Since I have time on my hands due to my unemployment, I have been doing something people have suggested I do for years. I have been helping coach my son's Little League team. My son has a love for the game similar to his father's and idolizes Trevor Hoffman of the Padres. He is his teams best pitcher, but in the league he is in as an eight year old, each pitcher is only allowed two innings. The team has come to expect two quick scoreless innings when he is pitching. This morning, it got a little challenging, and I had a chance to see how my boy would respond to adversity.
In his first inning, he struck out the first two batters. The next batter hit a weak pop fly to second. My son literally starts walking towards the dugout. Being Little League, the ball was, of course, dropped. Very frustrated, he walked the next batter.
Next batter hits a ground ball to second. The second baseman makes up for his drop of the fly ball by fielding it cleanly, trying to tag the runner going by, then turning to throw to first with plenty of time left. Unfortunately, the first baseman is standing there watching the second baseman, ten feet from first base. Everybody is safe.
My son gets more frustrated, goes to a 3-0 count on next hitter, then steps off the mound after finally hearing me yelling at him to do so. Takes a couple deep breaths, settles down, throws two strikes. On the full count the ball is hit to center field. Luckily, the right kid is there.
The one who always listens to the coaches and is our best athlete. The one who catches line drives galore in practice. The one who always uses two hands. The one who puts his glove up and has the ball go right in and out because for the first time any of us can remember he only used one hand. Two runs score.
My son puts his hat over his face. I know he is trying not to cry.
His focus gone, he throws eight straight balls, walking in a run. One of the other coaches goes to the mound to talk to him, because I am afraid to say anything for fear that I will just put more pressure on him.
Coach tells him to relax, to forget about the bases being loaded and to just stare at his catcher. He strikes out their best hitter on three pitches.
My son comes into the dugout, throws his hat, throws his glove and starts crying. I sit next to him and tell him to knock it off, why is he crying? He tells me he is crying because he walked in a run. (Proud Daddy moment. He is not blaming others, but focusing on what he could have done better.)
We talk about how things should have been, about how his job is to throw strikes and about how he can not control what happens behind him. He calms down, talks his catcher into going behind the dugout and throwing for a bit while his team bats.
He returns to the mound for his second inning. I am nervous as hell for him.
He strikes out the side.
VERY Proud Daddy moment.