Oh well, I thought, at least the kids got a chance to play; they participated; perhaps they learned a few things; and they certainly did not rot on the bench … but, we still lost …. badly!
To digress, way back when I was nine-years-old, we won the championship for the league. I, along with several other players, played every inning of every game. Two boys on the team played the minimum of three innings per week in the field and they were allowed to bat the minimum of once per week. With 14 available innings a week, that means that they only played 3 of 14 innings, while only batting once.
Essentially, those two guys rotted on the bench. When we won the championship, they were happy to get a trophy, but there was an emptiness to their season. I have never forgotten the looks on their faces at many points during the season, as well as when they received their trophies. They were lost souls, as they realized that they had contributed nothing to the championship and it seemed to be obvious to them that they only reason that they ever left the bench was so that the coaches would be in compliance with league rules. The fact that they got their three innings when we were way ahead in the game could not have helped their self-esteem much, either.
As you might have guessed, neither boy ever played baseball again and, in fact, neither boy ever tried out for another team in any sport all the way through high school.
So, again, with my newly established philosophy, we might not win as many games, but all of the guys and their parents would be happy, … or so I thought!
At any rate, after we lost about 4-5 games in a row to start he season, my own son was back in centerfield and he ran down a ball that was destined to be a home run for the other team. The ball was hit far over his head. Upon landing, the ball would have rolled forever, thereby clearing the loaded bases. However, my son ran as fast as he could and, at the very last minute and with his back to the infield, reached out and caught the ball, a la Willie Mays at the ol’ Polo Grounds – he then wheeled around and threw a one bounce strike to third base to double off the runner!
Even though he is my own son, I must admit that it was one of the best plays that I had ever seen made by a 15-year-old centerfielder! He is blessed with great speed, but his baseball instincts to run the ball down and then fire a strike to 3rd base elicited major cheers even from the OPPOSING FANS!
Of course, true to my beautiful plan, he was on the bench the next inning. A fairly routine fly ball was hit to centerfield and … it was not caught – it was not even touched! Two runs scored, opening the floodgates for more runs and … we lost again … badly!
So, did this coach stick with his “beautiful plan” or were changes made that led us to victory? Please come back next week to find out!
Paul W. Reeves