First inning

The boys' baseball season has begun, and so far, not so bad. They are on the Twins, a machine-pitch team for first- and second-graders. I'm helping coach the team again.

We moved Ben, kindergartner, into machine pitch with the thinking that he could handle it after hitting the ball well in t-ball and coach pitch last summer, as well as to make our Saturdays a little easier (just one baseball game instead of two). Since last summer, Ben has forgotten how good his swing was. So, we are working to get that back in order. He doesn't have to hit it far -- just into fair territory and run to first. Though I'm worried that maybe we're overwhelming him (though he's taller than maybe half the team), Ben always picks things up quickly, even if he gets frustrated along the way. Today during practice, he was playing second, and after telling him to cover the base when the ball goes into left field, he was doing it without us reminding him. He sometimes throws the ball really well and sometimes overthinks it, resulting in a not-as-good throw. It's going to take some practice, but I'm confident he's going to learn a lot this season.

We've had two practices and our first game last night. The Twins lost to the Red Sox 7-4, though we were winning going into the final inning. Ben struck out three times but did hit a foul ball. He also made a nice pickup of a ball hit to left field (though he missed two other ones that inning).

Michael struck out on his first at-bat, partly because he was still banging the plate and wasn't quite ready for his first pitch -- I think that threw him off. But he got two singles in his next two at-bats and drove in a run. I think he's going to have a great year -- there's only two second-graders on the team, and by far he's the tallest kid on the Twins (if not the league). He's catching and throwing well and made a couple good defensive plays last night. After crushing the ball at the end of last season, I think in a couple games he's going to be crushing it again.

As I've written before, I love helping with baseball practice -- today, I hit grounders for an hour. At the boys' first practice, Michael was wearing his Cubs jersey that used to be his Uncle Conner's, letting it hang out instead of tucking it in, and he looked like such a grown-up kid. It's good to know he, and Ben, if they keep enjoying the game, will have many more years to play ball ... and for me to be proud of them.


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