You’re Out!

Politically Correct Baseball Takes a Walk

Years ago when my kids were preteen, I liked to promote activities to get them active and involved. Boy scouts, girl guides and baseball were safe bets with low injury and good exposure. I liked to get involved with my kids and it’s not difficult; there’s always room for parent volunteers. What I really enjoyed was the baseball. It’s an opportunity for kids to get involved and participate on a level that is higher than just showing up.

It may be my personal opinion but it seems that kids are over managed; too often in environments that direct their every move. I’m of the opinion that for kids to learn they need times where they can get beyond the constant direction and apply what they know. That’s where talent hides in kids, when they can direct themselves. Sports is an opportunity for that, it allows  kids to think on their feet, make quick decisions while in motion and get immediate feedback for their efforts.

I’ve seen some talented kids and I’m left with the impression that their talent comes from not over thinking the directions they’re given. It’s like a natural flow that comes from confidence and effort. I came to believe that real talent is encouraged not managed it’s more intuitive.

I umpired a game for kids in the 10-12 year age group. The young lad on the mound was throwing a pretty good game and after 4 innings the coach pulled him for a rest. His replacement seemed a bit edgy, so I gave him a couple of extra pitches to warm up and called for the batter. This particular game I didn’t bother to bring my shin guards, I figured a 12 year old can’t have much heat throwing.

I nested in behind the catcher and called play ball. The pitcher sent his first pitch down the pipe and I couldn’t believe what I saw. For anyone who doesn’t think that sports can be as beautiful as art, you’re dead wrong. This kid delivered a perfect screwball. I’m talking perfection and I’m talking art. I’m talking seeing the impossible happen before your eyes; perfect clean physics. This was a beautifully executed pitch that dropped in the box and broke to the outside. There’s only two places in the universe you can see that perfection with your own eyes and I was standing in one of them.

Thank god the batter swung, I was to dumbstruck to sort it out in my head and I called a strike. I immediately called time and took a casual walk out to the mound. There was dead silence on the field and I lifted my head to look the pitcher in the eye.

“Nice pitch son. How did you do that?”

“Do what, sir?”

“Son, do you think you could throw the same pitch again? Exactly the same, please.”

I walked back, took my position and called play ball. Sure enough same thing again, except the surprise was missing, I was expecting it and I was watching the whole process.

I called time and strolled out to the mound again, this time I called in the coach for a chat.

“Your boy here is an incredible pitcher, a real natural. Did you teach him that pitch?” I asked.

“No sir,” said the coach.

“So you know what I’m talking about, right?”

“Yes sir,” said the coach.

“Do you also know that in this league that pitch is banned?”

“No sir, I didn’t know that!”

“Well let me tell you why. It puts tremendous stress on the shoulder elbow and wrist. For a young boy it can cause his arm to mal-form in the joints and cause lifelong pain.”

“Son, if I see that pitch again you’re out of the game. Son, I have to report you to the league of umpires so they know to watch for you.”

“I want you to know something son. That pitch is worth a million dollars and if I let you use it you will never get paid for it cause it’ll ruin your arm. Wait till your 20 or so and use it then. It’ll probably make you famous.”

I put my hand out to shake with the young lad, and I thanked him for showing me something I thought was impossible.

“It’s been an honor, son.”

I was asked by a couple of parents if I would be willing to umpire a game the following week in a younger league of 8-10 year olds. I didn’t see the point. They were too young to know the rules, but apparently they wanted me there to curb the behavior of the parents. So I agreed. I know all too well how quickly a parent can ruin a game.

When I showed up I noticed the kids were a little sedate. It struck me odd that there was so little enthusiasm. At the home plate conference the coaches told me the game would only go 4 innings so the kids wouldn’t be out late.

“Fair enough,” I said, “Let’s get to it, we’re wasting their time.”

I called the first batter and looked over to the coach, he stopped his player and said, “Don’t swing. Take the walk.” I quickly realized that there wasn’t a kid on the field that could put the ball in the strike zone. The coaches and parents had predetermined who would win the game at the coin toss. No fucking way was I gonna let this happen.

