The Roy Hobbs World Series is in the books for another year, and the Comox Valley Cubs have returned home to nurse their sore bodies and bruised egos.
Remembering a 2010 tournament that had produced a very respectable 3-3 won-loss record, the Cubs and the community were looking forward to a breakthrough year in Fort Myers. Well, the break came but it was through the floor, not the ceiling! As noted in an earlier on-site report, the trip started on a few bad notes – luggage, birds, weather – and the bad notes continued for most of the week.
The Cubs were shut out twice – 6-0, and 12-0 in seven innings. But, they also played four games that were decided by two runs or less – 15-13, 12-11, 20-18, and 2-1 – and lost them all! So close, so close.
Friday finally brought some magic back to the Cubbies. Playing on the consolation side of the tourney, they took on a Tampa Bay team that also knew about the weak flooring. Jake Plante was called on to start on the mound for a morning game, and he refused to give it up. Going a full nine innings with his catcher Ray VanderMark, Jake pitched a fantastic complete game and gave up only two unearned runs. Unfortunately, a Cubs team that had scored 42 runs the previous three games decided to take the day off at the plate and offered little support.
A highlight of the game was a pop-up to second base in the sixth with runners on first second – ruled an infield fly where the runners can advance after the catch at their peril. Usually the runners on base retreat to their bases and decide if they have a chance to advance. This time, the Tampa Bay runner on second played it very causally and was thrown out by a bullet from Fauteux to shortstop Greene covering the bag. Something I have never witnessed before.
After a couple of hours rest, the second game of the day started against the Knights. Dale Greene was the starting pitcher, with expectations of a couple of innings work. But once again, at the end of a very physically-difficult week (including seven innings behind the plate on Thursday), Greene would not give up the mound. Going seven strong innings with his battery mate Dobbelsteyn, giving up only two runs, he led the Cubs to a 12-2 mercy of the Knights. Consecutive complete games, a first for the Cubs – quite an achievement!
A special note from this game was a base hit by one of the Knights off of Greene – it was the player’s first base hit in 40 years. Dale made sure that the guy got the ball, and the Cubs’ bench made sure the guy knew the name of the pitcher that gave up the hit after four decades.
The Cubs finished at 1-6 for the week. But the Roy Hobbs event is so much more than just victories. It is about a road trip with great friends, with the time to become better friends. It is the chance to meet some new guys, from around the world. It is about pulling together and staying together as a team, win or lose – or in our case, lose and lose and lose. It is also the sights and sounds and tastes of a very enjoyable part of the world, and the chance to spend a few great hours on the beach.
We want to thank Dave Fauteux for the time and effort he puts in all year long to make sure the trip is a positive adventure for everyone each year. With so many interesting personalities on the team, this is quite a responsibility – but Dave succeeds most of the time on most of the issues.
We had to make the trip this year without one of those better friends, cultivated over the years in Phoenix and Fort Myers and on our home field here in Comox. Our good buddy Daryl Egeland is fighting his own opponent here at home. But he was with us in spirit and by e-mail, and apparently is feeling rather smug that the team went 3-3 with him last year, 1-6 without him this year.
Now it’s time to take a break for a few months and come back in March, ready to do it again.