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Follow the rules (when it suits you, apparently)

July 11, 2008

Okay, so the game Wednesday night was rained out, so we played it last night (Thursday). We wound up playing the Mariners, a team we’d seen twice during the season. We beat them the first game of the season, and then they beat us a couple games later. The Mariners wound up taking the rubber game, as they like to say in Lame Sports Cliché Land, beating the Marlins 16-11.

It was a good game, though I was a little concerned at first when they jumped out to a five-run lead after the top of the first. The Marlins hung in there, but since the Mariners were up by more than five going into the bottom of the last inning, we didn’t have a shot. Even so, they all played well. Ian got three hits and scored once, and he made a handful of plays in the field. Caught a fly ball, got a couple guys out at first and/or second, and on those he didn’t, he was diving for the ball, throwing from a prone position, and otherwise giving it his all. I was so impressed.

So, Ian and the Marlins will play tomorrow morning in the tournament consolation game, the winner getting third place.  Even if we lose tomorrow, I’d say fourth place in the tournament is a pretty big achievement for a team that went 3-10 during the season.

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In our coach-pitch league, there is supposed to be an arc drawn in front of the plate from foul line to foul line, signifying that if a batted ball does not travel past said arc, it is considered a foul ball. (I don’t know what the actual measurement is, but I’m roughly guessing it’s in the 15-to-18-foot range.) However, there is a stipulation that if both coaches agree, the game can be played without the arc being enforced, or even drawn on the field. Our coach talked with one of the Mariners’ coaches before the game, and both agreed to eschew the arc and just let the kids play.

Remember that last line while I tell you this story.

I’ve mentioned before about my buddy Laura, one of the girls on Ian’s team that tries and tries and tries but just can’t hit the ball hardly at all. I’ve mentioned how she finally hit the ball a few games back and grounded out, but was just happy to hit the ball. I’ve mentioned about how she finally reached first base a couple games ago and was STILL beaming from ear to ear when she was forced out at second on the next play.  It gets to the point where the opposing coaches and parents even wind up rooting for her to even just make contact with the ball.

So in last night’s game, she goes her first at-bat without making any contact.  Okay, no big deal.  Second time up, she hit a little squibbler down the first-base line that I wanted so badly to go try and nudge fair for her, but it was, alas, a foul ball.  Hey, she hit it, right?  Well, she wound up striking out again.  Okay, fine.  For the record, as often as she strikes out, she’s always got a smile on her face.  So her third time up, she hits the ball again- FAIR BALL!!!- toward the pitcher and winds up being safe at first by two steps.  Our whole bench is going nuts.  I was so happy for her that I picked her up off first base and swung her around and damn near made both of us dizzy.  It was awesome.  That cute little smile was in place again.

And then, the bottom drops out.

All of a sudden, one of the coaches of the other team starts saying that it was a foul ball because it didn’t go past the “arc” (like he could tell from his vantage point in the outfield; I couldn’t even tell from mine as first-base coach) and was bitching about there not being an arc, and blah blah blah, and basically was saying Laura had to go back and try to hit again.  Gene (our coach) says, “give her a break, Coach, that’s like her second hit all season”, to which the opposing coach responded, “hey, I haven’t been to your games and followed your hitters all season to know who hits and who doesn’t” or some bullshit like that.  Bottom line, Laura’s hit doesn’t count.

By now, I’m absolutely beside myself.  This douchebag is going to pick THAT moment to get all “follow the rules to the letter” on us?!  I couldn’t believe it.  I mean, yeah, folks, you’re right- the rules do state that there should be an arc, and if the ball does not travel past it, it’s a foul ball.  But A, both sides agreed before the game not to enforce the arc, and B- and most important- these are seven-year-olds.  It’s not Game fothermucking 7 at {insert favorite big-league ballpark here} in late October.  I could almost- ALMOST- see him at least saying something if it were tied, or a one-run game, or something like that, but we were already down by 4 or 5 at that point, and it was the 4th inning (of the 5 that we played).  Oh yeah, and they’re SEVEN-YEAR-OLDS.  And let us not forget the at least two of his batters, before this happened with Laura, that hit balls no further than what she did, and nobody said a word.  Yet suddenly it becomes an issue on the one batter on our team that needed the hit the most.

So I had to tell Laura that her hit didn’t count and she’d have to hit again.  The look on her face broke my heart.  Naturally, she goes back and tries again and proceeds to not hit the ball.  I’m not positive, but I think an expletive or two slipped out from me.  I was definitely thinking it, but I don’t know for sure if I said it or not.  If I did, nobody said anything, so either nobody heard it or else I actually used my inside voice for once.  But I was pissed.  PISSED.

I think what made matters even worse was after the game, when the teams were shaking hands, and this coach tells Gene, “hey, Coach, great sportsmanship out there”.  I don’t know whether that was his attempt at realizing he was being a dick and trying to make amends for it, or his attempt at sarcasm.  Either way, it came out extremely smart-assed and I wanted to punch him in the friggin’ t’roat.  I also wanted to respond by saying, “hey, Coach, great job crushing a little girl’s spirit out there.  Hope you sleep well, cocksucker”, but decided that would be neither prudent nor constructive.  Those of you that know me probably can surmise what a colossally huge feat that was for me to keep my mouth shut.

And, to cap off the whole Fickle Finger of Fate aspect, this particular coach happened to be a guy that Jennifer and I went to school with at Laketown many, MANY moons ago.  Jennifer and her daughters were at the game, and afterward, Jennifer told me that she had already talked to that coach earlier, doing the whole “hey, remember me?” thing, and suggested that I go talk to him as well.  Part of me wanted to, because I did like the guy, but at that particular moment, I really had nothing {positive} to say to him, and felt it best just not to say anything.  I think Jennifer was a little ticked off at me for that, but I was still too pissed about the whole situation and knew I better just retreat to the car.  So to my dear sister, I apologize for being a baby, but you know as well as I do that I probably would have wound up saying something I shouldn’t have and made a bad situation worse, and far after the fact.

The whole deal was one of those conundrums about do you do the kids the bigger favor by teaching them that rules are rules regardless, or by realizing they are just kids and letting them play.  Again, had it been ANYone on our team besides Laura, it likely wouldn’t have been nearly the issue it was.  And I’m sure I’m probably making far more of a mountain out of it than necessary, but still.  Why did he have to pick Laura?!

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Anyhooze, as I said, the Marlins will play tomorrow for third place.  Win or lose, I’m very pleased with how well Ian did all year, Laura’s hit counted (if only in my heart), and I’m happy with how the season went, even at 3-10.  The kids all seemed to have fun, and they gave it their all.

You rock, Marlins!

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