Wednesday, June 9, 2010

T-Ball Observations Part II

In my last post, I wrote about the frustratingly funny task of teaching my daughter to play t-ball. I have to say, the entire experience has me wondering at what point I will become unable to accurately judge my children's ability to play sports. Right now, if the t-ball coach had to pick a starting nine, I would be shocked if my daughter were one of them. However, I know that this will not always be the case because I coach high school sports, and I know that sometime between now and her turning fifteen, I will lose my ability to see her as anything other than a varsity starter with collegiate potential.

Anyway, I promised the absurd. At our last game, I showed up in my usual t-ball gear: t-shirt, shorts, flip-flops. I have a strict "no socks in the summer unless it is absolutely necessary" rule, and I don't think coaching bases in a t-ball game necessitates wearing shoes that require socks. I quickly saw that the coaches for the other team did not have the laid back attitude that my daughter's coach has. At first I thought I was seeing things because I've checked out the other diamonds during our games, and it looks like everyone has the same approach to t-ball as our coach: just have fun and teach them a few basics. This other coach, however, had a different idea from the looks of it. He was out warming his girls up with he and his assistant wearing matching hats representing the high school's athletic program, coach's shorts, and the head coach was wearing cleats. I joked to one of our assistants that regardless of his overly professional attire, the game would still end in a tie since everyone gets to bat three times not matter what. My brother, who happened to be at the game, corrected me by saying that we would win because we had more girls.

Once the game started, it only became more fun. In our t-ball league, the coaches are allowed on the field with their team while playing defense. Every other coach I have seen, including ours, just kind of stand out there and make sure the girls are standing in the right spot, throw to first base when they get the ball, and try to get them to pay attention at least a little bit. This guy was out there saying things like, "On your toes! When that ball is hit I want to see you bouncing! You've got to be ready to pounce!" A ball got by one of his players and he loudly said, "Come on! We practice this all the time!" I should point out that I don't use exclamation points all willy-nilly like other people might. When I use exclamation points, it is because there was some exclaiming going on. This guy was yelling.

Reason number three that this guy should be locked away has to do with base-running. Now, from what I've seen, the main base-running goal for the average t-ball coach is simply to get the kids to run to the correct base at the correct time and make sure they actually touch the bases while they are doing it. For this reason, there is an unspoken gentleman's agreement among the coaches that no matter where the ball is hit or if a throw actually makes it to the base before the runner, ever batter gets to hit the ball and run to first. When the next player hits, the runner on first advances to second, and so on until the bases are loaded and then you simply start hitting runners in to score. There is no score kept and outs don't matter. Again, the goal is to teach them the very basics of the sport. Apparently, this guy missed that memo. On two occasions, one of his players hit the ball to the fence in the outfield (there are no outfielders in girls t-ball because the ball is rarely hit more than twenty feet) and he didn't stop them at first. One girl ended up with a double and the other a triple.

The greatest part of the whole thing was a little red-headed girl on his team, who happened to be wearing house slippers for whatever reason. She was on second base just singing away, and when the ball was hit only ran about halfway to third before getting bored and kind of walk/skip/dancing the rest of the way. He was coaching third and going crazy trying to get her to run the rest of the way, but she just kept singing and traveling at her own pace. Once she finally made it to third base, he proceeded to admonish her for not hustling and not doing what they had practiced, but the whole time she just looked at him and sang, "la la la la laaaa la." It was absolutely priceless.

I have to say, I'm very glad my daughter is not on this guy's team because I really don't think there is any way I would have let her continue to play after the first practice. There is a time for that kind of coaching and t-ball is not that time.

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