“I slide into first base because I can.”

October 10, 2013

Notable Stats

Over the Top Frequency (OTTF) – The ratio between times your child does something necessary to get a task done versus the times they add the extra sauce to the task to make it more interesting. A one to one ratio means you need a glass of red wine after you read this entry.

Counters per Request (CPR) – A fraction measuring how often your suggestion to your child is countered with his better idea.

Our son is now tasting the fabric of Tee Ball Baseball. I respect how he plays the game, he plays hard on every play, he loves to compete. I also recognize that this is the World Series to him, and even if it, in fact, is far away from a major league stadium, this is his “profession” and he takes it as such. Good for him.

Since my baseball playing days make me at least slightly qualified in this arena, I can tell when a play on the field is within the framework of necessity to get it done versus when the effort was more like some twisted effort to test gravity and body physics in a way that only a peacock would be jealous. Given our son is only 5, it is good to see him having fun at the most elemental level even if he is concerning himself more with how it feels as opposed to if it was relevant to the game. He is after all, learning the rules of the game.

I can however speak with the knowledge that sliding into first base is 99% of the time, not necessary. In fact, once you reach a certain age, people will question your sanity and competence. I am also confident in saying that sliding into a base when the ball is not being thrown to that base, is completely frivolous. Our son, as it happens, slides into every single base no matter what is happening on the field. In fact, he may be sliding into first, when he is on defense.

Coming from an age five, fun factor, why not? You get dirty, you get to fall down, you get to lay in the grass, you get to scare the first baseman who may have already been running from the ball anyway.

Keep in mind, I played with guys like that. Those who maybe slowed down and timed things to turn a routine play into something spectacular. They added tabasco sauce to a jalapeno pepper, then claimed they were the jalapeno peppers’ inspiration. Yes, it is redundant, it is turning a surefire easy play into an error for no apparent reason other than to create good theater. I can appreciate that from an entertainment standpoint. People may pay to watch such efforts if you sell it right, but they may throw tomatoes at you for dropping an easy fly ball because you decided it would be fun to put the glove on top of your head.

For now as I watch my son’s exploits, I have to sit tight and find the right time to provide suggestions. It is one thing when your son or daughter challenge you on your knowledge just because they fall in love with the word “Why?” But fielding a reactionary question that may challenge your wisdom in the field of your expertise could make for a difficult father/coach situation, so I will wait for a time when he wants to swing the bat to hit the ball as opposed to see if he will throw up from the dizziness.

As parents you want to encourage creative expression. Let your children feel their way to connect with a game, or craft, maybe even a career path. You don’t want to totally stifle them with the idea that if they are going to play baseball, they may actually have to contend with the idea that it was already decided that three strikes is an out, regardless of what good argument you can make against that construct. Maybe it isn’t just baseball rules that I want to convince my kids of accepting. It is also that when you swing the bat and your eyes are closed and facing the parking lot instead of the ball, you probably will miss it, and in baseball, swinging and missing is not optimum.

But, I don’t want to be the downer, the party pooper to ruin it for him. I can appreciate that each player will ultimately have their own style, that the lessons the game imparts may have to be learned by getting hit in the face because you put your hat over your eyes after the ball was hit to see if you can see it through that little hole in the top.

As a parent-coach saying what is helpful is one thing, learning through the game’s natural balance is another and maybe a better way that its lessons stick, but like any parent, dropping your resume on your child may not always help convince them that you are good source from which to learn the game.

So I will wait, keep whispering in his ear as long as safety is not at stake, or ruining the fun for others. I will assume that as he gets older, the game will let him know that he could use a little direction.

- Doug Glanville

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