Sunday, May 1, 2011
The LL Chronicles #7: Five Things I Learned from Jalen's Most Recent Game
Yesterday, our Rookies division Red Sox played the A's...
"Moisture wicking" and "postgame socializing" don't go together... -- Game time was at 12 noon and temperatures reached the mid-to-high 80s. The players and coaches wear replica Major League Baseball jersey/shirts made from polyester and featuring the same Dri-Fit Gimmick Technology that's all the rage these days. The apparel is designed to "wick away" sweat from the skin while remaining relatively drier than, say, a cotton t-shirt. After two hours of "wicking" -- under the hot sun, from the first base coaching box -- I put my arm around Jalen's shoulder to congratulate him on a good game. Before I could finish my first sentence, he said, "Daddy, you smell bad." It was a good thing he told me before I put my arm around the shoulder of some of the other players' mothers and congratulated their kids on a good game. Oh, it is not creepy. I'm pretty sure most coaches and managers greet their players' mothers the same way. And, would you call future Hall of Fame MLB manager Tony LaRussa "creepy"?
Little Leaguers can loaf as well as Major Leaguers... -- Our kids are getting better all the time. But, the one negative aspect of their respective games that might cause me or another coach to go Billy Martin on one of our little boys is the absence of hustle -- especially out of the batter's box. I should point out that there are two of our players who ALWAYS bust ass up the first base line. The first is Danica, the lone girl in our entire district and one of the most enjoyable players I've ever coached. I'll assume everyone knows who the second player is. Yesterday, two or three of our players stood at home plate and watched infield pop ups drop to the ground. This was actually progress from our first few games when one of our kids intentionally scuffled up the first base line...just to watch the dusty cloud of chalk that kicked up around his ankles.
Feuding with opposing coaches is FUN... -- In the top of the sixth inning, one of our team's best hitters was at the plate. Stephen's swing has gotten a little long lately and his attempts to hit everything to the outfield have resulted in several slow rollers all around the infield. Jalen had just doubled, so there were runners on second and third with two outs. Once again, Stephen swung for the stratosphere and the resultant groundball was easily scooped up by the first baseman who then stepped on the bag. From where I was standing -- up the first base line, looking directly into the stance of our right-handed hitter -- the ball clearly hit Stephen's foot off the bat. I successfully argued that it should've been a foul ball. This set off one of the opposing coaches who shouted unintelligibly in my direction and gestured wildly with his arms. Since I don't do confrontations; I instead outsourced my retort to Stephen -- who doubled home both runs on the next pitch.
Sometimes it's OK to root against your son... -- In the bottom of the sixth inning, Jalen almost made a terrific little sliding catch. The parents in attendance warmly applauded his effort and Jalen accepted high-fives from a couple of the opposing coaches. I ran over to check on him and as I was leaving, an A's coach said to me, "That would've been an amazing catch!" I responded, "Yeah, but if he'd caught it; I'd NEVER hear the end of it. NEVER." After the game, I learned that Mrs. Bootleg was having the exact same conversation with some of the Red Sox parents -- right down to the "...NEVER hear the end of it" quip. We know our son.
Jalen's postgame appetite is a terrifying sight... -- Our game ended around 2:00 PM. Afterwards, Jalen charmed the "snack mom" out of three bags of cinnamon-sugar Teddy Grahams and washed it down with a 20-ounce bottle of Gatorade. After a merciful shower, I took Jalen over to a regional sports bar called Oggi's where he polished off a personal pepperoni pizza and -- for dessert -- an entire Black Magic Stout Brownie a la Mode. By himself.
Our server looked down at the scraped-plate devastation in front of Jalen and remarked, "Wow. That usually serves two or three people." Jalen smiled sheepishly and looked up at me with a pained expression that seemed awfully familiar. "Do you have to go poop?", I asked. "Yeah", he replied.
I know my son.