Monday, April 29, 2013


My oldest kid wears number 10. He’s worn it ever since I could remember.  The reason? #2 was always taken and they just gave #10 to him.  First thing I said to him was, “PhilRizzuto.” He looked puzzled and so I gave him a brief history of one of my favorite shortstops of all time. Me being Italian American, I latched on to the other Italians in baseball.  It’s just what you do.  But after a few years of wearing 10, it slowly became my son’s number.  To the point where there is something new happening in my house.  My wife took him to get it shaved into his head. 

Truth be told, my guy is one of the most talented ones on the field, and sure, I’m biased, but if it means he looks at that number and makes it his, I say go for it.  As the little league kids reach 10 and 11, and 12 years old and play together, they all start to even out.  They all start to play at the same level and become decent teammates to each other. The ones who don’t usually leave the game to take up another sport.  But not my son, not yet at least. 

You can tell it’s getting harder out there for him. He gets discouraged easily, sometimes disappointed when a play or call doesn’t go his way.  You can see these kids giving it their all, sometimes there are tears and disappointment, and sometimes there are the winning hits and stolen bases that make them feel invincible.  I’ve seen both sides of the coin with my son, and while I know how talented his is…sometimes I don’t think he does. When there is disappointment at that age… it’s hard to stay confident and positive.  Think about it, at that age, a missed ground ball is literally the end of the world. As an adult who’s been there, you know it’s gonna be OK.   My son, and probably your son or daughter, doesn’t always understand that. 

I’ve stated many times that confidence is key in sports, you lose it, you lose the want and need to play.  I see it in his eyes sometimes as the kids start to play more competitively, and all I want to do is go out there and give him a hug on that field and tell him to ignore the pressures, and just go for it.   

He used to have this Jorge Posada stare watching every play and going through the last at bat in his head… something much bigger for that little brain.  It used to scare the hell out of me. I mean, who needs that at 10 years old?   Now, he becomes annoyed, too hard on himself and it’s a place I don’t want him to be.

My wife and I have never pressured our kids in sports, it’s the peers who do that to each other.  Sure, there is encouragement among the kids, but there is this pressure to be the best and they feed off each other. You see it happening and no matter how many times you have a coach telling them to “just have fun”, they see past that…they want the win.

For me personally, I don’t care that he comes in last, not at age 10, I just want him to try to be first.  The harder thing is if they DO fail, will they try again? It’s a struggle and I see the pressure being so enormous, I almost feel like it just ain’t fair.

So, what’s my point? If the little things help, like an “atta boy”, like a new baseball glove or even like his number shaved in his head, it’s important, because their world has these little failures that are so insignificant in our life, but are enormous and earth shattering to theirs.  If it helps guide him and keeps him on a positive track, I’m in.  It’s important to the makeup of my little ball player who wants to be on top so badly, but just doesn’t know if he can anymore. 

In the end win or lose, he’s still the best God damn player I’ve ever seen and he’s the best he’s ever been at age 10. Ironically, that’s his number, and it’s almost like it was meant to be.

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