BRISTOL - Rain is baseball’s natural enemy but, when a big storm hit Bristol on Friday evening and forced the Bristol Blues and the Worcester Bravehearts to call off their game at Muzzy Field, players from both teams made the most of the delay and subsequent cancellation.
“We were standing around and I’ve seen videos all over of just people doing different antics during rain delays and I just told Austin Chauvin, ‘Let me hop on your shoulders real quick’ and I grabbed a helmet and a bat,” Blues infielder Zach Scott. “At first, we thought they’d say no to that, which made sense. Then they came out with some more gear on so we hopped on that. Then we played some tic-tac-toe on a baseball, tossing it back and forth, and then, from there, it just took off.”
While waiting for the call to be made, the Blues and Bravehearts got together and began to compete against each other in a series of light-hearted games. In addition to the sparring and other games described by Scott above, the two teams also each chose a representative to race shirtless from home plate to the outfield wall and back. Liam Scafariello was Bristol’s participant and, after falling behind early, caught up on the way back and overtook his opponent.
“That’s college baseball rainouts for you,” Blues manager Pat Riley said with a smile. “That’s with a summer baseball twist to it. There’s not much you can do. At least they’re not doing something destructive. They’re being together and enjoying it as much as they can.”
The games began very organically, as both teams met up and decided to have some fun and pass the time.
“It’s just something we do to keep ourselves busy while we wait to find out whether the game is going to be cancelled or not,” Scott said. “Just keep everyone awake, have some fun [and] just kind of enjoy the game of baseball, every aspect of it.”
According to Scott, the games took on a life of their own, as each team took turns coming up with games.
“I don’t even know if it was from our schools,” Scott said about the origin of the games. “We came up with something, they had an idea, we came up with something else and we kind of just kept going on and on until the game was finally called and from that point we just kind of decided to get soaking wet and play in the rain some more.”
As much as the Bristol players enjoy playing baseball almost every day, an off-day because of rain is a welcomed break for the Blues.
“I think that was really good,” Scott said. “It was an off-day in a way. Once we realized it was cancelled we kind of just had some fun. Everyone was having fun [and] everyone was getting along and laughing. We just took it as a fun opportunity to open up and hang out with everyone.”
Riley also recognized how important off-days are for his players as the second half of the season approaches.
“Rainouts, in some people’s eyes, are a good thing,” he said. “It gives the guys a day off. It gives guys a chance to refocus. You want your guys together as much as possible that’s not being a detriment. They had fun with it.”
Spending every day together, whether on the road travelling to games or spending time at Muzzy, has resulted in strong bonds between the Blues players. But being able to goof off and have fun together like they did on Friday also builds camaraderie amongst the players.
“I think, subliminally, it’s huge,” Scott said. “People may not look at it in that type of aspect but, when you’re playing every game, you play six times a week, you get one day off and a lot of guys want to rest and do their things and just be ready for the next game. We had a chance where we were all together and able to kind of just relax and have some fun and joke around with our team and their team.”
Friday’s antics also demonstrated the outstanding sportsmanship within the FCBL. The Blues and Bravehearts have had quite the history in the Blues’ short existence. The teams met in last season’s championship series with the Bravehearts coming out on top and Worcester has been successful so far this season against Bristol.
But members of both teams were able to put the competition aside and have fun with each other in the rain.
“That’s a great group of guys from the Bravehearts. We all get along,” Scott said. “We love them [and] respect them as a team. Obviously they’re great players and they’re doing everything right. It was good to have fun with them. It’s not good when you despise other teams and stuff like that. Congrats to them on what they’ve done and we really appreciate them having fun with us. We just really enjoyed the rain delay for what it was.”
Josh Kestenbaum can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org