Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Sweet and Sour Weekend

Mother's Day we took my wife to the Brimfield Antique Show. I was prepared for an extremely boring day of shopping. As it turns out, it was kind of neat. The proprietors of each station are some kind of hybrid between carnies and deadheads, selling some pretty random shit. I should have kept a notebook of some of the more obscure, such as a child's toy that I remember from my own childhood. It was one of those panels that have a series of knobs that click, whir and ding, a rotary telephone dial. Funny thing is, for as old as it is, my kids zoned in and went to work on it. I had to pull them away.

One station had old band equipment, used up trombones and tubas. There were ancient baseball mitts, catchers gear, helmets, and bats. Arrows with the guide feathers stripped. Crazy. And old man scrutinized us as we sifted through the trash. As we left, he seemed angry that we didn't buy anything, picking up the tuba and slamming it with a thundering crash back onto the pile of twisted brass.

I ended up buying a collection of old pinup art of sexy ladies in embarrassing situations, such as the time Marilyn Monroe stepped over the street vent, and she had to hold her hands down in front of her to keep it from blowing up. My wife is still trying to figure out why.

The day before, on Saturday, my son had his sixth game of the soccer season. You may already know that I am coaching this team.

Now this is where some of you are going to diverge on your opinion of me. This is an under eight league, meaning that the kids are only seven years old. I am all about having fun; but fun for me is all about winning. I could amend that by saying that I can take losing as long as our effort was a hundred percent. But to me, there is no sense in playing anything unless you are there to play.

There is another coach in the league that handpicked her team and gave everyone what was left over. When I was asked to coach originally, I was able to have a few choice players as well. My aim was to have a team that could compete on game day, so my son could have that experience. Last year the coach didn't care, and it trickled down to the players. I could see it on the kids' faces that they didn't like losing.

So once I had my team in place, the aforementioned coach didn't like that my team looked so good, and it got around that I was stacking my team (I know this sounds ridiculous, we are talking about kids here--I get it). So, I gave one of the other teams that didn't have many talented kids basically my best player. So, the aforementioned coach decided that she had a kid she didn't want, so she gave him to me.

That same player's father this weekend complained to me when we were up five to four with three minutes left in the game that his son hadn't played in a while. It was true, but one kid needs to sit per quarter due to the number of kids on my team. It was his turn. However, I acquiesced, and put his son in the game, the same kid that just earlier was contemplating the mystery of a hole in the ground while he should have been defending.

The other team tied it up. Then, when we got the ball back, this kid gets the ball and dribbles it backward, toward our goal. He passes it to the other team, and they scored the winning goal.

I have been going back and forth about this in my head. My whole goal for this season has been dashed. Now I have to be a smiley bobble head and say that it's just about the kids and having fun.

But I tell you what, I could have strangled that kids father. At the same time, I'd hate to be in his shoes.

Oh, by the way, my son is totally digging baseball. We bought a new bat and a cool batters helmet, and suddenly he thinks he's Big Papi.


Kathleen said...

Perhaps the next game when you sit the kid because it's his turn, the father won't say anything. And if he does, you could just give him a look that states "Oh yeah, that worked really last time, didn't it?"

On that same point, however, a hundred years ago, my sister made the 8th grade softball team, but didn't play a single second. The former father took the coach to task after the last game (where the team had won the championship). The coach said to him, "What are you complaining for? She's going to get a trophy." Obviously, the difference is that your kid did play already in the game, whereas my sister didn't play a single second all season long. Perhaps the FF should have said something before the end of the season, but I think he was waiting to see.

Oh, he coached boys baseball for a season trying to play every kid, so that no child felt like my sister. Yup, the parents with the best players bitched because they only cared about winning.

Scott said...

I know what you mean, Kat. I'm really torn. Obviously at this level I have to play all the kids, and it can't be all about winning. I'm trying to develop a hybrid approach were I at all times have dependable players on the field and am constantly shuffling the less dependable ones in and out at regular intervals. I've been in both positions as a player, and it hurts to be the one on the bench.

Alan said...

It sounds like the games are really between the coaches and the kids are like the game pieces you guys use to beat one another with. But since these game pieces have parents lobbying for the use of the piece, you have an extra dimension factored in on how you're allowed to defeat the other coach.

