Recently, I was invited by my boss to attend his 12-year-old son’s travel team game. Naturally, my first reaction was to hit him with the, “Yeah I’ll definitely think about it!” and then choose not to attend, but then I got to thinking. I’m fairly fresh off an illustrious baseball career of my own (Division 2 benchwarmer, it’s whatever), and I’m a big fan of the game, so maybe I should stop by. I might enjoy myself. Plus, it’s not like I had plans anyway, and it’d give me a chance to let my one-year-old boy run around and wear his ass out, all while taking in his future sport of choice. I figured since it was a travel team that the baseball wouldn’t be too bad because this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill “everyone gets a trophy” little league mediocrity.
We loaded up and stayed as long as we could stand being there: one inning. The kids and baseball were fine, but I was reminded of something I had suppressed from the past. Youth baseball parents and coaches are the worst.
Our arrival coincided with most of the parents getting positioned in the preferred gameday spots. To my relief, my boss falls in the “lawn chair a respectable distance away from the field” crowd. As I followed my son around on his inning-long quest to explore his new domain, I got to observe the madness of some of these parents.
Many of them were innocent, simple spectators of the child’s game. You’ve got the parents who sit close to the fence because they like the view, along with the grandparents who sit close to the fence because they can’t see for shit. There are the moms that really want to watch their kid play but are too busy dealing with the four other kids they’re currently regretting having who are either hot, tired, or just want to go home. We can’t forget about the dads standing a safe distance from the field pounding whatever the hell is in their big-ass Styrofoam cups. Finally, there are the calm, savvy parents, definitely not their first rodeo, that know it’s just a game for fun (and not the big leagues). They’ll just sit in their well-worn chair stoically, neither criticizing nor getting too excited.
But then you’ve got the parents who just fuck it up for everybody.
I first noticed the Under Armour clad bro-dads, three of which were re-positioning their children from the bleachers. There ya go buddy, good call moving your kid playing third base so close to the SS that they could high five. And hey there dad moving around his kid in left field, these kids are 12; he doesn’t need to be playing with his ass up against the fence. No one in this game is on PEDs (well, at least I don’t think they are).
Then you’ve got the parents who don’t pay any attention and just cheer on their children no matter what they do. Nice intentions, but you look like an assclown cheering like crazy after your kid grounds into an inning ending double play or drops a fly ball. Opposite from those parents is that one asshole dad who berates his kid no matter what and gives everyone that cheerful “Ah, they’re gonna be in therapy one day” vibe. God help this poor 12-year-old if he takes a called strike three and same for the ump who calls it. He may just be a guy in his twenties working for $40 a game, but these parents give him hell like he just Jim Joyce’d their kid out of a legendary baseball career.
The penultimate shitty baseball parent is whichever two dads are coaching these pre-teen “phenoms.” It may be a Thursday afternoon game at some chain link field, but don’t tell these guys that. These two teams might as well be playing Game 7 of the World Series, because they’re ruling with an iron fist and making sure everyone stays focused on the ultimate prize: a plastic trophy and a t-shirt.
After a leadoff 4-3 groundout, the second batter singled up the middle. I then witnessed the fielding team’s coach, a full-grown adult with (hopefully) a real job, make a mound visit in full uniform while holding a glove he brought himself up to the mound. I was fucking flabbergasted, and unless mound visit eavesdropping has been a big problem in this league, no grown man should ever bring his glove to visit a 12-year-old on the mound.
Not to be outdone, a few batters later, the opposing team’s coach absolutely screamed at his second basemen for not catching a pop out in no-mans-land right field. Because, you know, all 12-year-olds are expected to provide quality defense at all times. To that coach’s credit, in his on field screamshow he did explicitly say that they had been practicing that, so shame on that little bastard for not executing perfectly.
I had seen enough to be happy that I have at least 6-7 years before I have to become an asshole youth baseball parent. I scooped my little guy up from the group of five-year old girls he had been following relentlessly (so proud, he really exceeded expectations out there), and booked it. Youth baseball parents are the goddamn devil. .
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