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My almost-six-year-old does not suffer summer gladly. When she is overheated, Alana lets us know, vociferously and persistently. So I must admit I felt some relief when her T-Ball season came to a close last Sunday shortly after high noon, if for no other reason than it meant we could go find some shade and kick back a bit.
Well, we couldn't kick back too much because one of us parents had to take Alana's two-year-old sister Jenna home for her nap. And although Alana then wolfed down a snack (one of those lovely, individually wrapped Rice Krispies Treats that taste like they have been marinated in saccharine for a week), something had to be done about lunch. And that something would have to involve a restaurant not afraid to burn through as many fossil fuels as it took to keep us nice and cool. It was important that mom or dad stay out with the older kids (it ended up being me) because our two-year-old's best chance for actually sinking into sleepy time was keeping our other kids as far away from the house as possible.
Earlier at the game, the primary problem was that the areas where spectators gather around the Rookie League diamond (and the areas around the benches) are just about devoid of sizable vegetation. Check that, there is one decent-sized tree down the right-field line and by the second inning or so just about all the parents of kids on both teams were huddled together underneath it. We had come prepared - with a water bottle and a back-up - and every inning or so we not only had Alana guzzling down all the H2O she could hold, we also had her cooling herself off with water poured on the inside of her wrists and on her neck.
But she still wasn't completely happy and what with her dark-blue uniform shirt and matching hat pulled down low over her thick, long hair, I couldn't blame her. In order to keep the water flowing, I had to venture out from under the tree for decent-sized stretches. And it was then that the greatest consumer product upgrade in the last 10 years went into effect. I am talking of course about the development of spray-on sun block. I have always hated applying the glop my fair skin requires when the sun is high and intense. The fact that all I need now are a handful of quick sweeps employing the latest in spraying technology is an absolute revelation.
And then there was the game itself. In the fourth inning it occurred to me the Red Sox were almost certainly on their way to a victory, just the sort of satisfying result coaches dream of putting together at the end of seasons. They had piled up about 20 runs and had put together enough defense to hold the opposing Cubs scoreless in the third. Holding the other team without a run for just one frame almost always leads to victory in the Rookie League. I checked with the assistant coach who was keeping score and sure enough the Red Sox had piled up almost two dozen runs. The problem was figuring out how many the Cubs had. It turned out the Red Sox coach wasn't keeping track and when I went to the other side of the diamond I discovered the Cubs coaches weren't either. So, after the last inning played out our final score was Red Sox 27.
All the other divisions at our home park finish the season with playoffs and while I think that's the best way to do it, it is unfortunate that all but one team finish their seasons with losses. It was great to see the Red Sox get a victory in their finale (there's no way the Mets scored more than 22 runs after all)
The day before Alana's finale, Noah's and my Dodgers bowed out of the junior division playoffs, losing to the team that had finished first in the National League 16-9. There were a handful of satisfying little snippets, a great catch of a fly ball here, a hitter who had struggled all summer grounding an extra-base hit through the infield there. And we were at least slightly competitive with a team that had blitzed us by a much bigger margin than that late in the regular season. At the end of a long campaign we found ourselves back at break-even - a final record of 8-8-1. All that's left is the always eventful awards ceremony and picnic this coming weekend.
Jim Coffman's daughter is in her first season of T-Ball. Her older brother is in his last year in the Junior Division. Coffman is chronicling his travails as coach of his son's team and observer of his daughter's initial foray into this slice of Americana. (That's Coach Jim in the mug shot at the top of the story, and Coach Jim on the mound while his team wears rally caps in the photo above.)