So two days ago I made my little league managerial debut, leading the Red Sox against the Dodgers in a noon game on a sun-drenched field.
I was actually a bit nervous, because coaches pitch and my accuracy is a bit erratic, and I worried about obnoxious parents and bratty kids and overly competitive rival coaches and … and …
It was terrific.
Beyond terrific. At time, the practices have been a bit, eh, rough. Nothing terrible, but 7-year-old boys are 7-year-old boys, and 8-year-old boys are 8-year-old boys. They stop listening. They spit raspberries. They spin round and round and look every which way but straight. Last week’s practice, in particular, was not fun. I actually had all the kids sit on the infield grass, and I said, “Look, I don’t get paid to do this. I’m doing this for fun, and to help you guys. So …”
That held the collective attention for at least four minutes.
Anyhow, I had low expectations for the game. And they were exceeded times 1,000. One, because my kids smacked the crap out of the ball. Two, because my son went 3-for-3 and make some terrific plays at second and first. Third, and most important, because it was REALLY fun. We have a team handshake—slap-slap-pound-dove wings—that was utilized about 500 times. The kids chanted from the bench. One boy, Jason, never played organized ball before. At the plate, he was grinning from dimple to dimple—and singled twice. I don’t know whether we won or lost (I suspect we won), because scores aren’t kept in A ball. But I felt like a winner, because we had a lovely 1 1/2 hours. So, hey.
One interesting thing: Before the game, I met with the Dodgers coach. He was a very nice guy, very chill. League rules call for three swings=a strikeout, and he said he was pretty loose with it. He wanted every kid to have the chance to get a hit, which I completely agreed with. Then, however, the game began and I forgot. If my kids swung through three pitches, they were out and sent back to the bench. And you know what? It was for the best. I’m usually not this type of guy (stick to the rules, etc), but there’s nothing wrong with learning what happens when you don’t connect; nothing wrong with striking out. We don’t always succeed in life, and that’s fine. So, even as the Ks mounted, I was comfortable with it. Because accepting a setback is just as important as accepting victory.
Next up: The Yankees.