New York sports fans are buzzing today over New York Yankees Jorge Posada missing last night’s game against their arch rival Boston Red Sox. His absence wasn’t due to an injury; when he was told he would have to hit 9th, he asked to sit out the game. Baseball fans, big and little are weighing in. To his credit, Posada was placed in a difficult position because after 13 years as the Yankees catcher (not to mention 4 World Series championships), he was delegated to DH, designated hitter this season and not allowed to catch at all.
But, baseball is a team sport. I can’t remember how many times I have told my son that it doesn’t matter where he falls in the batting order, the whole point of little league is to have fun and practice improving his skills.
I remember last year’s little league season. There were two boys on our team who would catch and the each of them were highly excited when they got to don the catcher’s gear. When they showed up for a game and the coach told one of them that they would catch that day, the boy would run and jump to the dugout screaming, “Yes!” while the other boy would ultimately sulk and sometimes not want to play at all. This was where little league, although hard on the parents who tried to soothe their sons, plays a vital role in helping the kids learn discipline and team effort.
And it wasn’t just the catchers that felt frustrated. My son played third base but endured a slump for a few weeks up at bat. The more uptight he got about getting a hit, the less inclined he was to get one. He had to bat 9th at a few of the games and I told him how the batting order didn’t matter because he was playing for the team. Runs helped win the game and the order they came in was inconsequential. Some days it worked and some days it didn’t. Sometimes, we’d leave the ballfield in tears after a tough loss, which seemed to have a ripple effect from one kid to another. Eventually, he got out of his slump and started hitting again.
It was funny because at the beginning of the season, the kids didn’t even notice what the score was but once they learned more about the game, they quickly showed up each day expecting a win. Our coach did a good job in changing up the line-ups and praising effort without putting all the focus on wins.
Of course, Major League Baseball is a business where wins reign supreme and egos can become inflated over them. Posada should have played last night because you don’t abandon your team no matter what, and you never put your own ego above the sake of the team, whether you are a 6-year-old on your first little league team or a World Series Champion.
How do you soothe your child’s sports frustration? Do you think Jorge Posada should have played last night? Was he setting a bad example?