Tuesday, May 27, 2008

i am so angry

so, so angry. i am also emotionally exhausted. (please bear in mind that this post is going to be pretty harsh because i am really upset, mad, sad, frustrated, heartbroken, DISAPPOINTED, etc)

i have been saying since we moved up here how crappy the baseball is. how little league is totally pathetic. how it's a complete joke and it's not teaching the boys how to play real baseball. everyone just writes me off like i'm some crazy pyscho baseball mom. they.don't.get.it. they just don't fucking get it.

when blake and i moved up here i was horrified when we attended our first little league meeting. horrified because i had no idea that little league was so vastly different than what blake had been playing in southern cali (pony ball). when we went to the first game, i almost died. i couldn't believe that this is what i moved my kid too. i couldn't believe that at 7 years old, he was playing the exact same baseball that he was playing when he was 5. i was TAKING HIM BACKWARDS! instead of putting him where things were competitive, blake was in a holding pattern. not learning a damn thing. and it's this type of experience that has continued the entire time we've been in little league.

i have often expressed how unfair i think it is for the kids who are like blake, to have to play in this type of atmosphere. because the rest of the team isn't as good as they are. half the kids still can't catch the damn ball. at 9 years old, you should be able to catch. you should be able to throw from shortstop to first base. but some still can't. and how is that fair to kids like blake, and those better than him? it's not. they don't learn anything. and they most certainly don't get better. and that is where my biggest problem lies. my kid is in atmosphere where he is NOT becoming a better baseball player.

this past weekend, we played against pony ball teams, and traveling teams, who are made up of all good players. it's the type of baseball i have been longing for since we moved up here. but holy fuck, was it ever a wake up call. and now i'm more mad than ever. fuming. i am mad at little league. i'm mad that there is no other baseball up here to choose from. i'm mad that if you're ONLY going to have little league to play, it should be better. it should be different. it needs to be fixed. it needs SOMETHING. because it's wrong. it isn't baseball. it just isn't.

you see, blake is a good player. and that's the bottom line. he's good, but he's not great. but in little league, he's amazing. and it's created this total false sense of awesome-ness for him, and the other players like him. they look like they are incredible ball players because they are surrounded by mediocrity. but the truth is, THEY ARE NOT INCREDIBLE BALL PLAYERS. they aren't. none of them. and they have no fucking idea. and i'm so mad about that. i'm just so mad about all of it. how dare you give my kid the impression that he is some amazing exception to all ballplayers out there, when the truth is that he's not. and then how do you change that? how do you tell your kid he is nowhere near as awesome as he thinks he is? how do you make him get it? how do you unteach what has been implied for as long as he can remember?

blake hasn't been coached properly in three years. and it has never been more apparent than this past weekend.... when he was playing certain positions and he was unsure of where to go and what to do. he knows where to throw the ball, but i mean some of the basics of where and when exactly to back up, what base to cover for a bunt, etc. he doesn't know these things because he has NEVER BEEN TAUGHT THEM. no one has coached him. and it's true. i'm not being crazy. i'm not exaggerating. the coaches don't coach. they coddle. they pat the kids who suck on the ass and tell them everything will be okay, while leaving the kids who seem "great" alone. they already know how to field ground balls, and hit, so they don't need the help. but the thing is- they do. they always do. they can always be better. and blake isn't getting that up here.

and it is killing me.

those of you who don't have kids won't really understand this. and those of you who don't have kids who really love a sport might not get this either. you might think i'm kinda nutso. and i totally understand that. cause when i was younger and i would hear my sister talk about my nephew and baseball, i thought she was crazy. but once blake started playing, i totally got it. it all made sense. she wasn't crazy at all. she wasn't obsessed. she just wanted the best for him. because he loved the sport so much. and he was naturally talented at it. and that's where i am. blake has the natural talent, but that talent only takes you so far. you have to be taught. you have to work hard. you can't be told you're the best for years when you're really nowhere close. you have to be challenged. you can't get better or grow as a player if you aren't challenged. and i falsely bought into some of it as well. i always realized that some of the kids blake played with weren't as good as he was. i always knew that he was one of the "best" by default. but there was still a part of me that thought differently. and i should have known better. he was never the best in pony ball. he was good. one of the better players on the team, but never the best. but he was always challenged. and always pushed to be better. and taught. he learned baseball in pony ball. and he's not learning it here.

