A strike for a strike and a ball for a ball…
The Lil Med Student had his first baseball game (if that’s what you want to call it) this weekend. He was 2 for 2 at the plate (without using the tee), with 2 runs and an RBI. Defensively, he scooped up a grounder that he couldn’t throw to first base because the first baseman wasn’t paying attention.
Now baseball for 5 year olds is kinda silly. Each team bats around each inning (and you are encouraged to reverse the batting order each inning, for obvious reasons). If you don’t hit the ball on five pitches, you hit off the tee. Three outs does not end an inning, but an out results in you leaving the base path. There are 3 innings, but the game is over after the second inning if the first two innings are more than an hour. There isn’t scorekeeping.
And Dr. J. is fine with this.
Dr. J. loves America’s past time. Indeed, he has three high school varsity letters in the sport, and he and Papa J. were season ticket holders in his youth. Furthermore, Dr. J. loves to keep score, loves to win and hates to lose. He doesn’t like participation trophies and thinks that learning to lose with grace and to learn from your losses is as critical to building with character as winning with grace is.
So why is Dr. J. fine with these modified rules?
1) Baseball is sufficiently complex that a simplified game that teaches five year olds many of the fundamentals is critical.
2) For kids to learn, they need to experience throwing, catching, positioning, hitting, and running the bases. If a kid never gets on base, he will never understand the game.
3) An inning would never end because Dr. J. thinks there might have been two outs the entire game (we made both of them by the way).
4) The kids competitive fire was not quenched by this arrangement, as the first question they asked when the game was over was, ‘Who won?’ (We did).
5) Organized sports with five year olds is like herding cats.
The rules reminded Dr. J. of the old Mosaic law, “An eye for an eye.” The reason that that law existed was not because Moses saw an eye for an eye as fair justice, but rather to curb vengeful tendencies to take two eyes for one, etc…these rule modifications (including batting around once per inning) exist because the kids can’t get the 3 outs needed to end a side within the duration of their attention spans, rather than exist to coddle precious snowflakes.
The greatest thing for Dr. J. was seeing the sense of proud achievement in the Lil Med Student as he made both of his base hits without needing the tee, and when he scored his runs. Dr. J. suspects that he found a sport that will compete for the Lil Med Student’s heart and mind until he’s old enough for his true destiny, Modern Pentathlete.