Coaching Little League: I’d Rather Win… But

LittleLeagueCoachIt was the 8th inning of a 6th inning game. Who knew Little League softball had extra innings?

One boy (Let’s call him Aaron) had sat on the bench for multiple innings. Aaron was in the 2nd grade or the youngest in the band (2nd-4th grade) and a weak player. He was anxious when the ball came to him and rarely caught it. He had a weak arm.

Another boy (let’s call him David) was the last person left who had yet to sit on the bench. David was in 4th grade and was very good for his age. A ball hit to him was as sure as an out can be for the first rung of Little League.

In that 8th inning, as the Little League Coach, I had a decision to make: Who to sit? What was important – putting the team in the best position to win or making sure everyone had a chance. I chose the latter.

Inevitably, Aaron was involved in a defensive play. He made an error, and the other team scored. We were unable to score in our inning, and our team lost.

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Help Me – I Need a Diversion

Sports Diversion

With the world going mad and sense seemingly lost, we need diversions.

I had a diversion, but it’s gone now.

You see there are two key elements to a diversion – it takes your mind off of another matter, and it is pleasant. Dictionary.reference.com defines diversion this way: distraction from business, care, etc.; recreation; amusement; a pastime:

So, when you can’t handle hearing any more of the horrific news of late, you need a diversion, something pleasant.

Maybe that diversion is cooking, singing, playing video games, or playing with your pet rock. Whatever – I’m not here to judge.

Anyway, I had a diversion. It was one that brought me great joy even though, at times, it also brought me disappointment.

But now all this diversion seems to do is bring me frustration. It’s left me muttering more often than the oddball you see on the train on your commute home from work.

What is this diversion you may be asking? Well, the diversion is being a fan and follower of the Philadelphia sports teams.

They all stink!

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Fencing: The Right Sport for SJ

Fencing LessonBefore your child was born, you had expectations, hopes, and dreams. You probably had visions of activities you would do together. Maybe, those visions were of computer games, cooking, tea parties, hikes, or trips to the theatre.

My vision was of sports. When my boys were born, I figured it was only a question of when we would be throwing the ball around, slapping hands over an athletic fete, and discussing the prospects for our favorite teams.

SJ came out of the womb big – 9’ 4” – with eyes closed and looking perfectly content. As he grew up, he displayed o.t. issues and had low muscle tone. He struggled with hand eye coordination.

His was not the body of an athlete.

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Cole Hamels, Wilmer Flores, and Tom Brady: It’s About Passion!

Passion for SportsWhat sports memory comes to mind when you close your eyes and your 10-years-old? Barry Sanders juking his way for a gain despite being surrounded by would be tacklers; Michael Jordan flying through the air, tongue out, on his way to a slam dunk; Wayne Gretzky streaking toward the net on a breakaway; Albert Pujols slamming another homerun.

Whatever the memory is, it surely brings you joy, pure joy.

This has been an interesting week in sports with two main stories dominating the headlines: The MLB trade deadline and the NFL ruling. Ultimately, this week comes down to three names; Cole Hamels, Wilmer Flores, and Tom Brady.

Cole Hamels

Cole Hamels joined the Philadelphia Phillies in 2006 when he was just 22 years old. By 2008 when the Phillies won the teams 2nd World Series since there creation more than 100 years before, Cole Hamels was their best starting pitcher. In fact, he won Most Valuable Player for his performance in the Playoffs and World Series. His accomplishment led to him becoming a beloved figure by Phillies fans.

These days the Phillies are arguably the worst team in baseball. They are severely lacking in overall talent. However, Cole Hamels remains an elite pitcher, and when he pitches, the team’s chances of winning are good.

But he had to be traded or so said the experts.  A top pitcher on a weak team is wasteful. Besides the team needs to rebuild and that is done through prospects, which is what they got in the trade.

Wilmer Flores

Wilmer Flores is an infielder for the New York Mets. Next week, he will turn 24. He was drafted by the Mets out of Venezuela when he was just 16. In his time in the Major Leagues, he has shown himself to have some skills but is not a star.

Yesterday, it appeared the Mets had traded him. Flores and the fans were under the impression that he would be leaving the team for Milwaukee. Typically, when this happens, the player is pulled from the game, but Flores wasn’t. He batted and grounded out and the fans gave him a big cheer as a show of respect and appreciation for what he had given the team. He took the filed in the bottom half of the inning.

When he did so, Flores had red eyes and moist cheeks. He wiped his nose and lip on his glove, took off his cap and wiped both eyes on his sleeves. Why was he doing this? Well, it wasn’t the humidity. Flores had been crying.

Tom Brady

Tom Brady has been embroiled in a mess since just before the Super Bowl. By the way, his team won the Super Bowl, and it was the fourth time he has quarterbacked a team to the pinnacle of his sport. He also was a sixth round draft choice of whom little was suspected. It’s also been widely reported that Brady has restructured his contract numerous times so that the Patriots were able to sign other players who were crucial to the team’s success.

From the information that has been released, it appears that Brady is guilty of what he is being charged and deserves to be penalized for it. Patriots nation does not agree. The team’s fans are in an uproar. Many have turned into amateur lawyers looking for holes in the report that was released about the incident.

Here’s how a 10-year-old reacts to sports; Each victory is savored, each magnificent play is the greatest ever, and each star player is a hall of famer.

Nobody stays 10 and the pure joy for sports fades even if the interest remains.

You know what brings it back?

When the sport is not only about money and caps and drugs and cheating.

Cole Hamels threw a no-hitter in his last start for the Phillies. The team is 30 games below .500, yet they celebrated as if they had won the World Series. It was the whole team celebrating the game and Cole Hamels for what he has done for them over the years. The passion was evident.

Wilmer Flores was passionate about being a Met. He wasn’t just putting on a jersey prior to a game, he was putting on a Mets jersey which meant something to him. His emotions came pouring out. .

Tom Brady has been the consummate professional. He takes the beating that quarterbacks do and rarely misses a game. He doesn’t boast. He puts on his helmet and gives his all for his team. Brady is still that 6th round pick who has a passion for the game.

We fans want passion from our athletes. We want them to care. We want them to try their best. We want them to celebrate victory. We want them to mourn defeat.

We know money plays into everything that happens in sports these days. But passion must as well.

And when passion is evident in our sports stars, we fans will follow. We’ll remember, we’ll clap, and we’ll support. Just ask Cole, Wilmer, and Tom.

Picture is courtesy of Google Images