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Stick a fork in the 2008 season, folks

June 29, 2008
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Ian’s team wrapped up its season yesterday (I consider that half unfortunate and half merciful) by getting positively shelled by the Mets, 19-2. Or 20-2 or something like that. Like a run here or there matters with that score.

None of our kids really had a very good game. There was a smattering of hits, but we didn’t even get our first run until the 4th inning. Ian, yet again, was knocking the snot out of the ball, twice right into someone’s glove, and then the last time, finally got on base. And even that time, I thought he was out, but the Mets coach apparently was feeling generous (wouldn’t you with a double-digit lead in the last inning?) and said he was safe.

It was a truly weird game defensively. First of all, being a coach-pitch league, we don’t have umpires, so the coaches make all the calls. This particular game, we should have gotten paid. There were so many close- and I mean CLOSE– plays on both sides, especially at first, and for a couple of them, the Mets coach and I had to briefly “confer” on them. It was ridiculous the number of what my dad (the greatest umpire in history) would call “bang-bang” plays there were. Plus, kids were getting hurt left and right, and the weirdest thing was that there were something like 4 or 5 double plays in the game. Of which, one of them, Ian was an integral part.

Indulge a proud papa for a minute.

Runner on first, one out. Pop fly hit to Ian at second. I’m standing in my spot behind the outfielders, watching, saying to myself, “PLEASE catch the ball, PLEASE catch the ball, PLEASE catch the ball”, when lo and behold, he did! So I holler at him to throw the ball to first to get the runner that didn’t tag up. Eventually they got the runner out. (Anyone who has been to a 7-year-olds baseball game knows what I mean by “eventually”.) Like I say, there were at least four of those same plays (total, for both sides), if not more.

Then another time when the Marlins were in the field, a lazy pop-up was hit to left field. The runner on first held up to see if the ball was caught, which it wasn’t. The left fielder got the ball in pretty quickly to Ian to try for the force at second. Ian kind of bobbled the throw and it sort of dribbled away from him, but the runner apparently thought he was out and stopped running, and then started up again when he saw that Ian didn’t catch the ball. Ian kept his head and, keeping his foot on the base, stretched out and got the ball and still got the kid out. I was very pleased. 🙂

So the season is done. It was a long, LONG season at 3 up and 10 down, especially with a son that apparently HATES to lose, but I think he had fun. Hell, I had a blast. We really have good kids, for the most part; it’s just that, other than the coach’s twins, I don’t think anyone on the team knew anyone else at the start of the season. Most of the other teams we faced this year had kids that have played together for 2-3 years or longer, in some cases. I think there’s something to be said for team “chemistry”, even with 7- and 8-year-olds. And on top of that, there were probably no more than 4 or maybe 5 kids that made every game. There were some games that we were extremely lucky to have been able to field eight (the minimum to avoid a forfeit). But I’ll work with Ian the rest of the summer and hopefully next year, things will be a little better.

There were a couple kids on the Marlins that really seem to have a promising future in baseball already- the kind that seem like they arrived into this world wearing a ball glove. There were many that really had the desire but haven’t yet developed the skills. We have a girl, Kourtney, that if she can make contact more often, is going to wind up being a fierce hitter. She’s got a wicked powerful swing. Then we have my little buddy Laura. She tried so hard, and just couldn’t do it, and on the couple times she did make contact (to which I have alluded when they occurred), the fact that we were getting pummeled so badly at the time didn’t matter, simply because she hit the ball. Even the time she got out at first, she had such a huge smile on her face because she hit it. And the time she actually reached first safely, her little jump-up-and-down, arms-in-the-air dance she did on first base was priceless. She is a little doll- I just love her. I hope she comes back next year.

I hope next year the weather will cooperate to allow for a few more practices, so we can work a little more on “game situation”-type things. That was one of our big drawbacks- I think we only managed three practices before the season started, and really couldn’t work on that kind of thing. Didn’t really seem to matter which kids were playing which position at any given time; the infielders tended to fight each other for the ball, whereas, unless it was hit directly at one of them, the outfielders would basically look at each other as if to say, “you gonna get that or what?” Obviously, given all the possible scenarios in baseball, you can’t pound it all into the heads of seven-year-olds and expect them to get it, let alone actually do the right thing at the right time, but I think if we would have had more chance to work on that sort of thing, we may have at least been able to avoid quite as many shellings as we endured. Maybe not, but one never knows. Shoulda, coulda, woulda.

Anyway, congratulations, Marlins. It wasn’t exactly a stellar season, but your first base coach is extremely proud of all of you. Hope to see you all next year.

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