“Yeah, I’m fine. I’m glad you came. I hate sitting with my dad for more than five minutes. We both sit there anxiously waiting for something to happen. It feels like the 3-2 count on the mound.”
Coco laughed, and that encouraged him to keep going. He held his hand up to his mouth and whispered into an imaginary microphone: “The count’s 3-2. Greer needs to pitch a strike. One more ball and he walks Twit Number 1. The tension’s on. Can he do it? Here comes the wind up, and the pitch. And he’s ….”
“He’s out!” yelled Coco. Then she looked around to see if anyone had heard her. “Sorry, I got a little overzealous. I hope you didn’t miss the fact that I do understand the game of baseball.”
Jake Greer, a seventh- grader and the main character of my book, The Prison of Doom, is a phenom lefty pitcher. I loved giving him this gift because I love baseball. New Yorkers, even displaced ones, love their sports teams. If you ask some older New Yorkers about baseball, many will tell you they are still mad (not angry, but “mad”), because the Dodgers left, and that was in 1958!
I don’t have a good answer for why our national pastime is past its time. My unofficial analysis is that video games and “hanging-out,” have taken that spot for kids. Last year I did a survey at school. I asked three different classes of 36 fifth-graders if they knew of Sandy Koufax or Fernando Valenzuela (two famous Dodger pitchers). Two out of 108 knew. Then I asked, how many of them watched or played baseball, either casually or in a league. Three or four hands went up in each class. I asked the same question about football, twice as many hands went up. In the last fith-grade room, after I finished my questioning, the teacher whispered to me,
“Ask them, how many of them play video games after school?”
I hadn’t thought of that as a sport, but I went for it.
“How many of you play video games after school?” Almost every hand went up, girls and boys.
I now need chocolate.
I shouldn’t have been surprised since many of my 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders were superglued* to the computer game, Minecraft. I have a plethora of compositions about how the game is played, who invented it, who did what to whom, and who built what structure against what nocturnal monster. It clearly took the place of, What I Did On My Summer Vacation.”
*(superglued described as: It bonds incredibly fast, and holds on amazingly strong. Just a thought.)
As I write this, I become curious. I decide to Google, Minecraft, and 97,900,000 hits come up.
Yes, I’m now getting out the dark chocolate Hershey bar.
So I pursue this curiosity and Google, Little League Baseball and there are 63,600,000 hits.
I’m a bit more encouraged, and perhaps becoming a member of Weight Watchers won’t be necessary.
In New York, after school and on the weekends, boys and girls would rush to the asphalt street, with no thought about oncoming cars, to play punchball, a game similar to baseball. On our street, A man-hole cover was home base, driveways were used as first and third bases, and a bump in the road was second base. We used a Spaulding (pronounced, Spaldeen) ball and a fist. That was it.
We played other street games too. None of them required more than a ball, a bottle cap, and maybe some chalk.
But need I get into one of those diatribes on how life used to be different when I was a kid. My parents had that same mantra. It’s a topic that is as old as time immemorial. Sports, both the spectator variety and the interactive kind are good for all of us. Computer, video, and phone games are loner games, and I’d hardly call them sports. I’m guilty myself. I confess, but at least I know it. I have to pull myself off my electronics on a daily basis and grab my “To Do List” every day.
Parents, make those “To Do Lists”, and get your kid-dos to be active. Electronics are great. I’m a devotee (notice I didn’t say addict) to Words With Friends and yes, Angry Birds. But when I’m with my nephews and students, we agree to disengage from those pretty shiny objects. When you are with your children, engage with them. Don’t sit there with your family at the Corner Bakery glued to the Gorilla Glass screen on your iPhone or out-of-this-world Samsung Galaxy. Save your addictions for when you dine with your boring friends, or ignore your husbands if you must, but not the kids!
Let me know what you think and please share how you’ve handled this.