Leaves are budding on the trees. The voices of children can be heard frolicking outside. Tiny black ants are being massacred by the dozens around the perimeter of my home as they make their futile attempts at invasion.
What does this all mean? Spring is in the air, which, in turn, means baseball season is upon us. You may be the type of person who enjoys watching spoiled millionaires spit and grab their crotches in public, and I will not deny you that guilty pleasure. However, it is not MLB Spring Training of which I speak, but something infinitely more important: Little League!
My boys have been playing baseball for a few years now and I have helped coach them every season. I enjoy being the dad who is not only around, but involved with such events. It's not that I have anything spectacular to offer in terms of baseball insight. I was a mediocre player at best during my short Little League career (though you wouldn't know it from the details I've shared with my wife). However, since my schedule affords that I am able to make all the games and practices with small adjustments to my sleep schedule, I figure I would rather have their memories of childhood baseball include me repeating what some parent with better coaching credentials tells them.
Other Parent: "Charge the ball and get your glove down!"
Me: "Yeah, charge the glove and get that...um...What he said!"
Last season presented me with a challenge. My two sons were in two different leagues. This meant twice the practices, twice the games, twice the distance traveled running around between events and twice the amount of infield dirt in crevices on my body where the wind should not have been able to blow it (I felt violated, to be honest).
Occasionally, they had a practice or game at the same time. This was worse than having to go to two in one day. Instead of fatigue, I had to deal with the guilt of being at one son's event while missing the other. Any parent would agree that is far more difficult to deal with than exhaustion.
I was determined that, this year, things would be different, but it would not be easy. My youngest son was slated, due to a birthdate mere days after the cutoff, to play in the same league he was in the previous year. My oldest son was slated, due to a birthdate mere days before the cutoff, to play in the next league up from the year before. In order to get them both in the same league and on the same team, one would have to move up and the other move down. This would take some manipulation (more of my sons than of the league rules) and I am way better at that than I have ever been at baseball.
The loaded questions began. My youngest, the more competitive and eager to prove his skill of my boys, was asked, "Don't you want to move up to Pee Wee like your brother did in second grade?" Once he heard it was something his brother had achieved the year before, he was all about the upcoming tryout. Phase one was complete.
My oldest, the more likely of my boys to seek the path of least resistance, was asked, "Would you rather stay in the same level as you were in last year, or do you want to move into a harder league?" Done with phase two.
Now it was on to phase three. I volunteered to be a head coach. This way, I was able to make sure that both of my boys were on the same team. Now, I could guarantee that they would be working together on the same team, that both of my sons were going to be at the same place at the same time all summer and that I would be with them every step of the way.
My God, what have I done?