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My co-managerial debut was a success & I learned something about myself in the process
For those of you who missed the news this week, I made my 9U managerial debut Friday night as a fill-in for the coaches who normally deal with 10-11 kids who all think they can pitch and some who call runs “points” and have all sorts of strategy running through their heads.
I had Instagram messages in the middle of the night wondering how it went. My mom was on the phone asking about the game immediately after it was over. The email inbox is overflowing with readers looking for game analysis. So here we go.
My son’s team, the Bison, won 8-3.
• Myself and two other dads stepped up to handle the coaching duties. My responsibilities, which we sorta just figured out on the fly would be coaching third base, handling defensive positioning, working the 15-year-old umpire on his strike zone and rooting on the kids to haul ass out to their positions so we could get as many innings in as possible.
• My neighbor Dirk was in charge of first base, serving as team cheerleader and being loud when necessary.
• Fellow baseball dad, Nathan, was in charge of making sure the position board was updated and keeping the kids in a batting order.
• The opposing team has struggled with pitching all year and last night was no different. They trotted out a lefty and he just couldn’t find the plate which led to at least three or four runs before he was replaced and the game settled in. I didn’t keep complete mental notes on the Bison offense, but there were a few nice hits that produced runs.
• In the final inning — I can’t remember whether that was the 4th or 5th, who knows at this level — Bison pitcher Reid ran into some trouble as the other team had legitimate base hits between 3rd and short that produced runs, but the defense eventually came through and that was the ball game.
• Our 3rd baseman had two excellent plays where he was able to pick the ball and throw it all the way across the field on a fly, which are miracle moments in 9U house ball for those who’ve had experience at this level.
• It’s really fun to see the kids have success on defense. I know everyone wants to hit one to the outfield and run the bases, but there’s something about completing the basic defensive plays that tells me the kids are advancing and becoming ball players.
• I found myself very interested in the defensive strategy and positioning the kids. A lefty came up and it’s almost too easy to see that the kid is going to be late on the ball and the third baseman, Logan, better be ready. I moved him off the line. Boom, ball is in his glove and he’s throwing across the diamond for an out. I love to see a great line drive, but there was something about the defensive side that took me right back to being a high school catcher working through defensive strategy.
• I figured out I’m not a screamer. Now, it was one night and they were winning, but I found myself calm, not really one to launch into “How many outs?” or tell the pitcher “Just slow down, Reid, slow down…Reid I need you to stay calm and slow down” as co-manager Nathan reiterated for several batters. The dads handled their roles very well. We each get a managerial win for our social resumes.
• The kids seemed to have fun. Winning makes things better, but it really is a good group of kids who want to be there and want to have success. It’s nice to see it in their faces that they want to learn strategy and give effort. I’d say that’s a testament to the parents. Again this is house ball and we could have eight kids who are off on a different planet. Even Lincoln, who is extremely quiet and tends to struggle at the plate (has a nice level swing and is determined), made a nice play last night while playing second and you could see him light up. That was powerful stuff to see.
• The ump did a great job. There wasn’t a single f-bomb dropped by a parent and the teen ump didn’t have to kick out any blue checkmark dads.
• House ball needs to be made great again. At the end of last night’s game, the field lights were turned on and I’m left thinking how cool it would be to just have city ball tournaments with all the big dogs in town there to take part. Outfield tents grilling out on a Friday night. Whole families able to come together without sinking $5.099 fuel into their SUVs. Foul ball bubblegum for the 5-year-olds chasing down balls for the umpires.
• It really felt great to be back in the thick of the sport again. I’m definitely going to need more of that in my life.
Have a great weekend. I’m off with the family to Cedar Point to see if my body can take the thrashing of the Magnum and the rest of the coasters. It’s an incredible morning. Go live life.
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