Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Grandpa Henry

My son plays competitive baseball – er that is played, I mean he still plays, and he’s still competitive – but now he plays High School ball. “Competitive Baseball” (really another stupid label that could easily be misunderstood by those ‘not in the know’) actually specifically refers to a system of grouping the varying degrees of ability of players on teams so that players play with and against other players who play at a similar level of ability.

Briefly (haha, like I’m ever brief) the lowest levels of ball are ‘Rec Leagues’ (recreational ball) – these are NOT competitive, that does not mean that the boys/(girls) that play on these teams are not competitive, that they don’t want to win, that they are lazy or otherwise sub-something or other – but recreational ball is not considered a part of ‘competitive baseball’ [this also applies to softball]. These teams are for kids to try out the sport to see if they have any aptititude or interest, they are for the kids who are busy with other stuff also and don’t have the time to commit to competitive ball, they are for the kids who need to run around, hit things with sticks, get some social interaction, maybe have an organized summer activity (and also unfortunately for a few, a place to dump kids for a quick babysit in the afternoon or the “only team I could find” for the parent who doesn’t know any better but her kid could be the next Cal Ripken).

Then there are the ‘competitive teams’ – these are split into levels – aka ‘flights’. Third Flight – usually the lowest level at which a league fields teams (in our area) is really just recreational ball with a few more tournament availabilities – in our area it isn’t even really developmental for the upper flights – actually I think it’s a way for some dad to say “my kid plays competitive ball” even though if they told his kid to ‘run home’ he might turn and leave the field and head for his own house. Second Flight, a little better, is actually in our area kind of a developmental level, kids with some potential, but not quite good enough for the top two teams play here – or some kids ‘play up’ at second flight – so if they are 10, they will play on an 11 year old second flight team, and get more playing time than they would on the first flight 10 year old team. Second flight is respectable baseball around here, often they are good games, most of the kids are really committed to improving, etc. First flight – (some parents will take advantage of the fact that you the baseball ignorant know nothing and allow you to think that ‘first’ means best – it doesn’t – this is actually the number two team) these kids are either playing first flight because their team did so poorly in Zero Flight that they moved down (like division 1 and division 2 in football) or they don’t want to play in the upper tiers at some of the tournaments cuz they always get their asses handed to them in tournaments, or their area has so many talented players that they already have one or two Zero Flight teams and these boys are almost that good but not quite. A LOT of First flight players are AS GOOD OR BETTER than Zero Flight players. Zero Flight – this is the top squad, the kids who really eat-breathe-poop baseball, and their parents do too – I have a sign in my living room – “This Family Stops for Baseball”. My son has played as many as 78 games in a single season, they have traveled all over to play, they practice as often as every day at 8 years old. The decision to put your son/daughter on a Zero Flight baseball team is a huge family decision – it should not be taken lightly it is an enormous time commitment as well as a financial decision that will affect every other child in the house. 8 year olds are known as Roberto Clemente – instead of Zero Flight – but Roberto Clemente baseball = Zero Flight. My son made the Roberto Clemente team and never looked back – there were a couple of years where we discussed that he might get a little more time on the field if he were playing first flight, but we ‘loved’ the coach, respected the coach, and my son really thought that the other players were some of his closest friends.

