs. I supported the institution of watching baseball by getting involved in all of the cheering for everything. And also furthered my personal tradition of bouncing around the stadium for chats with people,cheers for the U21 team again!
I went on the field YET AGAIN after the game and bounced around the bases. You’d think that after finding the giant hat, shawl and flipflops problematic in Melbourne I would have managed to ditch at least some of them before trotting around the bases at Blacktown, but no. Apparently I don’t learn. Murph was being interviewed in the infield and I’m hoping that my graceless bouncing and quiet giggling was not visible or audible on camera.
People generally milled and mobbed about and got autographs and basically said ‘Yay guys!’ and I was left with the terrible dilemma of supporting the Blue Sox or Perth the following week. (Hint, I dressed all in red.)
* The Tamworth country music festival is totally worth a stop, even if (like me), your level of engagement with country music kind of begins and ends at Kasey Chambers.
** If you want to see some actual gorgeous art about the league, check out Antania Monkley’s watercolour portraits, or follow her on Twitter (@AntMonkley)