I love my country
And will respect its laws.
I will play fair
And strive to win,
But win or lose,
I will always do my best.
Many of you probably recognize those words as The Little League Pledge. Kids recite it before every game. I doubt they have that country or laws concept down, but they understand fair play and encourage each other. Most of them play their hearts out. I noticed that a lot yesterday.
You see, I was drafted as a field umpire - a first for me. Hobbled by a bad back, I've been useless as a coach this year. I was reduced to keeping the play book but even lost that assignment. I kept turning it into a Victorian novel that took longer to read than the game lasted. The team manager finally got the idea that I could do the least harm as a field ump, the guy who stands behind a base and simply calls a runner safe or out.
How hard is that?
When your grandson plays on one of the teams, and everyone knows he plays on one of the teams, it's pretty hard. The plate ump is a neutral third party, but the field official usually comes from one of the teams. I was unable to cheer and had to be impartial, something that's contrary to my nature.
Now I know how the MSM feels.
I made no friends, either. The home team's leadoff batter hit a grounder to short, but just beat the throw to first ... I think. Unfortunately, as I called the runner safe, I jerked my thumb to indicate he was out. That brought cries of delight and applause from the folks behind me, but they were quickly replaced by jeers as I signalled and shouted that the runner really was safe.
Things went downhill from there. Parents would taunt me, while the visiting team coaches went to work on the plate umpire, who really was neutral. The kids themselves were great.
If this were my blog, I'd moon them or at least turn around and give them the finger. Something clever like that. But this was baseball and I was temporarily a baseball god.
Baseball is much more complicated than blogging. It's also more fun.