Monday, May 10, 2010

Swing the damn bat

My son is 8 years old and in his second season of Little League ball. It's the first year of "real baseball," where they keep track of balls, strikes, outs and runs, and where the coaches no longer pitch.

(Side note: If you ever want to test your patience and/or sanity, watch 8-year-olds pitch. Sure, there are a couple who can get it over the plate with some speed, but for the most part it's like watching someone try to kill flies with darts -- lots of aiming, lots of misses.)

Since kids pitch all over the place, the strike zone is, shall we say, liberal. So the rule of thumb is, if it's not over your head or bouncing in front of the plate, if you think you can hit it, just swing the bat.

It leads to some confusion. My son hates walking -- he has a brand new bat and wants to HIT! -- but I tell him that a walk is as good as a hit, that the object is to get on base. But then we're also telling them not to go up and take too many pitches, either, and the teenage umpires charged with moving the game along are going to call anything from the bridge of your nose to your shoestrings a strike.

Anyway, I thought of my son's games while watching the Mets Monday night.

Jose Reyes, in the bottom of the seventh, just swing the f*&#ing bat!

Jason Bay, leading off the bottom of the eighth, just swing the f*&#ing bat!

Luis Castillo, with one out in the ninth after Angel Pagan cut the gap to one with a solo homer to center (see what happens when you swing?) -- just swing the f*&#ing bat!

Of course, swinging doesn't guarantee anything good will happen. Bay swung in the bottom of the ninth and struck out to end the game. Rod Barajas swung with two outs and runners on second and third in the eighth and popped up.

But for Reyes, Bay and Castillo, in crucial situations like that, if it's close, you SWING!

Mets fans are, of course, especially sensitive to seeing things end with the bat on someone's shoulder, having endured watching Carlos Beltran look at a called third strike to end the 2006 NLCS. And yes, there are times when you want to work the count, make the pitcher throw some more, wear him down.

But in the situations listed above, fellas, I'm begging you -- just swing the f*&#ing bat!

And while I'm off on a rant, Oliver Perez, will you shave that chin strap beard and lose the faux-hawk? You look ridiculous, and it looks even more ridiculous because you suck.

Mike Piazza rocked the chin strap and some interesting facial grooming, but he is a future Hall of Famer and could get away with pretty much anything. For Perez to look like he does, he better have some game, because otherwise, he just looks like a dork.

That's not to say that a shave and a haircut will cure what ails Ollie, but it couldn't hurt. At least I'd hate his face less.

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