What Matters Most?  

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It's coming on that time of year again....

BASEBALL!!!! I'm gonna see my first love once again. Baseball was the first thing I found in my life that made me forget about my appetite, made me forget about the TV. It made me forget homework, school work, girls, cars, and everything in between. Am I a fan of any team? Sure, but I'm not the true armchair fan that some are. I'm a fan of the GAME. Little League, High School, College, or Pro I could care less. I will go watch softball as quickly as I'll go watch a pro game.

My youngest son decided that he was going to play this year and I can't even put into words how excited I was to hear that he was going to give it a shot. He played T-Ball for a few years and was pretty bored with it but because he is so dang small we were a bit nervous about him playing last year. This year he wouldn't be restrained and we relented. He is doing fine and as far as athletic ability goes, he has more than enough. So now my quandry begins.

He was picked by a team here in town. The coach is a fellow who has never played the game before. His son is playing and he wanted to be involved. I say great. So he has a couple other people helping him and they didn't play either. There is one woman out there that played ball and she seems to know what to do, but it's very hard for one person to go around helping everybody.

I coached and managed baseball and T-ball for many years. We won a few championships along the way too. More importantly my players almost all played ball at high school and a dozen or so played college. We even had one get to AA ball. I always felt that the important thing was to develop their love for the game and the rest comes after that. if you don't appreciate it, you don't have the drive to get better. You have to want to play to become a player.

So enter my son's coach. Non-player coach is trying. I give him credit for stepping out on the field to try this. It's never easy to go outside your comfort zone. He is definitely not in that comfort zone. He is reading books and watching video to get ideas for coaching tips. I've decided to stay out of it and just cheer my son on. Tonight that became very difficult. We have gone to the batting cage or played ball in the backyard and the ball park for years. I've pitched to the boys for a good long time and have always shown them the proper way to hold a bat, how to stand and how to use their lower body to generate some power. Tonight my son was given a different batting stance and a different way to hold the bat. It looked awkward and he did poorly. I understand that it's the first time he tried it, but it's wrong and I admit I was tempted to say something. I zipped my lip and let him try it the way the coach said.

After practice I spoke with my son about the way he batted and he informed me that it was the way the coach told him to hit. His coach said this would help him see the ball better and some other crap that I disagreed with. I asked my boy if he liked it and he said no. I explained to him what the new stance he was in was (open stance) and I also explained to him why some pro players use that stance. He then explained to me that he wasn't a pro and wanted to know why the coach had him stand that way. I opened a can of worms without really trying to. I told my boy to give it one more try in practice and this weekend we would try it, but if it doesn't work for him he doesn't have to keep using it.

My quandry....What is the most important part of baseball? Is it learning the fundamentals? Is it learning the love of the game? Is it just to get out their and try your best? I think it's all of the above. Unfortunately I think that coaches who try to coach without understanding the game do a great disservice to those kids they are trying to teach. If you want to help out I think that's great, but if you don't know what you are doing don't offer to run a team. And shame on the league for letting somebody with absolutely no knowledge of the game having control of a team. Let them be assistants, but don't let them run it.

Time will tell how the season will go. I just hope at the end of the day my son still has an appreciation for this great great game. A bright spot has been my middle son has found a little spark of interest in ball again as well. Fingers are crossed that when the season tryouts open for his age group he will decide that he wants to give it another shot.

I don't care if my kids are ever great ball players. I do care if they like the game or not. I want to be able to sit down and watch a game with the boys and have a good ol' fashioned argument about if the runner should steal of if the guy was out at third. That can only happen if they, like me decide that this is a pretty great game. I just worry that a few bad experiences at a young age could wipe out that possibility.

Little League Here We Come!!!!