Strike three! You are outta here! Or should be?

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Well my darlings, I must apologize for being absent for the last three weeks.  Between work, little league baseball, 4-H, the ranch and life in general there has been little time for me to pony up to a computer and write (no I still have not moved into the modern age and purchased a laptop or tablet).

So whats bothering Betty tonight? What has ruffled Betty’s skirt and driven her to break the silence of the last three weeks? Unfortunately its baseball.

I say unfortunately because I believe baseball to be the last bastions of pure sporting left to behold. Baseball has and always will captivate me, leave me bewildered and mesmerized as play after play with all its strategy and purity is performed before my very eyes.  I love it! So when my children ask if they can play little league baseball of course the answer is yes!

Now I am no virgin to the ways of little league baseball! The politics, coaches hoarding players and building teams to hopefully ensure a championship! What ever! The name of the game is winning, and winning is what it is all about! Betty coached for 5 years in various levels and thoroughly enjoyed watching kids build their skills and feel success as plays were massaged, rules enforced and just for a moment greatness was felt! The building blocks of success for the young! Heavy sigh…..

So whats grinding on me about little league at this very moment? What has me screaming  bullshit towards the ump over a bad call that was obviously a strike? Jumping up and down like a crazed fan who just saw a double play for the first time live?

PARENTS AND COACHES

Ladies and Gentlemen in all my years I have never and I mean NEVER seen such a poor example of sportsmanship from both parents and coaches alike! Every night at the ball field there is some Al Bundy wanna be still reliving his 4 touchdowns in a single game illustration_2010_01_09_rockwell_inside_artfrom high school! This fool at the top of his lungs is screaming at a teenage umpire about how that last call was shit! Every four letter word in the book is thrown at this poor hapless youngster who is just trying to pass down his love for the game through umpiring only to become emotionally damaged by some fat ass 40 something threatening to kick his ass for a bad call made on his kid! Hey fat ass guess what little junior is not the next Buster Posey! He may never wear a Yankees uniform and unless I missed something, little league is supposed to be fun! Not much fun when old dad is near cardiac arrest over a call made by a child just trying to do the right thing and not even getting paid for it!

Then there is the upper leagues, “Majors” where ball playing really gets serious! My sons team is 18-2, no other team is close, yet it never ceases to amaze me the shit talking that goes on from both parents and coaches of the defeated teams.  On the field coaches are acting like asses! Yelling at their kids after a loss things like; you are a disgrace, you make all of us look bad, do you like being losers because that is just what you are a bunch of losers! Or better yet, when one of our kids get on base near the opposing teams dugout, coaches from the opposing team are belittling our players! Are you kidding me? Heres and idea, practice! I know novel concept huh? We practice six days a week and the kids cant wait to get together because thier caoch makes it fun! Holy shit FUN on the ball field, thats just unheard of!!!!

ladies and gentlemen the last time I checked these were kids. Kids who play baseball on break between classes in school, kids who would play where they want, when they want, with or without us adults intervening, kids who pretend they are major league stars for only a moment while up at bat! Kids who play for fun! Thats right they play because it isUnknown-8 fun!!! So I pose a simple question, why have we as adults decided the game is all about us? Why have we as adults taken it upon ourselves to put pressure on these kids to perform to standards that can’t be met, and most important of all why are we as adults admonishing them, belittling them and treating them like shit when they lose, instead of being the coaches we are supposed to be and working with them to create better players, better sportsman, and better human beings all through the venue of one of the greatest games ever played? Why?

I watched two grown men from opposing teams almost come to blows over a supposed “bad” call the other night! Not only was it an embarrassment for the teams, it was an embarrassment for the adults and it sure as hell was an embarrassment for the children. I know in the middle of the game I wouldn’t want to look up while at bat to see what all the commotion was about and find my dad poking some guy in the chest calling him an asshole! What the hell?

So all you part-time dads, Al Bundy’s of the world and all around abusive, small-minded, low self-esteem losers, listen up! Its baseball! It’s supposed to be fun, your kids are supposed to have fun win or lose (yes losing is no fun, but teaching a child how to lose with dignity only to win again at a later date is priceless) then leave the park feeling good! Not feeling like they are losers, or their coach hates them, or they let their parents down, or wondering why little Barry Bonds jr.’s dad is being arrested and hauled off to jail for beating the shit out of little Derek Jeters dad over a bad call.

Pull your heads out of your asses parents and lets allow our children to PLAY BALL!

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Father of the year?

