I am done with rec baseball. I love my players, and how I do love this great game, the greatest game, of baseball. But much like the shine of a new baseball is dulled by Lena Blackburne mud, this season has made going to games something I dread. A general lack of knowledge of the rules invariably leads to misinterpretation which invariably leads to one team thinking the other is taking advantage which invariably leads to tension which invariably leads to escalated episodes. And it’s all [expletive deleted] nonsense.
What I want to be thinking about tonight is all the hard work my son has put in and the minor adjustments he’s made to his swing over the last week to get out of his hitting funk, hitting buckets of balls, hitting off the tee and soft toss. What I want to be thinking about tonight is that hard work paying off when he turned on an inside pitch and launched one, his first legitimate homerun and a grand slam that put us up for good at that.
These are the moments I coach for and, let’s face it, I coach for me and what I get out of it even if I’d like to believe I do it for the kids and to teach them the game. These golden moments are what my players give to me. It’s why I was high-fiving my travel ball player who was playing for the other team last night after he made two ridiculous catches against us, one of a ball of the bat of my son, because I couldn’t be happier for my travel ball player or prouder of him.
Instead, I am thinking about the play that ended the game, a game that was already over because of the league’s inning-run limit rules, and the episode that followed.
Again the particulars do not matter other than it involved a coach sending a runner, in what amounts to an attempted steal, in a situation where our league rules clearly state it is not allowed and the runner being tagged out on his way back to the base.
So to be yelled at, called an [expletive deleted] and told I’m not teaching sportsmanship . . .
Ten games into a twelve game season, everyone should know the rules.
The best advice I ever received when I started coaching was to know the rules, especially the local league rules. If you are a coach, you owe it to yourself, to your players and to the other coaches to know the rules. When you don’t, you cause conflict, emphasis on you, with other coaches and you set the worst possible example for the kids.
Know the rules.