When the SweatSox started winning games late in the season, it became clear the majority of the team wasn’t ready to stop playing baseball. As our playoffs hopes were becoming more and more unlikely, and with no chance of an “official” NCBL Fall Ball season happening, it was time to look beyond the city limits for some bonus baseball.
Last year, Denver Hunt and Chris Lidstone partnered up with the Tier 1 Cardinals to play in annual Labour Day tournament in Kingston, so perhaps playing in this tournament this year would be possible for the SweatSox. We knew the Cardinals were already entered since there had been talks about joining forces with them in some kind of SweatyCards alliance, we also knew the Braves were entered since that’s really the only consistent thing they do every year, so we figured it would be a good time with familiar faces.
After one last check to make sure we had enough interested players, we had an overwhelming show of support including a full pitching rotation, so we officially requested entry.
While we had more than enough bodies on the active-roster confirmed for Kingston, we decided to spice things up and invite a few familiar faces that not only we could trust on the field, but worthy enough to survive with us off the field. Specifically, GLE reached out to someone who “likes to bat”, and another who likes to throw the ball at or near the wrong people between innings.
Between the day we were accepted into the tournament and night before the tournament, we had an unbelievable amount of players bail on the team. In less than 3 weeks we went from about 13 players down to 7, so with about 12 hours notice we had to find 2 more players to field a 9-man team. Fortunately, Denver Hunt just happened to be in Kingston visiting his brother, so we had 2 more bodies. Unfortunately, Denver’s finger was still broken, his brother hadn’t played in 5 years, and neither was a pitcher meaning we had just John Groves and Cory Bond available to throw the entire tournament. Did we mention our games were now 9 inning long to make-up for a team dropping out at the last minute?
Our first game of the tournament was against the NCBL’s Tier 1 Cardinals, featuring a few Forest Glen Giants, a Winchester Sock, an Athletic, and probably a few others we didn’t recognize. We know they had 10 though, because they batted 10 using the highly unorthodox strategy of having the DH DH’d for. Since we already used up our quota of protests this year, we had no choice but to allow it.
All things considered, we held our own against the Cardinals longer than expected. John Groves got the ball in this game and kept them off the board until an unearned run in the 3rd broke the shutout. That seemed to open the floodgates as the Cards scored 6 runs in the 4th, then 6 more in the 5th off relief pitcher Craig Cornell. The SweatSox would not be shutout, scoring a run in the 6th off a classic GLE hit to the right side.
We didn’t have to wait long to play our next/final round robin game, a 9-inning bout against the host Queens University Alumni. It seemed fitting that against a team that only plays once a year, we threw a man who seemingly only pitches once a year: Cory Bond.
If GLE pitching wasn’t an odd enough sight in itself, looking at Cory’s starting lineup sure was. Imagine my surprise that after batting a career low .094 (3/32) this season, he had me batting 3rd (6 spots higher than usual) in this must-win game. When asked if this was some kind of mistake, Cory told me that during the early morning drive down the 401, he had a vision of me doubling my 2014 hit total today. Was he serious, or was this just one more vengeful punishment for joining the SweatSox years before he did, making it virtually impossible for him to catch me in games played?
His gamble paid off in the 1st inning when I hit a ball off the left field fence for a stand up single; and I’ll be damned if I didn’t follow that up with hits in the 3rd and 5th innings too. What an evil genius!
CBond pitched well, holding the 2-0 lead the SweatSox got in the 1st deep into the 7th inning before finally losing the shutout. He got 2 quick outs in the 8th, but couldn’t get the 3rd before the go-ahead run was plated, chasing our great lefty from the mound. His own fault really for not getting the arm in shape during the actual NCBL season; more velocity on his pitches wouldn’t kill him either.
As webmaster of the SweatSite, it would be incredibly selfish & egotistical of me (Shaun Keay) to use this platform to promote my own interests & sing my own praises, but I’m going to go ahead and name myself MVP of the Kingston tournament. My 3 hits (.500) led the team that weekend, ahead of Mark Stinson and Cory Bond who each had just 2.
For those interested, since the Kingston tournament doesn’t post scores or standings anywhere online, the semi-finals were supposed to be:
Queen’s University (A1) vs Queen’s Alumni (B2)
Ottawa Cardinals (B1) vs Kingston Ponies (A2)
Like the Brewers tournament though, the playoffs were a wash and the 4 teams split the prize money. For those keeping track, all 5 teams who played the SweatSox in tournaments this year won cash. You’re welcome.
For the Après Tournament Hyjinx, we thought we’d take the opportunity to experience some of the fine dining Kingston had to offer, so we found this great little place called St. Louis Wings and Ribs. I highly recommend this establishment if you’re ever in the Kingston area.
After Part 1 of the Hyjinx, it was time to split up and scout locations for Part 2. Half the team checked out residential areas, while the others checked out the lodging district.
The rest of the night gets really blurry, almost as if I wasn’t there at all. I remember waking up in Denver’s brother’s basement and needing a drive back to the Inn to pick up my car. I also remember filming some sort of threesome where people got real wet? Oh, and who could forget the Mardi Gras beads?!?
Despite it being one of the more memorable Hyjinx in a some time, it was unfortunately not the longest. The official start time was 3:20pm, so we needed to get to 4:20am to count as the longest. The GZaun Tweet above shows the official end time as 3:40am, 40 minutes shy of history. Oh well.
Finally, since we’re now tournament experts having played in 2 this year, I thought we’d compare the two tourneys and see which the better experience was. I suppose we’ll just call it a draw.
Stay tuned for our next post, which of course is “coming soon”, where we’ll officially announce where the SweatSox are playing next year.