I called time and brought the coaches back into home plate.

“OK guys, this is the deal, I’m expanding the strike zone. If the batter can reach the ball without moving their feet it’s a strike. If it’s on the ground and they can reach it without moving their feet, it’s a strike. So go back and tell your players they better start swinging or I’ll call them out. If you don’t like it say the word and I’m outta here. Either these kids play ball or I’m gone.”

They knew I meant business when the first batter went down with 3 strikes and no balls. Of course the kid took a fit he had never been called out before. Hey, welcome to childhood. Doing nothing can be frustrating. The second batter got the message and managed to catch a piece of the ball, it dropped straight down and edged forward a couple of inches, he didn’t know what to do. In fact nobody knew what to do and the players froze. Eventually the shouting from the coach directed the batter to run for first.

That’s the magic for kids in sports. First you try and eventually succeed, but once you succeed you’re immediately confronted with what comes next. For those who don’t recognize the process it’s called life. Long before ever mentioning the politics of a team effort, at some point kids need to learn to make an effort and why. It’s the reward of being challenged and challenging yourself till you do succeed.

This was by far the best game I had ever umpired and better than a born again Christian revival. These kids were working it, they let loose and tried. Sure lots of them went down on strikes and we played six innings instead of four. But what I heard coming from the bench was worth every minute.

“Hey Johnny did you see me hit that one?”

“Just swing Johnny. Pretty soon you’re gonna hit it”.

Of course the coaches and parents were now telling the players how to play and what to do next and the kids were listening. They wanted to know. I didn’t see any kids sitting down on the infield or the outfield, this was a game and they were in it and it was theirs. The enthusiasm washed over the kids and splashed on the adults and I loved every minute of it.

What they had been doing is letting the batters take a walk every time. They had been telling the kids not to swing. They knew the kids couldn’t pitch to the strike zone and had opted for a walking game. They could even calculate the final score when the game started.

It was pathetic.

The kids were bored and uninterested. These fucking adults had destroyed the game and the learning experience, but not today. At the end of the game, the coaches let me know that they wouldn’t be having me back. A couple of the young lads came up and asked if they could play in my games.

Sorry guys it doesn’t work that way, but now you know….if you try you got a game.

About J Galt

John is a father, writer, social commentator and mentor to young men. He is a regular contributor to A Voice for men focusing mainly on gender politics and pervasive social illusions.

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  • E. Steven Berkimer

    Great post Keith. Sadly, we have become a risk adverse society. we must protect our childrens precious little feelings. It’s in the “best interest of the children” (sound familiar?).

    I remember, when growing up (late 70’s early 80’s), there was a kid on our baseball team, who, when he started out, was horrendous. The coach actually told him he sucked, but with a little work, he could be an ok player. That kid actually ended up playing 6 seasons in the pros, before an injury ended his career. I can’t even imaging a coach saying that today. Can’t hurt little johnny’s feelings, don’t you know.

  • scatmaster
    • Simon

      Basketball coach fired after his girls team won 100-0.

      Nuff said.

    • keith

      I was an umpire in Blackburn Hamlet, City of Gloucester. I know about this soccer league. I use to watch games there and stroll through the fields, next to the quarry on the other side. It’s where I ended my first marriage to another perfect screwball.

      • scatmaster

        Stittsville here keith.

        We see it all over this politically correct city.

        • keith

          Carp Mountain?………you may know me scat, I’ve been around since 1980.

          • scatmaster

            Yes sir, but I think you spelled it wrong.
            Hear we call it Crap Mountain because on a clear day and the wind is just right….

    • Greg

      Surely that could be easily abused by teams losing 5-0 as they could score an own goal so the other team has to forfeit the match?

  • criolle johnny

    As a teacher, it frustrates me when students are not permitted to fail.
    Effort and failure are essential parts of an education in academics as well as sports. When EVERYONE gets a trophy, regardless of effort students and athletes alike soon quit making any effort. The assume that this will be acceptable throughout their lives.
    When they enter the job market they are shocked.
    They arrive for work late.
    They are dressed inappropriately.
    They fail to complete assignments, or partially complete them.
    They are surly, flippant and disrespectful toward supervisors.
    They are stunned when dismissed and fired because, this behavior was accepted for the previous twelve years.
    Slamming into reality can leave bruises.

