A Poll

You can vote in the comments section. I’ll tabulate the votes, without, I promise, the help of Diebold.

Question: Should Steve and I coach a little league team together?

Not that I’ve asked Steve about this before this very moment. Not that I have a team in mind, or have any idea how one goes about getting one together. Not that I know a damned thing about pitching, or coaching kids (except that you can’t talk like Lee Elia). Not that I am even known to be a fan of children.

It’s just a poll.

Original comments…

Luke: Oh, God, yes. I’m imagining something of a cross between “Bad News Bears” and “Dead Poets Society,” or

In my last season of Little League we were coached by a couple of guys from the high school team. We thought they were the coolest — they introduced us to Eazy E and NWA, among other things — especially relative to all the incompetent and abusive fathers we usually got. I’m pretty sure they were only coaching us to work off community service, but still. You guys could be Little League kings.

Can either of you throw a curveball? The greatest terror I’ve ever known was when one of these coaches threw curveballs straight for my head, only to have them break in for strikes. The day I learned to stand in against a curve without hitting the deck is the day I became a man.

(No, wait. I became a man the day I started putting mustard on my hot dogs — I was 24 – but that’s another story.)

How much does it cost to sponsor a team? Schlitzserv Sluggers has a nice ring to it. We could take them all out to Simon’s after the game and buy them soda pop and chocolate cigars. (Unless they have lost, in which case we’d take them to the Y to run laps and lift weights.)

Steve: I don’t know…. I hope you are talking about this Steve. Otherwise I’ll feel stupid.

There was a time when Bloodshot sponsored a little league team. I watched them play a few times. They had this one fat kid who looked just like Fernando Valenzuela. He was so slow that unless he absolutely murdered the ball he would get thrown out at first on hits that would have been singles for other kids. The most remarkable thing about this kid though was that he could hit. Watching him swing was kind of like the famous Simpsons “Ringers” episode. They show Homer in slow motion and his whole gut is shaking with the momentum. This kid would wind up and almost completely extend his arms. The bat would come through the zone in slow motion and he would power the ball mostly to left field (a dead pull hitter). He was about seven or eight but easily had 10yr old power.

One thing I gathered is that if you can instill even the smallest bit of discipline you can seriously capitalize on the other teams errors. There was one team that would just run and run and run. They were kind of like the 85 Cardinals without the base-stealing. If they had a hit they would just keep running to force the fielding team to throw to second base and tag the runner. Many times the ball was late or would land at the second baseman’s feet. Clearly this was the product of adults well attuned to the poor coordination of youngsters. There was this win at all cost mentality that didn’t quite seem appropriate. It sacrificed the notion of fundamental baseball and all the kids were cocky because they were little doubles machines.

There were some drawbacks. A seven-inning game would last about three hours. Three innings were coach pitch and four innings were kid pitch. Kid pitch was excruciating. So many walks….

I’ll strongly consider it if I get to wear polyester softball shorts and have a whistle.

Levi: Certainly I was thinking of you, Steve.

And my vote is yes!

Even though I’m not sure I’m serious about it yet.

stacey: i vote yes, too. this is way better than levi’s plan that i lead a girl scout troop. i’ll even bake cookies and bring them to the ballpark with oven mitts on.

Luke: Why not both? Hell, *I’d* join a Girl Scout troop if Stacey were the leader. You could even swap jobs occasionally: Stacey would coach the boys (and sporting girls) in how to bunt and spit, and Levi would teach the Scouts how to make bread and mulled wine.

Levi: And once in a while, I’d have Tony Becker and his mom come by for a lesson in making Mint Juleps, or Pete Bodensteiner could run a lesson on cigars.

This sounds better all the time.

Tom Ellwanger: Try to get Don Zimmer to coach third base. This is a guy who knows something about baseball.

Levi: But if we get Zimmer to coach third, there will always be the danger of him attacking the other team’s best pitcher!

He’ll at least deliver an honest, hearfelt apology afterwards, though. And kids need to see honest, heartfelt apologies–there are too few examples in public life. Maybe it would be worth a brawl now and then?

sandor: I vote yes. I was about to say, I’d even try to join the team, since I never got to participate in Little League when I was little. But then it occurred to me, what the hell was I thining, I did play Little League when I was little, but it was such a terrible experience — for me and for my teammmates — that I’ve apparently tried to block it out of my memory. So you better keep me away.

