Monday, May 05, 2008

Mixed Signals

I trust in God.
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.

12 comments:

hayshaker said...

So atheists are not allowed to play little league?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I am unaware that Little League members must be part of any organized religion. I'm not terribly bothered by the pledge, and especially like its second half. I know I'd never insist on anyone reciting a pledge of allegiance or Little League pledge before a game.

hayshaker said...

I'm just half serious. But reading it again, the first half is rather disturbing and has nothing at all to do with little league:

I trust in God.
I love my country
And will respect its laws.

http://www.littleleague.org/about/pledge.asp

Interesting tidbit on the origins. I could've guessed that it was written during the 1950s as it has a certain red-scare feel to it.

[The little league pledge] is not, and has never been, required to be recited by any person involved with Little League Baseball or Softball.

Bernie O'Hare said...

There you go. I can see where this might potentially be a problem, but have never seen it. I've participated in games where it is not recited. I prefer the games where it is read. It's a small reminder that we're here for the kids and their most important lesson is to be fair and do their best.

hayshaker said...

It's not a problem because atheists and/or agnostics have learned to keep quiet. It's not worth the aggravation. "I trust in God" is a pretty presumptuous statement to make anyone recite.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Agreed, but not too many kids are thinking much about God or respecting the laws of their nation right before a baseball game. It's mostly blah, blah, blah. The part I like best is the bit about doing their best and being fair. I like the idea of a common creed that unites opposing teams. There is much more to it than a reference to religion. And I look on the reference to God as a reference to some higher power, a common theme among us alkies. For some of us, that higher power is ourselves.

Anonymous said...

Now atheists will throw a fit and mess up Little League. I guess it was just a matter of time. The right to be offended by everything is our most cherished right anymore.

Bernie O'Hare said...

A half serious comment by one person on a small blog will do no harm to The Little League.

hayshaker said...

Now atheists will throw a fit and mess up Little League. I guess it was just a matter of time. The right to be offended by everything is our most cherished right anymore.

I already mentioned that atheists have learned to keep quiet. (Except in obvious violations of the establishment clause, that is.) I'd suggest you look at your statement and then my statements and question who has the tolerance.

Anonymous said...

Since an atheist does not believe in God, I still don't see a problem. If there is no God, that means in many ways you are your own self-contained God. So when the Pledge is made think of yourself when the term God is used. Or you can teach your children to do likewise.
It's not like a scarlet letter or anything. Good Myself, get over yourself.

Anonymous said...

The most disturbing thing in this, is, that Bernie O'Hare is allowed near children.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 8:05, I love children, especially if they are properly cooked.