Friday, February 09, 2007

Time to be Baseball Daddy

I know a good portion of the nation is under heavy snow but here in Arizona the Little League baseball season is already gearing up. I am a Baseball Daddy as my Number One Monster has displayed some pretty good hitting talent and we are getting pretty excited about another season.

Last weekend they held tryouts. For those of you unfamiliar with Little League baseball the spring season is the competitive one that leads to State Championships and the Little League World Series. In the interest of fairness, our league employs a draft hence the need for tryouts. As protective parents you might be thinking how horrible it would be to place our nervous kids who probably didn’t swing a bat all winter in front of 100+ parents and 2 dozen managers with pencil in hand rating every misstep of our kids in hitting, catching and throwing. Yeah it really is that bad and the anxiety shows; 90%+ of the kids at the tryouts whiffed on all 3 machine pitched balls.

So for my son, the competitor in me scouted the pitching. I told my son waiting in line that the pitch would be coming in high to him so he needed to position himself at the back of the batters box to let the ball drop more. He said “OK.” Alright, I go back to the stands and wait for his home runs...

Unfortunately my son “left his brain at home” as he tends to do and when it was his turn he backs away from the plate to the outer side of the batters box instead. I yelled from the crowd to back up (not something you want to do often as managers might think you are a DIA (“Dad Is an Ass” in Little League parlance) and not draft your kid because of that) but Number One Monster misunderstands again and backs up even further away from the plate. Aiyah!

They say sports is 90% mental, lemme tell ya, it's absolutely true!

Well, he lucked out in that his skill overcame his deficiency in brain cells and he lined two of the three balls squarely (the one he whiffed on was way high as I had feared.) He further lucked out in that no other hitter his age hit as well as he did. So tryouts done, now comes the networking…

Because my son is 9 he is eligible to be drafted into the older minors division, AAA (where the pitching is faster and more consistent) over the younger minors division, AA (where the pitching can be downright atrocious but hey that is what it is with young kids learning to pitch). Last year he was lucky to be drafted into AA, did well and had a great time. But to face the same loopy pitching would unbearable, my son gets discouraged when he walks on 4 pitches again and again (plus there is at least one PITA AA manager I don't want him to get drafted by.)

So I need to talk to a AAA manager to draft him because at this point all these managers know about my son is his Tryout Number and at best 100 seconds of watching him. I thinking it can’t be too hard, he did well in tryouts. I managed to talk to my only acquaintance who is a AAA manager and he tells me the league initiated a rule limiting each team to one 9 year old and his son would take that slot (and that is how most young kids get drafted up, their father is the manager). Doh!

So now what to do without looking like a DIA?! I don’t know any of the other managers. Maybe I need to get my wife involved, some managers draft by the time honored GLM principle (the “Good Looking Mom.”) Nah, just kidding but seriously I have to figure how much of a pushy parent I want to be.

To be continued...

9 comments:

honglien123 said...

Wow...I was just telling my hubby this morning that we need to start thinking about getting our 5 year old daughter into some sort of sport, not just for her health and activity level, but because it might lead to some real scholarships (Title 9 is a beautiful thing yo). His answer? "F*ck that, I don't want her getting involved in overly competitive sh*t!" But I guess as long as WE as parents don't push, it should be ok.

I mean, your son sounds like he's having fun despite what sounds like some real competition and I'm sure my daughter would have fun with whatever sport she falls into too.

Monster Daddy said...

Hi honglien123, it's true that in any sport there will be overly competitive parents. That can't be helped. But on whole, the kids tend to be great and your child would make lots of new friends.

I started my kids in baseball to give them activities but also to develop self esteem and learn life lessons I think would carry through into adulthood. And IMHO sports (and team sports specifically) really helps with that aspect. For these reasons alone I would place my kids in sports.

My problem so to speak is my oldest son surprised the heck out of us by being really talented at hitting. So we decided it was important to develop his skills and see where it takes him. And this means keeping him challenged by having him facing the right level of competition. It's just like school, you don't want your kid to be bored.

Pushy parents are OK to a certain extent. Because as I mentioned in my blog entry, sports can be 90% mental and that really can apply to ANYTHING in life. I tend to think my son has far more self confidence because of the lessons he learned in baseball, i.e. being the best hitter despite being the smallest or youngest kid.

Overall I think the positives outweigh the negatives by a ton.

thisislarry said...

I'm signing Rabbit Dragon, my oldest, up for little league this year, despite the fact that I'm wary of organized sports.

I want him to build up his confidence, learn some skills, and he does appear to be alot more coordinated than I was at his age (he can actually hit pretty decently). But I dont want to be a sports dad. I hate stats. I hate win-loss records, I couldnt care less if team X makes it to the championships of sport Y.

I wonder what I would do if (when!) he turns out to actually be really good?

thisislarry said...

... and Monster Daddy: dude, you told your son to back up, and he backed up.

You should have told him to move right (or left if he's a lefty).

Like they told me in physics, you gotta remember your frame of reference. :)

Monster Daddy said...

Wow, so much wariness over organized sports. Here's my take, any sport is as good or as bad as the parents/volunteers who run it. Unfortunately for us busy folks, sometimes the only way to ensure the kids get the right level of attention means we need to volunteer and/or learn the sport. I coached, my wife coached. I think my wife knows more about the rules of baseball than many coaches do now, LOL!

How old is your son Larry? Since I assume he is younger than mine he is either T-ball or coach pitch. Is this his first season? Should be fun. The best times were when we could sign up my sons/daughter with kids of friends and acquaintances.

P.S. My son should know by now what I mean by back up vs. crowd the plate. ;)

angie said...

as the ex-sister-in-law to a pro tennis player, i have seen the good, the bad and the ugly . . . i want my kids to learn life lessons, discipline and what not, but at the same time the threat of DIAs and MIBs (mom's a b*tch) worry me. i think there are a lot of other ways to learn the same life lessons - but i agree that the sport/organization is only as good as the parents and coaches who run it.

*and BTW, man I am SCREWED 'cause my son's got some of his uncle andy's tennis skills . . . there go the weekends, but hello country club membership! ;-)

R2Dad said...

Best of luck. Maybe one of your kids knows someone who knows a coach? You may never know unless you specifically ask them, kids being kids.
I'm still debating the benefits of team sport vs individual sports for my kids. I think the team sports are better for youngsters growing up, while the individual sports are more beneficial for kids after highschool. if you have the time to invest in doing both, more power to you. I'm in a position where we have to choose, which makes it more difficult.

Larry said...

MonDad,

See you already know 100% more about baseball than I do. All I remember from my little league days was: "keep your eye on the ball!" which I couldnt figure out anyways....

Monster Daddy said...

Larry, really I was in the same boat as you are. Sure I loved the sport growing up and thought I knew something but after my son starting doing well I started researching and found out like 90% of what I was teaching him was WRONG!

My son should thank the stars that he lives in the Internet age, I have gotten really great advice FREE off the Internet. Seriously, you won't need $75/hr lessons. A batting cage membership on the other hand....