The series against the Brighton Braves was Finding Nemo. Think about the beginning of that movie. Everything is great. Marlin and Coral moved into a poppin’ new anemone, there’s fish swimming everywhere, and the two clownfish have hundreds of little red eggs preparing to hatch. Then that barracuda shows up.
We all know what happens next. The barracuda takes the eggs and Coral on a field trip to his stomach, fucking up millions of young brains worldwide who expected to see a feel-good movie about a fish. I’m still shaken up by it, as I’m sure many others are. The barracuda is the YBL Playoffs, and the eggs are the regular season. When the playoffs come, you can forget about whatever happened during the regular season because the barracuda is gonna eat that shit. You better be prepared to fight for your life. Otherwise, you’ll go home empty-handed.
Alright, let’s move past the fish baby massacre and talk about some baseball. Game 1 took place Friday at 8 PM, and Jay Gamboa was the starter for the A’s. I’m thinking about his performance as a pivotal part of the series, so to put that in Nemo terms, this is when Marlin found Dory. Jay struck out eighteen hitters (eighteen!) in seven innings, giving up three hits and allowing two runners to score. His dominance and the relentless ATBC offense were enough for us to cruise to victory and take game 1, but the journey was only beginning.
The Braves are no joke. Their offense can compete with anybody, and although we were confident in our ability, we knew it wouldn’t be a walk in the park. A swim in the ocean? I don’t know. Game 2 rolled around and Matt Rothermel took to the hill for the A’s at Cunningham Park at 5 PM. We found ourselves in a hole after the top half of the fourth. Remember when the whale swallowed Dory and Marlin? That's how we felt facing a 6-2 Braves lead. We saw walls of baleen bristles surrounding us with no gaps, and we thought about what it would take to escape.
We didn’t panic. We've seen what our offense can do throughout the year, and that trust in our team kept us calm and focused on getting on base and scoring. We tallied four runs in the bottom of the fifth to tie it up like a pledge. It was the quickest four runs we've scored all year, and momentum flipped. In the seventh inning, Chappy the Great One, who had already hit two walk-offs during the regular season, strolled up to the plate looking confident as ever with "El Chapo" by The Game and Skrillex playing. He hit a moonshot. The pitcher walked off the field without looking at the ball. The left fielder half-assed his way after it but peeled off. I think he realized that even if he somehow caught it, the runner on third could tag up and walk home to score the winning run. Hell, the runner on second could have probably even tagged up and scored. We were out of the whale, but the whale was in our heads.
Being up 2-0 in a best-of-five series feels terrific. We could have put our feet up, sparked a stogie, and said, "Hey, these guys can't hang with us. Let's start thinking about the championship." But championship teams don't do that. Championship teams store the stogies with the champagne. Championship teams focus on the next game, which for us was Game 3.
We shipped off to East Boston, where Paul Wydom led the charge. Paul is the perfect guy to lead a charge because he looks like Chewbacca. If Paul Wydom took his shirt off at a public pool or something, people would ask, "Why's that guy wearing layers in August?"
Chewy threw seven shutout innings, striking out nine and giving up only three hits while our offense took care of business. I gotta say, it's great to be back in the championship. The championship series is when you figure out if everything you've worked for was worth it. Everybody's got something going on. It might be a sore arm, a bad knee, or a clicky wrist, but one thing is for sure, winning makes injuries feel better. We have the opportunity to make our goals a reality. Who doesn't love that?
Game 1 of the winner-take-all series is on Friday, August 5th, at 8 PM in East Boston against the Brighton Black Sox. It’s a rematch of last year's championship, so expect a hard-fought battle between two excellent baseball teams.
I got a chance to talk to ATBC stud Cam Plank about what changes on the field during playoff games, and I’m very proud to say it is our first sponsored video of the year.