Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Prodigy

'Tis a rare thing for someone to find their true calling by age seven. But with Luke I think we may have a real prodigy on our hands. We've all seen children with a penchant for mathematics or that can spell every word in the dictionary. For other kids it might be a musical gift like the piano or violin. Luke is taking it in another direction.

As I was filming the video below, a scene from one of my favorite movies immediately came to mind. In Searching for Bobby Fischer, Josh's Dad (played by Joe Montegna) has a scene where he lays into Josh's teacher pretty good for not fully appreciating his son's blossoming chess ability. 

"You want to know how good he is? I'll tell you how good he is. He is better at this than I have ever been at anything in my life. He is better at this than you'll ever be at anything. My son has a gift. He has a gift, and once you acknowledge that, then maybe...we'll have something to talk about."

Yeah, what he said.

Hard to believe it was just a few short years ago that I introduced him to this. And he has already far surpassed my meager skills. With a bit more practice, patience and maybe some lessons I think we could be looking at a 2020 Olympic champion. It's pretty much a lock that this will be an official Olympic sport by then. We are all Witnesses.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Thinking Outside the [Batter's] Box

We're wrapping up our sixth year of youth baseball with Max and Luke. There have been a lot of highs and lows in those six years, but one thing has remained constant: When the kids are on the field, the grown men around that diamond tend to lose their minds. A few games ago, I found myself chuckling at the lunacy of all the coaches, dads, grandpas, uncles and fans each shouting their own flavor of "encouragement" at each little guy in the batter's box.

If you've ever golfed, you know the madness of trying to maintain the perfect swing to hit that stupid little ball.
"Head down. Knees flexed. Easy backswing. Front elbow straight. Head down. Squared club-face. Turn the wrists over. HEAD DOWN! Impact. Follow through."
Yeah, you still sliced it.

And that describes a ball struck in relative silence that isn't even moving! Now imagine trying to hit a ball flying at you while at least eight men scream various tips at you. And you're seven.
Why do we expect a kid to be able to pick up the sign from 3rd base when he can't even pick up his socks off the floor? Why do we think he is going to be able to "keep his hands back, get his hips through the zone and finish high" every time when he just wiped his nose on his jersey? I believe deep down within our manly brains we do realize the absurdity of it all. Yet our mouths invariably ignore the brain and continue to pepper the players with advice. Usually while someone on the other side of the field yells the opposite. I'd like to pretend I've always been above this, but I have been very much a participant over the years. The best part is watching the deer-in-headlights batter nod in "understanding" before promptly doing the exact same thing on the very next pitch. It is truly priceless (at least in hindsight it is)!
Below is a "short" list of easy-to-follow tips regularly heard yelled at young players (simultaneously) from their coaches, dads and fans. Starting with tips at the feet moving all the way up to the head. On the right is a list of what I imagine is going on in the kid's mind as these instructions are flying at him:

And just think, in a couple more years that column on the right is going to include girls too.