Not long ago, I took my 10 year old son to play in the Madison All-Star Baseball Tournament. It was just to be him and I; a father-son road trip! I thought we would have a deep, meaningful visit on the ride there, but Mason slept all the way to Rexburg. Instead, I played dodge-a-deer with my wife’s car on Hwy 28 and tried to keep my own eyes open. I entertained myself by jerking the wheel back and forth and screaming every so often. Mason would wake up wide eyed, looking all around. I would pretend I didn’t know what happened.
We had a game the first night of the tournament. It was held at the Armory Fields in St. Anthony. The kids played a great game, and conducted themselves admirably as young ambassadors from Salmon. The adults, as expected, didn’t do so well. There was swearing and jeering and gesturing and threatening; fortunately there was nothing on hand to throw.
The next morning, we woke up to rain. Not just a sprinkle, It was pouring and had been for some time. The standing water could be measured in inches some places. I looked at my flip-flops with chagrin; I was going to want swim fins before long. Our first game was scheduled at 9 am at the Sugar-Salem High School, and we had received no word of a delay or cancellation.
Mason and I rushed to the ball field, stopping for an umbrella and poncho on the way. We considered a snorkel, but feared it would get in the way of the batting helmet. Our team and the opposing team all arrived on time. Nothing was heard from officials or the event coordinators. The coaches attempted to locate home plate under a small lake; one disappeared and was considered “lost at sea”. Finally, we got word the game was delayed because of rain.
the inevitable cluster
My feet were numb from the icy, cold rain and I danced to keep warm. A kind parent directed me to the outdoor toilet. Our coaches told us to get breakfast or run some errands until we knew when the game would be rescheduled. Mason and I decided to return to my sisters house, where we were staying.
As we arrived at my sister’s, I received a text from one of the coaches. “Our game time is 10 am at St. Anthony High School.” Oh hell, it was at that moment 9:55 and I was a good 20 minutes from the ball field. I reversed course and raced back up the highway. Water plumed out behind us like the wake from a jetboat. We pulled into the high school about the time I received another text saying all games were postponed until noon.
My son didn’t seem to mind. He had fun watching me hunched over the steering wheel muttering, cursing and trying to see through the spray from the cars ahead of us on the highway. I had explained to him about “felony weather”. Most cops weren’t getting out of their patrol cars in bad weather for anything short of a felony. We were able to push the speed limit just a tad.
the long warm up
Mason wanted to play catch a little while we waited for game time. By then, it was only sprinkling and looked like we would actually play some baseball. My son had a great time watching me shag balls in my flip-flops. I think he was purposely under and overthrowing just to see me sliding around on the wet grass. Mercifully, the rest of his team arrived and started their warm up. I limped off in search of some ibuprofen and coffee.
Our team played that game and one in St. Anthony later in the day. The whole tournament seemed a little unorganized, and not just because of the weather. There were equipment issues and umpire shortages. That only made the crazy baseball parents crazier. After the games we got to visit with my sister and her family. It was fun to see my nieces and nephews.
We still had not gotten a schedule for the last day when I finally went to sleep at midnight. I woke in a panic, looking around wide-eyed; I had heard screaming and felt the bed bouncing around. Mason stood there dressed in his baseball uniform, and acted as if nothing happened. Touche.
my gast is flabbered
Our first game of the last day started very well. Our team was fielding and hitting; errors were kept to a minimum. We had two young umpires who were doing their best and trying to call a fair game. A coach on the opposing team bullied the field ump horribly on one particular call. I don’t have a problem with a coach disagreeing with a call, but he wouldn’t have been able to treat an adult that way. Our coaches were very respectful, even when irritated.
A short while later, the other team had a batter out of order. Our scorekeeper notified the umpire and, after some discussion on the field, a runner on base was ruled out. The inning continued with that team scoring several runs. The game was then stopped again. The other team’s scorekeeper claimed that we had called the wrong runner out and they were due an additional point. I told her that we had merely notified the umpire, and it was her team’s responsibility to decide who was out of order.
She looked at me like I was something extremely unpleasant and said, “You are being a d bag!” (I’m not sure exactly what a d bag is, but I gather it’s not a compliment)
I fumed in silence for the rest of the game, which we won. I didn’t think I was one of those obnoxious sports parents that everyone hates, but maybe I was wrong. Someone’s mother had just called me a “d bag”. It was humiliating. To make matters worse, she came and apologized after the game. Damn! I wish I could have said I was sorry first…that would have shown her!
end of the season
We played our last game of the season right after the “d bag” game. (Who even says that?) Apart from a near altercation between two parents, it was uneventful.
After the game, Mason told me he could get in free to the semi-pro game in Idaho Falls that night. I told him we couldn’t stay because we had to get back to Salmon. He said something under his breath that I didn’t catch. The only part I could make out was “d bag”. I couldn’t catch him because of my blasted flip-flops, and there was nothing on hand to throw.
Since Mason slept the whole way home, I had some time to reflect on the lessons I learned this trip: First; always bring something other than flip-flops to wear on your feet. B; when observing any sporting event, keep your mouth shut, lest ye be labeled “d bag”; and finally, ALWAYS bring something to throw. Being a “d bag” while wearing soggy flip-flops at your son’s all-star game may suck, but Idaho still doesn’t!