Most of you know that I coach baseball at the middle school level. It’s a pretty sweet gig. I get to hit baseballs with a longer than usual bat, yell across a field and then have the people at whom I’ve been yelling clean it up afterward.
Today, though, was the final day of tryouts. It was the moment of truth, if you will, and it was inevitable that a large portion of the 27 seventh and eighth graders would not be happy with truth with which they faced. The truth was they weren’t as good as the other guys who made the team.
In fact, they were failures, at least in that regard.
Most took it in stride as I made the cuts face-to-face, as opposed to the cold, impersonal method of posting who made the team on a list. I told them all exactly what they needed to work on and to prove me wrong next year. Most of them seemed to be happy just to have had the shot to come out and maybe that they had more for a glove than a milk jug like the Dominicans do.
A couple of them, however, didn’t take it very well. In fact, they started crying.
Granted, they’re 12 years old, but come on, this is baseball. Immediately, I thought of this.
Now, I was obviously a lot nicer than Tom Hanks when informing them that their baseball services were no longer needed, but it at least gave me a chance to embed one of the greatest movie scenes ever in my blog. It also allowed me to witness something I by no means expected to see.
I saw exactly no one poking fun at anyone.
In fact, I saw the more accomplished players encouraging those who had just been told, essentially, that they sucked and had to find something else to do.
I saw pats on the back, head nods and the like. Nothing akin to, “Thank God that kid won’t be out here anymore.” (At least that I heard.)
You must understand. Some of these guys have been told their entire lives how awesome they are, how they’re God’s gift to baseball and they might as well be the second coming of Babe Ruth. A couple of them really do have presidentially sized egos, but they at the very least noticed that saying something degrading at that moment would have made them look like a jerk, which no one wants.
In a world full of super baggy baseball pants, flat bills, stupid rap music and people who actually think Barack Obama has done a good job during his first term, it was nice to see the gestures of people who realize that they too could have just as easily been cut from the team. It is, after all, a benevolent dictatorship of sorts.
Maybe, if we have more people in the next generation who back up these actions with more actions and act like they have a brain (or at least vote for people with a brain), there might be some hope for the future.