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Friday, Aug. 22, 2014

Struck Strikes Out: Take me out to the ball game

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Through my many years of involvement as a player, coach, parent and fan in Little League and summer youth baseball and softball, I've compiled a few composites of the typical Little League problem parent. And with this season rapidly drawing to a close, in which I helped coach the Chronicle Times Senior League Boys baseball team, I've firmed up my assessment of such problematic "fans." If you see yourself in here, it's never too late to change. If you don't, way to go. Badmouth Bob - This guy's kid is usually a so-so player so the old man, who was never any good at the game, has never expected too much out of him. However, when the kid lives up to his mediocre billing, Badmouth Bob gets wild and nasty, peppering his loud, ill-timed criticisms and observations with cuss words blue enough to create a whole new color in the Crayon box.

Badmouth Bob blasphemes loudly because he thinks he's injecting a little macho into his wimpy existence. The guy usually smokes, has a bad complexion, and wears cutoff jeans with one leg longer than the other and black socks with duct-taped tennies. He also has a tattoo where his biceps should be. Hopefully, in this scenario, Badmouth Bob's kid hits a long fly ball in his final game and keeps right on running past first base right on out of town and out of Bad Bob's life.

Unleashed Lucy - A quiet, unassuming type, she probably has an important full-time job, a nice, helpful husband and adoring family. But get reserved Lucy loose behind the backstop in a lawn chair, an oversized culotte and her daughter's tank top, a six-pack cooler full of caffeine-laden diet cola, and a few other vocal fans, and this babe can make The Tabernacle Choir sound like fingernails on a chalkboard.

Her children are usually pretty good players, which only heightens her intensity, as she vividly steps out of character a couple nights a week to prove that she knows nothing about the game, and that there are more than chemicals, lust and far-away places to dissolve inhibitions.

Barfly Phil & Phyllis - This couple spends the afternoon in an air-conditioned bar getting prepped for each game. They say they're too busy to coach a team or umpire any games, yet they're at every practice and game and on poor coach's and ump's behind from the very first pitch. They sneak to the car between innings for some more liquid gumption and their kid has to borrow a teammate's glove because his toy store model is shot and they spend all their money on booze and cigarettes.

Sadly, their kids are usually good players, but it's tough to excel and love the game with Momma and Poppa Shame blowing off behind home plate. Phil & Phyllis slap backs with Badmouth Bob a lot and are known to light Unleashed Lucy's fire when their kids are on the same team.

Distant Dennis - This guy cracks me up. Usually a proud dad with an aloof nature, during the ball games he leans against a tree a hundred yards away from the action like he was casing the joint or on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list. Never one to get involved, Distant Dennis hangs out in solitary so as not to be beckoned to umpire, coach first base, work concessions, or chase foul balls. He disappears on his motorcycle just before the game ends to avoid contact with any other human, while his wife packs the lawn chairs and siblings into the car and his kid rides home alone on his bicycle. If this isn't a self-esteem problem and he's not Sherlock Holmes, you'd better check this guy's background.

Glory Days Dave - A good athlete in his prime, this guy sits right up close to home plate or his kid's dugout in a dress shirt and loosened tie with his arms folded over his chest like a stoned Budda. He knows the intricacies of the game and sits in silence nodding on plays he thinks were correct, and shaking his head and smiling wryly if he thinks a player, coach or umpire blew a play. He reeks of know-it-all sarcasm and his kid is loud, arrogant, and acts out just to get noticed in his dad's oblivion.

This usually wealthy guy holds a lofty career position and would make a pretty decent coach, but to hang up his cell phone and sacrifice his valuable time and effort trying to make kids other than his own better at the game would be beneath him. To say nothing of the fear of getting his hands soiled in the ball field dirt.

Whether his kid's team wins or loses, just like his three ex-wives, he's never satisfied.

final game and keeps right on running past first base right on out of town and out of Bad Bob's life. Unleashed Lucy - A quiet, unassuming type, she probably has an important full-time job, a nice, helpful husband and adoring family. But get reserved Lucy loose behind the backstop in a lawn chair, an oversized culotte and her daughter's tank top, a six-pack cooler full of caffeine-laden diet cola, and a few other vocal fans, and this babe can make The Tabernacle Choir sound like fingernails on a chalkboard. Her children are usually pretty good players, which only heightens her intensity, as she vividly steps out of character a couple nights a week to prove that she knows nothing about the game, and that there are more than chemicals, lust and far-away places to dissolve inhibitions. Barfly Phil & Phyllis - This couple spends the afternoon in an air-conditioned bar getting prepped for each game. They say they're too busy to coach a team or umpire any games, yet they're at every practice and game and on poor coach's and ump's behind from the very first pitch. They sneak to the car between innings for some more liquid gumption and their kid has to borrow a teammate's glove because his toy store model is shot and they spend all their money on booze and cigarettes. Sadly, their kids are usually good players, but it's tough to excel and love the game with Momma and Poppa Shame blowing off behind home plate. Phil & Phyllis slap backs with Badmouth Bob a lot and are known to light Unleashed Lucy's fire when their kids are on the same team. Distant Dennis - This guy cracks me up. Usually a proud dad with an aloof nature, during the ball games he leans against a tree a hundred yards away from the action like he was casing the joint or on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list. Never one to get involved, Distant Dennis hangs out in solitary so as not to be beckoned to umpire, coach first base, work concessions, or chase foul balls. He disappears on his motorcycle just before the game ends to avoid contact with any other human, while his wife packs the lawn chairs and siblings into the car and his kid rides home alone on his bicycle. If this isn't a self-esteem problem and he's not Sherlock Holmes, you'd better check this guy's background. Glory Days Dave - A good athlete in his prime, this guy sits right up close to home plate or his kid's dugout in a dress shirt and loosened tie with his arms folded over his chest like a stoned Budda. He knows the intricacies of the game and sits in silence nodding on plays he thinks were correct, and shaking his head and smiling wryly if he thinks a player, coach or umpire blew a play. He reeks of know-it-all sarcasm and his kid is loud, arrogant, and acts out just to get noticed in his dad's oblivion. This usually wealthy guy holds a lofty career position and would make a pretty decent coach, but to hang up his cell phone and sacrifice his valuable time and effort trying to make kids other than his own better at the game would be beneath him. To say nothing of the fear of getting his hands soiled in the ball field dirt. Whether his kid's team wins or loses, just like his three ex-wives, he's never satisfied.