“Nothing, My Lord.”
As poignantly as Cordelia’s reply to her oblivious father, the heedless King Lear, sums up the more nuanced messages of Shakespeare’s eponymous play, the muted strains of nothingness reverberated as resoundingly in the wake of the recent outcomes of the Scouts-Travellers matches this Sunday last at Oakland’s park. On that day, as the locals prepared to do battle with their designated rivals, their cranks hoped at least for clarity and resolution in equal parts—a pair of victories by either side would send the victors toward the first positions in the league standings, doing much to clarify the Association’s tables and establish the pecking order for the upcoming Sulphur Dell Cup Tourney; meanwhile, a split outcome to the pair of matches would muddy the picture and leave much to be determined in the campaign’s final weekend.
Curiously, “Nothing” is a matter of consequence within Shakespeare’s tale of Lear’s tortured attempt to endow his fractious progeny with his lands and fortune. Less curiously, “Nothing” also emerged from the resolution of this weekend’s “twin tilt” between Traveller and Scout at the Oaklands grounds this Sunday past. For though both sides ventured much—and had much invested—in the outcomes of these pair of matches, both also found the outcomes to these contests highly unsatisfactory. Both sides pined for clarity, and alas, both were left seeking resolution. Much was sought after—and nothing was revealed, gained, or achieved.
In the flaxen sunshine the mid-morning opener, it seemed to those assembled that the Scouts would gain some measure of clarity about their post-season prospects. With their stingy defense the locals yielded “nothing” to their visitors, a seeming fluke given that the Travellers customarily wield potent willows. Plating a quintet of aces in the fifth frame, the Scouts were able to continue to hold the Brentwood nine at bay with their stout defense, which featured Haybale’s acrobatic grab of a well-hit salvo in the deep reaches of the center pasture and, to his right, the Kid’s steady gathering of a series of well-struck onions. Single aces recorded in the seventh, eighth, and ninth frames led to the final result, an 8-0 Scouts whitewash over their rivals. From the dish the effort was led by the Kid, who secured four base strikes and registered a pair of tallies. With these heroics he was awarded the game mall as the match’s most formidable ballist.
With this result recorded, it seemed to all that the Scouts had gained some sharpened vision about their prospects for the Cup, scheduled for September’s second weekend. Both sides then took to the outer grounds, yielding the pitch to the Cumberlander and Quickstep Clubs, whose parries and jousts resulted in an entertaining triumph for the Hermitage nine. With that contest in the books the Scouts and Travellers returned to the fray, the former club seeking greater certainty about their immediate future and the latter aspiring to elevate their level of play to its customary high standard.
Alas, despite the earlier favorable result, what was ultimately revealed about the Scouts positioning within the league tables? Nothing. This uncertain result was determined by the stout play of the Traveller nine, who took to the pitch seeking vengeance. Having bested the Scouts in seasons past, they knew themselves to be up to the task of handling the Oaklands side on this occasion. In the first frame the Scouts plated four aces before recording an out, and the assembled cranks could be forgiven for looking toward another victory. But the formidable Brentwood bunch chipped away at this early margin, plating two aces apiece in their second and third innings. However, as the match proceeded the Scouts’ willows seemed to melt in the hot August son, and the Traveller offense was only slightly less dormant. The visitors managed a single tally in the fifth frame, but that single ace was all they needed as both sides stumbled toward the contest’s later innings. What did the Scouts achieve to rectify this deficit? Nothing. What were they able to do to put victory in their grasp? Nothing. With this final outcome, what had been revealed about the state of the Association’s tables with the Sulphur Dell Cup in sights? Nothing. Much was ventured this Sunday past—but nothing was gained: Cordelia’s forlorn words to Lear likewise cast a pall over the steamy Oaklands grounds: “Nothing, my lord.”
Recognizing that their day had ended with nothing achieved, ascertained, or revealed, the Scouts congratulated their victorious opponent and then set their sights on the campaign’s remaining contest. And this final tilt will require a trip across the Cumberland summits and down across the state line, where the Oaklands nine will take on the undefeated Mountain City Club of Chattanooga on the 6th Cavalry grounds. This side, needing a single victory to secure a perfect campaign, will remember the sound drubbing they were subjected to, at the hands of the Scouts, during the Cup weekend last fall. So this bunch will also have vengeance on their minds as they take to the pitch against the Stewart’s Creek side. It is hoped that the Scouts are able to replace this “nothing” for something more substantial as they approach the campaign’s penultimate weekend.
“Pro vestra exhortatione sellam aut stratum adduce et cibum libamentisque pro nutrimentum tuum.” Bat toss at 2:30. Hope to see you there!