I took a day off work today so I could watch Joe in his last baseball games of the summer. Life is too short to not see that. And Vinny volunteered to help coach the game. No incentive whatever, he just wanted to do it. The coach was certainly pleased about that, and now Vinny has a job next summer coaching the 5th and 6th grade team. Joe is not so sure about having his big brother as a coach. :)
They played three close games. Joe had some great plays as first baseman, and even crossed the infield to back up a throw from the outfield and throw out a runner at home plate! However, it came down to a coin toss on one game and an extra inning with a bonus starting runner on second in the other.
I witnessed some obnoxious behavior by parents and even coaches. Luckily none of it was from our team.
After the last close loss, our coach gathered the team together for the end of season speech. While acknowledging good plays, he also made one important point: Hitting suffers if you don't show up for practice. And we could have used more hits.
Which brings me to my rant. The main reason players do not show up for practice? Not that they don't care. Or even if they don't have a ride; there are parents who would drive thirty miles one way to pick up a kid so they could make it to practice. I have driven well out of my way to give kids rides home from various sports during the school year.
No, the main reason is this: Football and basketball proponents are now scheduling "camps" during the summer, to help the kids develop skills and presumably earn their place years to come as a varsity starter. These "camps" are scheduled without regard to baseball schedules, and Vinny's team has had to forfeit multiple games due to players being absent to attend "camp".
I don't fault the players. There is a lot of pressure on young athletes these days to train more, to go the extra mile.
But why is baseball, the American pastime, seen as the "disposable" sport? It used to be, summer was baseball season. Period. But now with football and basketball training encroaching on summer, those who lose are those who, like my son Vinny, put baseball as top priority and give 110% at every practice. Without the support of teammates, baseball gets marginalized, and the hard work of players goes unnoticed. Why is it that adults pay $7 to get into a football or basketball game, but baseball games ( and band concerts, but that's another story) are free?
The All Conference selections from our team this year received no press. How hard is it for a local paper to come out and do the SAME thing they would do for basketball or football? In the interest of giving them some coverage, here they are: Shannon Hansberry, senior shortstop, and of course, Honorable Mention Vinny Sewell, 1B and pitcher mostly. Freshman.
Baseball is the American pastime, folks. The parents that sign their kids up for a team, but make other commitments for their kids for other sports that have no business being played or practiced in the summer, I have this message for you: you are letting down, and stepping on the dreams, of every kid who loves baseball and wants to play on a team that gives a shit.
And that's all I have to say about that.
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