So much about athletic competition is about expectations, with success relative of what is expected from a team.
This year’s Brewer Senior League all-star team will enter Sunday’s Senior League World Series opening game against the Notre Dame de Grace Little League from Montreal, Quebec, not only with their own expectations, but perhaps feeling some external expectations fueled by fellow Maine District 3 member Bangor’s unlikely run to last year’s world championship game.
The team’s internal expectations stem from the players’ own competitive juices, but for others to expect this year’s team — or future local teams, for that matter — to match what the Bangor kids accomplished last year — when they defeated the defending SLWS champions from Houston, Texas, to qualify for the semifinals, then knocked off unbeaten Manhattan Beach, Calif., to reach the title game — isn’t backed by tournament history.
Just consider that before Bangor went 4-2 last August, Maine District 3 teams had gone a combined 6-26 during the previous eight years the event has been held at Mansfield Stadium. No host team had won more than one game in any given year.
“Ron (St. Pierre, the 2010 Bangor manager) has used the word ‘magical’ to describe what happened last year, and the community has to understand that you can’t expect that to happen every year,” said Senior League World Series tournament director Mike Brooker. “Our kids compete, they work hard and they’re good ballplayers, but you can’t expect that every year. If you could expect that every year when we would have won it every year.
“This is year 10 that we’ve had it here in Bangor, so we’ve had nine previous champions and I don’t think we’ve had anyone repeat. We’ve had some of the same teams back, but it’s a hard thing not just to get here, but once you get here to win the whole thing.
“We expect the kids this year to play to the best of their ability and we hope like hell they can win some games, but if they don’t we know it won’t be for lack of trying and it won’t be for a lack of coaching, it’s just the simple fact that year in and year out at this level it’s tough.”