It’s that magical time of year again, when little leaguers from around the world gather in Williamsport Pennsylvania to remind us all of the beauty and splendor that is baseball. I really don’t know what it is about the LLWS that draws me in every year, but despite having to listen to Joe Morgan and reading all the articles about how televising these games damages the poor children I find myself fixated on the television. Perhaps what I enjoy most is the way that I am able to contrast and compare Major League Baseball with the LLWS. Obviously on the face of it, there are many differences. The LLWS doesn’t provide the same quality of play and many of the rules are specifically tailored for Little League play. My least favorite of course is the every player must have one at bat and three consecutive outs in the field. Excuse me, but how is that American? The answer is obviously is that it’s a communist hold over that the hippies somehow weaseled into one of the most important American institutions to give kids false hope that everyone is equal and even if they don’t earn playing time the rules will FORCE their coaches to play them. Hey that sounds like we are conditioning kids to not worry about earning a job, cause if they can’t find one the government will FORCE an employer to hire them. Alas, I digress but seriously keep the hippies away from the kids. . . now back to the post.
Despite the differences between MLB and LLWS I tend to find hope that I can find so many similarities in the two different leagues. And of course the similarities go deeper than the constant spitting, crotch adjustments and the all out devotion to the team (o.k. you caught me, we both know that MLB players really don’t give a shit, but I just wanted to check and see if you were paying attention). Recently, a couple stories caught my attention that really highlight how deep the similarities run. The first is the story that many of you may have missed as ESPN has done a great job trying to bury the story (if they could only have concealed the winner of the WSOP Main Event this well). During the Sunday night game between Lemont, Il and Staten Island, NY as one of the Staten Island players was trying to rally his teammates going into their last at bat he used a SWEAR word. It took me awhile to shake off the shock that a 12yr old from Staten Island would swear, so take a minute if you need it. As shocking as that was it gets better. Following hearing his player use a curse word one of the coaches had the audacity to lightly slap the child as a reprimand. At this point I don’t know which is more unbelievable; that the coach actually sought to reprimand his player or that he was in turn reprimanded by Little League officials. Either way, this incident has resulted in ESPN playing all the LLWS games on a 5-second delay for the duration of the tournament. (On another completely unrelated note lets hear it for ESPN for being on top of things, cause no one would have ever foreseen a 12 year old using profanity especially when in the same place as Joe Morgan. Hell he makes me swear at the T.V. all the time. Or perhaps if all the coaches weren’t wearing mics this wouldn’t even be a concern)
Then, tonight that man’s man that is Blue Jay’s manager John Gibbons provided me with the perfect parallel. Evidently after challenging Shea Hillenbrand to a fight weeks ago, and finding out that Shea was such an incredible pussy, Gibbons couldn’t be bothered with Hillenbrand on the team anymore. In the same motivational vein Gibbons and Jay’s pitcher Ted Lilly “got into things” during the ballgame. Gibbons was apparently unhappy with Lilly’s performance on the mound and after pulling him from the game tried to take him out behind the woodshed in the dugout tunnel. Despite Gibbons appearing with a bloody nose after the incident, the team is playing the incident down and saying no fisticuffs were exchanged. This leads to a world of possibilities as to how that bloody nose happened, but my personal favorite in my head at this point is Lilly spitting in Gibbons face, followed by a quick head butt to the face.
The point of all this is to illustrate that baseball, at any level, can always teach us things. The important lesson here folks is that when someone you are responsible for isn’t performing how you want them to, violence is always a good policy. Sure, this can easily be applied to any youth coaching environment but it can go so much farther. Your employee didn’t get that report in on time? Smack him around a little. Your wife didn’t have dinner ready on time? Shake the shit out of her on the street. (Thank you Brett Myers for sending that one in) You see where this is going folks and of course we have the great American pastime to thank for it. So ladies and gentleman get out there and make like your favorite big league manager (or little league for that matter) and smack the shit out of someone. At the very least it’ll probably make you feel better, but take one final lesson from our man John Gibbons. When deciding which person to smack, you should take into consideration your condition (44 yr old washed up ex catcher) and the condition of the other person (30 yr old current major league baseball player). So boys and girls remember to punch your weight.