THE LOSS

25 Sep

It’s Tuesday, September 25th.  The tournament is over.  We lost to Spain in the finals 7-9 in 10 innings.  I am back at home, in New York, sitting alone in my room, the same place this all started when one day three months and 15,000 readers ago I started a wordpress blog called “My World Baseball Classic Blog”, before quickly, and thankfully, changing the name to “King of Jewish Baseball”.  What was then fantasy – making the team, playing in the finals, is now the past.  Everyone is gone.  The posters are down.  No more clubhouse.  No more gear.  No more free meals at the hotel.

back home, New York, in my room

It was not supposed to happen this way.  We could have won.  We should have won.  We were the best team on paper by far.  We had 25 professional baseball players on the team.  14 of them played this season in either Double A or Triple A.  The general sense was that we had already won.  We could taste it as they say.  On my way out to the field for the game I saw a golf cart pulling into the clubhouse full of beer and champagne for the post game celebration. By the end of the 1st inning, we were winning 2-0, and every locker was party proofed, covered in plastic.  Each of us had imagined running out on the field and dog-piling on the mound so often and so clearly it was as if it had already happened.  And then all of a sudden, it didn’t happen.  After a bizarre 5 hour game, Spain won, and we lost, and it was all over, and instead of celebrating, we sat together in silence for 20 minutes staring at the floor until the coaching staff came in to speak to us.

I cannot shake the feeling that I want to turn back time and do it again, or that I am going to wake up and it will be the morning of the finals and we’ll get a chance to replay the game.  I cannot comprehend that it is over and that we did not win.  Reality has splintered and the trajectory of each of our lives will ricochet off this loss.  There were life altering implications for every single person involved if we had won.  The team would have been flown to Israel for a trip.  We would have started preparing for March for the World Baseball Classic in Tokyo or Puerto Rico or Australia or wherever the first round will be played. The Major Leaguers – Youk, Kinsler, maybe Braun, would have joined the team.  Money would have been raised for the new stadium in Israel.  A nation, at least some of them, would have rejoiced.  Thankfully, some of these thing will still happen despite the outcome, if somewhat slower.  There would have been a book written about our team.  Maybe a movie too.  Players and coaches would have been offered jobs.  So much was riding on this game.  I personally would have been bronzed and donated by the Israel Association of Baseball to the Smithsonian Institute for example.

Maybe it is our fault for putting too much on one game.  You can’t trust baseball.  It’s unpredictable.

Baseball is a game of failure as it’s said – a lot of getting out, a lot of getting hurt, getting cut, losing games.  Everyone of us on the team had experienced our own various successes and disappointments as players and coaches.  But this was going to make everything alright.  It was going to wipe all our personal slates clean and we were going to be champions, forever.  The guys on the team kept saying after the game – and keep in mind they all play for money, every day, for Major League organizations, in front of crowds and scouts and baseball execs – that they had never wanted to win a game so badly.  Doc Copeland said this was bigger than the 2 World Series he won with the Blue Jays.  Everyone was all in.  We worked hard.  We loved each other.  We wanted it so bad.

The loss is challenging my whole sense of logic.  We want to believe that we live in a world where if we are the better team and we do everything we can to win and we are fully invested for the all the right reasons that we will come out on top.  But we do not live in that world.  And we do not need this team and this loss to know that far worse things have happened to people who do not deserve it.

The entire experience was perfect, except for the ending.

In the technical sense, there is virtually no difference between winning and losing.  A hit here, a walk there, and we win.  The game could have gone either way as you’ll see if you take the time to watch the entire game posted below (I will, at some point) – 5 hours, 10 innings, 25 base-on-balls including walks and hit-by-pitches, 16 runs, 0 errors, bloopers, squibbers, infield hits, and line-outs…  Pederson’s ball in the bottom of the 9th could have been rattling around in the right field corner instead of landing in the right fielders glove, and we’d all be champs, and this blog post would be much more like the one I had composed nearly in full in my mind announcing our victory.

http://web.worldbaseballclassic.com/wbc/2013/video/play.jsp?topic_id=38613768&content_id=24851669&query=game_pk%3D342971

But in the emotional sense, of course, winning or losing dictates almost completely the lasting impression.  Each one of us now has to deal with the loss individually and collectively.  We each will project our own sense of self-doubt onto the game.  We will each feel that our individual contribution is somehow responsible for the outcome.

So what do we do now?  How do we deal with being on the doorstep of history only to ultimately not be allowed inside?

I personally can come up with only one solution.  We are going to attempt to qualify in 4 years again, and I am going to be on the team again.  We are going to celebrate on that mound and in that clubhouse and that champagne is going to taste that much sweeter.  We may have lost this game, but we will win in the end.  And we will let the world know about it. We cannot be stopped simply because we will not stop.  We are, after all, always and forever….

Team Israel, the Kings of Jewish Baseball

I will keep posting on this blog.  A few more posts at least.  Maybe more.  I do not know.  I need to find a job, make some money, open a store, a new baseball facility, start charging Louisville Slugger a fee to advertise on this site, something.  For now, I will leave you the same way we started, with an e-mail from Peter…

To All Team Israel Players, Coaches and Staff,

Having had 36 hours to reflect a bit, having had the sting of defeat soften a bit, I just wanted to say, this Yom Kippur eve, that you are all a great bunch of guys, that it was my honor to know each and every one of you, and that this team will certainly go down in history as having represented the country of Israel and the Jewish people with incredible honor, admiration and respect.  

