2nd Annual New York Fire Memorial Tournament – Vegas 2003
By Ricky Hui

The San Francisco Heat kicked off our 2003 summer softball season with our 2nd annual trip to Las Vegas. We again went down to play in the now annual New York Memorial Softball Tournament.

Just to get things rolling, there was a charity bowling tournament on Monday night. The events of that night would become a preview of things to come. 25 teams of 4 bowlers played two games with the top 4 teams advancing to a one game playoff for the cash prizes. Our “A-Team” blew away the competition and advanced into the finals, beating out the next closest team by over 100 pins. Unfortunately, the team came out flat, the pins weren’t falling, ended up last, and out of the money. But, that’s just bowling…what does that have to do with softball?

Tuesday was pool play and we started the day off with a win over Cleveland, 10 – 9. Cleveland would eventually end up winning the entire tournament. The highlight of the game was two impressive outfield assists that helped squash Cleveland rallies early in the game. Also, a unique HR-equalizer rule worked in our favor. Our next game against Ventura saw our team put up 12 runs in the first two innings…but, we gave them back a 10 run inning and we played a tight game finally winning 18 – 13. As it turned out we were guaranteed the 1st seed after this win. We kept to our winning ways by beating Orlando 9 – 8 in our final game of the pool.

So, with the 3 wins in pool play, we commenced to do the “Vegas-thing…” eating hot wings and drinking brews at the Tilted Kilt in the Rio Hotel. Then a long night at Studio 54 and we were ready for the tournament. NOT!

Our 2nd game of the tournament would be against Fire & Ice. This is the gold medal team from last years Firefighters Olympics. But, we forgot to win our 1st game against Providence. Early bad calls by the umpire, complete lack of clutch hitting, actually any hitting, sent us to our first loss 13 – 4, and into the dreaded “Loser’s Bracket.” We had completely blew our 1st seed advantage. We needed to win the next four games to make it to Thursday. We beat San Jose 13 – 0, then had Baltimore shut out for 6 innings before winning 13 – 7. Two down, two to go. Our next opponent was LA Fuego. This is a team made up of some players from a team we rolled over last year. Well, payback is a bitch as they came out and beat us up 21 – 8. Again, untimely hitting when the game was still close knocked the wind out of the team. Most costly were four double plays that we hit into. After stepping off the field, I was in shock.

For all the expectation we had going into the tournament, this turned out to be completely disappointing. There was absolutely no consolation, no bright side, and no light at the end of the tunnel. I think the whole team felt it. And for the first time, the HEAT slept early in Vegas. But, maybe there is a bright side…the sun did rise again on Thursday. I went to watch some more softball and watched the 39 and over team take 3rd place again. Upon hearing that Cleveland ended up winning the whole thing, I know we’re capable of beating any team in this tournament and next time there’ll be no excuses. At least the week wasn’t a total lost as we spent many more hours at the Tilted Kilt drinking $2 pints and eating 25¢ chicken wings. Guys stayed out all night partying at Bikini’s and we all took turns getting reamed by one bikini-clad dealer, who I think was really truly the devil, himself. Anyway, a lot less attention was made of the New York/Twin Towers tragedy this year. So, I think it appropriate to end this by again saying … WE WILL NEVER FORGET!


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