Thursday, May 13, 2010

Little league baseball, moms and not enough apple pie

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Little League Baseball, moms and not enough apple pie

Southwest News-Herald Newspaper May 13, 2010

My son is nothing like me when it comes to sports. He loves sports, I don’t.

My parents were too busy working to spend the time needed to walk me through the rigorous schedules of Little League and other sports programs when I was growing up.

And if they did, I’d probably guess I would not have been very good at it any way.

But my son is in a Little League hosted by the Orland Youth Association. I support him and cheer him on. I go to all the practice scrimmages and I go to the games. I’ve even taken him to the batting cages

Although I’ve never been more than an “Easter Sunday” sports fan (ignoring the games until the Super Bowl or the World Series), I’m really in to his performance.

OK, he’s not a “natural” yet — a term I learned from Robert Redford, not sports. But being at the games only reinforces why I stayed away from the sport. I can’t handle sports-politics!

I used to always say that politics is my sport. But after only a few games with my son in Little League, I know sports is the real politics.

I’ve learned a lot, though.

For example, “good eye” is the most popular cheer at a Little League game. That’s what you say after a batter doesn’t swing for a pitch that is a “ball.”

See? I am learning. It’s not all hopeless.

I’ve also learned not to sit next to the moms, who cheer and scream instructions to their sons on the field. “Put your ear muffs on!”

I don’t know how the coaches do it. Sitting there while the moms scream out more instructions than the coaches.

That’s not to berate the moms at all. I admire them. Men are wusses when it comes to kids.

Want to know about sex? Ask mom.

Want to know about baseball? Ask mom, too.

OK. I admit it. Every time my son gets on base, I give him $20. (It goes in his savings account.)

Ever since I offered him the payola, his batting average has shot up dramatically.

That’s what dads know best. Have a problem? Throw money at it. Punish a kid? No way. Give the kid money and ask them not to do it again. It works.

Then there are the stories about elected officials in Orland Park who use their clout to get to pick the best players so they can have the best teams.

I’m looking in to that one, of course. But I’ll wait till the season is over.

It’s all too intense for me, though. I like watching the kids play ball. Why do they have to be under such pressure? Why can’t they have fun and learn teamwork, and the game, of course?

It seems too much for me. As soon as the moms start shouting, I’m down the field near third base watching and taking pictures of my son.

In the end, though, I think the concern of the moms make it all worthwhile for the kids. They’re young. They listen to their moms.

So here’s a toast to the moms. And I’ll bet Babe Ruth’s mom was at many of his first few games yelling at him often.

“Tuck in that shirt, Little Georgie!” (That was the Babe’s real name, George Herman Ruth Jr.)

“Suck in that gut, Junior! Shoulders back, elbow out!”

“You’re not focusing on the ball, George Herman! You want to grow up like your father?”

(Listen to Ray Hanania on WJJG-AM 1530 from 8 to 9:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday. He also may be heard from 7 to 9 a.m. Fridays on in the Chicago area, Dearborn, Mich. and Windsor, Ontario. Check out the Web site at or call [708] 493-1530.)

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