How do you console two dozen eleven-year-olds after they have just been knocked out of the playoffs? What do you say - how do you say it? Do you tell them to grow up, snap out of it, there's no crying in baseball? Or do you choose a more sympathetic approach - we'll get 'em next year? Is one style better than the other?
I was at the Willow Road Baseball Complex Tuesday afternoon before my son's T-ball game. A team had just come off the field after a season-ending loss and were sitting in the 100° heat listening to their coach sum up the season. The voice sounded familiar, but from where I stood, I couldn't see who it was.
His speech to the kids was right on. He spoke about the fun they had that season and how much they had learned - he pointed out that at the beginning of the campaign no one really knew how to bunt, and now they were ALL bunting. He pointed out contributions from individual team members - noting how one player had a really great at-bat, even though it was obvious from the remark that the young man must have made an out.
This guy is good, I thought. He should do this for a living. The perfect combination of Walter Matthau in The Bad News Bears and Bill Murray in Stripes. Check out these two clips to see what I mean.
And when I got a better view of the coach, I realized that, although I've never really seen him at work, this must be exactly what he does for a living! I know he made those kids feel a lot better, and I felt better for having heard it.