JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

The Halo-wearing fool …

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I coach my son’s little league baseball team. We’re the Red Sox, and we play on the Class A level, which means coaches pitch for most of the season and scores aren’t officially recorded. It’s my first time serving as a head coach, and I’ve largely enjoyed it. The practice can be a bit taxing, but the games are fun and rewarding.

Most of the time.

Today we played the Angels. Beforehand, I’d been warned repeatedly about their head coach—a guy described as bossy and over-competitive. “Just try and ignore him,” someone said. “You’ll see why.”

Indeed, I saw why. The head coach of the Angels seemed to think he was, literally, manager of the Angels. Like, the Angels—of Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. The kids we’re coaching are between the ages of 7 and 9. It’s not about winning. It’s about fun, physical fitness and learning the game. That’s why I never keep track of how many runs we have; why every game a different kid decides on our team name for the day; why we wear rally caps in the fifth and sixth innings; why—at end of the contest—we gather in a circle and, on three, scream together, “I am a jelly donut!” I want my team to end the season by saying, “Wow, that was fun!” Not, “Wow, my coach sure was a dickhead!”

The Angels coach wasn’t a dickhead. He’s volunteering and he’s trying his best. But when his kid messed up, he got on them hard. In the middle of innings—depending on situations—he would realign his infielders to increase the likelihood the top players would get balls. There were a handful of times when he looked visibly furious when a player struck out. At one point the Angels’ third base coach turned toward me and said, “Our guy takes this a little bit serious.”

It was sad and pathetic and wrongheaded.

Just as it would be sad and pathetic and wrongheaded for me to admit that, for the first time this season, I can tell you how many runs my team scored. Eight.

And, ahem, how many runs to other team scored.

Seven.