OK. Not the big big leagues. The little big leagues. I’m gonna say the equivalent of “going to the show”. In little league terms.
Baseball. We are talking about baseball in case the none baseball fans aren’t quite with me yet.
My youngest son, affectionately referred to as Bubbsy here previously, plays baseball. He doesn’t just play baseball, he’s pretty darn good at it.
Yea yea, I’m his mom, his biggest fan etc etc and I’m supposed to say that, but I have proof. So I’m not just tooting his horn because I’m his mom.
He wanted to play football. His cousin is an awesome football player, now playing in college, his uncle played in high school and college and even thought about going back to coaching if Bubbsy decided to play. He’s a big, solid kid, built for football greatness and we come from a football family, at least my side of the family. So I was ready to start down that road of football and worrying about concussions and broken bones and.. That kinda stuff.
The neighbor kid signed up for baseball and his mom wanted to know if Bubbsy wanted to play too.
He had never seen a baseball game in his life. Certainly didn’t know the rules, never played catch with a ball and glove and did not know one lick about what he was doing. We figured it was just something to pass the time until he could play football.
Then a funny thing happened.
He liked it. He learned it. He started asking me to take him to the park to play catch and practice batting. The more he played the more he liked it. I noticed when he went out on the field, he looked like a baseball player, carried himself like a baseball player. Essentially turned into a baseball player. Not overnight and I admit it probably was all proud mom thinking that I saw this happen first.
After his first season last spring, he was kinda bummed it was over. Then we found out it started again in the fall and so off we went to sign him up again for the fall season. They don’t play ball here in the summer. Not Little League, it’s just too damn hot.
Fall season he got on a team with a super coach. Great with the boys, knew how to bring out the best in them and teach them not only how to play the game but be good sports and have fun too, all while nurturing and boosting their self-esteem.
Bubbsy started to shine and really turn into a baseball player whom other people noticed. He fell in love with the game, the team, even watching the World Series last year. Totally got into it.
Little league at the machine pitch level is all about getting the boys on the field, teaching them how to play and winning or losing isn’t supposed to matter. They aren’t super competitive yet and it’s all about fun. There were times the boys were more concerned about what kind of snack they would get after the game than playing.
He also met his Best Baseball Buddy that season, who happens to be the coach’s son. They are, in my opinion equally matched in skill, compliment each other too in skill, one’s weakness being the other’s strength. They have each others back and have formed a pretty strong bond that mostly boys who play on teams together get, but really not maybe until their older. It’s pretty cool.
It’s been fun. With a supportive group of parents who all get along and cheer the boys on every game. The boys are having fun and they really came together as a team this season. The coach again has been a great factor in this. I can’t say enough about how happy I am he ended up with him again.
As the season winds up, come to find out there is a state tournament coming up and they were holding tryouts to make the All-Star team, a team created from kids who performed the best at tryouts.
I wasn’t going to let Bubbsy try out for reasons that had nothing to do with baseball or me thinking he couldn’t do it. I thought about it awhile and finally told him about it just a few hours before the tryouts and asked if he wanted to. I figured at the very least it’s just good experience, for the future, because, he informs me, he is going to play in the majors one day, then buy me a house, but not a car. I’m on my own for a car he says
As I was mulling this over, it occurred to me that this is where shit starts to get serious. The boys, and girls too, weren’t just playing on a team for fun and experience anymore, the tryouts put them out for themselves and proving themselves to earn a spot on a team that represented their whole area.
It’s still about fun, but now it’s about winning too. The lessons you learn from stepping up to the next level of competitiveness are a little harder to take than the things learned previously.
Bubbly found this out the hard way.
He and his Best Baseball Buddy, along with several other team mates went to tryouts and kicked butt. Bubbsy and Best Baseball Buddy definitely the top two performers of the team, neck and neck it seemed to me.
When we got the call saying he had made the team, we both just took it for granted Best Baseball Buddy did too. Bubbsy was stoked, and he had all kinds of plans to celebrate them making the team.
For reasons I can’t fathom, and other things which didn’t make sense at all, Best Baseball Buddy didn’t make the team. Not because he wasn’t good enough. I saw the scores, he really did kick butt, and I dont know what happened. He should have made it.
I have some guilt wondering had I kept my mouth shut and not let Bubbsy try out, would Best Baseball Buddy been the one on the All-Star team? It’s hard to say.
Maybe they pushed each other and he wouldn’t have done as well without Bubbsy there..just like Bubbsy did better with him there most likely. Or maybe I’m just trying to feel better. Whatever it is, I had to break the news to my boy he was going to be going to this team alone.
He cried. He sulked, he asked me over and over why. He said he wasn’t going to play on the team without him. He said it isn’t fair.
He’s right and I told him so but I also told him what I’ve always told my kids when they say it isn’t fair; life isn’t fair.
Only this time it isn’t about who got candy and who didn’t, who got to have a sleep over or go to a birthday party and who didn’t, or watch their TV show again when it was the other’s turn.
This time it’s more about how life really is going to be. It”s about crushing disappointment and a sense of helplessness and defeat that shouldn’t be. It’s about watching someone you care about get denied something which should have been theirs and still going forward no matter how much it hurts.
It’s not only unfair, it makes no sense and there is no way I can explain to him that makes any sense. I told him coach and his wife were happy and said he deserved to make the team and he, with tears streaming down his face said “he (Best Baseball Buddy) effing deserved it more”
Maybe he did, maybe he and Bubbsy deserved it together. And so passes the childhood fun of baseball into a form of competiveness, elation, defeat and sometimes disappointment that will be with him and be stronger as he gets stronger. I guess it’s part of playing sports, but I’m kind of sad.
They say there is no crying in baseball but I say let them cry while they can. No matter what, they are still little boys learning the game which will just get tougher and more competitive as they get older. There’s time enough to be stoic later.
For now, they are learning some hard lessons, life isn’t fair, baseball isn’t always fair, and sometimes it just doesn’t make sense.
I hold onto the fact my boy still has the ability to feel so deeply hurt by Best Baseball Buddy getting.. gipped, for lack of a better word, so crushed by the injustice of it all, so bummed they won’t be on the team together this year, so humble to know that Best Baseball Buddy deserved this as much as he did, that he could cry about it.
There’s nothing I wouldn’t give to make if better for them both. To make it right. To make it fair. I feel just as crushed as Bubbsy does for his friend, just as helpless because I don’t think there is anything to be done at this point.
We still move on. Nothing ever stays the same anyways, if not now, something would have changed the idyllic nature of and sense of belonging instilled in him with his regular team. For me too although it isn’t about me. I felt a sense of belonging which I don’t often feel with real live people. With moving is growing and growing is painful too.
But I guess that’s how the game goes and it’s time to play ball.