By West Coast Craig 

TOMMY LASORDA FIELD OF DREAMS–Yes, that’s the real name on the wood sign at our neighborhood t-ball field…a strange, tilted rectangle of a field cut out at the base of a hill with a tiny all dirt infield, a foul line down the left field side that’s about 500 feet, and a right field line that’s maybe 180, with a fence almost as high down that end to protect the cars coming down an off ramp just on the other side. Saturday it played host to the T-Ball “evaluation” day for the Silverlake Rec Center…it’s not a “try out,” every kid makes it as long as they got signed up in time and the rec center got enough coaches to field enough teams. They’re always looking for coaches, by the way…and I’m sure the rec center by you is, too. I’m just saying…  

Anyway…personally, I have harrowing memories of my own youth, trying out for Little League year after year and not getting a call from any coaches–I was late to the game, maybe nine when I was first exposed to it and realized that I could actually play on a team someplace–and of course I was terrible. My mom did an unbelievable job raising two young boys by herself, but she wasn’t (and still isn’t) the most sports oriented person so it wasn’t like she was hitting us grounders and teaching us four seamers, so when it was my turn to hit or catch pop-ups, I routinely gagged (I did pave the way for my younger brother, whose experience couldn’t have been any more different than my own. My team, when I was eventually picked, was the worst in the league, his was always the best, and he made the All-Stars…so maybe the non-sports-oriented-mom excuse doesn’t really hold water). I’m determined not to let that happen to my kids…and thankfully Kasey seems much more coordinated and athletic than I ever was at that age. The first time he picked up a bat he held it the right way–for a left hander no less–which is something you’d be surprised how many kids don’t figure out. He broke his first window in our house before he was two, smacking a little ball off a tee I’d set up in our living room to see if he could hit it…and my reaction was pride. My wife’s reaction was somewhat different.  

It’s a lot of pressure out there, waiting in a line with dozens of other kids, a number scrawled in sharpie on a piece of masking tape stuck to their chests. The kids were put through their paces…hitting a ball of the tee, running the bases, taking grounders and throwing the ball accurately, seeing how many times they can bench press 25 pounds, leaping up from a flat footed position and trying to hit as many little flags on a pole as they can, submerging themselves in tanks to measure their body fat, sitting down and taking the Wonderlic Test. It’s terrible what kids have to do these days to play T-ball. On the sideline, all us coaches stood with clipboards and scribbled down grades and notes, covering them up like trays in the prison cafeteria lest somebody discover our unique scouting methods. #43 has a good arm, but he’s small and probably won’t hold up to the rigors of the long season. #58 has a live arm, but it’s T-ball so we don’t need pitchers. #16 ran the bases backwards.  As you can imagine, this process can take all day, but it’s important to take these things scientifically. I plan on using the same evaluations when I draft my fantasy team this year: Adam Dunn can hit, but his dad can be a pain in the butt and I’d rather not deal with that if I can help it. Hanley Ramirez gets a little out of control when he eats too much sugar. Jose Reyes’s mother is always a good team mom and organizes the best snack schedule, which counts for a lot. 

Wow, this post took a strange turn, didn’t it? I’ll have something more concrete next week when I report from the WBC.

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About West Coast Craig 226 Articles
West Coast Craig reports from Hollywood with an endearingly laid back style. A happily married father of two little boys, WCC has an avocado tree in his yard, plays the hot corner in a "Valley" hardball league and always manages to take cool sports-related mini road-trips, often with his immediate clan. He hails from Oneonta, NY but has been "So very L.A." for twenty years, so his sports teams are the Yankees AND the Dodgers, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the L.A. Lakers and the Colorado Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques. WCC loves bacon-wrapped hotdogs and can touch his heel and his ear... with his hand.