Monday, October 19, 2009
The Tee-Ball Chronicles #8: Fall 2009 Scouting Report
We're four weeks into Jalen's third tee-ball season – and my third go-round as coach – and I can honestly say that this is the most fun either of us has had. There are a few kids who'd obviously never even SEEN a baseball before the league began. Another kid – mine – pulled that "fake an injury so I don't have to play the outfield, then miraculously healed when it was time to hit again" bullsh**. And, this past Saturday, after 40 minutes of line-drives whizzing past their inattentive faces, most of my A's were flinching immediately before every swing of the opposing team. Let's meet the A's!
#1 – Ernie: One of Jalen's best friends and a teammate of my son for all three seasons. I love this kid. He's a kamikaze who aggressively seeks out rough physical contact on defense or on the basepaths. In hockey, he'd be called…well, I don't really watch hockey, but you can bet he'd spend a LOT of time in the penalty…uh, room? If they ever invent "Arena Baseball" or if Vince McMahon follows through with the "XLB", you're looking at a future superstar. TBG's Comp: The Man They Call Vader.
#2 – Camden: Another friend of Jalen's who was a teammate on last spring's team. He's come a LONG way in terms of understanding the fundamentals and sometimes he even runs towards the general direction of first base when he hits the ball. Played most of Saturday's game with his mother and grandfather on either side of him while on defense. I would've said something, but I couldn't run the risk of his family rescinding their "snack mom" commitment later this season. TBG's Comp: Starring in a remake of this.
#3 – Andrew: Someone really needs to sit his dad down and explain how tee-ball played by four and five-year-olds works. He needles his kid from the parents' area all game long. Late in last week's game, Andrew didn't want to take the field. I saw his old man getting up to unleash hell, so I asked the kid, "What if I raced you centerfield?" We sprinted out there together before he turned to me and said, "I want you to stay out here with me!" Sniff. TBG's Comp: Ray Kinsella from "Field of Dreams".
#4 – Nicholas: I freely admit that I overdo it with my son. Jalen rocks the superfluous eye-black, batting gloves, Nike cleats, etc. Nicholas, however, carries around his own personalized bat and won't let anyone else touch it. Thankfully, he doesn't take it out to the field when he's playing defense – although he'd probably use it a lot more than he uses his glove. Mrs. Bootleg told me that he was (gently) hitting his teammates in the head with ol' Wonderbat during our last game. I wish he'd have tried that sh** with Kimo. TBG's Comp: Giants P Juan Marichal.
#6 – Ian: This kid has a rather unique hitting style. He seems to know the particulars of a batting stance just fine – bends his knees a little and knows which end of the bat is up. Then, there's his swing. Here's a short video compilation of others with his identical approach at the plate. He throws the bat at the ball and once word gets around the league, no one will play infield when he's hitting. TBG's Comp: This chick.
#7 – Enzo: Space considerations be damned…for benefit of my readers, I've transcribed my entire conversation with Enzo while he was playing first base for half an inning. "Enzo, remember, when you 'cover' first base, you have to [I exaggeratedly demonstrate] keep your foot on the bag, get your glove up and get ready for the throw. You're not doing any of those things", I said. "OK", Enzo replied. [Repeat exact same conversation 20 more times over next six minutes.] TBG's Comp: Willie Stargell - the statue, not the player.
#8 – Oliver: At least once a season, I unintentionally spook(!) one of the kids by yelling something innocuous like "run to second!" or "go! go! go!" a little too enthusiastically. This year, Oliver's the one whose first impression of African-Americans has been warped by my misplaced passion. It doesn't help that I'm about five feet taller than he is, either. TBG's Comp: Film critic Roger Ebert.
#9 – Zach: I didn't think there was another tee-ball player on earth who hammed it up as much as my son (for example, Jalen slides into EVERY base and sometimes takes ridiculously wide turns at first, just so he can dive back to the bag). But, last week, Zach and Jalen recorded a simple 4-3 putout…and then celebrated with 60 seconds of high-fives, man-hugs and mugging for applause. Thankfully, I cut them off just before the arm-in-arm victory lap around the infield began. TBG's Comp: Giants P Kenny, Johnny, Mitch, Nicky or Mikey.