i want what is best for my child. i want the best baseball for him. and he's not getting it. and it's not in little league. and my heart is breaking. because i feel like i am just totally fucking him up. and i am not giving him what he needs to be a great baseball player. and it's not fair. it's not fair to him at all. he deserves better. he deserves more. it's the one thing he loves. it's the one thing that's his. he tells me, "baseball is my thing, mom." and it is. but for how long at this rate? seriously? how long can baseball continue to be his thing when he doesn't get any better, yet is constantly told how great he is? reality is a rude wakeup call.

thank the goddess for this traveling team. if they played all the time, year round, i'd quit little league in a heartbeat. and i wouldn't think twice about it. i don't feel like i owe little league a thing (not talking about the people we've met in little league cause i love the hell out of some of those parents and kids). but i don't feel like little league has done anything to help blake grow as a ballplayer. and i don't understand how the parents can stand it. but i guess it's because they don't know any different. my sister told me that no one would understand my feelings on this. no one would truly get it because they didn't live it. it's because i know how much better there is out there that this just isn't okay. it's because blake has played better ball. it's because i know what he's supposed to be playing. and it's true. i'm sure that if i hadn't lived better, i'd probably be somewhat content with little league. but i have lived better. so i'm not. i'm not content at all. i'm fucking mad as hell. and i've got to change something. because i will never forgive myself if i take the one thing blake is good at, and make him mediocre. it's just not okay. none of it. the ones who lose in this are our kids. and how can any parent be okay with that?

edited to add that the root of the problem in my mind are not the coaches, but the way little league is run. i mean the organization as a whole (lord knows i love and adore our little league president and his family). i get what they are about and i feel that there is a place for little league in the world, but i also feel like our kids should have options. they should have the option to play for something better if they want too. and when little league is the only option, the way it is restricting to the kids and the coaches alike, that's when i have a problem with it. i have a problem that our coaches are forced to babysit kids, instead of truly coach and teach the players. i have a problem that the coaches aren't allowed to teach them certain things because it goes against the rules of the little league organization. so please, this is not a personal attack by any means. i'm not pointing fingers at blake's old coaches saying they're the problem here. the problem lies deeper than that. and if i'm the only one who sees it, then consider yourself lucky. cause this is the type of shit that keeps me up at night crying.


Smug said...

I am so sorry that you are frustrated by all this and it does not sound like there is really anything that can be done. I suppose you could start writing letters to the main little league people and try to get some things changed.

I think that your level of upset at this shows what a great mom you are and how much you want only the best for your child! No kid could ask for more from a parent!

Karen said...

Here in NJ we have local little league (town or county) where ALL kids get to play and the cost are minimal. If your kid is talented you have to seek out private leauges for him/her. They are not always local and the kids have to try out. And they cost much more than the town sponsored alternative. It is the difference between kids who are playing ball for fun and those who are being groommed for bigger things.

My cousin's daughter played on a traveling private soccer team in middle school. She was actually "home" schooled with team during that time.

If Blake (and you) are really serious and committed to baseball on that sort of level, search out those private clubs in Cali. There has to be something similar to that out in Cali.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that just like in school, baseball including LL is taught on an average level. Kids below that level get lost or play for the fun of it and kids above that level like Blake are not getting any better because there is no one that fucking knows HOW to teach the nuances of what he needs to learn.

