The National Pastime
T-Ball in the High Desert
With sports sitting in the depths of "did they" or "didn't they" steroid abuse scandals, it is refreshing to see kids just play for the fun of it. Tanis had cheated Darwin by making it to the ripe ol' age of five and the age of five brings the first shot at baseball. To be honest, neither my wife nor I knew if he even wanted to play. I had played baseball as a kid, but was bored by how slow it was. I don't have a large attention span to begin with and when I had to sit out in far right field (this position probably denotes my playing ability) doing nothing for the entire evening, I tended to be more interested in playing with passing puff-balls, flies, dandylions, crushing people's little heads between my fingers from afar, wondering if I was going to play Adventure on the Atari later that night, why I wasn't wearing socks and just about anything else that wasn't as boring as baking out in the sun in far, far right field.
Tanis had been doing gymnastics for six months or so now and really liked doing it. After asking if he wanted to play T-Ball, he was immediately excited and said he wanted to sign up for it. We explained that meant a big week, every week doing activities four nights a week. He gave us every indication this was perfectly fine with him, but what the hell did he know? Here we were trying to explain the ramifications of a long week and wha that entailed and he was only concerned with whether or not he had wanted to where his Ninja Turtles or Bob the Builder underwear. We are kind of the "Parents with Pussies" people make fun. It seems to work most of the time so we stick with it.
We got Tanis a glove and some cletes and took him to his first practice. The coach, Michael, is a very nice man who takes a lot of his time to coach his boy's baseball team. We actually got a start-off reading of the rules where they made it clear you can't argue with the calls on the field, yell at the other players, spit or hit and generally try not to be an ass-hat. Its a sad state of affairs when the parents are the first ones lectured on sportsmanship. But this is competition and the drive you are trying to instill into your child so they are successful in later life. I am not exactly sure what that lady in the picture did or said to Tanis up above, but that is some serious stink-eye.
Tanis and the kids then lined up and proceeded to start hucking the balls in every manner, shape and form to different targets. There were some that you could tell had been playing for quite some time before this. They could catch and throw the ball. Tanis was one of the younger kids on the team and he quickly developed a delight in catching the ball and then throwing it as far and as fast as he could in the wrong direction because he liked to watch the coach go after it. I had to step onto the field a few times and explain to Tanis the game wasn't to make the funny man chase the ball for you, but to throw it back to him so he could throw it again to you. Tanis had a bit of a crestfallen expression once he realized it was just throwing back to him so he could catch it.
The main problem with a group of 5 - 6 year olds is their tendency to truly ignore you once there are more than three of them running around. It was like herding a bunch of cats. A few of the parents got up and tried to help out as best they could without interfering with what the coaches were trying to do. A few noses got hit by balls, a stepped on foot and one kid sitting down because he had forgotten to feed his dog that morning and felt too tired to go on. It was more like cheerleading than really coaching. The kids all have a really good time, but you can see them establishing a ruling order, the lines and who gets what when they want more and finding out how to bat first. It's innate in them, in us all, that need to establish some form of heiarchy so we can solidly point to ourselves with a label on who and where we are on a pyramid of pleasure and supremecy.
Watching them have fun and run around the bases simply enjoying themselves with these new rules, this new game that was probably very complex to them which they took literally. The kids would run around the bases behind the runner with the ball in their hand trying to tag them out, but never catching up to him. Or the runners running from first to third and third back to first. Or the three kids running after a long hit, tackling each other and getting into a writhing ball of grunting boys and girls all trying to wrest control of that baseball. I think the parents were more confused about the roles than the children were. The weather kicked in shortly and it started raining. The kids were done. Completely done.