Baseball games

My children are signed up with the Angelborough Baseball League. Kiddo#2 is slated into softball, and there’s no problem with that.

Kiddo#1 has never played baseball before, other than five days last summer at baseball camp. He knows everything about baseball except how to play it. He’s never participated before in a team sport, either. It’s always been solo.

So we signed him up for the AAA level. That’s partly based on age and partly on skill level. The levels go A-AA-AAA-Major. As if anything is major here in Angelborough.

When my Patient Husband signed him up, the guy at the desk tried to push him into putting Kiddo#1 into the “major” league. Patient Husband said no, and that was that. Eventually we received notice of when K1’s evaluation would take place, and all was well.

Then we got an email from the guy at the desk: this would be the very last year that Kiddo#1 could participate in the “Major” league, so we really should switch him. I sat on the email, and then he called us and said he really wanted to talk to us. Eventually he got me on the phone and started laying on the guilt the way a bricklayer slathers on mortar. My son wouldn’t be playing with kids exactly his age. This was the last year ever that he could be eligible to play in the “majors”. Most parents wanted their kid in the “major” league.

Eventually we settled that I’d bring him to be evaluated for the “major” league, and if they thought he could hack it, I’d consider. But they admitted that if he wasn’t good enough (ie, couldn’t compete with kids who’ve played baseball since they were three) he’d play less often.

Well, what good is that? I put the kid on a league to play, not to sit and not to feel incompetent. Who wants to be the kid who hears a chorus of groans every time he comes up to bat, or frightened cries from his teammates whenever the ball goes out to him in left field? (Note: I’m familiar with this phenomenon, and not from the good side of things either.)

This morning I took him to the evaluation, and the Gatekeeper got in my way and tried to pull Kiddo#1 inside. “Parents aren’t allowed inside. They never have been.”

I explained about the league, Desk Guy, and evaluations. She went and fetched Desk Guy, and then there was a Major League volley of words out on the front steps of the high school because no, they were not going to let me in. And no, I was not going to give them unrestricted access to my son for an hour so they could badger him the same way they’d badgered me just so they’d have an extra set of parents to work the concession stand.

Desk Guy said, “Who’s railroading you?” and I said, “You wouldn’t take no for an answer three times on the phone! This was supposed to be me meeting you halfway.” He and Gatekeeper refused to budge.

So I took Kiddo#1 home. He’ll be in the league where he belongs rather than giving the “major” league another pair of live bodies to fundraise.

And here I thought the real games were on the field.


  1. Loriendil

    Good for you, woman! From another who endured groans as she stepped up to bat, etc., thanks for sticking up for what you knew was best for your child!

  2. Cricket

    I’d change leagues altogether, if it were an option. If he loves it, I guess changing sports isn’t an option. (Youth soccer and competitive swimming in our city are awesome.) I wish they had rec leagues for kids like they do for adults.

    I, too, was the left-field kid, only at the time I thought it was because Dad had practiced long throws and catching with me — different skills than needed for in field. My big gripe was that they never taught me the rules. Apparently the first two fouls are strikes, and the third isn’t, as I learned while at bat.

  3. Loriendil

    I was actually an enigma – the coach tried and tried to teach me to throw better and bat better. I was the only female who would actually squat to catch, and could catch (almost) anything the pitcher threw, and I could catch a pop-foul just about every time.

    But I could barely throw the ball back to the pitcher, and first base? Forget it.
    So what good was I as a catcher?
    Never did learn to throw well. *double sigh*

    A shame too, because my hero was Bill Freehan, catcher for the Detroit Tigers. I used to go Tiger Stadium and sit as close to the plate as possible to be able to see him.

  4. philangelus

    I had the same problem: I throw like a girl. 🙁

    The AAA baseball coordinator called me to reschedule my son for AAA evaluations because apparently “Major” league guy took the liberty of de-enrolling my son from his AAA evaluations. I was livid and said “he WAY overstepped his authority!”

    What the hell is these people’s problems? It’s small town baseball for crying out loud, and I’m leaving a slot open for other kids in the “major” league that’s apparently so darned coveted by all.

  5. Loriendil

    He obviously doesn’t like someone to defy his authority, and so tried to penalize your son. Must be a flaming choleric.

