Back to state

The sports broadcasting gods have smiled on me again, so I will be broadcasting the WIAA softball tournament today starting at 11:40 a.m. Central time on this fine radio station, followed, we hope, by the championship game at 6:40 p.m. Central time on this fine radio station.

I previously wrote about my uncommon luck in being able to do state games for a part-time guy. My first state tournament was the first year I was announcing games, in 1989. It took me 25 years to get to do state football, but since then I have done five state championship games, the last two with the right team winning.

I have done three state boys basketball tournaments, three state girls basketball tournaments (most recently this season; one year I called two state championships in two hours), one state wrestling tournament, two state girls volleyball tournaments (most recently this year despite my team losing the game before state; then came positive COVID tests for the winning team), two state baseball tournaments, and one state boys soccer tournament (with the house goalkeeper).

Add softball to the list today to conclude a school year where I did state in the fall, winter and spring, which I think is a first. That, of course, came after a simultaneous first and last, first and last, announcing a child’s game.

The similarity between that game and the most recent game I did was the score: 1–0. A first-inning bases-loaded walk was the only run in our third baseman son’s final game. The only run in the softball sectional final came on, in order, an outfield error, a pitching change (which moved said outfielder to shortstop), a pinch-runner, a base hit, a stolen base by said pinch-runner, a hit batter to load the bases with no one out, and a ground ball to the shortstop, who threw … to first base and not home, where the only run scored. (I assume either muscle memory took over, since most shortstop throws are to first base, or she forgot something her coach had told her about one minute earlier.)

This is why Jim McKay opened every “Wide World of Sports” show with “the thrill of victory … and the agony of defeat … the human drama of athletic competition.” Especially in high school, which is where advanced metrics go to die. The unpredictability and the raw emotion of players, their parents, coaches and fans is what makes it compelling.


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