A League of My Own
Had a weird
little moment today.
I was taking
a walk this afternoon, and I passed by a baseball field where a Little
League team was practicing. Kids, probably eight or ten years old,
were shagging fly balls, fielding grounders, and turning double plays
against imaginary runners. I sat down on the end of the bleachers
and watched for a bit, and at one point, a ball rolled over in my
I picked it
up, one of the coaches saw me, raised his glove, and I threw him the ball.
I had this little flash in my head. I knew, I just knew the
coach was going to catch the ball, look at it in his glove, then slowly
raise his eyes to look at me.
got a good arm, kid," he'd say. "Show me that again."
I'd pick up
another ball, and fire it to him. By now, the whole team would have
stopped practicing to watch me.
the coach, a burned-out, middle-aged guy whose marriage was on the rocks,
would say. "A real good arm. We could use a guy
And I'd join
the Little League team. I'd be their star pitcher, the kid (well, 29
year-old) with the amazing arm but no control. But the coach could
spot hidden talent, and even though he sometimes wondered why he bothered
with this team, he knew deep down he could make us winners.
rest of the team would have problems, too. Wacky ones! The
centerfielder, a round kid nicknamed "Chubs", would stand in the
outfield with a glove in one hand and sandwich in the other! Can you
believe it? The second baseman, Danny, was afraid of ground balls!
There would be a kid with a great swing, Darryl, but (get this) he would
always close his eyes during the pitch, so he wasn't hitting anything.
The brains of the team, nicknamed "Einstein", was skinny and
wimpy and wore thick glasses, and he was always on about the physics of
baseball, calculating trajectories and angles and insisting he could teach
everyone to hit better through science (but we never listened to his
advice, natch). The twins, Craig and Greg, were indistinguishable,
and the coach was always getting them mixed up! That was about all
they did. And there was the stuck-up rich boy, who had an
immaculate, specially tailored uniform. He refused to ever slide
into a base, for fear of getting dirty, and often could be seen talking
into a cell phone! And there would be one tiny kid, perhaps named
"Pip", who was meek and timid and scared of his own shadow.
there was a girl on the team as well, but everyone was skeptical about
her, since she was a girl.
Oh, such a
rag-tag team of misfits! The coach had his work cut out for him!
everything was building up for the big game, the last game of the season
against the best team in the league, comprised of much bigger ten
year-olds. Big mean ones who mocked us at every opportunity.
We hated them.
As a team,
we'd get better. During a montage set to popular music, we'd see
Chubs comically trying to get in shape, doing awkward calisthenics and
standing in the outfield, a stick of celery in place of his sandwich,
doubtfully nibbling it and making faces. Danny would be cured of his
fear of grounders, probably by being tied to something and having tennis
balls hit at him until he overcame his fear. Daryl would learn how
to keep his eyes open at the plate, perhaps by having his eyelids held
open with tape (or perhaps something less brutal). Everyone would
finally listen to Einstein, and he'd lecture us in front of a chalkboard
covered with formulas and problems and diagrams, and wouldn't you know it,
everyone's hitting would improve! Einstein would nod in satisfaction
and pat his calculator. The twins would be given big name tags, so
the coach could tell them apart. That's about all that would happen
with them. The stuck-up rich kid would have his cell phone stomped
on by someone, but he'd pull out a back-up cell phone, and we'd all throw
our hands up in exasperation. The girl on the team would make some
dynamite plays, while the boys watched in awe and gradually began to
accept her (possibly someone would get a crush on her, though not me,
because that would be disgusting). Little Pip, sadly, would not
improve his game or become more assertive, despite our best efforts.
And the coach would start to patch up his marriage.
big game would not go well, as everyone fell back into their old, bad
habits. The coach would have had a big fight with his wife the night
before, and he'd snap angrily at us. We'd get pounded, at least
until the ninth inning, when the coach would spot his wife in the stands,
because she had forgiven him and had come to watch the game. Coach
would then give us a big, touching speech, and then we'd go out and kick
some butt. Chubs would run out a deep fly ball, the rich kid would
slide to score an important run, Einstein would calculate the odds of the
next pitch being a changeup, and hit for a double, and Pip would come in
to score, barreling (in slow-motion) into the opposing catcher, a kid
twice his size, who was blocking the plate and who would drop the ball.
And I would
somehow find a way to strike out their best batter, leading our team to
victory. The fat kid would do a funny dance. The girl on the
team might kiss one of the boys on the cheek, the one who had a crush on
her, and he'd fall over in a faint. The coach would hug his wife and
spin her around. The twins would high-five each other. That's
about all they would do. And we'd try to carry the coach on our
shoulders, falling in a big comical pile, which would freeze-frame.
None of that happened. When I threw the ball to the coach, the throw
was short and wide, and he had to kind of run to the side and catch it on
the third bounce.
It's just as
well. The sequel would have sucked anyway.