When it comes to making me feel better about life, baseball is way better than chicken soup. The kids are about to start their respective seasons in the next week. Ben's Arden Hills Brewers will begin play on Saturday at noon, while Maria's Rockies squad will be starting in about one week.
Early baseball in Minnesota can be problematic; the past few years Ben has either played in snow flurries (2005) or been completely rained out (2006) on his opening weekend. This year, it looks like the weather is going to cooperate and Ben's squad looks promising. The team is young, mostly 11 year olds, but every kid on the team is an experienced player and it's obvious that they will be, at a minimum, competent. The question is going to be pitching - nine of the eleven boys are trying to pitch, but given the schedule I would not be surprised if we need every single kid to at least try his hand at pitching. SAYB has changed from counting innings to going to pitch counts to control the amount of pitching the kids do; that's a wise decision from a health standpoint, but it also means that more kids are going to have to pitch in order to get through games. It also means we should see more balls in play and less strikeouts and walks.
Meanwhile, Maria's team should be a lot of fun to watch. A couple of the kids on the team are astonishigly good hitters for 7 or 8 year-olds; I was attempting to soft-toss to a few of these kids and one of them hit a vicious line drive that forced me to duck. Following that incident, and given my need to take it easy following surgery, I have decided to hide behind the backstop and keep the book instead of doing any active coaching. At the instructional league age, you end up with some horrific mismatches and I remember Ben's teams suffering through some awful drubbings. I'm guessing that Maria's team will be doing the drubbing, but I hope not, as I think losing discourages kids from wanting to play. The ideal in the instructional team would be to have 12 teams, playing a 16-game schedule, all finishing 8-8. But it never happens that way.
Nevertheless, it will be fun. Watch this space for continuing updates!