Thursday, May 10, 2012

Little League Shenanigans

My son plays baseball. Not serious baseball. Nine year old coach-pitch baseball. They get the game at this point. They know to throw it to first, to tag the player when he isn't forced to run, they catch the occasional pop up. But it's a mixed bag.

Wyatt on the mound
On Wyatt's team, there are two kids that are pretty phenomenal. They are kind of ridiculous actually. One plays shortstop (and crowds the outfielder and the player on the mound which is usually Wyatt) and the other plays first. They have this play that is as good as any duo on the Giants. The shortstop scoops up the ball, hurls it at lightening fast speed to first, the first baseman catches it (every time) and the batter is out before he's crossed the half way mark between home and first. They nail it time in time out. They're good. Really. It kind of amazes me until I remember the kids I competed with and what they did at just nine years old. But not the point.

Wyatt plays "pitcher" which means he doesn't pitch, but he stands on the mound and once the coach pitches he takes over the role. He does well. He's probably (I say this with all objectivity) tied for 3rd best on the team. But it's a distant third over these other two. These two are going for it. Who knows if they'll make it. But they are serious about the game and I know what that looks like when nine year olds are serious about sports. They may burn themselves out, they may start drinking in high school, they may get injured. But they're running at the pros, and will probably bring in a scholarship at least. The pros are obviously a rarity. Who's to say what will happen there.

Anyway, the shortstop is a tad aggressive. Which is fine. He's good. But he harasses my kid. And I don't like it. He tells Wyatt to back off. To let him get every ball. Wyatt is a quiet kid. I told him to stand up for himself. That he doesn't have to let Mr. big mouth shortstop push him around. I even said: push him back if he touches you. It's ok. I won't be mad.

This past week at practice it got bad. I could see it from the sidelines. Shortstop came at him. He may have actually even pushed him aside physically. Wyatt stood his ground. That's my boy. But the shortstop brought first baseman into the argument. It was 2 on 1. They mocked him.
  • Shortstop said: back up Wyatt. Let me get it. 
  • Wyatt said: But I'm pitcher. I got it. 
  • Shortstop: No really. Hey Mr. First baseman - tell Wyatt to back off. Tell him he's outfield. He's outfield right? 
  • First baseman: Yeah. He's outfield. 
Smug little fuckers. So Wyatt eventually gives up and backs up into outfield. And then when the ball flies into his zone, shortstop pushes him out of the way again. Poor little guy.

He held his own. But he was so flustered that when the ball did come to him, he fumbled. Or whatever it's called in baseball. Then they gave him a whole bunch of shit again about backing off and just letting them handle it. My baby. (I should add, they do miss sometimes, these two. Of course they do. They're 9. Immaturely, I like pointing out to Wyatt when these other kids flub it up. Just to make him see everyone falters.)

He held it together. I should mention the coach saw none of this. He had his back to the whole affair because he was pitching. He isn't neglectful just engaged in organized chaos with the other 10 kids on the team, one of whom hit another with a bat by accident, square in the forehead, flattening him.

The minute we left the field Wyatt broke down. But what a trooper for holding it together for the whole practice. He lost it though, as we made our way to the car. "W-- is an asshole!" Yes that's what he said. I didn't scold him. The kid is kind of an asshole.

I explained that asshole simply thinks that because he is good at baseball that he gets to treat people badly. And that it wasn't right but that he'd learn his lesson one day. I also reminded Wyatt that he is good at many many things and that didn't ever give him the right to be nasty to anyone else or to believe he was somehow better than anyone else. Not that good chess players usually get uppity.

It took a while for him to calm down. A smoothie and some video games later he had it all under control. But he did say he didn't want to go back to baseball.

What to do? I don't give a rat's ass whether or not the child plays baseball. I don't want him to feel bullied on the field. But I also don't want him to give up and hide because someone is a bit salty. People can be dicks. We can't hide from life every time we encounter a random douchebag. Hmm. What's a mother to do?

I called the coach to let him know Wyatt might not be back. Not because he doesn't like the team, he does. But because of Mr. Shortstop. I explained that I wasn't upset with the kid. I get it. Shortstop is good. He wants to win. He's more serious than the other kids. I was that kid. I TOTALLY get it. I don't expect the coach to pretend everyone is equally good. I do expect him to teach them the rules of sportsmanship.

He's a gem, that coach. He said: I want Wyatt to experience a positive team experience. He's a great kid. I made him pitcher because he's reliable, because he's a team player. Get him to the game on Saturday and I'll encourage him. I really don't want him to have a bad experience with this. And I love his hair.

Wyatt's fro

What a guy. By hook or by crook (or maybe a bribe) I'll get him to the game on Saturday. Sometimes it's better when the encouragement doesn't come from mom. I'll let the coach tell him he's got cool hair, a good arm and a team friendly attitude.


  1. W__ needs to learn that baseball is a TEAM sport.

  2. your writing truly is lyrical. it flows like a well executed bar routine. honesty, humor, empathy. and you are still lovely. your boys are great at least in part because they have an extraordinary mother. but that great hair is probably all winslow.

  3. well it was a good day on the baseball field. wyatt was a champ. almost threw down with w-- but held his own. and w-- got hammered by his mom for being douchey. and thank you lance. that is very kind. and the hair is definitely not me. Fo' sho'!