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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Really, Dude? Really?

The M&I of BBMI, Ink., play in a 10-and-under kid pitch baseball league.  It’s part of the parks and rec department of the little town where they go to school.  We’ve played in this league for five seasons and have found it to be mostly family-friendly and not too serious. 

Most of the parents and coaches are there for the fun of it and use it as an introduction to baseball for their kids.  We all learn the rules with them (like no more than six runs per inning, no dropped third strike, sliding into home is required when the catcher may have a play, etc.).

Before the kids could hit the ball out of the infield, we’d get distracted by the right fielder (who shall remain nameless but resides somewhere near me) as he busted a move to the music he heard in his head.  The Hustle came to mind as he danced away his boredom.  Since the kids have grown and the hits are harder, the outfielders actually have to pay attention and chase balls now and then.

Last night, I witnessed something I’d only heard about.  Something that I thought only took place in big-city leagues where “tournament teams” play every night till all hours of the morning.  The home plate umpire was utilizing a very large strike zone.  I don’t think this is uncommon in the early stages of kid pitch.  If they didn’t use a generous strike zone, every kid would walk.  These rookie pitchers have a hard time getting it close to the plate without beaning the batter. 

Blue was calling the same strike zone for both teams.  He was very consistent, to say the least.  The coach on the other team didn’t say a word when his pitcher got the liberal zone, but when our team batted, Dude took umbrage.  Well, maybe outrage.  He complained in the first inning.  The umpire ignored him.

In the second inning, Dude called time out and walked toward home from the third base coach’s box.  The umpire calmly walked to him and had a quiet conversation.  I’m assuming he explained that arguing balls and strikes is not acceptable and the game resumed.

In the third inning, Dude complained.  Loudly.  Again, the ump walked down to the coach, had a calm conversation, and then showed the “gentleman” the gate.  I tried not to clap, but I did anyway. 

Really, Dude?  Really?  You really think it’s necessary to argue balls and strikes?  In a league made up mostly of third and fourth graders?  What is this teaching our kids?  That authority figures get it wrong most of the time and it’s okay to make a fool out of yourself in public over a BASEBALL GAME?

I was mortified for the man, for his kid, and for their team.  I was also concerned that our boys might be traumatized by the whole thing.  After the game was over, our coach mentioned the incident in his post-game pep talk (we won, by the way).  The kids’ reaction:  “He got thrown out?  When did that happen?”  I guess they were too busy PLAYING a GAME to notice.  They were probably doing The Hustle at the time.

Really, Dude, you should really learn The Hustle.  It would add years to your life.

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