  • thehermit

    Well this is the other side of the horse again, what americans love sooo much.
    Sport without competition is not sport anymore.
    I consider myself a football (soccer) dad, my son started at 7, now is 15. This eight years i’ve seen countless youth matches, wins, losses, sadness and happiness. My experience is exactly the same what Hemingway said in its time, the sport teaches to win, the sport teaches to lose, so the sport teaches everything. Of course, not all the young players will have a professional carreer (maybe 1-2%), still these years during playing (and sometimes failing) build their character.

    Failure is important part of the learning process. It’s a HUGE mistake to take it from kids.

  • scatmaster

    They are stunned when dismissed and fired because, this behavior was accepted for the previous twelve years.

    However, they then sue and receive either their jobs back or a dismissal bonus. What is the lesson in that?

  • Ray

    Taxpayer funded, Marxist based, Liberal Arts programs are wiping out competitive sports programs for the evil Patriarchy, because they’re too much like Capitalism. The Socialist/gender feminist model is now the paradigm with Title IX enlisted to wipe out male sports teams en masse. Taxpayer funded college and university professors in the Liberal Arts are the enemies of America.

  • Ray

    Make that “evil Patriarchy” in quotes – not my words, but those of truly evil, gender feminist academia.

  • Fizzy

    Great article. This is so sad though: “At the end of the game, the coaches let me know that they wouldn’t be having me back.” Isn’t it always the same? So often people who work with children are failed authoritarians: those with power use it, those without use it on children.

  • keyster

    “Swinging” and “hitting” in competition to “beat” others, promotes aggression and violence in boys that could manifest itself in adulthood. There was a “study” out of the University of Wisconsin several years ago that proves this.

    • Fizzy

      #1. That study seems like total BS.
      #2. The hypocrisy is insane: As long as the dominant female perspective is “baby don’t fuck no loser” you’re going to breed agressive men just like nature intended.
      #3. The hypocrisy continues to be insane: these people who love to disapprove of male behavior are all to happy to support the police, the military, etc. Sure, baseball is too violent. Grab that gun son, go shoot some f’rners and make it safe for your mother and sister.

      • Keyster

        Just because I said there was a “study” doesn’t mean one actually exists. But I led you to believe it did, giving my statement credibility.

        Hopefully now you see how that works and every time some “expert” or journalist quotes a “study” from a “university”, red flags IMMEDIATELY go up.

  • Fizzy

    I’m wondering, is it “political correctness” or is it just that these people have zero imagination and assume that “the goal is to win”? I mean, if you know your kids don’t have the skills to play by the real rules, bizarre strategies start to seem optimal. Of course your approach was correct: fix the rules!

    Side note: this reminds me of that south park episode where the kids have to get good at being bad at softball so they can lose and stop having to play it. The pitcher has to force the batter to take runs by throwing the ball into the bat.

    • J3DIforce1

      LMAO!!! South Park is one of the best anti politically correct shows on right now. They clown the pc community hardcore on that show lol.

  • Tim Legere

    In my opinion Competition drives improvement in both the individual and in business (i.e. via Capitalism). Through competition, businesses typically strive to provide consumers with the best quality product at the lowest cost (i.e. a very desirable outcome). Individuals are no different. Competition allows them to “measure themselves” against others, standards, etc. By being the “best you can be” people live more fulfilling and happy lives. Do feminists really believe Competition is bad? If so then are they willing to give up its benefits?

    • Keyster

      If “competition” means there will be losers, it must be stopped or least handicap (such as in golf) those less capable. We call this “social justice”.

  • George Rolph

    Great post and bang on the money. Thanks a lot for this. Have linked to it.

  • medionphish

    Excellent post Keith, I have to say that while I myself am not a very competitive person
    and never really excelled at sports I always found that a little bit of trial and error to learn
    the rules and a little direction does indeed work wonders for your enthusiasm.

