Thursday, June 09, 2005

Time for a rant. The kinder, gentler thing couldn't last. Mr. Caustic is back. You want the Snake Eater to get ugly, here you go.

I am sick to death of youth league managers who play their kid and their coaches' kids like the team is their own private club.

Sports parents come in several flavors. There are the parents who just want their kids to play an organized sport or two and benefit from the character building and exercise. There are dads (and moms) who think sports are the living end and since they never amounted to much they're going to live vicariously through Junior and by God, Junior is going to be one hell of a player to enhance that vicarious experience. And then there are the tough guys who shove Junior out onto the field to make a man out of him.

My son's manager would be menu selection number three. He's a physically imposing guy—tall and broad shouldered. Talks like a tough guy. I was surprised to find out that he's a cop—he comes off more like a ditch digger.

His kid is a wimp, so he shoves him out on the field to make a man out of him. He was on the All-Star team with my son a couple of years ago (making the All-Stars or travel team doesn't require any talent if your old man coaches one of the teams). The kid was utterly terrified of the ball. He would literally back out of the batter's box with every pitch. One day they put an equipment bag behind him to force him to stay in the box and he backed anyway, falling over the bag and landing flat on his back.

Nancy boy hasn't sat out a single inning this season. He's a miserable ball player. Every kid should play, regardless of their ability, but there's no compelling reason to play this wimp every inning of every game. The other kids have to take turns.

The kid doesn't even seem to want to be there. His play is mostly indifferent. When warming up he snaps at the kid who's throwing to him when he bobbles the ball. Somehow it's the thrower's fault. Today while warming up he snapped at one kid to “get out of my way”, then hit the ball and yelled at another kid to go get it. I finally walked up to the fence and informed him that he's only a part of the team.

Several times now, just to prove what a class act the manager is, he's slapped the kid when they returned to the dugout after an inning. First time he slapped him was when he put him in as catcher. Take a kid everyone knows is afraid of the ball and put him to catch? What an idiot.

The comments among the parents are flying hot and heavy now. Everyone's tired of the show. The kids who ask if he could please let them try another position are answered with his standard speech “I have 12 guys to rotate...blah, blah”. Yeah? Well sit your little wimp out for just one freaking inning.

Today was the topper (so far—I suppose it can possibly get worse). A good kid was at shortstop while Nancy boy was at third, where he can do the most damage with his inability to field a ball. High hanging ball gets hit to shortstop. Nancy boy goes charging for the ball while shortstop calls the catch. Nancy boy is still running. Shortstop repeats “I've got it” and waves his arms at Nancy boy. Somehow the shortstop made the catch. I say “somehow” because at that point Nancy boy slammed into him, shoving his glove over the shortstop's. They both went down in the sort of collision that I've seen leave people bleeding on the field. Somehow shortstop held on...

I have never yelled at my son on the ballfield. I'm not one of those parents. But if he ever does what that kid did, I'll eat his a$$ right in front of everyone there. Manager said not a word. Goes to the bottom of the inning and some kids get on base. Nancy boy manages to connect with the ball in spite of himself. Fielder's choice, fielder makes the wrong choice and a kid comes screaming in to home. Game over.

So far Nancy boy has performed so abysmally that the manager has slapped him in front of everyone, and pulled that stupid, greedy stunt where he tried to steal a catch from the shortstop. End result? Dad says kid's a hero, awards him the game ball....The puke factor was so outrageous that even my wife grabbed me and said she needed to leave—NOW. Normally I'm the only one who gets worked up over this stuff.

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