Basketball: the cure for the baseball blues
Late this afternoon, the Bigs and I went to the town field to play our little family version of baseball. (The promise of this excursion was what finally motivated to pick their toys up from the back yard — it was done before they came in from the school bus.)
Even after all the rain we had, the front field wasn’t swampy, and that’s my personal favorite field because the other one abuts the woods and is usually marshy and buggy. Plus, the nearby field has the pitching screen.
My youngest was still at preschool, so we were down a man. Today’s version of the game started out with me as catcher and my oldest pitching to his younger brother, who had already complained that it was too bright. I informed him, “No, you cannot have my sunglasses. They’re prescription.”
His grouchy demeanor was mere foreshadowing. After his brother threw two pitches that nearly clocked him, he, griped, “You stink! I don’t want you pitching to me!” As he dramatically launched himself out of the imaginary batters’ box.
“He doesn’t stink. No one in this family stinks. Just go to first base then,” I told him. “Pitch to me, honey,” I said to my oldest.
I swung and missed three times. True, I’ll swing at just about anything, which we do when there’s no catcher and we have two novice pitchers (and me who never even aspired to be a pitcher until pressed into service last year by my sons) and only three baseballs…but even still didn’t feel so great about my inability to hit the ball. My middle son out-hit me several weeks ago when we went to the batting cages, too. And I can try to convince myself that I have better aim than he does with the pitching machine, but I don’t know…
“Never mind pitching, let me just hit balls to you guys. Fielding drill.”
We did some scenarios where we had plays at first and then at second, ground balls, fly balls, pop ups. Then we talked about whether anyone should try to throw the ball all the way from second (I don’t think so) or use a cut-off man. And whether it makes sense to throw the ball high into the air or straight like an arrow. And how far should you go to catch a foul ball? And just how far away from the plate is the catcher supposed to go, anyway? (I was “at bat” and catching; the Bigs were alternating between first, second and infield/outfield).
Then they both wanted to hit and this is where things went downhill. Middle son insisted he wanted to use 2nd base as home (which we started doing last year when playing on the swampy back field, rather than stand in a mudpuddle at home plate) so the sun wouldn’t be shining at him. My rules-based oldest wanted to do it the right way, at home plate. So, they each took their bases on opposite sides of the pitchers mound. I was stuck in between the two of them with three balls. (Granted, we all saw the tennis ball on the field that someone had left behind, but we all knew that it was not the same and none of us even bothered to pick it up. Not once even just to look at it or toss it off the field.) If I threw a good pitch to one and not the other, it’s not fair. If one hit the ball farther than the other, it’s not fair! If I caught one ball and missed the other, it’s not fair! If one of them had to wait and the other didn’t, it’s not fair! Three balls, two kids…it WOULD NEVER BE FAIR!
It wasn’t long before my middle son was stomping around and pitching a fit, as well as his bat and glove.
“Alright, boys… I can see it’s time to go.”
Much complaining and a small pity party ensued, with my middle son dragging his feet morosely. My oldest was compliant, and that rubbed his brother the wrong way. He moped all the way to preschool. I dreaded taking them into the supermarket on the way to our friends’ house for dinner, but I did anyway, because I had told my friend I’d bring salad (and we picked out some cookies, too).
Fortunately, when we arrived at our friends’ house, I pointed out that there was a basketball hoop in their extended driveway area and propelled them towards it with the ball that someone had left in the car two nights ago. The misery of the baseball diamond was quickly forgotten.