If I’d had coaches like Levi and Steve, however, who knows how much better it would have been. Certainly I would have learned the simple lesson of watching the batter when playing right field, instead of watching the planes fly overhead. Such pretty planes…

Tony: Not knowing much about little league, I guess I’d have to say it’s really up to Steve and Levi. I think it would probably afford everybody more opportunities for sunshine, eating hot dogs, and wearing funny hats.

However, if you like the idea of Mint Julep lessons from my mother, you’ll love these pictures that Dad took down at the ranch last summer.

thatbob: I can’t see Levi having more than three minutes’ patience with a bunch of kids – or they having more than a minute’s patience with him – so to me, the proposal is reminiscent of The Country Show, in the sense that it would be a joint venture in idea only, while in reality Steve would be left to shoulder most of the work. Which would be great! Any venture that leaves Steve to shoulder most of the work is worth following closely! But I still have to vote against the idea, mostly because I think I have a better one: Steve and the rabbi coach a Little League team. That way, when Steve is working his ass off, the rabbi can get in a few drinks. And this all makes for a much better movie.

Toby: If you do, Levi, I promise I’ll come up and cover one of your games.

The magic’s in the music and the music’s in me

I assume, Levi, that you’re only referring to songs with vocal accompaniment being performed or played at the ballpark. Because as I see it, anything is fine if it’s being played live on an organ. Especially “Three Blind Mice.”

Original comments…

Levi: You’re right, Jim, And I have to admit a dirty secret: I have a soft spot for “Jump”, played as the Cubs take the field at home. It sounds great, it somehow hasn’t dated, and its message of the importance of taking a leap of faith seems appropriate.

Oh, and a side note. I’m not entirely certain that there is _any_ song that wouldn’t be improved by being sung by Roy Orbison. Just like I think there might not be any movie that wouldn’t be improved by Peter O’Toole’s presence.

Musical notes

1) Ross and I, to warm me up for my first vocal techniques class at the Old Town School of Folk Music (Really. I’m taking a singing class.) sang a falsetto version of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Stacey seemed horrified, but I recommend it. Until you try it, you won’t realize just how high those high notes get. But I recommend you try it in the privacy of your own home, unless you’re Wayne Mesmer, in which case I suggest you try it Tuesday, May 4th, which is the next time I’ll be at Wrigley Field.

2) My newest unrealizable music dream is to hear Roy Orbison sing John Fogerty’s “Centerfield.” I agree with Rob Neyer that the only songs that should be played at a ballpark are “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” “Centerfield,” and, when appropriate, “O, Canada.” “Centerfield” is a great song. It’s a song that perfectly conveys much of what’s wonderful about baseball.

But if Roy Orbison had sung it, it would have been even better. See, I don’t actually believe that Fogerty is suffering because he’s on the bench. Sure, he’s antsy and itching to get into the game. He’s pounding his fist into his glove and imagining crashing into the wall. But he will survive if he stays on the bench and the team wins. Just being around the game will, ultimately, be enough.

Roy Orbison, on the other hand, would quickly make clear that he will die a horrible, protracted, sorrowing death if he doesn’t get into the game. Failure and despair will gnaw away at his insides as the innings roll by. There would be no joy in Mudville, no joy anywhere overlooked by his Ray-Bans.

And you know what? He’d get into the game. Ultimately–think of the end of “Running Scared”–the strings would swell and the coach would give in. Roy would be centerfield. The fans might not be able to see him for their tears, but he’d be out there, ready to do his part.

Original comments…

sandor: I’ll be at Wrigley May 4th as well. My first game of the season. Along with Sarah, Adrienne and Syd, storyteller extraordinnaire. If Wayne doesn’t deliver, I bet Syd will be happy to treat you to his falsetto version. With a little hair dye and a pair of sunglasses, he’d probably even be able to do it as Roy Orbison.

thatbob: “Beer Barrel Polka,” dumbass.