Friday, May 21, 2004

T-Ball is Fun, Right? (Part 2)

Feeling pretty good considering Mental Woman had already set my eye to twitching, I looked at the clock in my cell phone. I realized it was about 6:05. The game was scheduled to begin at 6, so I made an effort to get it going (as it was obvious I was going to have to take the lead on this one - anything else would be uncivilized!). Gathering up my kids, I announced the batting order and put them in line on our bench. By now, two other "coaches" were helping out the future mental patient with her team. She walks over to me and asks, "Why aren't you guys out in the field? We're the home team, so we hit first." What the ..............(There is no curse word sufficent to express how utterly flabbergasted I was at this statement).

Ok, first rule is that if you coach a sport, please know at least a LITTLE bit about the sport. Taking deep breath after deep breath after deeeep breath, I replied, "No, the home team hits last. That way they get last ups. You know, that gives them a little bit of an advantage." (I lay on the wink wink and flash my dazzling smile, in case she doubted my verity.)

I guess I'm losing my touch, for she looks shocked, "No, no, no. The home team actually has the choice of hitting first or second. We choose to hit first."

Frantically trying to remember which speed dial # my cardiologist is on, I said, "No, you don't get to choose. The home team hits last. That's the way it is. There's no room for negotiation here. Get your kids out in the field and let's get going. We're coming up on 6:15 here and some of us have to get our kids home so they can get to bed sometime before midnight."

She looked like she'd just been slapped (don't think it didn't cross my mind once or twice). "Ok, but my kids aren't going to like not hitting first."

Again, I bit my tongue. Actually, I almost bit my tongue clean off. All I kept thinking is that this woman probably will make some psychologist extremely rich in the future, although I'm not sure I'd trade my time with this psycho for any amount of wealth.

She finally gets up the courage to tell her kids that, sadly, they wouldn't be hitting first. Shockingly, they seem to take it in stride. I expected nothing short of a full-fledged midget riot, considering Ms. Personality's concerns. No long faces, no pouting, just childlike enthusiasm to actually get this game going. She painstakingly puts each kid in their appointed positions. When I say painstakingly, I mean honestly, she draws an 'X' on the ground with her foot for each kid and tells him/her NOT TO MOVE from that X until the ball is hit. Having your team ready to play is a task that should take about 30 seconds. She gets them all situated in a shade under 5 minutes while our kids are patiently waiting to hit.

The rules of t-ball state that your whole lineup of kids hit every inning. We have seven regular kids, so it should theoretically take about 10 minutes to play ½ of an inning. However, after each one of my kids hit, she goes to each position and places them back on the 'X' she had drawn. Some of the kids hadn't moved two feet and she STILL went to each position to put them back. After it took us 15 minutes to get through four of our hitters, I'd had enough. My eyes by this time had been rolled so many times they about popped clean out of my head. "Is it really necessary for you to put each child back on each individual 'X' before EVERY hitter? I mean, I understand the need to teach them positioning and all, but if they're in the general vicinity of their position, that's about all you can hope for with 4, 5 and 6 year olds, don't you think?"

"No, no, no. The ball cannot be hit until the children are in their assigned spots." At this point, I was expecting her head to do a 360° and split pea soup to spew from her gaping maw.

"Lady, this isn't school, nor is it rocket science. I honestly don't want our three inning game to last three hours. Let's move a little quicker, please."

Looking like HER eye was going to start twitching, she relented, "Ok, I guess we don't have to be so precise."

Great! I have broken through her force field of obsessive-compulsiveness. After we got that straight, we breezed through the rest of our half of the inning.

I send my kids out to play the bottom half of the inning. I tell them one by one what position they're playing and they trot out to their assigned spots. No 'X's', no hand holding, no nothing. Just a "Tommy, go play first" or "go to short, Johnny." Mental mommy looks amazed, like I've taught these kids how to cure cancer or something.

