A few weeks ago, I dragged Elijah and Luca to the park to practice baseball. In fifteen short minutes, I ruined the very concept of practicing. And possibly ruined baseball for them forever. I threatened. I guilted. I yelled. I even went to far as whizzing a ball against the chain link fence to get their attention.
Mid whiz, I realized just how much of a dick I was being. It was my own insecurities being dickafied in front of my sons. What possible purpose did being a dick have? Aside from making my sons think I was a terrible person. Did I really think being a dick would make them better players?
Oh. Sorry for all the dick talk. You’ll see my point in a couple paragraphs.
I decided the best way to not become a raging dick was to just let Eli and Luca play or not play, practice or not practice and stop making everything about me.
On Saturday, I took Eli to his game, sat in the stands and just tried to enjoy myself. Eli’s team was up to bat first. The Gods of baseball acknowledged my new faith and Eli got a hit without any real effort at all.
But then I noticed two things. 1) The team they were playing against were really, really good. Like turning double plays/catching balls in their caps good. 2) Their coaches were complete Dicks.
It seems that the “Dick’s Sporting Good Dicks” coached under a philosophy of screaming, humiliation and berating. Any time a player missed a ball, the head coach, a beer bellied, vaguely military guy, would get red faced with anger and stomp over to the offending player to admonish him at great volume.
These are eight year olds, remember.
The “Andy’s Frozen Custard Chillers” coaches, on the other hand, were not yellers. In fact, they go out of their way to compliment everyone. Especially players on the other team. It’s a lot more fun. But there is a certain “Bad News Bears” quality to the play.
In protest of the Dick’s tactics, I assumed my best sarcastic posture within earshot of their coaches. “I was under the impression this was supposed to be fun,” I sniffed. Or while petting a dog I’d say way too loudly, “Be lucky you aren’t in the field, boy. It’s no fun out there.”
At the end of the game, in a scene right out of a bad after school special, the clearly worst player on the Dick’s team was at the plate. His name was Peyton. He was painfully thin and could barely hold up his bat. The fat military coach threw him pitch after pitch and accompanied each one with an insult.
The entire stands, both Chillers parents and Dicks parents, siblings and random weird people who hang out at little league fields, focused all their hopes and dreams on Peyton getting a hold of a ball and having it sail directly into his coach’s crotch.
In the end, Peyton hit a tiny dribbler that barely made it to the pitcher’s mound. But the crowd roared as if he hit it into the lights like “The Natural.”
I wanted to buy Peyton an ice cream, but I was afraid it would come off a little pervy so I just spent my money on my own kids to buy back their love.