  6. philangelus

    LOL! I think what happened was that after I told Major League Jerk that I would *consider* “major” league, he took that as a mandate to shift my son over. So he deleted the kid last week, not this afternoon. Therefore my kid had to be put back into the AAA roster and rescheduled, when he shouldn’t have been removed in the first place.

    Here’s my question: what do they have to gain by badgering/railroading us this way? Nothing. So what’s their damage?

  7. Loriendil

    Dunno, but I still say it’s some power-trip thing. Because why else would they bother?

  8. philangelus

    Oh, I agree it’s a power trip. I just don’t think it was retaliation due to the timing. He was just figuring he’d railroad us into something we didn’t want.

    No clue why. As if any of this is actually important in the long term. Kind of like when the opposing coaches cheated in our church softball league. (Just our church, mind you: we weren’t even playing other churches.) I can understand fixing the world series, but kid’s baseball?

  9. Loriendil

    My mind boggled on that one…

  10. philangelus

    Nothing screams “love of Jesus” like cheating at softball. ^_^;;

  11. Loriendil


  12. Cricket

    What does your son think of all this? How much does he know about it, besides taken to try-out, and Mom won’t let him go in by himself like the other kids do, and ends up leaving the dome without a spot on any team. I agree with your choice — fun in recreational rather than barely squeaking through to competitive, and no way would I let that guy near my kid as a coach — but wonder what the kid thinks about it all.

  13. Cricket

    More points for rec team: Fewer practices, no “team is relying on you, so you can’t go on family vacation”, and less travel.

  14. philangelus

    He doesn’t like that I had a fight with the guy. (Although by my standards, I hadn’t even warmed up yet. I cut off the fight by leaving.) But he understands that we want him in a league where he can play rather than hanging around watching other kids play.

    There shouldn’t be any travel. AFAIK, this league plays only within Angelborough. WHich makes the guy’s territoriality all the more puzzling.

    There’s got to be more to this story. I wish I knew what this guy stood to gain by bringing in more kids. Maybe if he waters down the talent pool, they can make one more team? Or maybe he thinks his kid will get more play-time?

    I went back and looked at the first email, and it’s clearly an opt-in thing: “Call me if you want your child bumped up to ‘major’ league.” And we’re not the only ones who received that email.

  15. Cricket

    Maybe there aren’t enough kids in the league, because other parents are keeping to AAA as well? Maybe the league only has stars, so they can’t get their egos stroked? We can only hope.

  16. cathrl

    My one question here would be “which league does your son want to play in?” Because, to be honest, there’s an awful lot in your post about what you and your husband want, and absolutely nothing about what Kiddo #1 wants. And yet he’s the one who will be playing.

    I have one kid who desperately wants to be up there with the best, and I have to fight for her to even be considered because she’s not as good as the rest of them. I have played “pushy mum” with her, so that she could take a test which meant she could compete nationally, even though her coach thought there was a strong chance she’d fail it. She passed – just – through sheer determination. In your situation, she’d have been completely and utterly devastated had I refused to let her try out for the top level. And I have another one who just wants to take part sometimes for fun, and I have to fight for him not to be pushed into a level of participation and committment that he doesn’t want to do. Him I’d never have taken, not because I didn’t think he was ready, but because he wouldn’t have wanted to go. That’s two kids, making their own opposite choices, in the same sport. But their choices, not mine. I can’t imagine taking a child to a trial they wanted to participate in and then turning round and coming home again.

    The coach sounds unreasonable – but I can see a reason why they wanted to evaluate him at his normal age level. There’s nothing more souldestroying for younger / less experienced kids than one or more kids who would rather be a big fish in a small pool than move up to the level they should be at and be average in it. They may genuinely have wanted to see if he was the right level for the top league, because they wouldn’t want a big, strong, fast, talented kid intimidating the little ones lower down. They have only your word for it that he’s inexperienced – and, sad though it may be, it’s all too frequent for parents to lie about their kid’s achievement levels so they can be a star in a level that’s too easy for them. I can only presume they’ve found that to be a sufficient problem that they are actively struggling to find enough kids to make up a “major” team and are trying to make being in the top level sound extra desirable.

