Top (left to right):
Coach Aaron - Quiet, intense and dignified…which just so happen to be the same words used to describe every African-American baseball coach or manager. Anyone know why that is? Even the sh*tty ones like Davey Lopes and Jerry Royster.
Coach Ernie - Great with the kids. Prior to last Saturday's game, my son Jalen said, "I don't want to play catch with you. I want to play with [Coach] Ernie." That…that hurt.
Second Row (left to right):
Kimo - The team's best player and it's not even close. He KNOWS he's better than everyone else on the field (coaches included), too. He's built like a cannonball, he never smiles and he could legitimately hit third or fourth for a half-dozen Major League teams right now. When the kids pig-pile for the ball, watch them part the waters if Kimo goes after it.
Jacob - Like most youth coaches, I can't be bothered to know much about my team beyond our best player and my own kid. Jacob's most memorable for this weird habit of running sideways. His upper body's fine, but his lower body twists at 90 degrees – like a "fully-poseable" action figure – when he runs.
Alex - Much like David Eckstein and Darin Erstad, it's more about the intangibles that Alex brings to the team. There is no one – NO ONE – in his age group that can find more inappropriate uses for the word "poop" in casual conversation. Last Saturday, he held a captive audience of kids (from several teams) in the palm of his hands with an awesome monologue of bodily functions.
Jalen - I've officially become one of "those dads" when it comes to my son. J now sports Nike cleats ("These hurt my feet, daddy."); baseball socks ("These are too tight on my knees, daddy.") and a belt for his XS pants with an elastic waistband. I've previously bored the boy with the story of how I taught myself to switch-hit in high school. Now, he'd give anything to hit from the left-side in an actual game. He should've thought of that before he ditched me for "Coach Not-His-Damn-Daddy".
Bottom Row (left to right):
Cooper - Kimo's kid brother. He comes up to about my knee and might be around 18-months-old. Most popular player among the mothers mostly because of this loud exchange I had with him a few weeks back while he stood in right field: "I have to go potty!", he said. "Umm, OK…where's your dad?", I replied. "He's at home!", he said. "OK, OK…where's your mom?!", I said. "I want YOU to take me!", he screamed. "Oh, God!", I gently replied.
Ernie - One of Jalen's best friends and a holdover from last fall's Pirates t-ball team. Crazy improved from last season, too. His dad (Coach Ernie) tells me that the two of them practice every day after dinner. My level of dedication with Jalen is similar: we practice on Sunday afternoons. Then, during the week, after dinner, we watch the A's play on my MLB Extra Innings package. And, if you can't learn fundamentals from watching Jason Giambi play first base and Jack Cust swinging the lumber, then it's time to find a new youth sport.
Jack - To tell you the truth, this might be James. I've got a cheat sheet with the all the kids' names and numbers that I keep in my pocket during games. Whatever his name is, he wears those really low-cut socks during games, which annoys me to no end as he runs around in hiked-up baseball pants and exposed ankles. I'd call him "Kid Capri" if I thought anyone other than me and Mrs. Bootleg would get the joke.
James - Again, he could actually be Jack. I can't see what number he's wearing in the photo. Always smiling and couldn't care less if we win or lose (which is good, since we don't keep score for some reason). Kimo's assessment: "He's not taking this seriously." Jesus, it's a good thing we don't have hazing at this level.
Camden - Probably a wee bit, umm…"not ready" for organized sports. Cute kid and one of Jalen's classmates, but he wore Crocs - Crocs! - to the first game. Since then, he's been wearing rubber-soled brown suede shoes. After 10 minutes of hyperactivity, his dad threw in the towel on getting him to stand still for the individual player pictures. Only player capable of wandering over to every position on the field in a single half-inning.
Alexander - I made the mistake of calling him "Alex" early on ("My NAME is Alexander!") Well, then. A couple of weeks ago, it seemed that every ball was hit to him. After a few minutes, he shouted to his dad, "I got six balls that means I've got six points!" Last Saturday, he was almost an hour late for team pictures. We'd finally gotten every kid to stand/sit and smile in unison, then had to wait for Master Alexander to stroll over and grace us with this preschool ego.
"Psst, Kimo. Wanna make some easy money?"