Am I making too much of this? - Jemsite
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post #1 of 43 (permalink) Old 06-22-2010, 06:53 AM Thread Starter
 
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Red face Am I making too much of this?

***WARNING*** Long drawn out baseball content!

I LITERALLY GOT NO SLEEP LAST NIGHT, STEWING OVER THIS!!

My 11 year old son plays little league. The last few games have been fairly important, and yesterdays game was a much needed win to move onto the finals. My son is good but not great. His coach is a very knowledgeable man, who I have never second guessed, as I feel that has always been in poor taste. For the last four years my son has been relegated to the outfield, and has not once played an infield position. This includes practice as well. He has always wanted to play the infield and has asked once or twice before, to no avail. The coach has asked me in the past to drill him on fly balls and outfield positioning, especially since I was a pretty good outfielder in my day. All Stars were picked and my son wasn't picked this year, which is okay and we both were fine with this. However some of the other kids that weren't picked have decided to stop showing up, leaving the team for the last few games to have just a starting nine to play with. My son has been given the third base position. Learning to cover the bag in such a short amount of time has been pretty ugly, but so far he's fielded pretty well, made some plays, and held his own. So the game yesterday was a 1-1 bottom of the 5th, man on 1st and the batter hits a shot to the fence in right field. The ball is returned to the second baseman, just as the lead runner is about to round 3rd. At this point he runs into my son, who is straddling the bag awaiting a throw to him, the umpire calls interference, and awards the next base (home) to the runner. An argument ensues between the coach and ump. They lost the game 2-1. Now I'm as hard on my son as anyone, but after how the coach tore my son up, making him feel as if he were the reason they lost, I can't help but get upset. In my mind he was positioned incorrectly, seeing as how their probably would not be a throw, but I'm 40 and played a lot more baseball than my son, who felt like he was covering the bag in a split second decision to try to give 100%...He is crushed now, and I'm pissed. Not because the coach yelled at him, but because he thought so little of my son to dump him in the outfield and then expected him to play 3rd like a pro. I told my son he should tell his coach that if he wants him to play 3rd, then he should teach him how to play 3rd base, and not to abandon him in the outfield, and at the 11th hour expect him to play 3rd!!
I was an outfielder because infielders had a lot more to think about than outfielders. Basically catch the ball and throw it in! Once the ball was in, you were out of the picture!
Because of my lack of infield experience, I probably would never have gone over that particular play with my son. I gave my son some heartfelt words to try to ease this pain, and told him I was proud of the effort, but...He is devastated by this!

I'm not going to say anything to the coach, because I'm afraid I may come off wrong, and cause a heated moment between parent and coach which I feel is not appropriate at all. However I was thinking of dropping him a note expressing my feelings to him, so everything comes out correctly. Also, I am considering letting my son decide whether he wants to continue the season (2 more games) or say screw it and let the team rot. Do I allow him to make this decision, or make him follow through with the commitment to finish what he started? Was this something instinctual that my son should have known to do? Am I grousing over this like a whiny b!tch?

Sorry for being so long!!
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post #2 of 43 (permalink) Old 06-22-2010, 07:37 AM
 
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Re: Am I making too much of this?

No problem man, sounds like a pretty rough situation.

Having been strongly encouraged to play rugby at a young age I can tell you that all I wanted to do sometimes was take a break. I wasn't happy with my team bla bla bla, but at the end of the day, the point is that, I was only happy when my Dad listened to me and let me quit for a couple of weeks. I then got bored of not playing and decided to join another team, and since then I haven't been happier to play. I made huge progress very quickly in the new team and was generally a lot happier.

All in all, I would just advise listening to your son and seriously considering his wishes, even though you may feel as though you know best.
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post #3 of 43 (permalink) Old 06-22-2010, 07:37 AM
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Re: Am I making too much of this?

I'm no expert on baseball, but I am a father and so I'll come at it from that perspective.

