Hockey Coach Versus Baseball Coach

I love the sport of baseball.  I grew up playing it in the park and
then one day I spent the night at a friend’s house and went with him
to his little league practice.  The coach of that team told my mom he
would pay my fee if she would let me play.  I wasn’t on my way to the
Dodgers but I was slightly above average and a good pitcher.  When I
go to see my stepson, it brings me back to those days.  My stepson
plays baseball and ice hockey.  I happen to be his hockey coach and so
when I sit in the stands and watch the ball game, I try to just take
it in.
The baseball coach is a local dad who often holds a Starbucks
purchased mug with a top.  Draped over the top of the mug are two or
three tags attached to tea bags.  He sits in the dug out and
encourages kids who are swinging at definite balls and not strikes.
“Good cut, babe…  Don’t help him out now.  Wait for your pitch…  Good
swing now.”
My girlfriend laughed at my coaching style with junior high aged boys
and giggled at the rah-rah nature of  the baseball coach.  Here is how
my pregame speech goes.
Big G is bullying kids in the locker room.  It is all verbal but
nonetheless.  I is the son of my assistant.  His hair is down to his
shoulders and his dad is bald.  I is prone to fucking off before games
too.  I and Big G are not anywhere near dressed for the game.  I come
twenty minutes before the game and give my disclaimer.
“For those of you not dressed in the next few minutes and out in the
hallway stickhandling, you can sit the entire first period.  You think
I’m bullshiting you?  Five minutes…”
Miraculously they are all dressed and taking turns warming up their
hands with a weighted ball.  I take a racquet ball and throw it off of
the wall for the goalie to get warmed up.  When the Zamboni hits the
ice, we go back to the locker room for the final pep talk before
hitting the ice.
“These little bastards have the same access to the league website as
you.  They see you are undefeated and are not going to come in here
and not try.  They know they will have to try harder than ever to beat
the best team in the league.  This is like tug of war.  You pull fast
and hard and get them face first in the shit…  How do you end a
fistfight most of the time?  Who knows?”
One of the guys whose nut hadn’t dropped yet answers.  He is four
feet tall with hair down to his shoulders and has a smile like Jack
Nicholson in The Shining.  He leads the team in penalty minutes and is
the one most likely to hit someone hard.  E is the son of Argentinian
immigrants.  He plays violin and is sadistic.  E answers first.
“Throw the first punch…”
“That’s it…  You hit first, while they’re trying to get their shit
together, you’ve already landed a blow.  Get that first goal.  Fucking
bury them and then we can just play catch when it is running time.
Are we clear?  Remember…  Your goalie is a boy with goalie equipment
and not a goalie.  He just started this sport and it will be your job
to pretend like you have an empty net behind you…  Recap…  No shots,
punch first, pull them face down in the shit…  When you have them by
the nuts, squeeze hard.”
The first period was listless.  The team looked at an under 500 team
and felt that a half speed effort would be enough.  The speech between
the first and second period went like this…
“You all are skating like a bunch of zombies…  Chip the puck into the
neutral zone, gain the centerline, dump it deep and fore check like
you might kill them.  You’re all waddling in like you’re walking out
to right field.  You give their D a chance to get the puck and make a
smart option, they will.  Take that time from them…  Wake up or I will
find 5 guys willing to play this game the way it should be played and
the rest of you can sit and watch.”
Big G tied up the center in a face off in the other team’s zone.  It
is a designed play where the center is tied up and the Defense walks
in and shoots the puck.  We scored on that.  An astute ref would call
interference.  Most of the time they don’t.  The game was close until
the third period and then we broke it open.  Kids got the puck in
deep, worked it back to the point and crashed the net.  After the game
I gave my post game speech.
“We should have buried this team.  They should have had the puck much
less than they did.  You guys forgot how to push yourselves but
tomorrow at practice, we are going to take a little time and remember
to push hard.  You’re tired, the puck squeaks out to the neutral zone,
your gassed and on a break away.  That’s where you find it within you
to finish.  I’m going to help you with that tomorrow.  I don’t want to
hear you have baseball or ballet or whatever.  Your ballet coach
doesn’t give a shit about me and I don’t give a damn about them.
Baseball is barely a sport.  Be here tomorrow.”
C, my stepson had a baseball game the day after the practice.  His
jovial coach gave his post game speech after the team got spanked
18-2.  I’m not going to judge him.  We all have our ways.  I could
hear the post-game talk from the dug out.
“Guys…  I saw some really positive things tonight.  We have to work
on our hitting, fielding, catching and pitching.  I’m not going to lie
to you all.  This was a rough game.  It will get better.  Keep your
chins up.  See you all at practice.”
Was it because a fat child was put at first base that could not bend
far enough to field ground balls?  Was it because the coach’s son
walked in ten runs?  Maybe it was that kids didn’t know how many outs
there were, dropped third strikes, missed cutoff men and a gross
inability to catch and hit.  In the car, the question was posed to me-
how would you have handled this loss?  Answer- a whole lot different.

Nashville and Ottawa- How does that sound to you?

Slapshot quote of the day- “When I yank it everyone with the exception
of my wife will be running for the exits…”

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