Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Baseball And Football

While I don’t believe in God, I do feel a sense of Divine intervention at work when I consider that both our children love sports. For Miguel, it is both organized and free play. For Maya, it is imitation, free play, acting silly, and running around.

Miguel played in one of the wackiest Little League games I’ve ever seen this past Monday night.

The opposing team, the Athletics, whose assistant coach, Chuck Rosso, is a good friend of mine, scored three runs in the top half of the first. Miguel’s team, the Yankees, rallied to tie it, 3-3, by the 3rd inning.

In the top half of the 4th, the Athletics scored three runs to go ahead, 6-3. In the bottom half of the inning, the Athletics brought Chuck’s son, Adam, who is a very close friend of Miguel’s, in to pitch.

We scored twice and loaded the bases, so it was 6-5 with Miguel at the plate. Miguel lofted a single just past the shortstop on the grass in the outfield to tie the score, 6-6.

In the bottom of the 6th, with the score tied, we loaded the bases again with no outs. Then our next batter hit the ball to Adam (who'd switched positions) in shallow centerfield which he either caught or trapped. The Yankees base-runners held up, not sure if it had been snagged, then took off running.

The fielder threw home as the runner on third was maybe ¾ of the way toward the plate. The ball went through a hole in the backstop fence. The Yankee parents had been on the edge of our seats, nervously watching the end of game drama. After the ball rolled through, the umpire ruled that all runners advance one base. We’d won the game in less than dramatic fashion. We barely even cheered. We’d been so excited moments before, cheering the boys on as they rallied in the final inning. But, now, after it was over due to a passed ball, it didn’t seem the game should’ve ended so anticlimactically.

For Maya, I guess imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. She’s been watching Miguel and me play all kinds of sports inside and outside the house for three years. She’s seen us play knee football in the house and watched me try to tackle Miguel on the park lawn near our house; she’s also watched us shoot hoops, play catch, run races, and wrestle in our living room.

Last night she wanted to play football. She said, “I want to use Miguel’s yellow football”, the one I bought him a few years ago at a Cal football game. So she and I went onto the park lawn and played football according to Maya’s rules.

I lobbed her the ball, which she sometimes caught, missed or dropped, and then she ran. I had to catch and then tackle her. Then she squealed, “Oh man!” She then jumped up and down and tossed the ball to me. I jogged at a snail’s snail pace as she grabbed onto my pants and ‘tackled’ me. We repeated the routine several times, laughing and rubbing off tufts of grass because they’d mowed the lawn earlier in the day.

I kept thinking, amid the howls of laughter from both of us, Maya will probably turn out to be a tomboy, which I think would be great. I always need another sports buddy. Maya is already planning to play Little League. During the Little League parade last Saturday, while Maya, Verna, and I waited on the street corner for the procession of decorated cars and screaming children, clad in their uniforms, to pass us by, Maya and I talked about her playing baseball.

“You can play t-ball when you’re five,” I said. “How would you like that?”

She said she wanted to play.

Play ball. Sweet, sweet words to my ears, and sweeter still because they mean so much to Miguel and Maya.

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