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As parents we all make mistakes, its inevitable. Many times over the years I have reiterated the painful fact that parenting doesn’t come with a manual specific to you.  It is one of the hardest most demanding jobs we as a adults will ever work.  (my prevalent graying hair loss is proof) Yet despite our best intentions along with all the ups and downs, we cross our fingers and pray at the end of the day everything will work out just fine.

Over the years, through thousands of snap judgements, arguments and skull scratching moments there have been times my decisions havent been the most sound.  Be it exhaustion from the endlessmom bombardment our children’s attention requires, or just the sheer fact I really wasnt listening.   It remains a fact.  Times when I said or did something I wished I  could have taken back.  Worried I may have scarred a little ego or trampled even the best of efforts through my obvious ignorance.  It has been said; “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”.  But when you consistently strive to be the best parent you can be the odds are stacked against you.

So my question is this: What did you say or do while parenting that you wish you could either take back or change?

My example:

One day my 7-year-old daughter dragged all my baseball coaching gear out onto the backyard lawn.  Now this had been an ongoing problem as repeatedly there had been gear spread across our imagesCALM26LPproperty.  Being the ever vigilant, penny-pinching father every one of those items equated to a dollar sign and over the years we had accumulated quite a bit of high quality instructional aids for little league baseball.  Having coached ball for 4 years while my oldest played, the sanctity of these items was paramount to the future success of our younger boys as they too aspired to play baseball. Up until that moment I had assumed the boys were responsible for dragging this gear out and leaving it spread across our little forty acre parcel.  But now it was obvious my daughter was to blame.

The backyard was laid out perfectly with a throwing station, batting station and bases which formed up a miniature diamond. As she pulled a baseball from the bucket and wound up to throw towards one of two targets I leaned out the backdoor bellowing; PUT THAT STUFF AWAY!

She tried to say something to me but all I could do was point towards the garage and sternly say: I don’t want to hear it honey put the baseball stuff away!!!

Lip quivering and a dumbfounded look upon her face  she began mumbling about throwing, catching, hitting, what ever, I didn’t care she was a girl, girls don’t play baseball they play softball and their was no way she was going to play with MY baseball equipment!

I proclaimed in my sternest voice: PUT IT AWAY NOW OR RISK SPENDING THE AFTERNOON IN YOUR ROOM!

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Turning on my heels, door closing behind me I headed for a cup of coffee.  After brewing up a pot and pouring myself a cup I gazed towards the backyard once again only to notice nothing had been cleaned up! To make matters worse she was getting ready to toss a ball straight up in the air with bat in hand! Before my temper could rise or my body could clear the back door she tossed it up and actually hit the ball! That’s right she hit the ball! My seven-year old little girl not only defied my direct order to put all the gear away but actually hit the damn ball!

And it was sailing out of the backyard!

Standing slack-jawed in astonishment the “coach” in me held back as she did it time and again! She kept reaching into the bucket pulling out another ball and crushing it! Then just as I was about to walk out and see if she could throw (scouting report and all) she did theimagesCATII0SG unthinkable! She switched sides! Yep, not only had she crushed the ball hitting right-handed she was now sailing them out into the field hitting left-handed! Stop the god damn presses! Could it be we have a self-taught switch hitter living in this household?

Walking into the backyard, she turned and looked at me as if a prison sentence was in her future, but instead with a sheepish look upon my face I softly asked her to do it again! She nodded yes, hit the ball and with a smile on her face asked me if I thought she was any good? I laughed and said; yes honey I gina davisthink you are pretty good.  She asked me if I would play catch with her, so off I scurried to grab my mit with the exuberance of someone who just found out they were playing catch with Nolan Ryan!

We threw the ball back and forth a few times and amazingly she threw quite well! But what made it even better was her ability to throw both left and right-handed! Now don’t let me paint you a picture of a baseball/softball prodigy in the making, she definitely needed lots of work, but just to be able to do those things on her own without anyone showing her how was pretty cool. We ended up finishing the afternoon laughing and joking about her becoming the best baseball player around.

Her mother signed her up for softball later that year.  She had a good season and was an average player, (no hero-worship yet) but she still practices every chance she gets and can’t wait for the new season to begin!

What do I wish I could change?

By not recognizing my daughter as a person who loves baseball I inadvertently created a gender bias. As a father that is a giant FAIL!  “It wasnt about the gear it was about some notion that “girls don’t play baseball” not even recognizing the softball cross over or the pure fact none of that even mattered if she was just having fun.  What made it worse for me personally is the fact as a firefighter working in a male driven profession I am one of those guys who believe anyone can do this job, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, etc..! Shining moment of double standards! Father of the year? It was a humbling experience and as a parent a learning moment!

So the question remains: What did you say or do while parenting that you wish you could either take back or change?

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