I think the coach messed up big time. Like you said, the coach dumped him in the outfield then when he was out of options, needed your boy to play 3rd. No coaching, no practice, just handed a new position. The coach needs to take responsibility for coaching his team and he failed the kids in this respect. You mentioned that others kids have stopped turning up, that seems like an indicator to the coach's ability to motivate the whole team.

When it comes to sports, the dad is the child's agent and you have to look after his best interests. If he is so demoralised he doesn't want to play, then no way should you force him to play, if he doesn't want to play for this guy, see if you can get him in another team. As I see it, the coach has already broken the commitment, it's your son's decision whether he wants to play for this guy anymore or not.

It's a valuable lesson either way. to follow through a commitment not just to the coach but to the other kids on the team. Or, to have the guts walk away from something that isn't worth the hassle it causes, it's a lot easier to bow to the pressure to stay than to have the guts to actually quit. If your son's playing out of obligation rather than fun, then he really needs to question if his time wouldn't be better spent doing something that is ultimately more rewarding whether it's schoolwork, family time or another hobby.

Either way though, try to put a positive spin on it for your son, so he can see the benefits and the consequences of each option and support him whatever he decides.

From my point of view though, he owes the coach nothing at all anymore, the coach let him down by not coaching 3rd base properly, there's no "instinct" about it when you're 11. Props to you for keeping out of it though, prsonally, I'd not be able to keep calm and would have had "words" with the coach and specifically sought out one of those "heated moments between parent and coach"

Last edited by jono; 06-22-2010 at 07:52 AM.
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post #4 of 43 (permalink) Old 06-22-2010, 07:44 AM
 
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Re: Am I making too much of this?

Let him take a break, then when he wants to play again let him try a real sport.
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post #5 of 43 (permalink) Old 06-22-2010, 08:00 AM
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Re: Am I making too much of this?

Poor coaching first & foremost as at that age kids I believe should play all positions as per the league guidelines. It's learning to be a team and playing the game at all position that counts...not wins & losses in a Recreational program.

Check the league bylaws & regulations for how kids should be assigned position & remind the coach about that (assuming there are guidelines).

At this age & younger kids do tend to clog/block the basebaths and imho there are too many collisions as a result. I chalk this up to a combination of age and improper coaching. Now he learned that and in the future it could save a concussion, torn knee or worse.

That kids stopped showing up shows you the type of "team" the coach built so really i'd put it in the past, chalk it up as a learning experience & get on a different team next year if he plays.

I'd certainly (try) to play the last 2 games. First the team is counting on it and secondly the season is still going. Sort of like saluting the uniform not the person, in this case you'd play out the season in spite of the lack of leadership at coaching position. ... glen
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post #6 of 43 (permalink) Old 06-22-2010, 09:42 AM
 
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Re: Am I making too much of this?

i don't know all that much about baseball rules, etc. and it doesn't matter for this. being a dad, the bond between father and son is the largest and it seems like you guys have that. if your son feels comfortable with telling you he wants to quit, then great. unfortunately too many kids in teams would never quit for fear of upsetting the fathers. if that isn't an issue and you talk to him, i would let him make the call. as glen said, the team is still in season and could use him. true, however, if he isn't appreciated and is being hung out to dry by this idiot excuse for a coach, screw that. everyone else left...why burden your son. let him do what he wants to do. a note would be good from you to the coach. i would make it straight to the point if your son didn't want to play again. in person would be better...but it could get heated...it would for me, but i would walk away after i said my peace. i would tell my son i didn't feel comfortable with the play and how the "coach" put him out in that position...really bad idea. i know you did this already. if my son wanted to quit, great. then a little sugar in the gas tank of the idiot, i mean, maybe write a note, up to you.
your son comes first and if he feels uncomfortable with it...all the other players left, why put the extra weight and stress on him. also, he wasn't picked? that tells me a lot...they don't deserve him. maybe he can get in another league...a real coach?
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post #7 of 43 (permalink) Old 06-22-2010, 09:51 AM
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Re: Am I making too much of this?

I wouldn't let him quit. He signed up to be part of the team, and the season isn't over. Finishing things is important, and quitting when you feel slighted is immature.

