A Little Championship Means A Lot
August 1, 2011

If you like sports, it's cool to see teams win championships, even if the titles aren't really all that significant. Sunday night, the Marysville Gold Sox defeated the Norcal Longhorns 9-5 to clinch their division in the Horizon Air Summer Series.

The HASS (as we like to call it), isn't really a league, it's more of a comparison of how Gold Sox opponents do in their respective leagues. For example, in the McCullough Division, where the Gold Sox compete (the division is named after the late Gold Sox owner Don McCullough), 40 games are picked out of each team's schedule to count as Summer Series games. Standings are kept, and the team with the best record wins that division. There is a banner or a trophy, but no playoffs.

Having said all that, the Gold Sox, who created the HASS, haven't won a title in five years. The players knew that, and also knew that a win Sunday night would clinch the title. But did they really care? And if so, how much?

Athletes are competitors, and competitors want to win. When reliever Brandon Creel struck out Scott Lantis to end the game, the Gold Sox players came pouring out of their first-base dugout, and dog-piled on top of Creel. Gloves and caps went flying in the air as the celebration ensued. In the post-game meeting down the right field line, which follows every game, the players gave manager Jack Johnson a gatorade bath. Apparently, the HASS title means a lot.

Johnson was a long time minor league catcher. He is the real-life Crash Davis of the Marysville-Yuba City area. However, he is much more easy-going than the character Kevin Costner portrayed in Bull Durham. Johnson loves “skits” and “shenanigans”.

Before Sunday's title-clinching game, the players came up with a skit to play on Johnson. The Gold Sox have some old-time throwback uniforms that the players have wanted to wear all season. The uniforms say “Hub City” across the chest, in deference to what this area was called at the turn of the twe ntieth century. The players, in a parody from the football movie Rudy, lined up, and one-by-one, went into Jack's office, laid down a jersey on Johnson's desk, and said “win one for Hub City, Coach”, and walked out. The skit worked, and the players got to wear the uniforms, and about three hours later, clinched their championship.

In just a week, the players that make up the Marysville Gold Sox will be headed back home to places like St. Charles, Illinois, Adrian, Michigan, and even Wailuku, Hawaii. They won't get a big expensive ring for winning the HASS. They might get a T-shirt, but they will always be able to say that when they played summer ball in 2011, they were champions.

Photo by Chris Kaufman/Appeal-Democrat: Marysville Gold Sox shortstop Justin Charles reaches for an overthrown ball as Norcal Longhorns baserunner Tyler Tulowitzki slides safely into second base Sunday.

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