    I think it is important for modern sports teachers to bear in mind that a given child might
    just turn out to be a ‘natural’ or a future star of the game, but it wont make a difference
    if you start ‘micro-managing’ the kids to the point of losing interest in or quitting the game.

    In short as my father used to say, “If it ain’t fun, It ain’t sport!”, something which a lot of
    people seem to have forgotten these days.

    • mideonphish

      Spelt my user name wrong, Sorry about that.

      • mideonphish

        My actual comment is awaiting moderation because of the above mistake.

  • LC

    Very good article. We are risk averse and sports can help educate our youth to take educated risks. That is one of the best incidental benefits of sports, along with healthy competition and a goal-oriented life perspective. I appreciate the pragmatic philosophy of the author.

  • Promoman

    One of my credos that I live by is the old maxim: “Sports/Competition/Work doesn’t build character, it reveals it.” It’s more than a saying, it’s a scientifically proven fact. Consider a personality test, either professional or some Facebook one. Ever notice how damn near all of them will ask at least one question pertaining to how you behave in work or sports? Personality is the extension of character, which is the very essence of a person. If a somebody’s an asshole when they’re losing or winning, it’s a guarantee that they’re that way in other areas of their life. It all comes down to the scenario. The thing that people forget is that you have to adapt to the competition because competition doesn’t adapt to you. We always hear about how bad the Kobes, A-Rods, Terrell Owens of the world are but we rarely hear about how bad lesser talented and less willing people can be and usually are. They’re the ones you should worry about since there’s far more of them. You don’t necessarily have to be talented to succeed but you do have to want to be successful. It’s fine to have lesser standards than others but it’s bullshit to sabotage others because you’re the only one who wants to stay in the shitter. Instead of having the emotional intelligence and maturity to practice or attempt to learn exactly how to work around their shortcomings at nobody else’s expense, people like that tend to collude and become sabotage-minded. These fuckwits plan for everything except the fact that they’ll either lose too or they won’t get as far as they could’ve had they not went in the gutter. Contrary to popular belief, there is an “I” in team. It’s up to each individual member to decide to maximize what they’re able to bring to the table and to invest the time & energy to eliminate or minimize weaknesses.

  • Lovekraft

    And co-ed sports should be discouraged because the good players usually have to accommodate the tools.

    • Promoman

      Yep. That hit on what I was saying. The ones I hate are ones who suck & don’t give a shit about winning. It’s about having “fun”, which means they only care about looking good & making power grabs. When there’s a loss, they write it off with a smile. But whenever they don’t get the limelight, they’re the first to bitch, win or lose. The thing is, they tend to be the team’s problem in the first place.

  • elderswami

    That reminds me of an experience of mine. I was at soccer training one night when my coach told us that he wanted us to train with the woman’s team that night. We went along and were immediately told not to play hard, which annoyed me because I had to waste my training time going easy. One thing about me is I don’t go easy on girls in sport, I don’t see the point. I took the ball off a fat girl that was waddling down the field and then the coach of the woman’s team pulled me aside to have a word with me. He told me what I did was wrong because I hurt that chubby girls confidence, so I told him not to train with us anymore if that’s the case. He never spoke to me again after that lol.

    • Promoman

      That’s right. The opposition isn’t going to give you shit. You train hard so you’re hard to beat.

  • B.R. Merrick

    “Only a few children in school ever become good at learning in the way we try to make them learn. Most of them get humiliated, frightened, and discouraged. They use their minds, not to learn, but to get out of doing the things we tell them to do — to make them learn. In the short run, these strategies seem to work. They make it possible for many children to get through their schooling even though they learn very little. But in the long run, these strategies are self-limiting and self-defeating, and destroy both character and intelligence.” — John Holt, How Children Learn

    Running in to “rescue” children from every thing a hysterical soccer mom finds intolerable will only lead to more of the same. It has nothing to do with teaching children how to deal with painful feelings. It has everything to do with not trusting children, and thereby revealing the “rescuer’s” own distrust in humanity.

    A very interesting article, and I’m not even interested in sports.