Taste is a big part of the game

Cory Hurley - A Game of Inches
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The sweet and sour tastes of sport is the reason why competition is so compelling.

The sweetness of victory can only be overshadowed by the sourness of defeat. The glory and the angst. Yes, it is what makes sport so great.

The uncorking of sweet champagne that follows an epic win is like a supernova — it spews from the bottle to outshine everything else in the entire galaxy. That’s what a “champagne supernova” means to me. There is no greater feeling to an athlete.

The vileness of rotted flesh left simmering in the sun is comparable to the stomach convulsions of a devastating defeat. It darkens the most memorable of moments. A “vile eclipse,” I’ll call it. There is no worse feeling to an athlete.

The Junior Barons obviously felt the “vile eclipse” Sunday at the provincial junior baseball tournament held at Jubilee Field. The painstaking agony of a 3-2 loss at the hands of the rival St. John’s Capitals could only have worsened by the belief of being robbed of the chance at the title.

Players had to be held back from chasing after the east coast umpire after the final out was recorded as the Caps claimed their sixth straight championship. The frustration, anger and hurt was no more apparent than that on the face of Barons starter Ryan Harnett, who felt he got squeezed as he struggled to find his control in the bottom of the 6th.

After walks began to pile up in the inning, a 3-2 pitch that appeared to at least catch the plate with the bases loaded tied the game. I can’t say for sure that it was in the strike zone, but, when a catcher sets up for a 3-2 pitch and doesn’t move his glove, it tends to be there. Tie game. Another walk later by relief pitcher Travis Taylor. Caps have the lead.

Just a half an inning before, coach Rob Myrden went ballistic after the same umpire called Daniel Humber out on a play at the plate. The cheers that rang out when everybody saw he was safe were only shadowed by the disbelief when he was called out. There is no replay to turn to for such a call, but a well-timed appearance by a certain newspaper photographer tells the story. Feet on the plate when the tag was made.

Some say you make your own breaks, and it is easy to criticize an umpire over a couple of iffy calls, but the Barons were the better team for this one game. Contrary to some people’s beliefs, and another great thing about sports, is not always does the best team win. Any given Sunday, right?

After being nearly unhittable, Harnett struggled with his control in the sixth, and it hurt. Humber could have had a better slide and avoided the tag altogether, and maybe a 3-1 game would have changed the outcome. Maybe, the Caps blow out the Barons with their second life — like they did everybody else in the tournament. Who knows?

In the heat of the moment, it is easy to blame an umpire, but the human element of sport — officiating or playing — is certainly another critical part of the game.

It was certainly an entertaining weekend of ball, filled with the tastes of sport.

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