Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Bullpen tchotchke

Tonight the playoffs begin and Buddy's team is the defending champion, therefore, Sparky is going to pull out every weapon that he has to take down the opposition. Since Buddy is not considered anything but a bullpen tchotchke, he will watch the action from his place on the bench. If you do not know what a tchotchke is, a Tchotchke is a Yiddish word for knickknack, toy, bauble, something that you place on your mantle that is pretty or unique and collects dust. That's Buddy this summer...a dusty tchotchke, I say with all due respect and great love and admiration.

In June, Buddy drove into town in his SUV, tuned up from a season of success as a freshman southpaw in a competitive conference. He had amazing statistics and in great physical and mental condition. Unfortunately, he will leave town in a discombobulated state who is doubting his skills and his choice of profession.

He is looking forward to putting his glove down and returning to a seemingly blissful life at home. His dream of being home with his own comfy bed, laptop, friends, and fully stocked refrigerator and pantry will be interrupted with the realities of family living...that is...chores, physician's visits, laundry, curfew, making his bed, no towels on the floor, and eliminating four letter words from his conversation. Also, there is a 1 acre "No spitting zone" surrounding the house. These are some of the house rules...oh yeah...by the way, Mama no longer fills the gas tank...he's on his own to spend his own money or bum a ride from one of the boys. Ahh, life at home...something that he dreamed about for 8 months and something that he will long to leave within 8 days.

And so, tonight is the night for the team...sink or swim. From what I understand, all of the guys want to leave. No one wants to play. The season, although successful in the standings, was unsuccessful in the dug out. The guys loved playing with each other, but loathed the coaches and 'Mr. Steinbrenner'. What was lacking besides an understanding of the game and basic leadership skills was the administration's inability to work with the individual. There were no practices. If someone struggled, rather than work with him, they would place him on the bench as he received the "Golden Splinter Award." The golden splinter is awarded to anyone who sits on the bench for a prolonged period of time, with pieces of splinter embedded in their derrieres. Ouch!

One of the kids already left. He had been benched after the first few weeks and was increasingly frustrated. Finally, last week, he drove to the field, took batting practice, hit a home run, tore off his uniform and threw it at the coach. With that, he went home. Take that, Sparky (he didn't care). Right now, he is probably in his own bed at home or lying on a towel at the beach....happy in his own mind, yet the kids on the team have called him a quitter.

What did that teach me? Well, a player can talk about hating the process, the coaches, team, or playing BUT cannot quit (ever). This is an unwritten code, which I am writing about in this blog. Talk is cheap...actions speak louder than words, but do not walk away from a fight. Sit there, collect gold, silver, or bronze splinters, but do not walk away. These guys would rather go to the ER for elective surgical removal of the splinters than be labeled a quitter. And so you have it...complain...complain... complain...finish the season, go home. In their minds, they can quit...but do not walk....this is worse than giving up a three run home run in the championship game or dropping a fly ball in the bottom of the 9th....you don't do it. It is a standardized code of ethics among ball players....it's not done...and so, here the guys are gutting it out....ready to leave, but never, ever quitting....

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