    And I’m afraid I’m absolutely with them on evaluating the kids out of sight of pushy parents – not parents like you who are worried about them being overpromoted or pushed into something they don’t want to do, but parents who are going to kick up a HUGE fuss about little Johnny not being selected, when they SAW that little Susie missed just as many balls in the evaluation and yet SHE was selected… that way they also get to see which kids really want to be there and which only perform because Daddy’s eyes are on them and they are afraid to be seen not trying. If the coach lets you in to watch the evaluation, he has to let all those parents in too.

    I was rubbish at sports, btw. But I also sat and watched my daughter come sixth in a competition last week, when the five kids ahead of her could all have competed at least one level up and still come in the top half. I’m a big fan of absolutely ruthless age or ability boundaries. Not opt-in or out. Why don’t they sign up all the kids, evaluate all the kids, split them into four groups by level, and then tell you which league they will be in, given that the commitment appears to be the same for all of them?

  17. philangelus

    Catherine,remember that my son has AS, so it’s hard to know what he wants. But mostly he just wants to play. His therapist said it would be better for him to feel competent in the lower league than frustrated in one too tough for him.

    I get the helicopter parent thing. But I’d been explicit about wanting him in a lower level (not higher) and that *I* needed to make that determination. They were evaluating him, but I was evaluating them. They failed.

    I agree: they should have signed up all the kids, evaluated them all, and then made the determination based solely on skill. Based on what benefitted the children, not what benefitted the league or DeskGuy.

  18. Cricket

    I like the way the local soccer league does it, at least age 4 through 10, possibly higher. There’s only one level. All kids get equal time on the field each game. No exceptions. There is no “left field” position in soccer, which helps. Goal is a bit different; two kids get a turn each game, and every kid gets equal turns over the season.

    Coaches don’t keep score. (By 7 the kids often try, but the parents are more interested in great plays and assists than score.) The coach fills out player evaluations at the end, but their only used to help balance teams next year. Parents send confidential coach evals. If one team is short players, the larger team sends some over. All coaches cheer for all plays.

  19. philangelus

    Letting kids play without pressure? What a novel idea!

    In my brother’s pee-wee league, the score was always “tied.” Always. 🙂

  20. Jason Block

    Sorry, although I am not a parent…I think the “score is tied…equal time stuff” is a big fat load. I mean, look at the World Baseball Classic…they ended a game when the US lost to Puerto Rico 11-1. It was “the mercy rule.” Feh.

    Kids need to know that there are winners and losers in life. Kids DO keep score…AND THEY KNOW IT.

    I have a friend whose son has asperger’s as well as ADHD. He is 10…almost 11. When I watched a few of his soccer games, he was more interested in waving to his parents than actually playing the game. It seemed to me it would have been better for him to just kick the ball around in his backyard.

    Competitive sports is a good thing. And yes, I do agree with you Phil…DeskGuy was a moron. But I do not believe in the non-score keeping…everyone gets a turn thing. It’s a hard dichotomy for me.

  21. philangelus

    My brother was 5 when the score was tied. After that, they kept score.

  22. Jason Block

    But now it goes even older.

  23. Cricket

    There’s a difference between lying about the score or artifically making it a tie, and not caring about it. I used to love board games with my husband, until we started keeping track. My son stopped enjoying soccer when they stopped passing him the ball. Before that, he loved it — easy way for us to get him to excerise.

    The kid who waved more than he played probably benefitted from the social interaction and feeling part of a team. Baby steps. It varies with kid and sport. It also got him excercising more regularly than a home program. Drills are good for developing focus. It’s similar to sensory integration, but less formal. Very different from kicking the ball around at home.

  24. ivyreisner

    Winning and losing in life, and winning and losing in sports, are two entirely different things. The kid who waved and had fun, won as long as he had a good time. A kid who was miserable, didn’t want to play, and got the highest score, lost.

    Winning in life means being able to walk through the world on your own strength, with pride, with accomplishment. Winning in life means finding a meaningful goal and achieving it. Winning in life means becoming the person you were meant to be, and making the world better for your having visited it. There is no reason everyone can’t win at life.

    Winning in sports just means achieving some arbitrary, random task while keeping others from doing the same.

    Life is more of a cooperative game, actually. Writers meet to help each other learn more and get published. More experienced professionals in every field mentor newbies. Podcasters play promos for other podcasters.

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