Dateline, San Diego – Jalen Cameron, 4 ½, reported to his first tee-ball
6 Teams, 3 Time Slots, 1 Depressed Dad: There were 11:00 AM, 12 noon and 1:00 PM slots available. We wanted noon, but got stuck with 1 o'clock. Kids in the early session get to be Yankees or Red Sox, at noon their options are Padres and Dodgers, while the 1:00 PM teams are the Pirates…and A's!. "Attention, everybody!. Let's all give thanks to the Leader for this glorious day!" A 50/50 chance for
I Am NOT Making This Up: At check-in, all the (ugh) Pirates gathered around "Coach Chris" and gave their names. Right before Jalen, there was a little boy named David. David Eckstein. The coach looked at the dad and asked, "Isn't there a 'David Eckstein' in the big leagues?" The dad looked like he'd never had anyone ask him that before and sheepishly responded, "I dunno. There might be." "There MIGHT be?!" Jalen's teammate is David Eckstein and I'm only 30% sure the little tyke isn't the 30-something version. (Yes, yes, you all saw that line coming, but I still went there.) Don't get David's grit in your eyes, son.
Jalen's First Baseball Nickname: The boy is clearly reading his old man's mind, because Jalen is pretty bummed about not being on the A's. Every time the coach addressed the Pirates, Jalen responded, "I'm an Oakland A." Patiently, the coach looked at my son and said, "OK, Jalen. I'll just call you 'Oakland'." AIEEEEEEEEE! I NEVER had a cool nickname growing up – and, for those of you who've known me more than a minute, don't forget that I moderate comments 'round here. Now, on his first day of practice, my son has a handle that's a bazillion times more bad ass than "Cam".
Scouting Report – Fielding/Throwing: The coaches had set up three stations for the first day of practice. We started with fielding and throwing. Jalen rigidly took a few groundballs from me and seemed fine as long as they were right at him with minimal bounce. He
Scouting Report - Baserunning: My son would run all day if he could. I realize that I'm on borrowed time here, as Jalen will soon realize there are several other sports that promote physical movement more than tee-ball/baseball. But, for now, it came as no surprise that Jalen was the fastest kid on the team. He zipped around the basepaths with all the awkward, false hustle of Eric Byrnes, but like ol' Byrnsie, the fans will give my son a pass because he's so darn cute doing it.
Scouting Report - Hitting: Every kid got 12 swings off the tee and once the boy found out that he couldn't run after hitting the ball, his interest fell off with each increasingly lackluster hack. With all the bat speed of me, he somehow started to stroke the ball to the opposite field, then to the opposite foul territory – and not in the Tony Gwynn "meant to do that" context, either – finally, the poor hitting tee took brunt of his last three swings.
A "Pirates!" team cheer at the end wrapped up the hour and Jalen went off to the playground to roughhouse with his best friend. His first game is in two weeks and…well, we gots some work to do. It'll take commitment and focus from both of us, so…hey, ice cream man! Ice cream man!
An ice cream truck pulled up after practice (you'd have thought he was waiting for us!) and I enjoyed my first-ever Choco Taco. Seven more weeks of this? I'm in.