When did youth sports become politically correct? I was taught to chatter incessantly. “No batter, no batter, swing batter” was a staple. I don’t know what a “belly itcher” is, but I know we wanted a pitcher instead of one. I’m not saying it was better or worse, I’m just saying my fragility as a ballplayer didn’t hinge on what anyone said.
Living in today’s positive cheering world, I have found the marginal filter existing between my brain and my mouth is a godsend. Some things are better left unsaid.
To the opposing first base coach who yelled, “You can hit him”: It may seem like positive reinforcement, but what you are saying to my pitcher is “Hey kid, you suck.”
What I wanted to say: “Apparently he can’t” (after the kid struck out on the next pitch.)
What I did say: Nothing. Self-restraint is a good thing.
To the opposing parent who decided to stand practically inside my dugout and yell, “Through the window Bobby. Strike him out!” (I may have mentioned this one): You want to cheer from our side of the field, go nuts. I have no idea what through the window means, but you’re yelling in my ear and my players are two feet away.
What I wanted to say: “Bobby isn’t striking anyone out because he is throwing about 20 mph which is why he’s getting shelled so please go back and sit with your group.”
What I did say: “Way to rip that window wide open” (I don’t know what that means either) when my player crushed one. Some self-restraint is a good thing.
To the opposing manager who, upset my players were cheering, loudly told his team “Just because they do it, we’re not going to”: My rec league may have an idiotic rule requiring cheering to stop when the pitcher comes set, but travel ball doesn’t. I don’t let my team start cheering when the pitcher is about to deliver and we only cheer for our player, so if they’re already cheering, keep at it boys, whatever keeps you engaged.
What I wanted to say: “Dude, have them chant away. It’s a baseball game for crisssakes! Their cheering isn’t going to make my pitcher any better or worse.”
What I did say: Again nothing. I should have said this one. Self-restraint is overrated.
To the coach who told his player to stop halfway between first and second so the kid on third could score (I mentioned this one before): You should know my immediate thought was to plunk the next batter. I didn’t because it’s beyond wrong and it’s not your kid’s fault his coach is a jerk.
What I wanted to say: “Way to teach your kids good baseball. It’s an 8-year-old baseball game not the World Series. As they get older your kid is going to be out and the next kid is going to get plunked for that bush league (expletive deleted).”
What I did say: Nothing, damn it! I so wish I had said that one. Self-restraint is stupid.
Finally, to the parent of the kid who is finally putting the bat on the ball after I worked with him relentlessly all season who told his kid, “Remember, take the big stride just like we worked on”:
What I wanted to say: “I just spent a month eliminating all the noise from your kid’s swing, and he is finally making contact which is no small accomplishment. You’ve just watched me spend ten minutes with him on the tee reminding him to widen his stance and shorten his stride so he can focus on getting the bat to the ball on some trajectory that’s not a karate chop, and you have the gall to tell him to take a big (expletive deleted) stride? Seriously?!?”
What I did say: “Johnny, great job. Now let’s do it in the same way in the game. Hey, dad can I have a word in private?” And that required every ounce of self-restraint I have.
“I was taught you never, ever disrespect your opponent or your teammates or your organization or your manager and never, ever your uniform.” – Ryne Sandberg