Thursday, May 26, 2005

Lacking optimism

[Warning--the following is a rant. If rants are not your cup-o-tea, then do us both a favor and avert your eyes]

I’m not feeling particularly optimistic today. After waking up to my fourth consecutive day of rain, much of it running into my basement via my leaky window on the rear of my house, needless to say, I’m not in a great frame of mind.

On top of the dreadfully gloomy weather, my summer baseball season, the one that as president of the league, I’m supposed to be looking forward to, is already giving me headaches galore.

--After spending the past three weeks on the phone, calling potential sponsors, writing press releases and articles promoting the league, I find out last night that my new uniforms, as well as the uniforms ordered for our new Lewiston/Auburn team won’t be coming in for Sunday’s game. At least my players will be able to wear last year’s uniforms. The new L/A team will be adorned in a patchwork of who-knows-what, this after our local paper runs a big article urging fans to come out and see the new team. Oh, and did I tell you that they also don’t have any catcher’s gear? On top of all of that, last night, I drive to Portland to a quick league get together where each manager got his game baseballs, score sheets for the scorebooks and lineup cards—a regular preseason ritual that takes place before the season. Our commissioner, a good man who has been involved in keeping local baseball alive for over 30 years, is droning on to the other coaches about staying organized. As I looked around at the other coaches, young men in their early to mid-20’s, I realized that not one thing that our commissioner was telling them would be embraced by them. They’ll go out and be the same disorganized ball clubs they were last year, scrambling to make sure that they have nine guys to field a team, not calling games in, failing to turn stat sheets in—the kind of things that make it increasingly difficult for me to do what I do—basically promote the league as a place for college kids to play in the summer. I on the other hand, will obsessively tend to every detail, throw batting practice, hit fungoes and work 30 hour weeks making sure that the summer experience helps them become better players (and maybe people) And what will I receive for my efforts? I’ll listen to college kids bitch at me because I didn’t put enough ice in the cooler, missed a base hit on the stat sheet, or failed to make sure that they were pampered enough. Parents will yell at me for not waving runners in from third, or for a pitching change I make late in the game. So why can't we get more guys like myself to take a summer team--men that know the game and no longer care to play, but have what it takes to manage a team--gee, I wonder!

--While spending much of the past three weeks trying to organize this train wreck of a summer league, so that talented college kids from Maine have a place to play summer baseball in their home state, my book has been pushed aside, just two chapters from completion. Happily, I can report that I completed my next to last chapter, so all that remains is my last chapter and an epilogue. You would think that I’d be happy with this and anxious for it to be completed, yet, because I’ve decided to go the independent publishing route, I have a whole new bevy of tasks that I must complete just to make sure that this year-long labor of love sees the light of day.

On top of all of this, I have mothers (yes, mothers!) calling me to find out why their 21-year-old sons haven’t been called about playing on a team. One particular mother was rather rude and snotty on the phone, after she called me while I was in the middle of rush hour traffic. I was polite and told her that I didn’t have a spot because my roster was full. Should I have been brutally honest and told her that the reason her son hasn’t been picked is because he throws straight fastballs that resemble batting practice tosses and that no one wants him? Or should I have said to her, “Lady, don’t you think it’s time you cut the cord and let Junior fend for himself?” Good lord!! I feel like a G’ damn babysitter to a bunch of three- year-olds most of the fucking time!

I’ve not been able to focus too much on the goings-on of politics and the congressional squabbles. While my little corner of the world doesn’t amount to a hill of beans compared to the bigger things taking place in the world, my fixation on the immediate has narrowed my vision to a narcissistic pinpoint.

So what am I to do? Quit on baseball? Burn my manuscript? Pack up my car and drive off into the sunset? I don’t know. I do know that the chaos of last season’s Twilight League and the headaches of just managing a team led me to figure out how we got to the place we are concerning local baseball. I’m not sure what this season’s Chinese fire drill of a season will produce. I just hope that things quiet down some and I can just fall into the peaceful routine of coaching and the comforting activities that the games bring.


weasel said...

Just keep repeating to yourself: "At least I'm not Grady Little, at least I'm not Grady Little" or if that fails "At least I don't live in Houlton, at least I don't live in Houlton."

"Lady, don’t you think it’s time you cut the cord and let Junior fend for himself?”- I couldn't agree more. Lower the drinking age to match the voting age, and challenge college kids to take responsibility for their own lives. No more doing their laundry, college parents! It all starts there!

Jim said...

I'm all for raising the drinking age. Vermont is considering it--saw something on the TV over the w/e on NE Cable News.

Also this:

ChefDunn said...

From your link: "Instead of doing it in a controlled situation, going to a bar with a drink limit or something, they're doing it at keg parties in places that are harder to control..."

I worked in the Old Port (every other storefront is a restaurant or bar) in Portland, Maine at night for many years. I usually got out of work around 12am. The drinking age is 21 and the whole scene is far from under control.

I enjoy a nice cold one after work and often made my way to one of the watering holes for a little responsible relaxation and socialization with my co-workers. Leaving the bar and driving home after last call was a dangerous proposition.

Drunk people walking in the middle of the street, drunk people driving on one way streets that are barely wide enough for a horse and buggy.

Needless to say, I don't think raising or lowering the drinking age will make a bit of difference given the number of so called "adults" well over 21 that behave like 12 year olds that just broke into daddy's liquor cabinet.

weasel said...

The freedom we seek to stand for is also the freedom to be a drunken ass. To quote a fantastic bishop from my homeland, back in the 1870s when they introduced closing time for pubs: "I'd rather see England free than England sober."
Of course, we have to square this impulse with the concept of freedom being deliniated as including not causing harm to others. John Stuart Mill, was it? There must be a middle gound, other than being in one's thirties. Raise liquor prices, perhaps? Or talk about booze like adults, like we do with smoking?

weasel said...

Oh yes, and tax bars near colleges to provide much needed funding for the twilight league!

Jim said...

Here, here!! I'll drink to that!

Your Sister said...

Pollyanna here!

While I can absolutely identify with your frustration, I'm happy to hear you didn't blast the mommie who continues to change her 21 year old son's dirty diaper! You are doing a labor of love and sometimes, other people can't help but pee on your parade. That's what we call a "pisser!"

Look at all the amazing things you are getting done! At the end of the day, you've done more than many do in a year's work in a corporate slag pile. As Jorma and Jack would say...

Keep on truckin, momma, truck my blues away!

Jim said...

Hey, nice drop of a Hot Tuna reference.

I often think of my time here as a little "Killing Time in the Crystal City", not that I'm seeing much of a share of the crystal.

Anonymous said...

You once helped me with a spiritual problem. I see yours as one, too. Take your concerns to the Master. This is always the answer to every question.

Jim said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jim said...

While I appreciate the admonition to "take it to the Master", you obviously haven't read much of what I've written about xianity.

I appreciate others abilities to trust in some type of higher power.

As to my "problems" being of a spiritual nature, I'd have to politely disagree. My problems are more of a societal nature--as in communities not valuing things like local baseball, business and the need to all pitch in and keep the supply of social capital at a necessary level.

Also, it would seem to me, based upon my own experiences when I was 25, that some of these so-called other coaches could put a little more energy and take a little more pride in making sure that they run a tight ship. The teams I played on when I was in my mid-20's had a number of us who took our responsibilities to our team and league (the old Pine Tree League, BTW; may it RIP)seriously.

asfo_del said...

I'm sure you don't need me to tell you that we can't control other people's behavior. They're gonna continue to be idiots. My advice is: uncork a bottle of wine, put on your favorite music at full volume, and dance. :)

Jim said...


As always, sage advice.