Tuesday, April 17, 2007


T-ball season is almost here--four days until the Opening Day parade. A.J. has formed some definite ideas about how his season will go, and they mostly center on two ideas:

1) He will play shortstop; and

2) He will wear cleats.

I suppose the shortstop business can be traced back to last year's T-ball coach, who, when he saw A.J. scooping up some ground balls, announced, "OK, A.J., you're going to be our shortstop." I don't think I've ever seen a boy look prouder, even though the coach wasn't exactly fully serious. At that age level, it's generally accepted practice to rotate the kids around the diamond, so they get an inning at each position.

Nevertheless, since about mid-February, A.J. has been announcing to me daily, usually completely out of the blue, "I'm going to play shortstop this year."

I usually make some long-winded, buzz-killing dad's reply: "Well, I think your coach will probably have everyone take a turn at all the positions..."

To which A.J. will say, "I know, but I'm going to be shortstop."

Then there's his other obsession: Cleats.

Last year, they weren't allowed. This year, they are. It seems like bizarre overkill to me to have six-year-old kids wearing cleats and baseball pants for T-ball. Whatever happened to a t-shirt, rolled-up jeans, and a pair of Chuck Taylors? I have a hard enough time getting used to the idea of six-year-olds playing organized baseball (I started at eight), let alone having to outfit them.

But do I want my kid to be the only one on his team without cleats? This morning, we went to the mall and bought a pair of cleats, which, I have to admit, look pretty cool. A.J. tried them out in the store by sprinting down the aisle and sliding into an imaginary home plate. Then he got into a fielder's crouch and moved sideways, like he was getting in front of a ground ball.

"That's how I'll move when I play shortstop," he said.

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