Tough to do, but you need to explain to him he has to suck it up for the good of the team and continue to play out the season. It's important to learn at a young age (especially for boys) that you simply can't walk away when when things get tough if you've made a commitment. Tell him it's one of those things he has to learn to be a man, and let him know how proud of him you are.

And if doesn't want to play again next year, you can let him make that call then. There's always hockey
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post #8 of 43 (permalink) Old 06-22-2010, 09:55 AM Thread Starter
 
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Red face Re: Am I making too much of this?

I asked him and he wants to go to tomorrows game, and play. He explained to me that he was straddling the back part of the bag, and that they teach you to catch the inside of the bag with your foot when running the base paths, so the ump blew the call he says! I told him how proud I was and how if it were me, I'd probably go to the game, and if there were only 9 kids tell the coach to shove it! But I was always a Kelly Leek Bad News Bears kinda rebel anyway, and always opened my big mouth!

It seems I'm taking this a bit harder than he is! Some kind of resilience I guess!
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post #9 of 43 (permalink) Old 06-22-2010, 10:41 AM
 
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Re: Am I making too much of this?

i'm glad it worked out. your son is already seeing things in a really good light. i also agree with jim...however...there are fine lines between sticking it out (which i do too much in everything when i shouldn't) and walking away. sometimes you have to walk away and that is something i'm still learning...but getting better at. weighing the pros and cons vs. mental anguish and stress against good fun is a good way to do it. we've all been in bands and that is a great example. when you're doing all the work and fronting all the money and getting the gigs and booking the studio time, etc etc....and no one does anything...well, i walked after putting up with that a long time. i just don't want to see your son taken advantage of, as so many good people are. i know you of course want the same for him...he's already thinking like a man...awesome...and well done in raising a great kid!
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post #10 of 43 (permalink) Old 06-22-2010, 11:11 AM
 
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Re: Am I making too much of this?

I am a father and a Little League baseball coach.

First thing is to tell your son to finish the season. This will reinforce his values on several levels. First being that "when you give your word to do something, do it." Second, "the team is counting on you." Remember that the other kids are counting on you, not just the coach.

From your description, the coach is a "tool". Unfortunately, there are MANY coaches and parents that live vicariously through their kids. I played baseball all my life, and I went to college on a baseball scholarship.

My first experience with coaching was right out of college, I was asked to teach an 11 yr old kid how to pitch. He was a kid with a ton of talent, but he was simply pitching wrong. The manager called a special practice for him, and asked me to "fix" his delivery. I did exactly that. After the kid felt comfortable with the new way of pitching, I taught him that simply holding the ball differently, made the pitch move, WITHOUT EVER TWISTING THE ARM, like a cut fastball. His father called me to the side. I could tell that he wasn't happy with the whole process. I assured him that I was helping his son become an even better pitcher. He looked at me, like I was the enemy. He had taught his kid, and I was overstepping my bounds in his eyes.

The kid pitched the next game. For 5 innings, the kid was simply un-hit-able. The father should have been happy for his kid, but I could see the rage growing inside him. His son was throwing a perfect game through 5. He got the first out of the last inning, and his father yelled something to him from the stands. The kid looked at me in the dugout, and threw the old way. I called timeout, and went to the mound. The kid told me that his father told him to pitch the way he taught him. I said "well, if your father tells you to pitch that way, then I guess you have no choice but to listen to your father." I walked into the dugout and told the manager to warm somebody up in the bullpen quick. I told him that the father told him to pitch the way he taught him, and there was nothing I could do about it. The kid got shelled after that and was knocked out of the game. He didn't get another out.

I learned a lesson about parents that day. There are parents that genuinely want their kids to be the best, there are parents that are delusional that they were the best and their kids ARE the best, finally, there are parents that just want their kids to have fun.