Too bad the kids are actually people with feelings and crap. That's the other dimension--your game pieces could wind up with lifelong complexes as a result of how you play them.

Wow. I think I've just learned what sports are about! :D

Hmm. I meant to be more supportive there ... :(

Alan said...

Oh, I know! I totally remember that toy you spoke about earlier in the post! With the rotary phone dial!

It was like this; http://www.epinions.com/content_141210717828# right? But not exactly?

Scott said...

I understand what you are saying, Alan, and appreciate your candor. But trust me, in practice, we do drills that are fun; I chase the kids around and act like I'm going to steal the ball; I sit them down and have a chat and ask them questions, have them demonstrate what they have learned to the other kids. The stress I'm describing is internal. Maybe the kids pick up on it during a game, but the kids all get equal playing time, regardless of whether or not they can perform. The ones that cannot play as well as the others are put next to ones that can. The furstration I have is being manipulated and stacked against; having someone piss down my back and tell me it's raining.

Brooklyn Frank said...

big papi is one great hero for a child. and i'm a yankee fan saying that.

Alan said...

"having someone piss down my back and tell me it's raining."

:D :D :D

Don't let me get on your nerves about this, but I have to start collecting these phrases. Hopefully my appreciation for your wordsmithing makes up for my woodenheadedness about sports.

Scott said...

Brooklyn - I'm not a big baseball fan, but Papi is one of my favorites. And if past trends hold true, he might be a Yankee someday.

Alan - Whoa hoss! I cannot claim ownership of that one. It comes from The Outlaw Josey Wales. The character Fletcher is frustrated at being lied to by a Confederate officer. He is forced to hunt down a man that he knows is innocent of the charges against him. Check it out.

Beth said...

Scott, I've had my kids in sports since they were very little and I've watched many a game -- soccer, football, softball, track meets... you name it. I can tell you this for sure, the parents/coaches who are all about the win ruin it for the vast majority. You can see it on a child's face when the dad starts yelling. You can see it on the team's face when the coach starts yelling. The shining stars will always shine. The unathletic will not. That's just the nature of things and I don't think any amount of worry, pressure, or yelling will ever change that.

I used to be extremely competitive, but I tried to never drop that on my children's lap. I was the one who had to show my children how to play sports. My husband's always been too busy making money. I am not athletic, but I learned to be because I had to be. Still, my son was never as well-prepared as those boys with fathers who made backyard sports a part of their everyday lives and that was tough for my little guy. And it wasn't his fault.

At the time, I thought I could do the job of any man and I did a good job, but not a great job. I did what I could to the best of my ability in teaching him and he did the best that he could out on the field.

I always asked my children what I still ask my children, "Do you think you did YOUR personal best?" Because that's all that matters.

Alan said...

I like what you're saying Beth, mainly for the peek inside your life and how you handled the stuff of it. I'm going to visit your blog a lil' more if that's ok.

Well, Scott, you've got a good eye for dialogue. You're earning a place into my Heroes Gallery, in fact. I've got to find a good distinction for you...

Jada's Gigi said...

ahhh life is just one long lesson isn't it? :)
So your son likes baseball..:)
the antique show sounds like fun...they always have at least as much junk as they do real antiques...

briliantdonkey said...

I coached little league/teeball for several years. All you can do is do what you feel is best for the team. There will always be second guessers. I often wished I could ban the parents from attending the games. Bottom line no matter which way you go, you can NEVER please all the people all the time. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. I only came up with one answer when parents inevitably approached me with 'why you playing this kid over that kid or why not my kid over that kid' type stuff. That was to simply look them in the eye and tell them since I gave several hours of my time each week coaching their kids' teams I earned the right to make those decisions. If they wanted to make them, they could make the same sacrifices. This would shut at least 95% of them up(usually for good).

Feel free to never use big papi's name in conjunction with the phrase 'playing for the yankees' again.

Outlaw josey wales: On my short list of alllllll time favorite movies even though I am not all that much of a western fan.

Kathleen said...

Scott - I already knew that about you - that you play all kids in the best way possible.