As most of you know, I was recently railroaded into managing my
* -- I've already made the "getting my wife a baseball diamond for Valentine's Day" joke 20 times over the past two days. Friends, co-workers, Mrs. Bootleg...they've all heard it. I regret nothing.
When in Oakland -- I'm taking my case to the readers of this lightly-read blog, because my wife and I can't seem to reach an agreement. Is it considered over-the-top to purchase white batting gloves with forest green trim for your baseball-loving child because that's what the players on his favorite team wear? And, where do you stand on the purchase of a matching green batting helmet? Just for grins, let's say it was affixed with a gold A's logo decal that was separately obtained off of eBay. Y'know...as worn by the players on his favorite team. That's not "over the top", is it? Of course, it's not. Could you guys let my wife know?
The Designated Hitter -- During my introductory phone calls to the parents of my players, I contacted a father who insisted his 10-year-old son was "too good" for the farm division. His son tried out for the next higher level, but wasn't drafted by a team so he dropped down to our division. I was less than thrilled when the league asked me to invite the child to one of my practices where he'd receive a second evaluation from the upper division. When he showed up, he was the biggest kid on the field...but, he couldn't throw or catch. Our practice hadn't even ended when the league's player agent confirmed I'd be keeping this kid on my team. It wasn't until our next practice -- a week later -- that I got to see him hit. Oh, my. Left-handed...all torque...all bulk. He was obliterating the ball. Jalen compared the kid's swing to this guy...and I couldn't disagree. Welcome, new player! I can teach him defense. Can't I?
Clinically Speaking -- Every Little League manager in our district is required to attend a 90-minute coaching clinic. As you might imagine, I took it in stride. It began at 9:00 AM and was held outdoors on a drizzly 48-degree morning. It was a lot like traffic school as the instructors taught us obvious lessons ("Be patient with your players.") in their most condescending tone ("Don't be afraid to take a knee and talk to the kids at their level.") One of the instructors had played college baseball at San Diego State under Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn. He mentioned this several times, each instance more forced than the last. Afterwards, another manager and I tried to estimate how many times a day our instructor mentions "his time in the cage, talking hitting with Coach Gwynn". We settled on 30 times/day from Sunday through Thursday and a bar/nightclub bump to 50 on Fridays and Saturdays. Don't say you weren't warned, women.
Now Pitching for the A's... -- Our team played a scrimmage against the Cardinals last Saturday. For most of the kids, it was their first chance to pitch from the mound in game conditions. Jalen was penciled in to pitch the third inning. Earlier in the week, I had a chance to discuss his impending pitching debut:
Me: "Are you excited about pitching on Saturday?"
Jalen: "Yeah. I think I'm gonna do this if I strike someone out."
Me: "Don't do that, J."
Jalen: "Why not? Brian Wilson does it."
Me: "He does it for his father. His dad passed away and it's a tribute to him."
Jalen: [Pause] "Do I know any dead people?"
Jalen took the mound with a 6-1 lead. He was clearly nervous and rushing through his pitching routine as if the ball were a live grenade. In his one inning of work, he gave up one hit, one walk, one strikeout and no runs. Another batter reached base on a poor throw from our shortstop, which caused Jalen to turn towards our dugout and squeakily shout from the mound, "That's not a hit! That's not a hit! That's an error!" At least he didn't do the Brian Wilson thing.
Well, THIS Might be Over-the-Top -- The Oakland A's are the only Major League Baseball team that wears white shoes. Oh, yes I did.