Back to your kid's situation: I NEVER yell at kids when they make a mistake in the field. I see it as me failing to teach them. I always make note of it, and work on it in practice. I would make it a point to tell the coach that you almost had to drag your son there, and that he was traumatized by the entire situation. If the coach doesn't make it a point to sit down with your son in private and apologize, then there is no reason to play for him after this season. If the coach doesn't handle it like that, I would also send letters to the Little League President, and even the district President.
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post #11 of 43 (permalink) Old 06-22-2010, 11:34 AM
 
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Re: Am I making too much of this?

"I would make it a point to tell the coach that you almost had to drag your son there, and that he was traumatized by the entire situation. If the coach doesn't make it a point to sit down with your son in private and apologize, then there is no reason to play for him after this season. If the coach doesn't handle it like that, I would also send letters to the Little League President, and even the district President."

I totally agree with this. Many times the powers that be have no idea what little league coaches are doing until someone says something. When I was a kid I was in little league. Our coach was an ass. His sons and their friends all played the infield and the rest of us were relagated to the outfield. At practice he seperated us into 2 groups, the infield and the outfield. He practiced with the infield players and any old joe that happened to be around was asked to run the outfield thru drills. Many parents complianed to him about this and he told then if they didn't like it they could pull their kids off the team.

Finally one of the parents ran into the league president at a bbq and enlightened him as to what was going on and the coach was relieved of his position and replaced by, get this, the league president. With him as coach we all got infield time. We grew as players and as a team and won our division playoffs. He made baseball fun again and he continued to coach that same team for 8 more years. When he retired from coaching the team the townspeople built a new baseball field for the kids and it was dedicated in his honor.
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post #12 of 43 (permalink) Old 06-22-2010, 12:26 PM
 
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Re: Am I making too much of this?

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Finally one of the parents ran into the league president at a bbq and enlightened him as to what was going on and the coach was relieved of his position and replaced by, get this, the league president. With him as coach we all got infield time. We grew as players and as a team and won our division playoffs. He made baseball fun again and he continued to coach that same team for 8 more years. When he retired from coaching the team the townspeople built a new baseball field for the kids and it was dedicated in his honor.
what a great story. and you know the kids will keep his values with them for years! good work and deeds will not be forgotten by people who see them!
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post #13 of 43 (permalink) Old 06-22-2010, 02:32 PM Thread Starter
 
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Red face Re: Am I making too much of this?

I guess the problem is that I'm also a coach with our Little League organization (different level), and I like to let coaches coach...But a big problem I feel is locking kids into positions. I'm a great assistant when I have a real good baseball guy as head coach, and I try to run a fun, informative, safe program for the kids. I coach my daughter on her baseball team. So I feel that all decisions are the coaches responsibility, and when there is a failure for a player to execute, like lespauled said it is the coaches who should step up and take responsibility for the debacle...I coached Fallball last year and those kids had a blast playing for me...This year everyone is in tears and I just hate that pressure filled little league thing. It should be taken seriously, but in all honesty we live in Northern PA which has like 3 good baseball months in it! Your next major leauger is probably not coming from our area... The other thing is that my sons coach is a bit intense, but a damn good baseball man...That's why this one upset me. When the kids don't hustle or try I understand getting upset but when it's a mental mistake while trying...Well you can't fault a kid for trying!!
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post #14 of 43 (permalink) Old 06-22-2010, 05:03 PM
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Re: Am I making too much of this?

All valid points - but I would also tell your son that baseball is a game and learning the fundamentals is far more important than winning every game. We learn from our mistakes and grow from them into better players.
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post #15 of 43 (permalink) Old 06-22-2010, 06:22 PM
 
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Re: Am I making too much of this?

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Originally Posted by jemaholic View Post
All valid points - but I would also tell your son that baseball is a game and learning the fundamentals is far more important than winning every game. We learn from our mistakes and grow from them into better players.
Agreed....better players and hopefully better people. I played soccer for 10+ years (center and wing) and tried my hand at baseball for 1 year. I was terrible. Stuck in the outfield and maybe 3 hits all season, but it didn't make me be any less of a team player. I think you'll get through it, deadtunes, you seem to have a good sense of what needs to be done. Good parenting equates to a good outcome.
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