No sooner had it started than it ended, with both kids having played baseball since mid-April here in merrie olde England for the second year.
Scarlett played in T-Ball, with me as her assistant coach, though as the season progressed I spent more & more time with Miles’ team who needed someone who could pitch for batting practice.
But anyway Scarlett was on the Mariners and played her little heart out. I’ll push her into coaches’ pitch next year (where the coaches pitch to the kids, rather than using a tee). She’s got great hand-eye coordination and is fast. Plus it’s really obvious that she likes playing as part of a team, which sometimes girls don’t get to do enough at her age, where quite often they play individual sports instead.
Miles was playing for the Indians in what they call the minors, playing with boys who were all 1-2 years older than him, as he wasn’t officially old enough to be playing truly competitive baseball this year, but he did well enough in the trials to get in the team. He started playing in the outfield and being catcher, which he liked, as you got to dress up in all the gear. But eventually he was allowed to pitch and ended up as starting pitcher two weeks in a row, pitching three innings each time and doing really well.
His batting improved as the year went on, as it did for all the kids, but it’s quite a different experience having Dad pitch to you so that you can hit it, and have a 9 or 10 year old boy – with all the inherent lack of control they have at that age – pitch to you so try and get you out, with a 17 year old umpire behind you calling the strikes. It was a good learning experience and the NY Mets bat he has ended up with two major dents in it, so we’ll be getting a new one of those at some point.
Anyway click on any of these pictures for (slightly) larger versions, including ones without the heads cut off and there’s loads more higher quality ones here from the month of June.
At his third at-bat for the Indians at Wormwood Scrubs today the boy took one in the back and got his second walk of the day. In his first at-bat he hit a line drive between first and second to get on base and was walked in the second one. Here he leaves the first pitch, as like many pitches in this age group, it’s high and/or wide; he’s got a good eye for an 8.5 year old.
Last week he had to leave the game after taking a line drive to the chest while playing first base, so he’s been in the wars a bit recently. Anyway, this is an example of how much of a step-up he’s taken from playing ‘coaches pitch’ last year with me and the coaches putting balls up for him to hit; now it’s 9 & 10 year olds doing their best to make sure he can’t hit it, even if they hit him instead!
We may be in London now but we’re not neglecting our baseball, not one bit of it. Consequently this past weekend was opening day here in London.
He’s got allocated to the Mets team, as luck would have it and he bagged the number 5 shirt (David Wright, the big hitting third baseman for those of you who don’t know). The parents are almost all American ex-pats here in London (financiers or various types and lawyers), although during our roll call he was one of the only kids actually born in the US among our clutch of 7 and 8 year olds.
They’ve let me be the assistant coach which means I too get one of these fabulous shirts:
You’ll have to ask him why he’s not looking that thrilled about it in this picture (taken with a phone, hence the quality), but suffice to say he had a great time getting back to throwing, catching, but most of all, hitting.
I am determined to do whatever we can to make baseball more popular in the UK than it is currently. The MLB has a presence here and is doing its bit, it’s taught in some schools, I was surprised to learn and it’s sort of on TV here, but only twice a week in the middle of the night. Still that’s what digital video recorders are for and more to the point, that’s what MLB’s At-Bat application on the iPhone is for (£2.99 very well spent).
Anyway on Saturday me & the kids sought out one of the last remaining weekends of games in British baseball with the kids. Bar the first week we were here, which was very hot, it has been steadily downhill since then, weather-wise and this weekend was weather only the ducks could love. That said some very hardy souls braved the driving rain in lovely Croydon for the final four of the UK national championships.
As you can see on this pitch in a game that I think was between the London Mets & Menwith Hill Patriots, it was players, family & friends only.
The Mets must’ve won as they went on the following day to win the whole shooting match, beating our local team, the Richmond Flames 11-4 in a one-game 9-inning final; it was too wet to play the best-of-three final they had hoped for.
Oh well it was an interesting, if underwhelming introduction to the game here for our family’s slugger, but I’m sure he can make an impact next season.
And of course let’s hope the real Mets do the business back in the truly big leagues – right now it’s looking good, but after last season’s astonhshing collapse, nothing will be taken from granted until game 162 is completed.
Losing 10 out of your last 17 games (and 6 of the last 7, all at home) isn’t going to put you in a good place no matter how good your lead is.
For you British folks, the Mets failure to win the National League East (and thus get into the playoffs, which eventually could lead to the World Series, where they could play the winner of the American League) it’s a bit like Fulham being 8 points clear with 3 games to go (we can dream) and fluffing the title. It’s that bad. Well sort of, it’s hard to compare.
Anyway, anyone for hockey?
Say it ain’t so. Our New York Mets are now only 1 game behind the Phillies and in grave danger of snatching defeat from the jaw of victory having led the National League East since mid-May.
For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about….it’s too complicated to explain right now. But we’ll know where we stand by Friday, I’d imagine. Suffice to say, the playoffs without the Mets will be painful to bear in our house.
As Keith Hernandez said tonight, in these situations, “you put your boots on and go out and play”. Boots at the ready.