Who's Your Daddy?
Rarely will you see the coach's son sitting in the corner of the dugout, making circles in the dirt and competing with little Bobby on who can spit the most sunflower seeds onto Ronny's flip-flops. Gifted or not, he, or she, will be playing second base, or short, perhaps catcher and bat clean-up, regardless if his arms resemble the handle of the bat. The game took a drastic turn from the time when "the coach" was a totally different character in the neighborhood sketch. He was the gym teacher, possibly played independent ball, or maybe minor leagues, and drank too much beer, He was single and lived next to the field, his house resembling a spare closet at Dicks Sporting Goods. Most importantly, he had to have one picture of himself and a famous athlete, and a story to go with it, and he never took advice from any father's! I don't come into your office, and you don't come into mine.
The starting line-up was decided by talent, not the last name on your jersey. If you were the best left-fielder on the team, then you played left field. If the infield had to back up twenty feet during B.P. when Mickey stepped to the plate, then Mickey should be hitting fourth. The simplicity of decision making doesn't need to resemble a major league club in turmoil. The foundation and love of the game starts at the beginning and, because of failure in proper coaching, ends at the beginning, too.
This isn't to say all little league, on into high school, coaching is executed, poorly. Sometimes, the coach's son was and is the best player. Even coaching-dad #8, who sucks in the gut so he can fit into a space on the bench, could have a kid with talent, and maybe he wants to help mold it. Teams lucky enough to make it to Pennsylvania for the World Series have got coaches who seem to fit the Walter Matthau character, sans the booze, and really do help construct the foundation of baseball. But, they are also mic'd on national television and even Howard Stern would find it in bad taste for them to drop an F' Bomb as a means to get the pitcher to throw some F@#$IN Strikes! Everyone loves animals and believes in recycling and Katie Couric, when the camera is on them. Turn it off, however, and it's fur coat party sponsored by plastic six-pack holders, and has Tiger Woods in charge of the guest list.
Accountability is always the best remedy for keeping things in order. When you see the massive amounts of stories today covering the sons of former major leaguers, and their impacts in the MLB, take a moment to process, and possibly understand what I am saying. Would the Gwynn's, Van Slyke's, Gordon's and Hairston's of the game be making an impact for the Dodgers if they weren't who they are? Are these true talents, like a Griffey, or are they daddy's guy, like Pete Rose's kid, Petey Jr.? Were they picked over more talented individuals in the beginning of their careers because coach #6 was a huge fan of the old man?It is all possible, and perhaps, only time will tell.
I have been told multiple times that the game of baseball only gets more political as you go up in the ranks. Is it accepted, now, that favoritism is what shapes the game? After all, none of the players I mentioned are All-Star's or leaders in any categorical stats. Maybe the path of "who you know" has leaked out from the business world, and, because of the process in the way little league coaches pick their teams may now be the common practice in baseball fellowship. I will come into your office, and you can come into mine.
I wish a happy fathers day to all the pop's out there. A tall beer goes to you guys for playing the role of Dad, and, a truck-load of wine coolers goes to the Mom's that play both.