Sunday, June 22, 2008


One thing's for sure about this team; it doesn't do anything halfway. By the third inning we were trailing 12-0 and I walked back to talk with some of the parents.

"I'm going to go lie down in the woods over there," I told them. "Come get me when it's over."

One of the moms smiled sweetly and said, "I think they're playing very well for their first game of the season," a comment that delighted me so much I had to run back to the dugout and tell Coach P. He laughed, a sort of borderline hysteria around the edges. A couple of the kids looked at us nervously and scooted down the bench.

A few minutes later one of our players came off the field, almost in tears.

"What's going on?" I asked him.

"Nothing," he said, eyes welling up.

"Come here," I told him. We walked away from the rest of the team.

"What do you get if you win today?" I asked him.


"What do you get if you lose today?"


"And what do you get if you have fun today?"

"I don't know."

"You get to have fun. So go have some."

Even if he wasn't completely sold, he went back to his teammates with his head a little higher.

Coach P. and I spent the next half inning taunting each other. He told me if I hadn't sent a kid who got caught stealing second we'd still be in the game. We laughed. I told him we'd call this one Coach Snag's Game and I'd commit seppuku in front of the parents when it ended. We laughed some more.

Some of the boys finally came over to see what was so funny.

"Go away," we said, throwing sunflower seeds at them. "We're talking about coach stuff."

Meanwhile, one of the parents from the other team was doing her best to get under everyone's skin. Dressed in very tight, very short cut-offs, with big hair and a tight t-shirt, she was screaming for her son as though we were tied in the last inning of the World Series.

"Timber," she shrieked every time one of our players would come to the plate.

"Why does she keep saying that?" asked my son.

I pulled him close so the others couldn't hear. "Because she's a freaking idiot."

He nodded in understanding and I walked back to the parents. "Do you mind if I say something really mean?" I asked them.

"You mean about Barbie?" said one of the dads, gesturing across the field.

I ran back to tell Coach P. this latest and we both laughed some more.

In the bottom of the last inning we finally scored a run and our bench erupted in cheers, patting the runner on the back. Small victories. That was all we got, though, and we were soon lining up to shake hands with the other team, on the wrong end of a 21-1 score. I watched our players as they walked through the line, and while they've been happier, there weren't any tears. They all congratulated the other team and thanked the umpire, and then we gathered for the post-game talk.

"This was one of the best things that could have happened," said Coach P. "We've all been so worried about losing a game that everyone's been wound tight. Now we can have fun next week and just play some ball. This was a tough day and you handled yourself like men. Coach Snag and I are proud of you."

The boys looked at us, looked at their parents, like us smiling and proud of them, and the tension visibly drained from them. Gathering up their snacks, they started drifting toward the parking lot, the game already fading from importance and being replaced, we hope, with the lesson that teamwork and friendship and dignity matter more than any score.


fish said...

This is probably a better path to 18-1 than another I saw recently.

Brando said...

LOL at the seppuku line.

Glad the kids didn't take the loss too hard.

Mendacious D said...

Has anyone made up a "19-0*" tshirt yet?

Adorable Girlfriend said...

Hey, what happened to my comment. I said that I was glad they got it out of the way so they can win all the rest!

Go Snag/Coach P Team!

P.S. RoD is broken. How can I get a hot Jewish doctor when my blog is broken?!!


Snag said...

We could sell a "19-0" t-shirt along with the "Dewey Wins" newspaper.