Bears Win!

The Newark Bears are your 2007 Atlantic League Champions, taking the championship series, 3 games to 1 after a come-from-behind 13-7 victory over the Somerset Patriots at Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium in Newark Monday night. Tinsel and Rot was there for all the excitement, and mighty pleased to be part of the championship celebration.

As usual, it wasn't exactly a full house in Newark (nor even a half-full house), but there was plenty of shouting from those who did come out to the ballpark. Unfortunately, the early evening found most of that noise coming from the contingent of fans who came to root Somerset on to a series-tying victory. Most seemed to be of the annoying Yankee-fan variety, chanting every player's name like the Bleacher Creatures do and just generally being loud and obnoxious from their section. Or at least that's what it sounded like from across the field. Plus, they made the embarrassing mistake of thinking that every name is chantable. Not so. You can't hold a syllable in a chant. For instance, "Jo-osh Pressley" and "Mi-ike Lockwood" are not acceptable chants. It's just the way it is. Chant only those names that are conducive to chanting, fans. The rules of fandom compel you.

Anyway, they had a lot to cheer about in the top of the first, as the Patriots put three on the board before the Bears even got up to bat. But thanks to two moonshots to left center by veteran Bear, #29, Jose "Mr. September" Herrera, the Bears evened things up after three innings. The tension grew in the next few innings, as did the stench emanating from Bears mascot Rip 'N Ruppert's costume. It was a great relief when he decided to patrol the top of the dugout for the rest of the game. And, for the record, no, Tinsel and Rot does not approve of the bizarre spelling of the mascot's name. I defy you to explain that spelling to me. I also defy you to explain why the annoying little brat and his friend behind home plate kept trying to get the attention of Bears in the on-deck circle, mocked a few for not responding, insulted one because he was playing minor-league baseball, and then cheered when the Bears scored. I know it's not right to hit 12-year-old kids, but it was a few innings away from being really right. I offered one of the Bears $20 to swing at him from the other side of the net. The woman in front of me matched the offer, and we were willing to go to $60 if he made contact. No deal.

As if the little brat weren't enough, any Bear in the on-deck circle had to listen to advice from a guy who kept "revealing" the first pitch he'd see in the upcoming at-bat. The same guy (and/or his buddy) also yelled "en fuego," I think, every 20 seconds, regardless of the situation. In fact, there was a lot of advice being dispensed in Spanish, interrupted only once by "fuckin' breakin' shit." Eventually, it became like a song. Not a very good one, but a song nonetheless.

Oh yeah, the game. Somerset jumped ahead with four runs in the top of the 6th, and when the Bears came out of the seventh inning stretch still down by four, it looked bad. But not for long. They plated two in the bottom of the 7th, endured some whining (and a disturbing lick of the hand from the Patriots' catcher directed toward the Bears' dugout) from the Patriots after a check swing call went against them, and then produced one of the single most exciting innings I've seen in person--an eight-run eighth inning capped by Mr. September's third homer of the game that wrapped up the scoring for the night and pushed the Bears to the championship.

And then the celebration began.

Look, I know the nonaffiliated Atlantic League isn't exactly the top tier of baseball, and I suppose it's easy to dismiss the Bears' championship victory. But the fact is that no matter the level of competition or skill, it takes something to win a championship. And the Bears had that something this year--and especially this series, in which they won Game 3 with a game-winning single in the ninth inning and Game 4 with that spectacular eighth inning. So, today, I am proud to be a Bears fan and proud of the fans who came out night after night to root on a team that Newark could call its own--a gritty, workmanlike squad that didn't feel much like giving up.

Viva los Bears!

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