Sunday, June 29, 2008

"It's JUST t-ball!"

That's what the rather large, lazy umpire yelled at me after I couldn't let the 5th crappy call go by unnoticed. No offense to the overweight. There are plenty of you out there, and you don't move as slow as this kid behind the plate. I've seen overweight people run around a soccer field, referreeing games. But this guy was just not in the game. At all.
The game was close, and I'm not sure how, as call after call made against us put us seemingly further behind. But it was now the last inning and we could win! The ball was hit, and barely rolled over the "foul" line, which is the line you must hit the ball past in order for it to be "fair." The ball rolled fair, the pitcher picked it up, and the ignorant ump called it foul. I really didn't mean for him to hear me, but I had had enough and could not sit quiet any longer. Three bad calls at first base: two where we were safe, and one where we had gotten their runner out, were all called against us. He also allowed runs to come in after the ball was thrown to the pitcher. I probably wouldn't have noticed these things if it wasn't 100 degrees outside (I exaggerate) with absolutely no breeze. The girls had another game after this and we all wanted out of the heat. The worse he called, the slower he moved, the longer the game.
But when he retorted that, "It's ONLY t-ball!" I was surprised to see no parents bum rush the field. After all, WE were the ones bringing our children to practice twice a week and sitting in the heat. THEY were the ones trying to learn this stupid game. HE just showed up (halfway) and all he had to contribute was, "this game doesn't matter, why do I care?" That is, after all, what he meant.
The girls ended up winning both games. Thankfully, the second game had a different umpire. The girls were SO excited and we celebrated the end of the season with a pool party.
Later that night, we had two more games for my son's team. After the first game (which ended a bit prematurely because the other team was exhausted and wanted to go home) I asked the wife of one of the coaches who won the game. "Well...technically we don't keep score in t-ball...but we won..." To which I wondered why we had kept score all season, and now all of a sudden for the tournament we weren't keeping score? She then went on, "the kids don't care."
I explained to her that the kids DO care, and that she should have seen the girls after winning both of their games earlier that day. "Well, it's not good when the winning team says, 'ha-ha, we won...blah, blah, blah.'" This really perplexed me, and I asked, "if we don't let them win, how will we teach them the right way to win?" I got no answer.
The boys won both of their games as well. And I ended the day more stumped than ever.
If we don't care who wins, why are we playing the game? Why are we driving 30 minutes away at $4 per gallon to play another town just for the fun of it? Why bother buying uniforms if it's "JUST t-ball" and if the umpires are going to crawl out of bed and barely show up to make calls? None of this made sense to me! What are we teaching our kids?
I personally feel like kids are ready for competition if they are playing another team. Why pretend like it's not happening, when everyone knows that it is? Are we afraid of getting better, or realizing that we're getting better, or are we more concerned with the other team feeling like they're not?
Ironically, we aren't supposed to keep score, but the benchmark for coming in to bat is when we get three outs or the other team scores 8 runs. If we aren't keeping score, how do we know when they have scored 8 runs? And if we aren't keeping score, why does each team have a parent keeping books every game?
Does this make sense to anyone out there?

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