A little over half-way through the Minors rec season, here are a couple of things which have made me chuckle.
“The mound is off-center.” I look up to see all the other coaches huddled around the mound in the middle of the bottom half of the second. We’re at bat.
Our fields have artificial mounds so we can change field dimensions between 46/60, 50/60 and softball as necessary. The problem is the mounds weigh 8,000 lbs give or take a pound so precision placement is a hope more than anything else.
I take a look from behind the mound. It is off center . . . by maybe an inch. I feel compelled to remind everyone that given our mounds, we will most likely spend more time trying to get it perfect than we have to play the rest of the game, but move the mound we do. Then the back is not lined up perfectly to second base . . . by maybe a half-inch. Making sure I am out of earshot of any player, I gently say “Totally agree it stinks we don’t have better fields. I’m not so sure the fact the mound was a quarter-inch to the right is why the pitcher is hitting the top of the backstop.”
The Catcher’s Glove
My son has a brand new set of catcher’s gear which no one else is allowed to use. Same goes for his catcher’s mitt. Those are my rules. Say whatever you like, but there is a rationale. Last travel season when everyone used his old gear, every time he went to put it on, it fit like an outfit picked up at a rag tag sale. His new set is set up perfectly for him. And I was taught, your glove is your glove. Treat it well and respect it.
I bring his old gear to games as well which also has catcher’s glove so there’s always gear for anyone who catches.
An opposing coach asks if we have a glove a catcher can borrow. I flip him the team glove. After the half-inning, I have to go and ask him for the glove back. Repeat process in the next inning. So in the third, I remind him before I give it to him that I would like it back after the inning. I don’t get it back because he is warming up his next pitcher with it. Let me write that again. He is warming up a 9-year-old pitcher with a catcher’s glove – and a kid’s glove with the smaller finger stalls at that. Later I learned he had an issue with having to “share” a catcher’s glove because we had more than one.
Eight mound visits in four innings; three in the first inning alone (our league allows three visits in the Minors during the month of April). I’m not sure there are three things you could tell a nine-year-old who is struggling with location during a game period, let alone that require three separate visits.
Catcher Mound Visits
In the same game, the catcher must have gone out to the mound another four times. They probably had a mix-up on the signs they were using. “One means fastball. Two means fastball. Three means fastball.”
During a game last travel season, my catcher started to go out to the mound after my pitcher threw a three pitch strikeout. Before he took his second step, he got this from me, “Hey, what could you possibly have to say to him right now?” He just threw three strikes. I’ll worry about him. You go back behind the plate and worry about catching the pitches.”
The other team is cheering as my pitcher starts his delivery on the first pitch of the first inning. He’s shaking his head “no” the whole time. I won’t say I knew what was coming next, but I knew he didn’t like the cheering. He gets the ball back from the catcher and asks the umpire to tell the other team to stop cheering when he comes set which the umpire does. The other coaches stare at me with the “what the [expletive deleted]?” look. Technically, my pitcher is correct. It’s a rule in our league. And while I don’t agree with the rule, good for him for standing up and saying something.
I always have a short post-game meeting. I think it’s important the kids hear from the coaches after a game and we have to give out the game ball. I usually hold it in the outfield so the kids aren’t fussing with the gear. But on Saturdays, when games are stacked back-to-back every two hours, the first thing we do is clear out of the dugout.
So I did interrupt another team’s coach delivering the Gettysburg address to his team while their gear was still strewn across the dugout like a tornado ran through. Our game was already past its start time and there were another two games on the docket behind outs. Interruption #1 didn’t seem to do much, so I interrupted again. Maybe I was being an [expletive deleted]. Maybe not. But I don’t think it’s too hard to be cognizant of our surroundings and the impact of our actions particularly when we’re talking about baseball for nine-year-olds.
Seven games into what promises to be a 30-plus game year between rec and travel. No doubt, I’ll be smiling some more.