I think the blog got more of a break from baseball than our family did. The last tournament ended on Sunday, with the next one...more of a scrimmage tournament against our local Little League All-Star teams...on Wednesday.Predictably, Smunch didn't mind.
I didn't really mind either...at least not until I got an e-mail from the coach saying that he needed me to figure out how to feed 40 people between the two games. I got that e-mail Tuesday morning. I'm a planner. When not given time to plan? I become a snarky, irritated stress case. Despite the coach's suggestion that I somehow get Costco pizzas to the school for dinner, I ended up getting in touch with the mom-in-charge on our other All-Star Team. They already had it all figured out (with an additional 12 hours of notice), so we joined them in barbequing hotdogs, supplying watermelon, veggies, chips, cookies and drinks for our team and the Little League team we'd just played. It turned out fine.
Somewhere around Tuesday night, however, I began to stew about the fact that I was expected to put on this dinner thing (although I don't consider myself team mom AT ALL), yet the coach doesn't really let my kid play. He'd mentioned something via e-mail about putting the kids at different positions for this tournament since it wasn't a very serious one. But at practice Tuesday afternoon, he put Smunch in the catcher's gear and barely let him out...even though he had no real need for a catcher. I was peeved.
I realize there's a significant amount of mommy bear-ness to my reaction. But it's tough to put in all the effort to get him to practice and tournaments when you feel like your kid is seriously underappreciated. Yeah. I know he's the smallest on the team and I know he doesn't have the meanest bat and can't throw perhaps as far as the other kids can. But he wasn't even getting a chance to show off any of his "stuff" or really gain any skills. I lay in bed mulling this whole thing over until I couldn't stand it anymore and mommy bear won.
I got up and composed a quick e-mail to his coach, requesting that he give Smunch a chance to play pitcher or 2nd base the next day...in addition to catcher and right field, if necessary. Maybe just an inning? The next morning, I got a surprisingly accomodating e-mail back thanking me for reminding him about his promise and saying Gavin would get to play pitcher, at least against the "B Team". Fair enough.
And wouldn't you know it? Smunch was on the bench for the first inning. Then he played catcher in the second inning. While behind the mask, he snagged a poorly hit ball and threw the hitter out at first. Awesome! It was one of the first real plays by a catcher I'd seen all year. I wasn't as irritated that he was at catcher, but still hoping the coach is going to make good on his e-mail.
And then? Smunch was at pitcher. The ball only came his direction once...a pop fly that he caught. And then I had to go cook hot dogs. I figured his inning was up. I wasn't missing anything.Or was I? Turns out, he played pitcher again and caught two more balls, throwing players out at first and third during the 6th inning. And he drove in a run while batting. It was a banner day after all!After dinner, The Fireballs played the Little League A Team. It was a much tougher game, but Smunch got to play pitcher (Pitcher, I should add, is a purely defensive position. The coaches were pitching. Smunch was just there for fielding purposes) for two more innings, doing a good job. And...he played right field. Right field is another throw-away kind of position at this level. Only left-handed players are likely to hit it out there and there aren't so many of those. So imagine my surprise when a ball got launched to right field. These kids can really hit at this level. And there was my tiny little Smunch, glove in the air.
Having spoken to him about "the play", I think he was probably a surprised as I was that he caught the ball. Even some of the parents started calling him the MVP for the evening. I don't know if it was because he was really that impressive or because they'd never gotten the chance to see him do anything before. He was thrilled. I was thrilled. They may have lost their second game, but no one in our family cared. The kids were tired and they played well.
I felt a little sheepish for having stuck my neck out like that for my kid. Of course I think he deserves better. What kid doesn't? It was a huge relief to see him do so well, given the opportunity. I'm so proud of him. And I hope I can hold onto that for the next time he needs someone to show a little more faith in him.