There's something about baseball that is nostalgic for me; it really goes hand-in-hand with my childhood memories of summer. Maybe it's all the softball teams my siblings and I played on as kids. Maybe it's the Chicago rivalry between the White Sox and the Cubs. Perhaps it's just the fun memories I have of playing pickup games with my twin brother and all our friends at the neighborhood park. Whatever the reason, I do enjoy playing baseball and was excited to attend my kids' ball games just as my dad religiously sat through each and every one of mine.
I signed Danny up for the special needs baseball league through the park district this year. I had heard really good things about the league and decided that it was time to introduce my son to the wonderful world of organized sports.
So far, Danny's first baseball season hasn't quite been what I remembered it being like when I was a kid. I had visions of home runs and fly balls caught, memories of the camaraderie of teammates and high fives after the games, trips for pizza with the team after a winning game.
So far, instead what I have experienced is a lot of whining and complaining.
Though Danny eagerly agreed to join the team, he isn't all that crazy about actually playing the game. Apparently, the idea of playing ball is much more enticing than actually standing out in left field waiting for someone to please, please, please hit the ball to him. In hindsight, I probably should have known that baseball--not a fast moving sport like, say, soccer--might not suit my son who is always on the go and sometimes has difficulty being patient and focusing.
The only inducement keeping Danny at the ballpark at his first game was the promise of an after-game Sno-Cone. Believe me, the irony of bribing my kid with sugar and artificial colors so he will get some exercise does not escape me. Danny was near tears for a good portion of the game and refused to sit with his team. And every time they came in to bat, Danny assumed the game was over and demanded his Sno-Cone.
It was exhausting. Still, as I looked around at the other players, I noticed Danny was not the only kid struggling to focus or having to be bribed by parents. That was comforting, at least.
As Bil and I are not sports enthusiasts, we never really introduced Danny to the game, so he was totally clueless about the rules. When it came time for Danny to bat, he did fairly well considering it was his first time. He was able to hit the ball after a few tries (and with some assistance from the coach) and then ran as fast as he could.
The problem was, he wasn't running to first base; instead he chased after the ball he had just hit. He did this 4 out of 5 times he was up to bat. Despite repeated instruction and explanation, Danny couldn't resist the pull of that ball; he wanted to catch it and nothing was going to stand in his way.
This attitude reigned when he was playing the field. No matter which position he played or how far away from him the ball was hit, Danny ran like the wind to catch that ball. And heaven help the other players who managed to get to it sooner than he did. In his second game, Danny nearly took out a little girl with Down's Syndrome for having the audacity to catch a ball.
Finally, in the last inning, in an attempt to
preserve the safety of the other players better utilize Danny's enthusiasm, the coach assigned him to catcher. That went relatively well, except that he still got bored and preoccupied.
The thing is, despite Danny's impatience and frustration at having to wait around so much, he's not a bad player. In the second game, he caught a couple grounders and hit the ball every time he was up to bat with no assistance from the coach. And most of the time he ran to first base rather than after the ball.
While this second game went better, Dany still begged for his Sno-Cone after every inning and still complained at how long the game was.
Despite it being a mere hour long, I was beginning to agree with the kid; it was far too long to listen to his whining and begging.
We may have to rethink baseball next year.