No Hitter Through Game 9

This morning’s breakfast conversation:

Jack: You know, I’m leading the league in stolen bases.

Me: You’re what?

Jack: I’m either first or second in stolen bases.

Me: How do you know that? Do they track that?

Jack: I keep track in my head. That’s what I do on my team.

Me: Steal bases?

Jack: I draw walks, get on base, and then steal bases.

Me: You draw walks because you don’t swing.

Jack then swaggered out of the kitchen, proud of his imaginary accomplishment. He went upstairs to watch the MLB recaps on the iPad (Jack does this every morning).

So here’s where I see this coming from. Last night Jack had a game and again failed to get a hit. In fact, he had 2 at-bats and didn’t swing the bat even once. He struck out and then walked. Once on base, he stole second, third, then home. (Mind you, this is what happens to virtually every kid who reaches first base.)

Also worth noting, as of last night there were 4 kids on Jack’s team who had not gotten a hit. Two of them got hits last night. Those hits were critical to a comeback that almost won them the game (as was Jack’s walk).

So in Jack’s little brain, he’s inventing this role for himself to put a positive spin on the fact that he’s not swinging the bat. And I’m not sure what to do. Do I let him live this fantasy? If I do I am helping ensure that he will never swing the bat and consequently never get a hit. Wait…here are two alternative ways this morning’s conversation could have gone:

Alternate 1: Supportive version

Jack: You know, I’m leading the league in stolen bases.

Me: You are? That’s amazing!

Jack: I’m either first or second in stolen bases.

Me: Does the league give out an award for that?

Jack: They don’t really track it. But I track it in my head.

Me: You sure stole some bases last night. Your team almost won the game because of you.

Jack: I draw walks, get on base, and then steal bases.

Me: They should have drafted you in the first round. WOW! Shani, Jack just left the room so fast I didn’t even notice he was gone.

Hmm…that’s a little over-the-top. How about this?

Alternate 2: Challenging version

Jack: You know, I’m leading the league in stolen bases.

Me: You’re what?

Jack: I’m either first or second in stolen bases.

Me: They don’t track that. They barely track who wins.

Jack: They don’t really track it. But I track it in my head.

Me: Bullshit. What about all the games the other teams play? You’re not there to see who steals. Besides, if you want to lead the league in stolen bases you should stop striking out twice a game.

Jack: I draw walks, get on base, and then steal bases.

Me: You draw walks because you never swing the damn bat. Hell, you’re probably leading the league in bats left on shoulders.

Jack: I’m going to watch recaps.

Me: Hold it! You are not! You’re cut off from the iPad until you get a hit.

What do you think? Did I play it right? I want him to get a hit so badly – everyone does. You should have heard the cheers for the two kids who finally got hits last night. It was awesome.

Anyhow, after watching recaps, Jack grabbed his glove and went outside. Here’s a photo. Notice there are no other kids; he’s out there at 7:45 am in the midst of an imaginary game.

I wonder if he’s hitting in his imaginary league?

IMG_0936 IMG_0937

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4 thoughts on “No Hitter Through Game 9

  1. Beautiful again! I’d let him go with it AND encourage him to swing when he sees one he likes. If you don’t stay on the supportive side of the fence, that bat’ll never feel the breeze. He’ll get there – sounds like a great kid. BTW, that dad dialogue in the challenging version sounded more like DeNiro in THIS BOYS LIFE than you. That’s a good thing! Don’t turn Jack into Leo Dicapprio!

    1. Thanks, brotherman. I just got a terrific suggestion by a friend. Jack’s going to bat righty for his first at bat tonight and then lefty (his natural stance) for the second.

  2. Sue Ralston

    I am assuming that Jack doesn’t swing at all? Not just swing and miss? A good friend of mine went through this with her son years ago. He is now older than you. He turned into a great athlete, mostly soccer. But she told him one day, “You have to swing at the ball or you can’t play in the next game. I don’t care if you hit it, but you have to swing.” Lo and behold, he swung and hit it. He was fine from then on. Enjoying your blog. Sue & Ken

    _____

  3. Andrew Kaufman

    Hardest thing to do in sports is hit a round ball with a round bat, especially when someone is throwing it at you. Honestly, the best thing you can do is coach him gently, but avoid the temptation to do it during games. It’s the only way he’ll persevere. Baseball is a game of failure, and one that OFTEN rewards failure. It’s what sets it apart. I’m not sure how old Jack is, but there are a lot of things you can do and teach him regardless of age. Shortening the swing, making sure he has balance in his stance, pivot his back back foot, and head down are good starters. While they may seem like platitudes, “protecting the plate with two strikes,” and “a lot can happen when you swing the bat with two strikes” always ring true. My kid is a lights out pitcher but struggles at the plate. In turn, I often struggle to find the best advice, but I find myself searching for the positives and biting my tongue in an effort to preserve his love for the game. On the one hand he’s a subpar hitter, but on the other he’s an awesome pitcher, and strikes out kids two years older than him, and has pinpoint accuracy. So like I said, better to drink from a glass half full. He has many years ahead of him.

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