**wow page two and I haven’t even gotten to Gpa Henry yet**

So, my kid played Zero Flight ball for five years for the coach that we really thought a lot of – he also played 4 years of football for the same coach. AND WE LOVED THE FAMILIES ON THAT TEAM, THEY ARE SOME OF OUR CLOSEST FRIENDS. But as time went by, the team evolved, the coach didn’t – so while he was a pretty decent coach when the boys were 8 and 9 and maybe 10, he began making some pretty unpleasant decisions and really truly playing favorites, or rather favorite boys to pick on – and that translated to the dugout, where if you were one of the boys that the coach picked on, you were one of the boys that the boys picked on – or maybe it went from the dugout to the coach, its hard to say – suffice it to say that my son was one that got picked on. The first year we told him to wear a thick skin and not be a weenie and don’t give them any reason to pick on you, improve your game, etc. The second year we told him, its because you are smarter than the coach and he’s intimidated by your intelligence (which was true btw) and you need to learn to shut up and do it his way even when he’s wrong or you disagree for some reason. The third year we said, hey do you want to think about changing teams next year? So… we rented a player for an out of town tournament (in New York) and the husband and I really got along well with this boys dad and mom, especially the dad, who was a coach in our area (we were actually playing out of area all those years). So that dad asked our son to play on his fall ball team, and during that time, husband became comfortable enough with him to discuss how we had been unhappy for awhile on the other team. That coach invited our son to play on his team. Then this guy, that we really liked, that our son particularly liked, had an opportunity for a HUGE promotion at work, but it would require a lot of travel and he wouldn’t have the time to coach the team – so he gave the team up to his assistant coach – just to be very clear, now that we are on coach number 3 – lets call him asswipe. So coach number two really liked our son, liked his pitching, liked his arm from the outfield (at twelve he could throw a runner out at home with a throw from right field!) etc. Asswipe never pitched him, sat him a lot, never encouraged him, talked to him like he sucked (wait isn’t this why we left that other team – the one where we actually liked the families???), played these two other kids, in fact started them, that sucked badly and were OMG so lazy – this kid that always started at first base (he was tall – not that it mattered he never even extended his elbow to reach let alone his body) would actually walk – when I say walk, I really mean, meander or wander over to the bag from the dugout – ARGH. Okay so asswipe was a disaster – it was awful – and the parents were such a bunch of arrogant stuck up snotty assed totally exclusive group – we liked TWO of them, one mom (a single mom with a really cool kid) and a dad (well his wife was okay too) of a kid that we thought we liked, but as time went on found out he was a little prick too – yes I called a kid a name, I have some choice ones for some of the other boys who picked on my kid in the dugout on team #1 also! This group of ‘christians’ barely greeted me at games, would not sit near me, to the point where if I came in and set up near them, they would get up and leave! I cuss a little under my breath at games (maybe an ‘oh shit’ for a dropped ball), I occasionally refer to how nice a beer would taste given the hot weather (rarely though, at least among this group) and I did still smoke then, so I would get up go way far from the parents and smoke (there was another couple of parents that smoked and I would try to time it so that we were smoking together, somehow it felt less obnoxious not to be alone in my dirty habit). The former team did not care if I cussed, we all drank beer together, and they forgave me my smoking because I was courteous and did it far from them. Anyhow asswipes wife and her cronies were total snots to me – let me give an example. My mother had 5 bypass surgery, during which she had ‘multiple massive bilateral strokes’ – that’s fancy talk for starving both sides of her brain of oxygen for long enough to cause severe permanent damage (oh by the way the idiot neurologist was wrong – but that’s another post). I was at the hospital day and night for quite some time – I missed 5 consecutive games – during this time people from Team number 1 were calling me ‘hows your mom’ some of them sent her cards and flowers, they were bringing food, you know – NORMAL people. When I finally dragged my ass to a game, straight from the hospital, short on rest, shorter on nutrition, and absolutely frazzled – not one of those snotty bitches said one single comforting word – again they barely acknowledged my presence. I did not go to the baseball game for comfort, or for their words – but… it stood out as a reflection of their character and made it quite easy to say to our son… hey how about a new team. Well by this time – coach #2 was unhappy with asswipe also, and his kid had been invited by coach #1 to play on their team, but coach #2 felt really badly sticking our kid with asswipe so he arranged for another coach that he had a lot of respect for to take a look at our kid. Well coach number 4 – lets call him Tony – because that’s easy to remember – Tony came and looked at our kid and he loved our kids arm, and he loved our kids height, and he loved our kids heart and dedication and he offered us a very coveted spot on his team. If only we could have played for Tony all 7 years wow that would have been such a gift to our son. Tony pitched our kid, a lot, he developed him as a corner infielder, he really gave him some great baseball lessons and training.

So today is the opening game for my son’s high school… and he is the starting pitcher. Put that in your pipe and smoke it coach #1 (who called him wild thing and wouldn’t develop his pitching), and Asswipe (who wouldn’t pitch him even though he actually knew he could pitch well).

I think I’ll tell husband to call Tony and invite him to the game. Also, the families were not the same as team number 1, but they were nice, and friendly, and we traveled together well, and some of them even drank beer! And we keep in touch, so that’s nice. (flipping the finger to asswipes wife and her cronie stuck up bitch friends)

And they were entertaining – especially Grandpa Henry.

1 comment:

baseballmom said...

Man, oh man, oh man...the idiots are the same wherever you go. I hate that fact that parents are such a big part of our kids' baseball experience, and it is so, so sad that a coach can RUIN a kid's enthusiasm for the sport. Thank god it didn't happen to your boy. Husband often says that a lot of parents leave our team because he gives the kids who don't always play WELL a chance to play at all, and it really gets to him that a lot of these people are more worried about winning than about the kids learning and developing into skilled ballplayers who really love and respect the game. We love the competition of our PONY league, but I sure don't love some of the parents!