Sunday, June 10, 2012

Yet Another Baseball Post

You may remember from the popular post "...about baseball and  boys, poetry and dreams..." that I wax sometimes poetic about baseball and you might also remember that I am a Little League baseball coach from the post Baseball Test.

Listen, I didn't know that I was such a baseball kind of guy.  Honestly, I couldn't answer a baseball trivia question to save my life nor could I explain the infield fly rule or the "suicide squeeze," nor could I tell you the Reds usual batting order (Z can) or the Reds players' numbers (N can).  The truth is I chose baseball over football, the predominant game of my youth, because I think football is getting too violent and commercial.

So, for now, we are baseball people.  The boys love to go to Reds games, actually any game will do, in fact there are both Columbus Clippers and Florence Freedom games in our future.

I sometimes think thought that the role of sports is over-emphasized, especially at the very young ages.  I may have been  was wrong, and I may have been am wrong on a lot of different levels.

Marci and I don't take a lot of pictures so I'll just have to relate these observations with good old-fashioned  words (and an occasional photo).  Anyway, here's what I've seen:

Zack is at bat:

It is kid pitch and the freak-of-nature-eight-year-old Aroldis-Chapman-gonna-be is throwing serious fastballs.  Z swings, once, twice, foul tip, strike three.  Zack is visibly disappointed, his shoulders drop and he walks out of the box defeated and heads to the dugout.  He takes a deep breath, squares his shoulders and announces to the next batter that the pitcher is "throwing heat" and you "gotta try to swing earlier."  There's the team spirit we talk about, the helpful attitude, the not crumbling at defeat, the strong spirit of the soul.  Believe me, last year he would have been upset and perhaps even cried a little, not this time.

Nick is the catcher:

It is a sweltering day and he is hot and uncomfortable in the ill-fitting, somewhat over-sized catcher's gear.  The boy at bat runs the count up until it is full, there are two outs and the batter sends one down the first base line, the first baseman rushes it and turns to throw it  to Zack who's covering first from second.  He drops it and the kid is safe.  However, the umpire, somewhat to the dismay of the crowd, calls it foul.  The batter walks back to home shaking his head where Nick meets him, hands him his bat (handle first, which I thought was cool) and says: "Good hit, it looked fair to me."  My heart absolutely popped with pride at the sportsmanship and compassion Nick showed in that awkward moment.

How do you teach this stuff?  You don't.  It comes from the game, doesn't it?  It comes from the other kids, the parents watching (when they aren't playing on their Smartphones, just put them down parents) and from the coaches.  It comes from watching the Big Leagues and kickball in the gym.  It comes from the first game of Candyland, and those made up, silly games in the backyard.  I hadn't realized how many lessons could be taught, situations addressed, characters built on the the playing fields of Loveland.

As usual, I am the one being taught, and for that I am grateful, humbled and awestruck by these boys, these future players in the same game of life we all must play.

One last image from a great Reds game we went to the other night.  The boys made it through an entire night game, the Reds won, there was singing and fireworks and Chapman's final pitch was 102 mph, really, a perfect night at the ballpark.

The whole night was great, but, here is the image that will forever stick with me from that night:

Sometimes I think they understand a lot more than we give them credit for.

From Marci's '...things you don't expect to hear from the backseat...'

N (In a traffic jam on the way home from the game.):   "Ahhhh, they look like evil bunnies with laser eyes."

And suddenly, all those taillights did look a little creepy...


  1. The national anthem is always my favorite part of the game. Makes me cry every time.

    Evil bunnies... now that is genius. Evil genius...

  2. Brilliant post and beautiful photos! My favorite line was this one:

    "As usual, I am the one being taught, and for that I am grateful, humbled and awestruck by these boys, these future players in the same game of life we all must play."

    Beautifully stated, Bill.

    And thank you for the shout out, too!