Tuesday, June 06, 2006

I Love This Game!

Last night, I took my eight-year-old son to a Redhawks baseball game in Bricktown, the revitalized section of downtown Oklahoma City. We with with a friend of mine and his family. Randy is one of the coaches on the nine-year-old team I coach and his son Alec plays catcher on the team. My son plays first base.

It's been a hard season for our team this year, filled with almosts and nearlys. Since we'd played in the wooden bat tournament the weekend before, Randy and I thought giving the team a night off from practice would be good. It probably was.

But sitting there in the stadium, watching the semi-pro guys play (they're the farm team for the Texas Rangers), I saw them strike out, fly out, ground out and make amazing plays. Just like our kids do. The Redhawks pulled out a 3-2 win against the Ohio Cubs, though. But, again, it was a game of almosts and maybes. It could just as easily gone the other way.

What I realized most about sitting there in the seats was that I was outside actually WATCHING the game, not COACHING it. I didn't have any responsibility. I was just a spectator with no vested interest. I didn't have to blame myself. I didn't have to make mental notes to work on at the next practice. I could enjoy myself. And did.

My son had an absolute blast watching the game. We talked about the plays, the speed the pitcher was throwing at (a couple at 98 miles an hour!), and the way the guys got out. I was surprised that my son enjoyed it so much. He didn't even chase after the team mascot, Rowdy, as much as normal (though he did score a couple autographed "objects," as he calls them, from Rowdy).

We sat through the whole game, and it was a squeaker. But somewhere in that feeling of pure enjoyment without the sense of responsibility, I made my peace with baseball for this season. The little league team isn't where I'd expected or hoped it would be, but we made some gains and some of the kids pulled off some astonishing plays and hit the long ball into outfield for the first time.

Baseball is absolutely the best sport, in my opinion, for a father and son to spend quality time together (or a husband and wife if both enjoy the game, or friends). There's enough downtime between innings to talk, and it's out in the open so you're getting a little sunlight and fresh air, and you can sing along with the songs you know and head-bob with the ones you don't.

My son has already scheduled a return trip this Friday. When his mom called from out-of-town (where she's getting ready to go for her National Boards Certification as a teacher), he let her know that we had plans for Friday. Thankfully, she loves baseball too (not at much as football, but she's coming around).

So remember, if you have a farm team in the neighborhood, maybe all you need to recharge the batteries and get a fresh perspective on your life for a little while is just a trip to the local ballfield. Get out there and give Blue a hard time if he's cutting the corners off the plate!

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