Her kids come up in the bottom of the first. There's eight of them. Mistaking herself for a MENSA candidate, she has come up with a self-imposed way to speed up the game - let's use two balls and let the second kid hit right after the first one does. And when I say right after, I mean RIGHT FREAKING AFTER. Her first kid comes up and hits a dribbler out to the mound, which my pitcher scoops up and goes to throw to first base when *Bam* the second hitter hits the second ball, which hits my pitcher in the leg. Now, I've got a crying pitcher, a confused shortstop who has just picked up both balls and can't figure out how to get them both to first base at the same time, and a massive headache. I called "time out" and walked over to her and said, "What are you doing? Two balls? At the same time? You can't tell me that your kids are used to doing this." I honestly wouldn't have been surprised if the vein in my forehead ruptured, squirting anyone within 20 feet of me.

"Well, you're the one that's in a hurry to get out of here. Seems to me that you'd like this idea."

"Yes, you're right, I think maiming my kids is a marvelous idea. Why not just let your kids take turns chasing ours around the field with their bats? If they catch our kids they can just pummel them right where they lay."

"Now you're just being silly."

"Lady, you have no idea just how silly I can get. Since you've gotten here, you've agonized over the littlest details and forgotten the most important thing - actually teaching your kids the CORRECT way to play baseball. This is an instructional league and the only instruction I've seen you give these guys is to stand on an 'X' before the ball is hit. Not once did I see you correct someone when they didn't field a ground ball the proper way. Not once have I seen you show your kids the correct place to stand in the batter's box to hit a ball off the tee, which I can understand because there's really no room for an 'X' in this batter's box. All I've seen you do is act like a candidate for the Galactically Anal Freak of the Year award."

After I let loose with that tirade, I realized that everyone in the park was staring at me. I mean every single person. Even passersby stopped to witness the obviously insane man pick on the poor, defenseless woman. Then, something amazing happened - the parents of the OTHER team applauded me. I actually got an ovation. I heard someone say, "We tried to tell her before, but she didn't believe us."

My intention wasn't to make her feel bad, but that's what I had done. Her son was looking on in abject horror as his mother was humiliated in front of what had to be his whole world. His father didn't seem to mind as much, however (actually, I think it took everything he had not to laugh right out loud). She simply said, "I'm sorry, I didn't know I was this bad." Then, turning to the crowd, "If you all felt like this, why didn't you say something? Why let it come to this?"

Apparently, they had said something on many occasions. She had turned a deaf ear. They all felt she had gotten what she had coming. She walked off the field, as she did she turned to me and said, "You're a good coach, teach my kids something, ok?"

So, it was the first time in my life where I actually coached opposing teams. To my amazement, she was sitting on the bench the whole time TAKING NOTES.

After the game, I went over to her and apologized for acting the way I did and she said, "No, I deserved it. I bit off more than I could chew here. There are parents that offered to help and I ignored them. Actually, I learned a lot from watching you coach these kids."

Feeling like a complete ass, I offered her an embarrassed, "Thanks and good luck the rest of the season." Then turned to gather up my son and our stuff.

The opposing parents thanked me again and I told them to help her out. I think she's a little more willing to accept it now. Hopefully, her kids will learn that playing baseball isn't about standing on an 'X', sitting in the same dugout, or even choosing whether to hit first or last. It's about being part of a team. It's about having fun.

On the way home, my boy said, "Dad, why do some coaches not know how to coach and some coaches have a vein that sticks out of their forehead?"

I said, "Buddy, not everyone knows how to coach baseball, and that's ok."

He said, "Yeah, but I was just glad the vein wasn't my fault."

Hi JP! Thanks for checking out my site. Love the little league dad rant on yours. Im actually a team mom myself, enough to drive you bonkers. I started smoking after my son made the all-star baseball team last year.
Hi JP. Yes your absolutely right. I do want you. That vein popping out of your head during T-ball sounds so sexy. Tee hee!
Have a fun season coaching. Im just trying to survive this season as team mom. Raising a jock son is about the hardest thing I have even done.
Cheers to You!
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Oops, sorry Jack. I clicked on the wrong icon. Not only am I funny, but I'm incredibly stupid as well. :o)
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