The title's a little bit of a misnomer since Smunch has been playing baseball for more than a month now, but it's about this time in the season that I start to feel absolutely steeped in the sport. I've got baseball coming out my ears and I'm still struggling to ensure that Smunch has a clean uniform for two games a week. And no, he doesn't always have a clean uniform, but given the state of his white baseball pants, I'm not sure you could tell the difference regardless.
Smunch lives for this time of year. He never complains about going to play baseball. And he rushes home from school each day to run over to my computer and type mlb.com into my browser, no matter that I was in the middle of an intense e-mail conversation. Despite its annoyances, it's fun to watch his enthusiasm. He's not the most talented player on his team, but he's far from the worst. And he pays attention to the game, which is more than you can say for about half the team of wiley 6 and 7-year-olds.
He's intense, but not overly emotional. He no longer cries when he gets tagged out. He understands that this very same thing happens to professional players more often than not.
This year's been great for Mam too. She's no more interested in the games than she ever was...which is to say, she has pretty much no interest at all. But she's old enough to run off to the playground and play with the other younger siblings without a parent having to tag along. Here she is, avidly helping "coach Grandpa" install first base.The games this year are five innings long. And half the time, that's exactly the same as five long innings. I'm the "bench mom", which means I get to make sure the kids are in order on the bench. I take this job far too seriously. I'm the mean mommy. I threaten to change the batting order. I have no patience for boys climbing the fences when they should be on the bench. I'm a hard ass (if only that description was more apt for my physical derriere). But the boys are doing great, at least when I'm there to flog them into shape. I'm pretty proud of our team.
Then there's this. We do try really hard to make Smunch go to the bathroom before he leaves. By the fifth inning, he's still intent on the game, but clearly there are other things on his mind.Despite the late dinners, the busy Saturdays and the general frustrations of keeping 11 boys on task, I love this time of year. There's a lot of camaraderie involved in watching little boys play baseball...at least at this age when they're still not technically keeping score. At the end of the day, Smunch almost always decides that his team won. I hope he can maintain that kind of enthusiastic optimism when they really start keeping score.