My Kid Didn’t Make The All Star Team…Fair or Foul?
The 2011 regular season has ended and the All Star season has begun. By now, everyone knows who was chosen for the all stars and who was left out.
Now let me begin by saying this, I know the game of baseball as well as anyone. In fact I posted this picture of me playing in 2005, only as evidence that “I have actually played the game”..to some degree. Actually I used to get mistaken for former Red, Jeff Conine, when he played for Cincinnati.
No one worked harder than my son this year to achieve his goal of making that elite team, in this, his final year in Eaton Little League. A goal he set as soon as he found out he was not on the 2010 team. He even wrote it on the mirror and put an Eaton All Star hat on his wall to see every day.
After playing fall baseball in West Chester and basketball in Monroe, where we live, he began lifting weights and hitting in the batting cage in one half of our basement in January. We enrolled him in the Midwest Baseball Academy at Eaton high school, and came from Monroe once a week to re build his swing.
We went to the gym 3 days a week and worked on medicine ball swings and core exercises.
Zach played in Monroe and Eaton this year and as of this writing he has played almost 40 games and has a season average of .590.
Now, I love my kid as much as anyone else loves their kid, and as much as I would love to have seen his hard work pay off and him get that phone call…he just simply wasn’t among the top 12-14 kids in what I consider the “4 A’s” of All Star’s, Attitude, Ability, Athleticism and Attributes.
Does my kid have a good attitude? You can’t have a better one than Zach. I’ll put him up against any kid in any league he has ever played in. (Sometimes it’s the parents attitude that coaches don’t want to deal with)
Does my kid have the ability? Well, he can hit any pitcher in any situation. The kid knows the strike zone as well as anyone. He has 10 strike outs through 40 games. He can lay down a near perfect bunt on command and he hits without ever feeling any pressure.
What about desire? Well, after playing 14u Fall ball, Zach stated hitting in our basement cage in January, lifting weights and working with a medicine ball, went to an 8 week hitting camp in Feb and played in 2 leagues for increased experience
What about attributes and athleticism? Well, unfortunately, I just described all that he actually brings to the table. As much as I wish he was a 5 tool player, the reality is he hits like Ichiro and runs like Elmo. There is only one position that he is not a liability at and that is either a designated hitter or a first baseman, and the reality is, in Eaton, there are several kids, that if I am a coach that has Eaton’s best interests at heart, I would pick over my son.
In fact, the only way my son would be on that team, would be if I was asked to coach it.
The point of my article, and I am not a journalist, is that every year, there will be a lot of sour grapes and parents crying foul, over their son not being selected.
Accusations of partial coaches, coach’s kids that didn’t deserve it, cliques, politics and an unfair system, always seem to bring a dark cloud over the program for a few weeks every summer.
As I said, if I am a coach, my kid would be on the team. I’ve been happily married for 22 years without ever having spent an angry night away from my wife…it’s not because I’m stupid.
With that being said, I believe with every fiber of my being, that if…I repeat…IF, my son Zach could have provided something to the team, that would get Eaton one step closer to Williamsport, PA., that he would have been asked to play.
Case in point, there are 4 excellent ball players this year that played for Eaton for the first time, The Curry’s, Trevor Pittman and Sean Johnson. At least I believe it was the first for all of them. All 4 of those kids could play on almost any All Star team in any town and this year they will be added to a roster that has experienced a great deal of success over the past few seasons. There’s even a good chance that someone will be left off the roster that has been there the past two years. With them, Eaton has a chance to really do something special this year.
There has been a high degree of secrecy over the kids that were chosen last week. My guess is that there are going to be some feathers ruffled on the 15th.
As a parent, I as much as anyone, dreamed of my kid playing on that grand stage. When Zach was just home from the hospital, in August of 1998, I would sit on the couch with him in his blanket, sleeping, watching the Little League World Series.
In 1982 when I watched Cody Webster and the kids from Kirkland, Washington shock the world and beat the kids from Japan, I dreamed that it would be great to one day, have a son that played there.
( That story was also an ESPN 30 for 30 special http://30for30.espn.com/film/little-big-men.html )
As a parent, you hurt for your kid, along with your own ego, when your son or daughter gets left out of that group. We all do. For some of us Dad’s we think it is a reflection of what kind of players we were, as we men can be “Legends in our own mind”. But the fact is, that there are only so few spots for so many kids and I believe that the actual best kids are chosen based on the 4 A’s of the All Star team.
Once again, if I was a coach, my kid would take up a spot and there would be more than enough parents talking about how limited Z was in his ability, his speed, an error they saw him make, etc…. (As a side note, things always work out for the best. Z did get asked to play on a select All Star team once the season was over because of his hitting and attitude)
While my son Zach, hasn’t YET, sprouted in his growth and figured out how to run like the wind, the one thing God has blessed me with is a son with an attitude that prompts him to go to the mirror in his bathroom, take a rag and wipe the goal “ALL STAR TEAM 2011” off and on June 14, 2011, write down a new goal, “ALL STAR TEAM 2012”, the same ritual he has performed for the last 3 years.
I’ve tried to instill a character trait in my kid that is rooted in the mantra that says; “Winning is not everything, but rather the desire to win is!” After the game or the season, if you lose, congratulate the victors, knowing you gave it all you had.
It’s painful when your kid doesn’t get picked or loses when he really tried. As a child or an adult, we will all experience pain, however the pain of self-discipline is never as bad as the pain of regret. Regret comes from knowing you didn’t give it your all.
I hope as parents we all make the conscious effort, not to destroy the innocence of our children’s youth and love of the game with talk of politics, cliques, unfair practices and predetermined rosters, but rather teach our kids to root for their home town representatives, congratulate the kids that made the team, either on their Facebook pages or in person and how to set new goals and determine to work even harder next year. I believe a lot of potentially great ball players have given up baseball in their youth, due to the bitterness of the parents at home.
Character is who you are when no one is looking and the greatest life lesson we can teach our kids is that private practice always precedes public performance. The chances of my son playing on a Major League Baseball team one day are maybe 1 in 30,000. My sons chances of being a winner in life…he already is.