On Monday all the parents from Chase’s little league team received the following email:


During the regular season the coaches of the minor league teams try to maintain a balance between attempting to win and placing players at different positions to learn new skills (following the guidelines of the Cal Ripken Little League). However during the playoffs there is more emphasis on trying to win. Just wanted to warn everybody ahead of time.

My first reaction was to respond by asking if Chase should even bother to show up at all for the playoffs.  After all, he batted at the end of the order all season long, never made it out of the outfield except for maybe 2 or 3 innings, and was the first to sit on the bench at each game.  If the coach was moving kids around “according to Cal Ripken”, my kid was not one of them.  We did not complain at all during the year nor, as far as I know, did anyone else.  So I wondered for whom this note was intended.  Maybe it was the delivery but the more it seeped in, the angrier I became.

I took a few deep breaths and called another parent on the team who talked me off the ledge and suggested that I ask whether he meant that the lesser players wouldn’t be playing the more intensive positions or they wouldn’t be playing at all.  So I sent this note:

Coach -

Will this emphasis affect playing time or just positions?


 To which he replied in one word:


Nice, right?

Now these kids are 9 and 10 years old and at some point in their lives they will learn that they are not the best at everything.  But at what point in their formative years does winning trump nurturing?  Maybe it’s just me, but this guy needs to watch The Bad News Bears a few times and remember what little league is all about.

We could have chosen not to go to the game at all, but that would have been defeating on too many levels.  And I figured at least one of the grownups involved in this situation should set a good example.  We went to the first playoff game and Chase sat out half the game.  He didn’t seem to mind.  Given a choice between sitting on the bench chatting with friends or standing out in the wasteland of far right field covered with gnats, he prefers to sit.   I can’t say I blame him.  His team lost and I was secretly smug that the coach’s strategy failed brilliantly. 

Chase was oblivious to all of this parental angst, which is how it should be.  I readily admit that I hurt for my kid exponentially more than he hurts for himself.  So I said nothing – and will say nothing through the remainder of the playoffs in hopes that we will be done soon enough with this coach who, in trying so hard to win, completely lost touch with what is important.


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