REDCHAIR; Sports Editor
As maybe a few of the viewer’s know I am volunteering as an assistant coach getting some experience in that field while also consulting on some projects for the school. Needless to say this season has been anything but easy. If the guy who came up with Murphy’s Laws was around he’d probably be laughing at us. To remember all the things that have gone wrong would be shocking as well as disturbing, but enough on that let’s get to the storyline.
I feel that small towns are hit and miss. They can either be really cool or really crappy. I have to lean towards the crappy side for the town I am coaching in. It’s so small that one of our recruiting tools is that the town is so small there won’t be any problems focusing on baseball. Somehow we have managed to prove this wrong this season. Our team is full of freshman at the community college. We have three sophomores and even those sophomores are pretty immature. It’s very hard to deal with so much maturity all together at once.
We had to suspend two of our players for being seen driving around in a car with guys who were smoking weed. We were also tipped off that certain players on our team, whom of age, were buying booze and drinking it. Even though our team is not packed with endless amounts of talents the two players we had to suspend did have talent that was missed. Another two players are indefinitely suspended for the rest of the season after they are being faced with rape and underage drinking. I kid you not; I’m not making this stuff up. The worst part was one was arguably our best hitter while the other was only going to ride pine this season. Regardless I feel really bad for their situations as I believe that this girl was not raped but merely taking advantage of a bad situation. Our players were just not smart enough to think about the situation and get away from it.
Cliques have formed. Any time you are on a team you might not like everyone but you need to be able to get along with them and be able to hang out with them. This definitely does not happen. Two of our players have become such loners because they are not accepted or do not want to be accepted and find ways of keeping it that way. Others have their core group of friends and tend to bring down the others. It really sounds like high school and middle school all over again doesn’t it? But as the head coach has told me that I shouldn’t get invested in them as people and should distance myself from them. I believe his understanding is that I won’t be able to objectify playing time and instead will play the players I like best. Usually this would be true but I’ve never had an issue with this. I’ll yell at anyone. Two of my favorite people on the team are definitely not the best players and aren’t even the best for their positions.
We went on a trip for spring break as most teams usually do to get a bunch of games somewhere else where it is warm and the weather isn’t a factor. Well before we got to our spring break trip one of our top players was ejected from a game causing our head coach to be suspended for two games. That top player also injured one of his fingers in a non-baseball related incident and is still swollen and injured. I was indifferent to the situation. I don’t want our players behaving recklessly and not being able to control their emotions but I was kind of excited to be able to discuss with my other fellow assistant coach about moves in the games. In our two games we went 1-1. The team played well and the players felt a lot more relaxed at the plate and in the dugout with us there.
It seemed as soon as the head coach returned the pressure was back on and the players couldn’t handle it like before. Our record is now around 2-18. Tempers have flared, the cliques have gotten stronger, and teammates are starting to turn on each other and pointing fingers. Over the trip I hung out with some of the players and got to know them a lot more, even though advised not to, and I learned a lot about some players. One of the major things I learned was that our head coach does not know how to motivate these players. They are so scared that if they make a mistake they will be pulled out of the game and benched for the next game. Anyone who has played baseball knows that to be successful there is a strange combination of being focused yet calm and loose. If you think too much you are going to fail. If you don’t think enough you are going to fail. There has to be a right combination to be successful.
There was also a lot to learn by riding on the bus with these kids for about three days’ worth. Shoot me now. It is most certainly a fact that this team is immature and does not have their minds in the right place. They were more worried about going to the beach and what was going on at night instead of the games. They also are so loud and obnoxious and do not thing about the common courtesy of others. Many people became grumpy when they were trying to sleep and others were being loud. I became the most frustrated when 10 minutes after a post-game talk the players already had the game out of their mind and were back to behaving immature. I just cannot understand it. I am only about 3-4 years away from this age group and I’m completely different.
I remember when I was playing in a city league playing left handed after I had injured my right shoulder and was rehabbing I almost had to walk home after a game because I was so frustrated with myself for not being able to throw out a guy who was going to third base from left field. I remember having a girl at that game tell me that I needed to put less pressure on myself. Just being out there was great and even being able to make that throw with my opposite throwing arm was amazing. To realistically think I was going to be able to make that play perfectly was a bit unreal but all the more impressive for making it appear as if it might be. She was right. The point was I was so into the game and always wanted to win and compete and give it my all I sometimes needed a complete 24 hours to get over it and move on. These guys don’t even need 24 minutes and they’re over it. I cannot fathom that.
They tell a quarterback in football to forget about the interception he threw and keep throwing. These do the same thing in baseball. A pitcher makes a mistake pitch he still needs to keep throwing that pitch or that spot. A hitter strikes out he needs to have the maturity to not let his emotions take over and needs to let go of that at bat and get ready for the next one. I’ve seen more thrown helmets and tossed gloves this season than I think I’ve ever seen in my sports career. I was brought up that if you couldn’t control yourself and had to throw fits you were out of control and weren’t going to be in the game anymore. I think we’d run out of players if we did that now.
Our last game of the trip was the worst. We faced a team we had beaten before but our team was just physically not there and mentally might have checked out after we were down. I and the other assistant coach probably got the least amount of sleep the whole weekend. We had to do room checks to make sure they were in their rooms and then check on it later to make sure they hadn’t left and then get up early in the morning like the rest of them. To say I was 100% focus would be a lie. Four or Five hours of sleep followed by six hours of focus were tough but we still managed. To see a player fall asleep sitting on a bucket upset me. To hear players talking about racial issues outside of the dugout next to the bullpen and having to yell at them to get their heads in the game was frustrating. When we were about to get ten-run ruled and players were arguing where that rule originated from was more than I could handle. To top it all off after the head coach gave a good 30 minute speech that I myself was actually into about having to have heart and will to compete and get better by the time I was on the bus on the way back to the hotel the players were already complaining about driving back to the Midwest to perform a hit-a-thon, which is part of our fundraising for trips like this. I was about to blow up so I had to put my headphones on and let the music get me away from it all. This season that was supposed to teach me a lot of behind the scenes stuff has turned into a season of babysitting and hell.