Thursday, May 24, 2012

Put Me In Coach....

...unless I missed a practice because it was monsoon season in town!

#1 and #2 are both in little league baseball in town, #1 is in coach pitch and #2 is in t-ball.  This program runs for roughly six weeks out of the year, including practices and playoffs.  It costs $30 per kid to play and they get a hat to keep.  On top of the registration fee, they are also required to sell raffle tickets to fund the expenses of little league.  All of this is very fair and we have no issues with this.  I grew up playing little league and I love the game of baseball.

We signed #1 and #2 up thinking they will have fun and would enjoy playing.  We have taught them that it doesn't matter if you win or loose, have fun.  We also teach them that life isn't fair and not everyone gets a trophy or a medal, so don't expect it.  Neither of the two older Minions are remotely coordinated beyond tying their shoes when it comes to sports, but they have fun and enjoy them and neither my wife and I live vicariously through them, I don't have delusions of grandeur that #1 will be the next all star.

I wish I could say the same thing for some of the coaches we have encountered this year.  I am finding that there are three categories when it comes to a coach in little league:

The "My Wife Signed Me Up and I Would Rather Be Drinking Beer" Coach

The "I Was The Starting Second Baseman For My College Team and My Son Is The Best Player" Coach

The "Let's Let The Kids Have Fun and Play The Game While Learning" Coach

You can guess which coach is few and far between.  I understand that the coaches, assistant coaches and umpires are all volunteers but let's be honest with ourselves, chances are the short, crossed eyed, messy haired kid, picking his nose in right field will probably not get drafted by the Red Sox.  There is absolutely no reason to yell at the second grader because he didn't make the cut off player and the other team scored a run.  This kid is not going to be the next Josh Hamilton, I can guarantee that.  In fact, I can almost guarantee that the reason he is playing baseball is because his parents want him to have fun.

Hey what are you picking?  Obviously not a winner!

Now, the only thing I can honestly compare this to is Cub Scouts, which is the only thing I volunteer for due to lack of time.  So when I compare the next few scenarios, it may or may not make sense to you.

It started with the schedule of games.  Great no problem, we can put them into our iPhones, iPads, iPods and even write them onto the calendar hanging on the wall.  They are scheduled, we know when  they are.  How a coach plans a practice is beyond me.  If, as Cubmaster, I told the families the day before that I wanted to run an event, I would get zero turn out, you can't do that to parents these days, with kids being in sports, Scouts, school activities and more, parents need quite a bit of notice, not the "You guys lost today so there will be mandatory practice tomorrow at 9AM for three hours."  These are second and third grade coach pitch, you are not Terry Francona managing 23-40 year old men, who get paid millions of dollars...relax the fuck up.

Like I said, it's been monsoon season here and the chance of games and practices being canceled are inevitable, but why make the decision five minutes before we are supposed to show up or even better, send the text out while we are arriving at the field?  Really?  I don't know about you, but when I plan something I want to give people the most amount of time to know if the event or whatever has been canceled.  You have parents coming home from work, in some cases leaving work early, rushing to get their three kids fed, cleaned and out the door and you decide to cancel the 5:00 PM game at 4:58 PM?

If a kid gets drilled in the face by a ground ball, don't stomp over to him and yell at him to get up and deal with it.  Again this is a second grader we are talking about here.  What if you were playing short stop and got drilled in the sack with a baseball, I would imagine it wouldn't tickle.  Show some compassion, asshat.

Don't go up to a second grader and threaten to bench them or kick them off the team because he missed too many practices.  This one hit close to home, yesterday #1's coach singled him out and told him that he was going to be benched because he missed the practice earlier that week...the same practice that got canceled five minutes before and then we were called again five minutes later saying they were having it in the rain.  I wasn't there but my wife was and (this is why I love her) she got in the coaches face and told him that if he needed to say something to say it to her and then proceeded to let loose our frustrations with the communication between coaches and parents.  Needless to say, #1 sat on the bench for the first three innings.

What I'm getting at here is that if you are going to be a volunteer coach for second and third graders, you need to understand that they are not MLB superstars. Yelling and screaming at the kids, especially the ones who have attention issues, is not going to help the situation.  Before every game the teams recite the Little League Oath:

I trust in God,
I love my country and will respect its law.
I will play fair and strive to win.
But win or lose,
I will always do my best.

I call bullshit on this with some of the coaches, maybe they should follow this oath before criticizing the kids for not playing well.  Maybe they can learn from this book, it's only $2.43 on Amazon.


  1. Hey Kevin, I coach sports. My kids and other people's kids before I had kids. I always make sure to send home the schedule for the entire year (practices and games) at the first practice. I have also been a Girl Scout leader and sent home a calendar with all the events for the year. . . at the first meeting. I know that I am probably just really awesome, but perhaps it isn't the coaches that are the problem here. . . perhaps it is the organization that the coaches volunteer for on the local level. They may lack training. I see it way too often. As a matter of fact, big mouth me has managed to have two local soccer organizations (in different states) establish either coaches clinics or benchmarks of achievement for coaches to use with their players. Perhaps it is because I was a product of the BSA, but I think that if you want results you need to measure for those results. If you have the time, go to the board meeting and be the squeaky wheel. I do it often and it leads to change. . . granted, you usually have to volunteer after. Maybe not always though. This year we actually were "graded" on our performance by the parents of the kids on our team and I applaud that step. That is really the only way to weed out the dimwits. I think too many organizations are desperate for volunteers. Parents see the shenanigans and are turned off. I say "be part of the solution."

  2. You know the more I think of it, I am just a crazy person. Don't be like me, it will just piss people off. If you don't mind that however. . . you can affect some real change.

  3. AHHH I hate Little League. My second grader is in the coach pitch league (oh and we have to dish out $120 bucks for it, but he gets a shirt AND a hat so that makes it worth it, right?) I am actually pretty happy with the coach. He is a nice guy and the kids have fun. What I can't stand is the total lack of organization in the league. We received a schedule from the league for all the games and practices at the beginning of the year. Great right? Nope, not when they change it every freaking chance they get. I work two job and my husband doesn't drive so trying to get him there is a real challenge. Thankfully I have some friends who have kids on the team and they help out when they can but it is just really a mess. Plus, it is boring as hell to watch. There are no outs, the kids are at bat until they get a hit (I have seen kids up there whiffing away for 15 minutes before they finally get a foul ball that the coach calls fair just to get the kid on base). But the important thing is that my son is having a blast.

  4. As the only Brit on the panel, I'd just like to say, huh??

  5. I know my one grandson played Pee Wee football for 1 game last year. He didn't even want to play football but his other grand pappy decided he wanted to live his life through a 7 y/o. After every practice the grand kiddie complained of headaches, and the coaches would tell him "don't be such a woosie" and even had the other pap calling him that, which left a great big WTF coming from me. He lasted one game because I told him if he didn't like it to quit. Well he was then teased about being a quitter by the coaches. I didn't like that and wanted to punch them in the face (I also wanted to punch the pappy that signed him up knowing he did not want to play). I hear what you're saying!

  6. So good news...because of my wife's confrontation with the coach, we now have a practice schedule.

  7. Oh I so know what you mean about the coaches. When my son was in third grade playing football, his coach spent every practice yelling and screaming and had a team of kids that were all nervous wrecks by game time. Definitly not a fun experience for kids. They're kids not professional atheletes.