I am not one for many words, and I just wanted to thank each and every one of you for taking the time out to help our cause, for giving your maximum efforts, for getting so completely involved and dedicated, and for just being a part of this.  We can only imagine what might have been, but we need to be completely satisfied with what was and what we can make of this going forward. 

This holiday is a time of personal introspection and contemplation, and no matter how one commemorates it I want to wish you all a Happy New Year and I can promise all of you that our mission will continue, and that you will hear from us in the months ahead.   

“May you be signed well in the Book of Life”

10 Responses to “THE LOSS”

  1. leah cohen September 25, 2012 at 7:50 pm #

    – you prob dont remember us- we were the family in the handicap section. my son ari kept throwing things on the field, his helmet, glasses, even a bottle of coke! i am forever grateful for peter and his passion of human kindness. i am so thankful to oar and some other dude- who answered my facebook message. but i wanted to comment to the kings of jewish baseballers – you might have lost the game- but you won! each of you that stopped by to say hi to ari and sign his hat- and shlomo you gave ari a foul ball. that my new friends is winning! you made a difference in our lives- just your simple acts of taking the time and putting a smile on a child who has been through so much in his 9 years. and for us his parents…….. we were in awe- of your patience and human kindness. it was priceless and forever will be with us. we promise to pay it forward – some how when a time comes and someone needs a little lift -whatever it is we will do it with a smile and dedicate the mitzvah(good deed) to the kings of jewish baseball! thank you all!
    just a side note of motivation
    they told us ari would not live to see his first birthay——in their face!!!!!
    they said he would never talk- so what – he can sign like 500 words- in their face!!!!
    they said he would never walk- although a bit funny at times- he is recorded in the national org. for rare disorders(trisomy 9 mosaic) as one of the only children with this disorder walking before the age of three with out walker- in their face!!!!
    they said he was a lump of clay – i say to that dr. ….in you ur face!
    he is happy, loved and loves to love others,he is silly and smart and one of the strongest boys i know!
    so i say to spain——–In your face!!!!
    please team – i send u ari’s courage, his determination , fight my friends – dont give up
    long live the kings!!!!!!!
    have a happy healthy easy and meaningful yom kippor
    leah cohen

  2. d klein September 25, 2012 at 8:24 pm #

    Great post Fish. Great getting to know you. Keep writing and stay in touch. -D Klein

  3. Hertz, Stephen September 25, 2012 at 8:58 pm #

    Nate; call me when you can Steve 305 6102464.

    Sent from my iPad

  4. Alan Gardner September 25, 2012 at 10:08 pm #

    Long time, Nate. Can’t believe I am just seeing your blog for the first time. Deep stuff. Amazing experiences. Highs and lows in a game of peaks and valleys, that, as you say, is not unlike life. Congrats on being there and the team effort to get it done. Y’all put the Blue and White on the stitched together map of baseball. Life is about opportunities, making them happen and making the best of them…the whole lot of you have done it before and will do it again…and next time, watch out…the Mogen Dovids are going to make an even bigger splash. Be well.. .Keep up the good works.

  5. Rick Yaverbaum September 26, 2012 at 2:02 am #

    There’s no loss here. Just good people. Proud, spirited and working together. What a great thing. Rick

  6. Ann MacPhail September 26, 2012 at 4:22 pm #

    Nathan – you baseball king – life is so complicated. The living is all in the accepting – after fighting hard. I’m sorry about the disappointment, but the response is your usual spring to the next experience – so off we go. xoxoxoxo, Ann PS – Did you design the cool little blocks that are by each reply????

  7. mlblogsyossif September 26, 2012 at 7:17 pm #

    This is all because of the WBC’s stupid and ridiculous “modified double-elimination”. There’s absolutely no good reason why there wasn’t another baseball game on September 24. Both Israel and Spain ended the tournament with the same record and their only loss against each other.

    The WBC should be embarrassed for the way they set up their qualifiers and will regret it in March when the exciting Team Israel is not there and the much less attention-attracting Team Spain will be there instead.

    Great blog by the way, hope you can keep writing. Go Israel!

    Yossi Feins- http://yossif.mlblogs.com/

  8. themefakedet September 27, 2012 at 2:26 am #

    Thanks for including fans here …. First thing I read in the morning, your blog..

    Thanks to Team Israel for the amazing week of baseball. Don’t think I’ve felt this inspired since Tommy Lasorda’s team of minor league players against all predictions, won the Olympic gold medal.

    Remember that football movie “On Any Given Sunday”.. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0146838/quotes

    Hope to see you part of this in 2017.

    Although this party belonged to baseball, can’t miss an opportunity to ask the global baseball and softball community to voice support for the reinstatement of both baseball and softball as Olympic sports.

  9. Daniel September 28, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

    I feel your pain. So frustrating. I don’t need to be the one to tell you to keep your head up. What an amazing accomplishment by you to make the team and be a part of such an inspiring group. Looking forward to keeping up with your endeavors going forward. Sounds like you will be able to write your own ticket as a coach!

    We are big fans!
    Daniel and Cash

  10. Margarita September 29, 2012 at 9:02 pm #

    What an incredible experience, Nate! Congrats on all you’ve accomplished from making the team to writing this super-awesome blog.
    See ya round Gotham!
    -Margarita

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