First (like me) talk to your coach. Nice guy probably but if you talk with him/her you may find him/her also frustrated with the structure. Talk to him honestly about Blake and how BLAKE feels. Leave yourself out of it as much as you can (aka the psycho mom comes into play here when that is not true but it is how they see it) Take Blake with you and let him speak out.

Let me tell you what happened here.

The LL coach said Kobe was good and he loved the game.But unless I wanted to spend bucks on getting him coached professionally then he was never going to go very far. So I went to the local Triple A affiliate and talked to the coaches there and that coach watched him play and gave us some people to contact. He now plays Triple A ball with the Portland Beavers at 19 years old. Whether or not it will ever pan into anything??? Who knows. He has a lot of natural talent but now days they have to have all the right stuff to even get considered for pro ball. He wants to play but it is a very tough grind. the conditioning, the diet, the workouts.

But what I am saying is that is the LL coach is sort of SO go above that. But do let Blake do the talking it will go better. Just hang in there without throttling someone and you will get where you want to get. Sometimes it takes tenacity and door pounding but your right Little League sucks swamp water and it is a big social club for kids and parents.

Silicon Valley Moms Group said...

I get you most of the time Jennster but he is 9. Maybe if he were 12 I would be with you but he is 9. Major league players aren't necessarily created in elementary school. Hell, some major leaguers never even played on a team (those from the Dominican). Get him a baseball coach, search for better teams. There are things you can do! Sitting around being mad isn't one of them.

j.sterling said...

momma- i'm more frustrated than anything. i'm just so, so frustrated. and it's not just for blake. it's for all those kids who are good and want to be better. i get that he's only 9, but my point is that if we were playing a different league, it would be a completely different kind of baseball. it's because i know this that makes it really hard for me. if i didn't know any differently, i wouldn't be as up in arms. really.

Alison said...

I'm a little confused but it sounds like your choices are Little League and the traveling team. Yes? If you're committed to this, then the traveling team is obviously the level you're looking for but it's going to take a lot of your time. It sounds like you think it's worth it.

Also, are the local high school baseball teams any good? If so, contact the coaches and/or players and ask what leagues they played in at Blake's age.

Nicholas plays soccer and since he's only 5, he plays on a "recreational" team. But, in our league, once the kids are 8, they can play in the "competitive" league (they have to try out and make the team). Obviously that league is for the kids who are serious and not just out there picking daisies. Is there nothing like this in your little league? If not, maybe there should be.

Move home, dang it!!

carrie said...

Do you guys have baseball camp down there?

I know LL isn't grooming the future stars of the League, but even if you're playing with kids who aren't necessarily great ball players, I think you're learning from them. Learning how to be on a team. Learning what it means to work together, even if you suck.

We had a horrible soccer season with awful coaching - I told Wyatt you can't win them all. You can't always be on the winning team, sometimes you gotta be on the other side.

I'm sorry you haven't found what you're looking for in terms of a baseball experience for Blake. I hope it gets better and more options open up as he gets older . . . and until then, find him a good baseball camp. The boys love those so much and they are so intense and the coaching is usually super.

Good luck! :)

Southern (in)Sanity said...

There's an easy, simple solution to this.

You need to become the president of the little league.

Then you can clean it up and get it where it's supposed to be!

Anonymous said...

rwa guy is right...either make a power move within the little league organization...or break off and form your own league...

And I know most of the time I joke alot...but I'm serious...I've seen this exact type of situation happen in my hometown...as well as a couple towns nearby...and the solution was either one of the two things I mentioned above.

Some people like to nurture children with a "everyone wins" environment....personally, I don't like that approach because it teaches children nothing about the real world, in which you don't win all the time, and if you do win, its usually through hard work and effort.

My nephew is a huge baseball kid, and since my sister and brother-in-law know nothing about baseball, I always took it upon myself to keep watch over him, he's not "gifted" when it comes to baseball, but lots of times I felt he wasn't progressing fast enough because the coaches saw he wasn't "good" and instead of pushing him to be better, they just accepted that he wasn't going to get better. I'm with you on this one.