Tuesday, March 16, 2021

The Modern Age of Youth Baseball



Welcome back to Little League baseball, guys! It’s good to ha–

What’s that, Carl? You want to be called what? Like Casey Stengel, the great baseball manager? No? Like Kacey Musgraves, the great country songstress. Mom and dad on board with that? Cool. Let me grab my clipboard.

All right, let’s try this again.

Welcome back, children, to Little League baseball. OK, so you all have good winter? Play some basketball or hockey, did you? No? Well, what sports did you kids play over the winter?

Fortnite does not count as a sport, Roberto. Neither does Minecraft. I agree, it does help your hand-eye coordination. It also helps prepare your glutes for another three months of riding the pine.

Back to the present. Things will obviously be a bit different this season. First, as you can see, we are all wearing face coverings or masks. It’s required for coaches at all times and for all players when they are not actually on the field. That clear?

Question, Alec? No, I did not “get fat” over the winter. It’s the 17 layers of clothes I’ve got on. Global warming, my frozen tucus. Forecast looks better for practice next month, though.

Tucus? It’s, uh, Latin. For eyelids.

Mickey. Put the ball down and pull your mask up. Thanks.

Next, equipment. No shared equipment. You must have your own bat, glove and helmet this season. If–

Yes, Anton, I know Roberto is your best friend but that’s the rule. For right now, you just have to assume everyone and everything they touch has the cooties.

No, Roberto, I did not mean that you -- specifically -- have the cooties.

Question, Kacey? Well, I don’t believe that “c-word” is a microaggression against anyone, but I will look into that and refrain from using it further. We good? Excellent.

Mickey. Ball down. Mask up. Over the nose, too.

Where were we? Ah – social distance. Whenever possible we need to try to stay at least six feet apart from one ano–

Yes, Alec, you do have to get closer than six feet to runners to tag them out. Not that we did much of that last time we played together.

All right, enough of that stuff. Let’s talk baseball. You’ll recall we had a tough go trying to score runs in the past. So, this season we’re going to focus on playing what they call “small ball.”

No, Kacey, I’m not referring to you when I say “they.” But is that your preferred pronoun? Duly noted.

So, “small ball.” That means bunting. That mean working the counts. We need to crouch in the batter’s box to try to draw walks. We need to crowd the plate to try to get hit by pitches.

Yes, Anton, by “we” I mean all of you kids. The other coaches and I routinely sacrifice our bodies for this team so it’s time you did your part. How’s that? Well, first off, we regularly rake and level these minefields our town calls baseball diamonds. Second, we throw about 500 pitches a day to all you kids in batting practice. That’s how we lost Coach Johnson this season. His shoulder is on rehab.

No, Dante, Coach Johnson is not at the same facility as your mom. Yes, I’m also looking forward to her coming to our games when she gets out. I’ll reserve her usual spot out in the far, far picnic area.

Mickey. Ball. Down. Mask. Up.

Picnic areas – that reminds me. The concession stands will be closed this season. I know, I know. If you want drinks or snacks, bring them with you to the dugout. There will be no in-game snack service this year, either. Your parents can’t wander down here in the third inning with juice boxes and orange slices. Juice boxes and orange slices are for soccer players. anyway, and you know how I feel about kids who play soccer instead baseball. That’s right, Alec – they’re only in it for kicks.

Yes, Alejandro, I remember. No peanut snacks, everyone, because of Alejandro’s allergies. Say again? Well, I’m not certain we have space for a gluten-free section of bench. You still have that EpiPen in your bag, right? Good.

That reminds me, there’s a new team rule about gum. Only sugarless will be allowed to be chewed during practices and games. Hey, I agree with you, but I was out-voted. You’d think it’d be the other way around being sponsored this season by an orthodontist and all. Well, at least someone in this league has ethics.

No, Roberto, I didn’t say “FX.” You shouldn’t be watching that channel, anyway. We need to talk to your folks about your screen time.

Mic. Key. Ball. Mask.

Now, let’s talk about our in-game chatter. It’s chatter not sea chanties. I got through my entire baseball playing career yelling only two things: “Let’s get a little bingle!” and “Put it down the pipe!” And that took us to the state finals in ’83! Not once did that championship team feel the need to break into song about a teammate’s holey socks or mooing cows.

All right, any questions before we take infield? Baseball questions, Alec. Baseball. Questions.

Yes, Kacey. Well, I’m not sure what the league’s stance on that is. I definitely know the portable by right field is gender neutral. Well, if that’s where you feel most comfortable – sure – I’ll happily stand guard at the door for you. It’s not like I’m coaching or anything.

All right, everyone. Before you take your position, everyone line up and hold out your hands for a squirt of sanitizer. Just first let me take a good long swig of it.

3 comments:

  1. Love it! glad you are still doing that. I feel sorry for Dante's mom : )

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have ZERO confidence that I will ever use the preferred pronoun. I gravitate towards “Hey, you!!”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As I human, I understand and empathize with people choosing something that best fits who they are. As a writer, it’s also difficult for me to reconcile when the singular and plural don’t sync

      Delete

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