Tonight David and Cameron both had baseball games at the same time at two different locations so Barry and I used a “divide and conquer” strategy to manage the evening. We haven’t been able to employ a man-to-man defense since 2005 when Justin came along so this is a very effective offshoot of our typical zone defense.
Gametime weather was a balmy 53 degrees with 35 mph wind gusts. We were short coaches tonight so I parked Alex on a camp chair, bundled him in blankets and let him hang out with the 3rd and 4th grade girls he’s all smitten with, and went to coach first base.
I was shouting all kinds of words of encouragement to the first three batters. Then Cameron was up to bat. The opposing team made some adjustments upon realizing they were facing a lefty and Cam settled in. Cameron is cute as hell up there in his black jersey, red sleeves and red helmet. He looks like a mini Justin Morneau. And he’s a good little hitter. The problem is, you can’t hit the ball if you don’t swing at the ball.
Cameron watches a lot of baseball on TV. Cameron is a keen observer. So the first thing Cameron does is digs into the batter’s box. And if he’s not ready, he’ll hold up his gloved right hand (to his own coach running the pitching machine) until he’s ready to go. Then he’ll crouch into his stance. And he’ll take a pitch. And he’ll take another pitch.
And his first base coach, who up until this point has been encouraging and supportive, will shout, “CAMERON! SWING at the pitches!!!”
You see in the 7-8 year-old machine pitch league, there are really no balls and strikes. Each kid gets eight pitches. If one or two are in the dirt or obviously off it’s within the coach’s discretion to give the kid another if they haven’t hit the ball by the end of the eight pitches. There are no walks. So really there is no point in taking a pitch. But Cameron thinks he’s Ted Williams out there and continues to be selective in his hitting.
His first base coach is becoming more agitated, “Cameron, SWING!!! What are you DOING???” He turns around and looks at the coach and says, annoyed, “Okay!” And he proceeds to let another one go by. At this point he has taken swings on 2 of 7 pitches. His first base coach yells, “Last pitch, Cameron, you HAVE to swing at this one!” And he stares another one down. Batter out.
A woman from the opposing team’s cheering section asks, “Is that your son?”
“Yes,” I reply, shaking my head, imagining if I’d said no that she’d probably be calling the Chanhassen Athletic Association director, complaining about the crazy coach from the Storm team going all nuts on the players.
“You’re always the hardest on your own,” she says, sympathetically.
The problem is, I don’t think I was being hard on him, I just don’t understand what goes on up in Cameronland sometimes. He’s an enigma. He’s not scared of the ball, he can hit the ball, he has a nice swing, he knows the rules. SO SWING AT THE DAMN BALL ALREADY!!!
I guess everyone has their demons at that age. At least he wasn’t lying down on the outfield grass or playing with leaves while the other team was up.
© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2010