Famous French dramatist Pierre Corneille once said that ‘a victory without danger is a triumph without glory’.
Having died by 1684 and being more preoccupied whilst alive in elevating the concept of tragedy in literary form, I don’t know if Pierre ever found the time to play softball in a corporate league, but I feel like he’d have enjoyed last night just the same.
Of course, the scholars amongst us will recognise that great tragedy is based on human suffering. As the Germans know very well, there is a strange, somewhat paradoxical pleasure to be had in witnessing other people’s downfall. We’ll come to this a bit later…
Last night, ROAST found themselves playing the final league game of a season that had seen them vanquish all challengers they came up against. This meant we were top of the table with one game to play. Only one team could catch us, and who were we playing? You guessed it.
We level pegged for a few innings, neither team ahead by more than a few runs. Their pitcher knew the rules and could pitch, always a lethal combo. I’ve spent about ten minutes trying to work in a joke here about how our star pitcher and Head of SEO, John Campbell, was worried about losing our ranking position at the top… but it just wasn’t working. Let’s just say it was tight. It was tense. It was other things beginning with T. Tumultuous. Terrifying. (at this point in the write-up I turned to Tom next to me to ask him what’s another word that begins with T and he said his own name, how arrogant can someone get?!).
Valiant efforts in the deep field from Phil The Drill, Ollie P, April and Arthur were keeping us in touch, and Haider was putting a shift in on first base to force outs. But the competition started to pull away. Rebecca was determined to tag runners out on third. Steff was determined to run as far away from the ball as possible when it was pitched at her. Zooooey was determined to hit the ball in the most awkward place for anyone in the field to get it. And yet… and yet… our challengers continued to stack up the runs. To fail and lose the league on the last game of the season… well, it didn’t bear worth thinking about. We went into the last innings trailing 27-22. They scored six runs. We had one final innings. The score was 33-22. We needed 11 runs just to force a draw. Pierre Corneille would have loved it. Tragic.
If I can digress for a moment, you may have noticed that a few of us have had meetings with a life coach over the past few weeks. He talked about things not particularly relevant to softball, but he did illuminate us with his wise words on eternal truths. One of these eternal truths is that some people have grit and some people don’t. You’ve either got it or you haven’t. Wikipedia describes grit as a ‘positive, non-cognitive trait based on an individual’s passion for a particular end state, coupled with a powerful motivation to achieve their respective objective.’
So, stepping up onto the plate, we would have been asking ourselves, did we have the grit? We scored one run. We scored another. We got another one. And then another (that’s four so far). And then we got another. We started to believe. Did we always believe? I think we did. The runs continued to flow, first a drip, drip and then a steady flow… and then the deluge. We had 11 runs and we were drawing with the team who had looked to usurp us. We looked at them in the field.
They’d flapped it. They were husks of men and women. They’d looked glory in the face and decided they didn’t want a piece of it. No grit, you see?
Every single person batting in our last innings had got round and made runs. Herculean efforts from every single player had got us so close and Bish had stepped in at the last minute and with steroid injections in his knees and dodgy shoulders to smash us to within an inch of the winning run. Marina stood on third base… primed to run in for victory. Through the excitement we’ve forgotten who stepped up to set the winning run in motion but this was a team effort, where everyone had played their part so perhaps it’s not important. What is important is that Marina cruised over the home plate, closely followed by Ollie B and at close to 21:30 we had won a game and a league title that only 15 minutes earlier our opposition must have surely considered theirs. A true tragedy, but not for us. The human suffering lay solely with our opponents. And Bish’s knee. A joyous victory from the jaws of defeat.
And there you have it. A 35-33 win and a title at the first time of trying but the win was not just for those that were on Primrose Hill last night. It was a victory for all of ROAST.