June 24, 2014

Baseball: More Than the Great American Pasttime

I am still not quite certain where this blog will lead, but I'm attempting to write a bit more deeply, not just rambling interludes and glimpses (I almost typed blimps there...hmmm) into my life.  This, obviously, is dependent upon just how much time for reflection I have and how well my recall works...

Alas, this past week, has again flown by...but on the upside, we're one week closer to a "real" summer vacation of running through sprinklers, lighting a fire in the fire pit, making s'mores and enjoying the gorgeous Colorado summer evenings...

Right now, we're in the thick of baseball season (ok, technically it is tee-ball for Princess), and BB is the head coach for both teams.  I'm sure I've already told you that, but, apparently, my recall is lousy today.  This means I'm spending as many minutes as I can being "productive" around the house, so I can prepare the kids for practices and games - loading water bottles with ice cubes and water, tossing healthy snacks into the cooler bag, sunscreen application, bug repellent atop that, and then verifying the presence of equipment and uniforms...phew!

BB being head coach really means that I'm head administrator for the teams...he runs practice and truly teaches the kids the skills and rules to play the Great American Pasttime, but I'm the one who makes sure schedules are issued, reminders are sent, parents know about games and snacks and then, during the games, I herd the players - making sure they follow the line-up, drink water, have their gear etc. etc ad nauseum...

I truly love the game.  There's just something about sitting in the stands, soaking up the sun, or enjoying the dusk, hearing the soft whoosh of the ball as the pitcher hurls it to the batter.  The crack of the bat (or the "ping" in our case. stupid aluminum bats), the roar of the crowd...I never realized until the last 3 years, just how mental and strategic baseball is.  I used to hate it - it was boring...all they did was stand around and wait for the guy to hit a ball, and then attempt to stop the guys from scoring.  Bleh...Now that I can see the strategy behind telling your powerhouse hitter to truly take one for the team, and hit a sacrifice fly so his teammate can advance and/or score as opposed to hitting one for the books, it's a bit more thrilling.

I realize it's not the same rush as watching massive men crash headlong into one another in the attempt to run the distance of a football field, nor is is the same as watching hockey players, or even tennis players.  Truly, many of our athletic events don't truly do anything other than show the talents of a few...but to see those that have been gifted with agility, speed, endurance, strength...I enjoy it.

On a much different, yet somehow far bigger scale, I'm enjoying seeing my kids grow through athletics.

Captain is learning a lesson (albeit a difficult one) about perfection.  The equivalent of 3 seasons of tee-ball allowed him a false sense of skill as to batting.  Now that he's hitting something that isn't standing still, he's learning that he can't control everything, and that sometimes he's gonna knock one into the outfield, and other times he'll go down swinging.  Most importantly, he's learning that we get back out there and try again the next time, and that everyone misses occasionally.

Princess is learning that even with an inborn ability and being "good" at something doesn't always mean you'll be on top.  This lesson of life is teaching her that, just because you are consistently a high-achiever, doesn't mean there isn't someone on the defense that's also a high-achiever that's going to catch your ball and use it against you.

And yes, I could wax poetic with sports analogies all day long...but I won't.

The biggest things I see happening is BB being shown just how gifted he is!  Half of our players on Captain's team were with us last year.  Of the other half, 2 stayed a level down, 1 isn't playing at all, and 3 moved out of our League area.  We have 7 of our 13 kids back because BB was such a great teacher and coach, that the parents have entrusted their kids to him again.  They keep telling me how impressed they are with his ability to not only teach them about baseball, but respect, teamwork, courtesy, hard work...BB doesn't see these things about himself and keeps saying how surprised he is that people ask to be on our team...

I'm watching my kids, all 27 of the players - nervous about their swings, whether or not they'll run fast enough to stay on base, will they attempt to catch a ball, and once they actually have the ball, will they remember where to throw the ball to make the play - and seeing how, in just 5 short weeks, they've gone from squirrely, rambunctious kids to some pretty darn good ball players.

I leave with this floating through my head, from someone, somewhere in my life, "Wherever you set the bar, those expectations we have for people?  That's where they'll operate."

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