Little league playoffs. Double elimination and Jack’s team had already lost once. It was do or die time. Potentially Jack’s last chance to get a hit this season. I’ve kept the score book all season and this time the head coach asked me to sit in the dugout. Alex joined me.
Two observations of note:
1) The kids were amped up. They wanted it and they wanted it bad. This did not work to our favor. Kids swung at lousy pitches, struck out, and then slammed their helmets down in the dugout. I would say half the kids ended up in tears of frustration at one point during the game. Rough stuff.
2) Baseball is second priority in the dugout. Top priority: putting stuff into their mouths. Every kid brought in something: sunflower seeds, big league chew, Bazooka gum. They are constantly trading, begging, swapping, denying, and above all stuffing all that garbage into their mouths. Look, I’m a born low-life, but this genuinely grossed me out. These kids are pigs. It’s like Halloween in there.
Some poor kid left an almost-full pack of Starburst on the bench when he went to bat. By the time he got back there were 2 left. I swear to God kids we’re eating them up while other crap was still in their mouths.
As to the game itself, ultimately they lost 8-4 in a really tight game. But the big question…did Jack get a hit? Well let’s start at week 2 of the season. I’m at the airport about to fly to SF for work and Shani calls.
“Jack said Coach Guy (not his real name) used the F word in the dugout.”
“Really?” I asked.
“He was kinda shaken up about it.”
Crap. By the holy laws of Dad-hood, I have to call Guy and talk to him about this. I didn’t know Guy well at all. I wrote him an email:
Guy – can you give me your phone number? I’d like to give you a call.
I think I know what this is about. My number is: XXX-XXXX
I’ll call you tomorrow. Just so you know, I’m not even remotely pissed off (just in case you were anticipating an annoying angry parent call).
I think that sent a good tone. When I got a hold of Guy, he apologized and we both laughed about it. At the next game he came up to me with a big smile and we shook hands. Oddly enough, the whole thing had actually made us friends. And for the record, Jack has had terrific fun this season and I like the coaches a heck of a lot.
OK…so back to Jack’s playoff game. First at-bat, he was facing the best pitcher in the league. This kid throws super fast and has an honest-to-God curveball.
Jack walked – but he took a couple swings. He hadn’t swung in weeks. This was an extremely good sign. Next at-bat, he walked again but even fouled off a couple of pitches. After Jack’s walk, they put in a new pitcher.
“I think he’s gonna get a hit,” I said to Alex, who was in the dugout helping me keep book.
Jack got up again in the 6th and final inning. This would be the last chance. Jack let the first 2 pitches go by without a swing. Then he took two balls. Then the third pitch comes in. Ump pumps his fist – strikeout. It was over. Hitless through the season.
“Shit!” I yelled. Then quickly I covered my mouth up. “Sorry, Alex,” I quickly muttered. Then I turned to my right:
Coach Guy was sitting right next to me with the biggest damn grin you’ve ever seen in your life.