Managing My Home Plate – The End, Or Just The Beginning?


It’s over. It’s done. The season has ended. And not in the best way.

This past weekend were provincials in a small town that didn’t have the accommodations for 16 teams. A lot of our families were stuck at hotels out of town and they had a long drive to the ball diamonds. But we all made it and everyone showed up. Except for the one kid who has been consistently late all season.

During the first game, which we lost by a large margin, one of my own parents and I came head to head. Throughout the entire game, he bitched about what the kids should be doing instead of encouraging them to do better. And he didn’t do it quietly. He insulted my own son as well as many others on the team. Loudly. The parents heard it, the coaches heard it, and I’m pretty sure the kids heard it too. There were tears on the bench after the game because the kids felt awful for not bringing their A game. Not once did this parent shut the hell up about his complaining. I had had enough and I left. One of the other parents noticed my distress and asked if I was alright, to which I replied, “some things just don’t need to be said and I’m tired of listening to it.”

Just before the next game, the asshole parent who wouldn’t shut up confronted me. Someone had told him I wasn’t impressed with his conduct and he cornered me and said, “listen, sometimes I need to learn when to shut my mouth and I want to apologize if I insulted you.”

It was nice to get an apology, but I was hesitant to accept due to my gut feeling. Lo and behold, the very next game, about an hour later, this damn parent did it again. The ump made a call that this parent didn’t agree with and he started yelling at the ump. I wish I was exaggerating. I really do. But I’m not. He yelled at the ump about what the call should have been, but our coaches cut him off quickly and said it was the right call. Was he embarrassed by his actions? No. He just kept on bitching and complaining. My gut feeling was right – his apology to me earlier was hollow.

In spite of asshole’s outbursts, the kids won that game by one run. But the next game wasn’t as pretty. We played a team that we had merci’ed* twice throughout the season. It was a clear-cut win. Until it wasn’t. We had some injuries and had to move our outfielders around. My son pitched 13 pitches and did a great job. Then, instead of putting him in left field, his usual position, they placed him on second base, where he suffered. The injured kids were put in the outfield in hopes of not having to work too hard. Moving our kids around became obvious after the first two innings. Everyone suffered in their new positions. And it didn’t help that the opposition brought their A game. I don’t know what changed on the opposition’s team, but they came out swinging at provincials and they didn’t look back. This team, who we had knocked around in the dirt all season long, kicked us in the junk with a 13-3 win to move onto finals. In spite of the loss, I told every kid that I was proud of them because they did their best. Which was the complete truth. They tried so hard. And their effort meant more to me than any win.

But, again, there were tears on the bench. The kids were thoroughly upset that they had lost out. Their emotions ran deep. Even J, my own son, cried. He never cries. Not through five years of hockey or any other sport he’s ever played. He was never invested enough to let his emotions get the best of him. But he did that day. I took him for a walk and we talked. He was upset that they lost. He cried because the season is over. And he was really angry at himself for not playing his best. He didn’t want to go out like that. And he knew he wouldn’t get another chance to prove himself until next season. My heart broke, but, at the same time, I was grateful that he felt so passionately about something.

He begged me to go home that night. He didn’t want to stay another night in the town where his heart was crushed. He wanted to leave all the bad memories behind. The coaches benched him at one point because he missed a few ground balls at second base and it stung him. They lost out to a team that they had crushed all season long. And he listened to that asshole parent spitting venom about every kid but his own. My son didn’t want to be part of that any longer.

But we had the hotel room for one more night and we decided to stay. We had a team dinner that night at a restaurant in town and then went swimming at one of the hotels. It was the bright spot to a mostly dreary weekend. I finally saw some smiles and some fun. And I was glad we stayed.

J slept most of the way back home the following day. He was exhausted after such an emotional weekend. He was still quite upset about baseball, but he vowed to make himself better for next season. He begged me to find him an off-season trainer to help him. I have my work cut out for me because the closest trainer to us is three hours away. So now I have some decisions to make. But the one decision that’s already been made is that I will support and encourage my son to be his best if that’s what he wants. And he really wants this.

As team manager, I saw a lot of bullshit going on this season from the inside out. There’s no limit to the shit you see when you run a minor league baseball team – or any minor sports team, for that matter, because I’ve seen it in hockey too. But when I see J smile when he makes a good play, or when I see any of the kids smiling because they’re having fun, it makes all the bullshit worth it. Will I do it again next year? I don’t know. I can’t say no because I’m a sucker for making kids happy and helping out when I can. But if someone else is willing to step up to the plate, I’ll gladly take a step back.

