Learning to Lose

Playing baseball at 7 or 8 years old requires a lot.  This is the age, IMHO, where it all changes.  Caeden has played baseball in the Madison Baseball League since he was 5, he started in the T-ball league.  Todd was his coach for the first two years and it was a lot of fun.  At that age, it is cute when the whole team dog-piles and fights over who comes up with the ball.  It is cute when they take 5 swings and never connect with the ball.  It is cute when they are doing cartwheels and playing in the dirt in the outfield.  This is the year however, when it got quite a bit more serious.  Caeden usually plays Left/Center position.  This is not a very exciting position.  There are not a lot of balls that make it to the outfield.  Therefore, a lot of time is spent in the outfield with hands on knees, in the ready position, but ready only for the possibility that a ball will actually make it out there.  It rarely happened.  Caeden said it was sometimes boring.  But, he has been a trooper.  He never complained, he was always ready for that possibility that the ball would find its way to his turf.  He always hustled on and off the field.  I have been proud of all of those little things.  Those are the basics which will make Caeden into a better baseball player.  He has come a long way this season.  He started off having a hard time getting used to the pitching machine, he couldn’t seem to find the rhythm, the right time to swing the bat.  Each strike-out would dampen his spirits and you could see that classic CIA face, where he wanted to burst out in tears and declare he quit, he didn’t want to play any more.  He did let a few tears slide down, but never went so far as to want to quit.  Then toward the middle of the season, he started to make contact, and built up his confidence.  A lot of the credit for his progress goes to Chace.  He would take Caeden into the backyard and throw ball after ball to him, coach him on his swing and encourage him.  Todd or I could give Caeden the same directions, but the advice coming from Chace made a much bigger impact.  Another huge part of baseball this season is learning to lose.  Our team started off the season doing very well.  We won, and seemed to win easily.  As the season progressed, I don’t know if it was that the other teams just got better or if we got too cocky, or what – but we went on a losing streak.  Then we started winning again, and ended the season with 3rd place. 

We started playing in the tournament this week and won our first game.  Today, we had a re-match with the Rangers, we were 1-1 against them.  This was a great game.  Both teams were playing well, and each inning brought great hits and plays.  It could have gone either way, but the Rangers ended up taking the win, 15-12.  I was proud of our team, they played hard and did their best.  That is all we could have asked of them.  I was also proud that they showed class and good sportsmanship as they lined up to shake the Rangers hands.  That is the mark of a great baseball team, and the making of little boys who grow up to be great men.

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