Saturday, July 28, 2007

Catch Them While You Can

Last Saturday, Adam's baseball team unexpectedly defeated the Red Sox, advancing in the playoffs, and earning the right to play the dreaded A's.

The A's coach is the guy I referred to last week. He is widely reviled in the league. He's the only coach who has been thrown out of games for being belligerent with umpires. He yells at and swears at his players. Two years ago, when his team didn't have their usual first place finish, he had his players boo the first place team at the awards ceremony.

His crappy attitude rubs off on his players-- they are an unpleasant group of kids. When we advanced in the playoffs, other coaches and players told us one thing: beat the A's!

Our boys were nervous, but revved up for the game as Coach Rick gathered them for the pregame pep talk. He expressed confidence in them, and thanked them for putting in 110% effort all season.

The guys on the bench got up and made some noise as the game started!

We had a couple of good hits in the top of the first, but couldn't bring anybody home.

In the two games we played the A's this season, they got up by a bunch of runs and we never caught up. The guys were really on today, and kept the A's from scoring at all in the bottom of first! Coach Rick ran out to congratulate them.

Adam finally came up to bat a couple of scoreless innings later. He got ahold of the first pitch and bounced it to the shortstop, who threw him out at first.

Inning after inning the Yankees held the A's, allowing no runs. The excitement-- and tension-- mounted; our guys were also being held to a shutout.

Finally, in the sixth inning (the games are seven innings), the A's scored two runs. We were unable to answer those runs, and in the top of the seventh, the guy who was up before Adam struck out, and the season ended with Adam on deck.

To tell how proud we were of them-- scaring the shit out of the team that had beat up on the rest of the league-- it's hard to convey.

There was one other thing we were proud of. Jake, the kid who had struck out, was crying. One by one, they all went up to him and talked to him, reminding him that they won as a team, and lost as a team.

Coach Rick gathered the guys up for one last talk. He told them how proud he was of them. One of his favorite moments of the season, he told them, was seeing the A's bench, formerly cocky and arrogant, sitting sullenly and silently after their fifth scoreless innning. The Yankees had given it their best, and he'd enjoyed the season.

Later, when I got back home and looked at the pictures, One of the pictures really jumped out at me.

It took me back to my favorite picture of he and I together.

This picture was taken in September of 1996, when Adam was about 2 and a half years old, at my friend Larry Tucker's wedding. I didn't know it was being taken. Adam was holding his toy car, squirming around on my lap and I was explaining to him that we needed to be quiet for a few minutes.

The first time I saw this picture, I was struck by how he looked more like a little boy at that point than a baby. When I saw the picture I took today, I was struck by how he looks more like a young man than a little boy now.

Tempus Fugit.


'Bubbles' said...

Yes, my blogger friend. It does.

African Proverb: "When raising children, the days are long, and the years are short."

So true.

Congrats on a great season. I pray those young men know that they did not finish second - I don't give a crap what the score said!! Maybe they made a difference in one, just one, of those other kids' lives. I sure hope so.

Skylers Dad said...

Very nice JY, Adam is blessed to have a father like you who "gets it".

Bubs said...

I can't tell you how much I enjoy your posts on child-rearing and the passing of time.

Congratulations on the game--I'm glad some satisfaction was had. And another thing, that was really impressive, the way the kids responded to the one who struck out.

My memories of little league would have involved that kid being ostracized.

MacGuffin said...

That's the way sports should be played to be sure.

Erik Donald France said...

That is a GREAT picture and a nice post, too.

Chris said...

Great post! It made me all nostalgic for my summer baseball days. Tough break about the loss, but it sounds like a winning season overall to me.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

I think it's great you are teaching those kids about being a team and not turning them into mindless a holes like that other dude. Keep it up and your son will be a great citizen.

Johnny Yen said...

I love that proverb!

The important thing to me is that our coach fulfilled the promise he made at the end of the season: "My goal is to create great memories for the boys." He succeeded in spades.

Skyler's Dad-
From one who "gets it" to another!

I think every one of the boys had the same thought-- "That could have been me." And Adam especially-- if that guy had gotten on base, he would have been up next.

It's really odd-- out of five seasons, Adam has been on deck 3, and possibly 4 times when the season ended. Each time, my ex and I had the same thought-- "Thank god it was the other kid, and not Adam." He'd have really beaten himself up over it.

Absolutely. I told Adam a long time ago that only one team can end up in first place, but every single kid can have fun.

The kids on the other team really have a miserable time. The guy makes it really awful for them. And if a kid is not playing up to his standards, he "encourages" him to stay home. How fun is that?

A few years ago, one of my regulars on the restaurant had a kid on the guy's team. My ex and I specifically request for our son not to be on his team every year. I asked my regular how he can let his kid be on that guy's team. His reply: "He wins." That is really sad.


It would have been really fun bursting the guy's bubble. We had a great time, though.

What's really funny is that that coach probably gathered his team up and chewed their asses out for not winning bigger. I've seen him do it before.

There are so many things he's learned. One of the most important things he's learned is that a guy may be on his team this year, and on a different one next year, but they're still friends. He's figured out something really important: it's just a game. People are more important.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Aww, they grow up both way too fast and not fast enough, don't they. I wish we could just stop the clock at times.

GETkristiLOVE said...

I have a lot of catching up to do - congrats on the new job at Gage. Congrats on the running water (the place looks awesome). And Congrats to Adam on a great season. I love that his team made the As shiver in their socks. That's awesome. I love the last Sonny Boy post too!