By Chris Rongey–

And that’s as close as we would get.  Because of camp format, we were somehow still able to play for a chance to be in the championship game on Sunday, even though we had only won one game.  We weren’t all that good.  One bad inning, remember?  You take that one inning away per game, and we might have been the best average age 50 baseball team in the country.

Alas, on Saturday, Team OBI would win it’s first game in the round robin tournament by narrowly defeating another single-win team.  I lead off the final inning with a screaming liner to the opposite field.  And by “screaming liner” I mean “wounded duck”.  My pinch runner (yeah, I needed a pinch runner so I can phone into White Sox Weekly, capably hosted by Mike Esposito.  Things are a little informal down here) represented the go-ahead run.  He scored, as did a couple others, and we advanced to the final game of the day.  The winner would play in the championship game.

We weren’t the winner.  In fact, we’re not even gonna talk about that game except to say our opponent, Team Moose-Cox (coached by Moose Skowron and Jeff Cox), scored 8 runs in one inning after we had gone up 5-0.  Our team name continued to prove its appropriateness.  They would go on to play in the championship game on the big field here in Glendale where both the Sox and Dodgers play their home games during spring training.

Which is another amazing part of Sox Fantasy Camp: All teams get at least one chance to play on that field and it’s every bit as nice from ground level as it looks on TV.  It’s actually even nicer.  Roger Bossard oversees the maintenance of the field as he does the one at US Cellular, and they’re both nearly identical.  Let me also tell you that the fields here are certainly in mid-season form.  An indication that baseball is almost here.

I can’t say enough about the entire experience and hope I’m fortunate enough to be back in 2012.  From the moment you enter the clubhouse on the very first day and see your uniform hanging neatly in your locker with your name on it, til the games on the final days when your body has just about had enough, it’s a phenomenal time.  You get access to the trainers (Cory Barton and Scott Takao are both outstanding), the whirlpool room (enjoy a 10-minute soak in the ice bath where the water is just above 50 degrees.  It feels like knives in your body for the first 3 minutes or so, then you’re just numb.  I love it), the catering and the snacks (just about anything you want, you can get it…including the finest American lagers.).  You get your laundry done for you on a daily basis (the clubhouse attendants work their tails off).  You pretty much have it made for 5 days.

Closing banquet tonight then it’s back to a wintery Chicago tomorrow.  The Ozzie Roast and White Sox Weekly Saturday  from SoxFest this upcoming weekend.

It’s almost here, kids.

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