Going into this baseball season, I wasn't sure what to expect. Last season was so-so. While The Evil Dictator loves baseball, he got stuck in right field all last season. His preferred position is second base-- but it was also the coach's son's favorite place to play. I'll let you guess who got to play second.
As this season started, he got stuck in right field again. I could tell he was getting bored (for you non-baseball players, most people are right-handed hitters; most balls hit go to left fielder, the short-stop or the third baseman. Right field is a good place to work on your tan). He didn't say anything to me, but he did mention it to my ex, who told me about it. She encouraged him to talk to his coach. He did this, and soon found himself occasionally playing first base as well as right. Then, about mid-season, it finally dawned on the coach that his regular third baseman couldn't play third base. Time after time through the first half of the season, we parents cringed as the kid missed easy plays. The coach started having Adam practice at third. Finally, one inning he finally put him at third. With a couple of guys on base and two outs, a batter that came up slapped a liner down the the third base line that was headed toward being a certain base hit and a run or two. Adam quickly reached out and snapped up the line drive, ending the inning.
He got to play third base a lot after that.
Late Saturday, a notice went up on the league website that we were making up Saturday's rained out games the next day. We were dubious; it had rained a lot on Saturday, but when Sunday afternoon rolled around, the weather was perfect-- a beautiful day for a ballgame.
As we got ready for the ballgame, Kim was resting from a 5K that she ran/walked Sunday morning with Mel. I asked Mel if she wanted to come to watch the ballgame. She did. She grabbed the camcorder we'd gotten her a couple of Christmases ago. I'm glad she did.
As the game started, we quickly went up by a bunch of runs. I was alternating between watching the game, studying for the Microbiology test I had today and chatting with parents I knew. Suddenly, I heard my ex calling to me. I looked on the field, and to my surprise, I saw Adam getting ready to pitch!
He finished warming up and started pitching. Apparently, he'd been nagging the coach all season to let him try pitching. Since this game couldn't affect our standings (we're second in the division) and we were up by five runs, he decided to let Adam pitch.
And you know what? He was pitching strikes. And he was throwing heat.
He struck out a couple of guys in the two innnings he pitched. They tagged him for three runs, but two of those were on errors his teammates committed. He was calm and confident, particularly given that he (and we) had no idea that he was going to pitch that day.
The second inning he pitched, he gave up no runs, and was looking even more confident.
The last-- and up until now only-- time he'd pitched was three seasons ago, when his coach had asked him to go in and finish an inning when the regular pitcher had melted down (he was crying). Adam went in and finished the inning, giving up one run-- the least any pitcher gave up that day. Later, when I asked him how he'd felt going in unexpectedly, he told me "really nervous." He probably felt that way yesterday, but I think in six years of playing, he's learned one big lesson of baseball-- and indeed, even life-- never let them see you sweat.
I had meant to grab my camcorder to get some footage, but in my haste to grab my schoolwork and digital camera, I forgot to. Happily, Mel, as I mentioned, brought her camcorder with, so we'll have some footage of Adam pitching up soon.
After he finished pitching, he went to his now-familiar third base, where he forced a guy out and came close to turning it into a double play, a rarity at this level.
When he went back to the dugout after pitching, I saw his teammates congratulating him. He was chatting with his coach-- I could tell that he was looking for pointers for improvement. I could also tell that something in him had changed. He'd been handed an unexpected challenge, and had taken it as an opportunity. Ah, baseball as life.
This last month was hard. My class was hard, and I know that it's not been easy on my family. I've had to balance the quality and quantity of time with them with needing to do well at this class. On top of that, I've missed time with both of my kids because of scheduled time with the families of our respective ex's. It's been over a month since we were all together. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed the Monopoly game the kids and I played Friday night.
I was happy that as my class and this season are ending, both have turned out so much better than I expected. I was happy that a rainout turned into my favorite game I've watched in 6 years of watching him play (they won 14-6, by the way), and happy that my other kid got to share it with Adam and I. I'm happy that in our blended family, two kids are happy to have one another as siblings. And I'm most happy that the two of them, after the disruption that break-ups of their families caused, have, I think, normal and happy lives.
Now, on to the playoffs!