Focus On: Making things interesting
I’m not sure I’ve ever been at a game with a collective silence before.
Maybe hearing that silence was something the Hawks needed.
Of course, Hak-Ju Lee could understand why the crowd had gone quiet. He laid on the field with his head down after committing his 11th error of the season, extending a game that should have been over.
Don’t get me wrong, the Hawks deserve credit for coming back and winning on Sunday, beating the Eugene Emeralds 9-8.
But I couldn’t help but notice that in the ninth inning of the 10-inning contest, it looked like the Hawks were giving in to themselves. Letting past wrongs ruin what ended up being a big win.
It’s easy to say the win erased the sloppy play. Manager Casey Kopitzke even told me “We needed to win today for morale. You go out there and you bust your butt and it’s hard to watch it all go away and end up on the short end of the stick. This should make it easier.”
I really hope he’s right.
Maybe NOT letting this one slip away was the therapeutic win the Hawks needed.
You can’t deny Lee has talent. He shows flashes of brilliance more often than his errors. His speed makes him attractive to any small-ball club.
Kopitzke said it’s “calming him down” that has become the goal.
All I can say, is there were two visible changes in the Hawks. When they committed an error to lose a 7-2 lead completely, there was a noticeable silence and awe at what had just happened.
But when Matt Williams came around to score the winning run, fittingly on an error, he slammed his helmet on home plate and the team united on the field again.
This time they were loud.
The Hawks are 4-12, and their schedule doesn’t get any easier. And the positive storylines aren’t getting any easier to find.
As a writer, I have to stay as balanced as possible. But as a fan, I have to hope that Williams removal of the helmet was more than a statement of victory.
I’m hoping it was a statement of release.
Maybe it was a metaphor of removing a monkey that takes the shape of a snowball, collecting late-inning losses in its wake.
Kopitzke’s answer is not anything he can do. He can’t throw, or swing for the team. But he did share a friend’s advice on how to start winning and keep footing when the game starts slipping.
“You’ve got to be comfortable being uncomfortable.”
For now, we’ll see if that comfort has come to a restless Hawks team.