Thursday, May 21, 2009

Springtime = Baseball

Springtime at our house comes with balls, bats, gloves, cleats, and lots of dirt. The twins have been in love with baseball since they were two years old. I'm not sure where the desire for the game came from, my husband and I never played, but never less they LOVE the sport. I am not overstating it either. Before they could speak sentences they would hand you a ball and try to swing a stick at it. Or they would scream "UPDOWN" meaning please throw the ball way up in the air so we can try to catch it when it falls back down.

When they were 2 1/2 they each got their own first t-ball set and played all the time. Inside the house and out (my favorite blown glass piece was broken by one such baseball).

At three T1 had watched enough baseball movies to know the pitcher stance and throw, and even to check first and third before throwing (although I'm not sure he knew what he was looking for). For years they asked me when they could play on a real team, to them those years must have dragged on. They were finally able to play last year, as five year olds, on a coach pitch league. I loved their team last year, everyone was great, the parents, coaches, kids. Most of the team was new, and we had our good players and our bad like every group. When the season was over they were sad that they wouldn't be playing again for a year (I see year round baseball in our future).

This years season started out great, they were so excited to be playing again. They would not have their same coach (as he moved on to the next age bracket), but the new coach wasn't too bad. Practice looked good, they looked good. And we won our first 5 games. But as other teams were getting better, we weren't because we no longer practiced as a team. Just games during which the kids were yelled at for not paying attention by the coach. Yelled at for not paying attention - these are 5 & 6 year olds here. This is little league. They are not always going to pay attention. My husband, bless him, is so frustrated with the coach. When he got word the coach wanted our boys next year, he decided he would coach next year, enabling him to control who gets to yell at them.

So here we are at the end of the season winning 5 games, losing 5 games. And our team has done well. There are your ones who always hit, and mostly catch, and then there are those who still aren't sure how to swing the bat. And then there are my favorites, no not my boys, but two kids, siblings, boy and a girl, who are so little but have such great hearts. They try so hard to hit, and about once a game they do manage to connect, but not being able to run fast, are usually tagged out before making it to first base. Their mom and I root for all the kids, but especially our four, the four of them love the game so much.

Last night was our first playoff game. We were up against a team we clobbered early in the season. But this was a different team. They had been practicing, they warmed up before the game. Only three kids on our team warmed up (you know 2 were mine). And they started pounding away at us. We weren't ready for them, we weren't communicating with our team. And we were losing.

I don't know the exact score, but they were up by 4, up by 5, up by 4, we were not making any headway. By the fourth inning, I had given up on the score, but still had my whole heart in the game. T2 came up to bat and hit a ball that went all the way to the fence (being a short field, it was still only a double). I was jumping up and down cheering so loud. T1 hit one 6 inches from the fence - and I cheered telling him he had hit the fence.

That's what matters right, teaching them to keep going, that they are doing great. We cheered for Adam and Abby every time they came to bat - even though they were using the wrong bat, and could barely lift it. We cheered when in the outfield Abby watched the ball go between her legs and it looked like something from the movies. But she figured it out and chased it down and still threw the ball in. We cheered when short stop threw to T1 at first, going over his head, and T1 still got the ball and threw it to the pitcher who was trying to stop the runner going home and did! (Now the coach did not agree on this move - but we ignored him). We cheered when T2 on third caught a ball and chased a runner back to second, almost stopping him. It was a great try.

By the last inning we were worn out. All this cheering, so wanting them to win for themselves, because they loved the game, but knowing the other team worked harder for it.

Bottom of the last inning and we are up to bat, when T1 comes running out of the dugout, I figured he wanted a hot dog, but he said his leg hurt. I checked him out while Adam was at bat. And as I sent T1 back (he was fine), Adam hit the ball, but didn't quite make it to first base. Out #1. Abby was up next and she missed, and missed and then she HIT, not far, but because they had to come get it, she ran as fast as her short legs could take her and made it to first base! We were screaming something fierce, she was safe at first - that alone made the season. The lineup started over and a good hitter was up, could she make it to second - YES! Wow, this was becoming unreal as T2 stepped up to bat. Ironically I was now afraid he would hit a double and the boys would run over little Abby, she would never make it from second all the way home. But he didn't, he hit a single and the bases loaded, with Abby making it to third. Could it happen? Could Abby make a run and score? That would be the way to end the season. The batter hit, and with the coach running along side her, little Abby made it to home plate - scoring her first point ever.

The bases still loaded the next hitter bats and hits, allowing 2 runs before being tagged out. Yeah T2 scored. But there is now a guy on third and T1 at bat. The coach from the other team, turned around and told us the score was tied. TIED, how did we do that, we couldn't be tied, we were just happy Abby scored, that they were having fun, oh this was worth more now - T1 was told, all he had to do was hit that ball, and he did and the other boy was able to score, ending the game. What a night, what a game.

So tonight we play again, shocked that we made it this far. I hope the kids have a good time and that I am not quite as hoarse as I was last night. This could be their last game, the end of baseball season, the end of spring.

Don't tell me about the world. Not today. It's springtime and they're knocking baseball around fields where the grass is damp and green in the morning and the kids are trying to hit the curve ball. ~Pete Hamill

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