Sunday, May 11, 2014

First Base

Yesterday was a big day for sports.

No, it wasn't due to the aftermath of yet another Blackhawks' loss.  Today will be another day for them, in the midst of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

And no, it wasn't due to the NFL draft, though I'm interested in reading articles.

It was Opening Day for the Park Ridge Little Sluggers Baseball League.

My 6-year-old nephew is one of those sluggers.

This is not just t-ball, folks.  This is pitching by the coaches (and t-ball only after three failed pitches).

The first time a player successfully threw the ball to first base to get out a runner, the place erupted.  As one parent said, you'd think we had just won the World Series.

Several times we suggested to my nephew that he put the mitt on his hand, not his head.  He obliged.  For the moment.

He was one of the kids that hit the ball when his coach pitched to him.  He's a lefty, so he ended up hitting down the first base line.  Once he was out.  He was okay with that.  He does have a good, strong swing.  I'd call it his forte, in baseball.

In the morning, he had played soccer - the third or fourth game of that season.  This is the sport where he gets an earful from his mother and me.  This is our sport.  He's got some moves, that boy.  And he plays intelligently, anticipating the pass and that sort of thing.  But we are wondering if perhaps we need to explain the concept of competition, when it comes to this game.  "That's your ball," I feel like telling him.  The guy just took YOUR ball.  Go get it back.  He seems more likely to admire the play of others than to jealously guard what should belong to him.  He does have a competitive edge, we know - he loves video games, and he loves to win.  Perhaps that is the analogy to make.

Throughout it all, my three-year-old nephew, his brother, is attending the games.  He said he wanted to watch the soccer game rather than play in the nearby playground. He picked dandelions instead, for his grandmother.  At the baseball game, the two neighbor girls brought out their princess dolls and reluctantly let him play with a slinky and Cinderella's carriage (and horse).  He did seem content.  I expect the competitive edge will exist in him by the time he starts playing in these leagues.  He certainly will have watched his brother enough for the theory behind sports to sink in.

We did play soccer in the backyard a week or two ago.  I showed the six-year-old how to fall, and showed him my one move (it looks fancy but it isn't).  My six-year-old nephew came up with his own move - stopping the ball with his knee.  Impressive.  I also encouraged the three-year-old not to use his hands when moving the ball to where he wanted it to be.  He listened, nodded, thought, and then grabbed a stick to push the ball to where he wanted it.  Clever boy.

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