Thursday, May 6, 2010

Good News and Bad News? Well, Maybe Just Bad News!

This little league baseball season has been interesting to say the least. When we signed up our son we hoped it would be a good experience for him. This would be the first time he was apart of a real team with a real coach. We hoped he would grow as a person and show us the skills to become a future Hall of Fame pitcher for some major league franchise. No pressure though.

Let's see, we've had 9 games so far and our record is 2 - 7. One game they won by forfeit, because the other team didn't have enough players. The other game they won by a score of 1 - 0, over the Yankees. I began to notice something very different about our team compared to the other teams. You see, all the other teams had about 4 or 5 Dads out there helping with the coaching and organizing of the baseball team before and during the games. I also noticed how the Moms and Dads on the other teams would arrive early to the games and fill their little bleachers with fans. Heck, even the family members were all wearing shirts with their team logos.

Then there was our team. Gosh, where do I start? Well, to begin with the games usually start at 6 pm. Strangely enough, that's when my son's teammates would start showing up. Oh sure, there might be 2 or 3 other kids there with my son 10 minutes before the game started, but by 6:02 we're all looking into the parking lot to see if we can scrape together enough players to make a team before we have to forfeit at 6:05.

It's also funny to see how the players on the other teams know how to play their positions, know how to hold their gloves, know what base to throw the ball to and other insignificant stuff like that. I think there's two things at work here: 1) The kids actually care and want to be there and get better and 2) The parents must be practicing with their kids between the games. There are two games a week, so the official opportunities to practice as a team are slim to none. Here at DallasDaddy, I play catch with him a couple of days a week and we go to the batting cages once a week. And you know what, it's a lot of fun for me!

I think the reason the other kids don't seem to care is because I think the parents don't care. The team seems to be a glorified babysitting service for parents who don't want to be bothered by their kids. You may tell me that's a huge conclusion to jump to and you'd be right. But outside of the coach, I'm the only other Dad who has been to all the practices. In fact, the last practice only had 3 other parents there altogether. So you'll have to forgive me for saying this, but I just don't have confidence that the other parents are hoping this is a good experience for their children.

Add to this the very interesting and consistent attitude beheld by the majority of the kids on the team. It's like they all want to pitch in the game or at least play in the infield, but none want to practice the skills that would make them valuable in those positions. Quite honestly, most of the time, the kids are trying to throw the ball as hard as they can at their teammates' heads.

I remember after one particularly embarrassing game - we were drummed something like 14 to 2 - the kids are all around the coach drinking their fruit juice pouches and eating their Doritos, laughing it up and hitting each other with their gloves. Then we look over at our son who has tears in his eyes. My wife asks him the usual parent question, "What's wrong?" His response was painful, he replied, "Our team SUCKS!" Funny, but he was the only kid upset by the embarrassment that had just taken place. Some may think he's too high strung, but I would strongly disagree.

You see, we have tried to instill a sense of excellence into our children. If they take on something, we want them to do their best and try to learn how to get better. Especially, when others are counting on them, like in a team, family or classroom setting. With very few exceptions, the other kids on his team could care less about anything, except for misbehaving during practices and games. They want the glory, but without the work. I fear that will become, if it's not already, an epidemic among the youth of today.

My son tells us he is still enjoying playing baseball. He still likes to be a part of the team, which I think is extremely admirable considering the team he's on. He really is more resiliant than I like to give him credit for. So remember those sayings from the "good ole' days" - keep your nose to the grindstone; anything worth doing is worth doing well; we're only as strong as our weakest link; etc.

Oh, and if you want to watch my son's baseball team in action, just put in the movie "The Bad News Bears". But don't watch the last half of the movie when they're good, just rewind and watch the first half over and over and over again. Because there is no good news for these Bad News Bears.

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