My baseball team won... we had a 7-3 lead in the sixth, and sorta pissed it away, to trail 11-7. But we turned it around and scored 8 in the top of the 9th, then held on to win it. We did this amidst a near-constant drizzle out at Coronado. (To me, that just feels like home.) Once we got the lead back in the 9th, dead seriously, the rain stopped, the clouds broke, and from my angle in right field, there was a rainbow coming down behind our dugout. It's a silly coincidence, but it brightens my day a little.
Though not as much as going 2-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts. The Ks were silly... I wasn't judging pitches well. I'd looked at pitches over the plate, or fouled them off, and then fell for pitches just off the outside corner for strike 3. One, I can live with. But two is ridiculous. I finally made that adjustment in my last (top 9th) at-bat, but it should've come sooner. By the time I came up in the 9th inning, we were up one run with two on and two out. That's not a safe lead, so there's still pressure to not-kill the rally. I fouled off strike one hard into their dugout. I looked at strike two low and inside (not a strike AFAIC, but it was one this umpire had called all day.) The third pitch was the waist-high outside corner one I'd been whiffing on, I saw it for what it was and let it go. Their pitcher was not pleased. The last at-bat he threw me two of those in a row, and I'd swung at the second one because I didn't think he'd do that, so it must have been a curveball. (Not. Oops.) I consciously chose to be patient with this one and make sure it was coming over the plate before swinging at it. This time it did, and I looped it into short right field. A simple base hit, just out of reach of the infielders, and well short of the outfielder.
It's a relatively small thing to do, a base hit. It's not the rocket liner that Nate hit to the fence corner in the left-center gap that should've been a triple but was called back when the fielder claimed the ball went through the fence. (I'm not convinced he didn't help the ball along while "searching" for it.) It's not the sacrifice bunts we've done in other games, or the grand slam Matt Maiorca hit two weeks ago to win that game. But it's the result of focus and in-game adjustments, which aren't things I've done well in the past. It's a step in the right direction for me as a player.
Which brings me to things I do as a coach. I know that my improvement comes when I stay focused and keep looking ahead, instead of dwelling on mistakes and letting them take me out of my game. Been there, done that. Nate and I rushed home from our game to coach the junior team at 6. They played five good innings. Unfortunately, the game went six. The second inning was a disaster... 12 runs off one hit, 8 walks, three hit batters, and two errors. Some of these kids really beat themselves up after a bad plate or pitching appearance. Unchecked, it'll take them completely out of their game, and they'll fuck up everything else they do.
Nate and his dad, Ray, usually do the base coaching, so I stay in the dugout the whole game. That leaves me able to work on attitudes. I spent an inning trying to pry a laugh out of one of our pitchers. He really had a bad outing, no question. He was almost in tears coming off the field, throwing hats and equipment. I sat down and started pulling things out of my ass... references to wisecracks I'd made earlier ("I ragged Kevin for irresponsibly leaving his hat at home, now you've left your strikes at home") , wild suggestions about how to fix what he did wrong (sacrificing chickens, or even virgins, to wipe the curse off the mound,) whatever I can come up with. Eventually, my persistent dorkiness gets him to crack a smile. That's all I need. He's stopped beating himself up, and he finished with a decent game.
Eric, he just thinks too goddamned much. He's probably one of the two or three smartest people we have on the team. I have to joke with, tease, and outright harrass him to fight that, and I'm not sure how successful I really am. There's not an obvious reaction. And there's the added complication that we're close off the field, so I can't spend too much time on him, lest it appear I'm playing favorites.
Nate tries to get across a lot of the same points, but often it doesn't sink in because he doesn't have the patience yet to explain it and make what he's saying personally relevant. That's a shock, suggesting I have a measure of patience at all, given my historical lack of it. I've been where these kids are, and I can see where they could be, and somehow, that makes it easy for me to tap that well. It's something I get out of doing this that mostly benefits me, but I can't call selfish.
Off to bed... I'm beat, and I'm caught up on tonight's Wire.