One thing I know for sure, we’ll be back on the diamonds as soon as the winter snow has melted.

*The Mercy Rule in minor baseball is when a team is up by 10 runs in the 4th inning, the game is over.


Managing My Home Plate – Nearing The End


It’s been a long season. Five days a week of baseball seems excessive for a group of 8-10 year olds. But they seem to have loved it. 

There’s one more week left. And it all comes down to the next two weekends. This weekend is our home tournament. Next weekend is provincials. And that’s it. 

I’m sitting here by the diamond, literally watching the heat waves make their way across the outfield. It’s going to be a scorcher. Bottled water in hand, I’m taking a breather. The calm before the storm. 

It seems like a lifetime ago when baseball season started because we’ve been on this field so often. But I know, once it’s over, I’ll miss it. For now, I’m just trying to take it day by day. 

And when I say day by day, what I really mean is I’m dealing with the ins and outs of managing a team of skilled players and their parents. Yes, I’m managing the parents. And they’re not always the easiest part of this job. 

I’ve had parents tell me that the league is a joke and they’ll be calling to complain. I’m dealing with parents who are so hot-headed that they’ve yelled at coaches. I deal with ones who are absentee and never show up to help out. And I deal with chasing people for money, producing schedules that some aren’t happy with, and listening to every complaint and grievance about how baseball should be run. Because they all have opinions, yet not one of them have offered to help me out. 

But that’s not why I do this. I do this for the kids. It’s easy to get attached to those little faces when they make a good play or even when they get hurt. I want to be there for them. I want to share their ups/downs, happiness/sadness, and their joy/pain. Because I love these little buggers. They have my heart. They make me proud. All of them. 

They make me forget about their parents and the bad things I have to deal with. They make my job worth it. 

Especially my own son, J. He has come so far in such a short amount of time. This kid, who didn’t want to play baseball until his third year, who got a black eye from a ball at the age of three, who has now fallen in love with game, has made me the most proud I’ve ever been. 

In his first year, during his year-end tournament, he caught a line-drive at third base to steal the win from the opposition and, ultimately, won the tournament. In his second year, he was the best player on his team. And now, in his third year, making catches in the outfield worthy of Kevin Pillar, he has found his calling. And he knows it. 

Instead of playing hockey this winter, we will be travelling to off-season baseball training. This is what he wants. And I support him. He wants to be better for next season. He wants a baseball life instead of anything else. His grades are good in school and he’s a relatively good kid, so I said yes, because he’s earned it. If this is the life he wants, I will do anything he asks as long as he tries. And he tries hard. 

I’ve never seen this kind of ambition in my son before. He loves team sports, which is why he played five years of hockey. But he hated the hockey off-season training. He loves the lifestyle of travelling and being part of something bigger than himself. But there was always something holding him back in all the other things he’s ever been part of it. He hadn’t yet found his passion in life. Because he’s found his natural skill at baseball, it’s now become his passion. I’ve never seen him motivated to do his best like I’ve seen in baseball. 

I see it in a few of the other kids too. Baseball is their thing. It’s their ambition to become better, to keep trying, and to motivate themselves to be the best they can possibly be. It’s refreshing to watch. 

So, when a parent texts me to complain, or stops by to chat about something they don’t agree with, or yells at one of the coaches, I tune them out. I focus on the kids. I see them smile with pride and I watch them learn while having fun as their parents drone on and on about the most petty things. The parents don’t matter to me. The kids do. 

I know this weekend will be tough, both mentally and physically, but I’m up for the challenge. I’ve been doing this job for months now and nothing has stopped me yet. Not the worst of situations and not the worst of parents. Every time I feel beaten down or when I feel like giving up, I look to my son for inspiration. And he never disappoints me. He teaches me perseverance. And pride. I know I’m doing my best. And that won’t ever be enough for some people. But it’s enough for my son and that’s all that matters to me. 

So now, because some of the parents haven’t shown up again, I have to rake the bases, sweep the dugouts, and chalk the lines so my kids can enjoy their first home tournament game tonight. It’s a heavy job with a lot of work involved. I understand why some refuse to do it even when they’re scheduled, but they obviously don’t see what I see when the kids take the field. 

I see happiness in baseball. I see pride. And I see a bunch of kids who love this team and this game. 

Any parent who doesn’t want to be part of that is missing out. I won’t be one of them. 

I’m here. And I’m here to stay. 

For love of the game.