“…one extra flare a week, a gork, a ground ball, you get a ground ball WITH EYES, you get a dying quail. Just one more dying quail a week and you’re in Yankee stadium. "
- “Crash” Davis (movie character from Bull Durham, discussing the difference between a .250 and .300 hitter)
The regular season for both my son’s baseball teams ended last night in depressing fashion: both teams lost. It was a long night for the family. Christopher’s t-ball (ages 6 and under) game began at 6:00. The games can go for 75-90 minutes, but this one was stopped early due to the mercy rule (one team has a double-digit lead and limits on runs per inning make it impossible for the other team to catch up). Andrew’s minor league (ages 9-10) game was scheduled for 7:30, but the start was delayed until almost 8:00 due to a previous game that ran long. Andrew’s team lost 14-7.
One of the things I remember most about the season for both of them is hitting. Christopher hit off the tee for half the season and, because he is a good hitter, hit off the pitch for the rest of it. He treated us happily to many extra base hits, until the last two games when he struck out every time at the plate. Christopher hates losing, but I wonder if he doesn’t hate striking out worse. The previous game, he threw a fit, as he was so mad at himself. Last night, he walked from his game to Andrew’s game, crying his eyes out. I took him to the concession stand and bought him a red PowerAde. We played “did your tongue change color yet” until Andrew’s game started.
As for Andrew, hitting remains difficult for him, as he's as athletically inclined as his Dad (i.e. not much). Sometimes, the bat doesn’t even get off his shoulder. Andrew hasn’t gotten a hit all season, but still gets on base at least once a game via either a walk or being hit by a pitch. Sometimes he gets on twice. He has a batting average of .000, but an on-base percentage around .700. After last night’s game, I told him how proud I was of him. “Daddy, we lost,” he said. “Yes,” I responded, “but you swung away at good pitches and I like seeing that.”
Despite sub-.500 records (more losses than wins), both teams will still go to the conference tournament, meaning there’s still more baseball to play. I look forward to what’s left. I hope to see at least one more victory for each team before the season is over. For both my kids, though, I also hope to see a hit. I don’t care what kind: a solid hit, a gork, a bloop, a dying quail, or a ground ball with eyes. I just know a hit will lead to a smile.