Build Together–Before We Fall Apart

I’m coaching 12-and-under baseball again this year. My team was to have had 13 players, but just before the season started, one of the best pitchers fell at a school sock hop and broke his arm. He’ll be out until July–at best. At the first practice, one of the new prospects got out of the car in a sling. He’d broken his arm, too. When the team picture was taken that Saturday morning, one of the older, more dependable boys (who had been on the team for five years) had a brace on his right arm. He was going straight from the picture to see if the arm was fractured. His mother confirmed that night that indeed it was.

Suddenly my 13-person roster is down to 10, so kids that have never played certain positions will be challenged this season. Pitchers doing well will stay in a few more innings instead of getting relief, and batters that formerly got away with looking at a called third strike are going to have to start swinging–we will need to play aggressively. The season has just begun so we have as good a chance as anyone to accomplish great things, but the odds are considerably against success at this point. I appealed to the recreation department to give us one or two more players, but the answer was no. We must play the cards we have been dealt.

Here are some facts:

· Nothing I can do will make broken bones heal faster.

· Even when the injured players are healed, they will not be ready to fully compete this season.

· Those that are healthy will have to step up and shoulder more responsibility.

· Parents and teammates should find ways to support both the injured and the healthy–but not pity any of them.

One of the keys for any success this season is to ensure that the remaining players are familiar with game rules and master fundamentals (when to steal, when to bunt, when to take a pitch). And more than anything, these players need to know that what they do on behalf of the whole team is appreciated.

Switching Tactics

OK–the groundwork has been laid. Let’s step out of the box and consider another context.

Our president, governor and mayor were elected to be in charge of a “team.” They told the country, state and city that the buck stops there, at their desk. They are in charge. Suddenly, and unfortunately, the housing and investment crises have hit the country at the same time as the fuel crisis. That sounds like three broken arms. But the officials seem to be coming up with a different list of what to do.

See, my manager’s approach accepted a few realities and moved toward solutions by supporting those still on their feet and capable of fighting the good fight.

Yes, those people in housing foreclosure need support and forward-looking programs to help them save realistically for the future, but everyone is missing something simple here. Analogously, in the game of pool a solid player knows that sinking a ball in a pocket is worthless unless the cue ball lines up for the next shot. An inexperienced player just slams the object ball in a pocket, letting the cue ball bounce around the table. The cue ball doesn’t land in a particular place by accident–it is how you play the game.

Lessons In Commitment

So, America–as Bernie Mac used to say–will everyone please take their eyes off the pity party for awhile and focus on the struggling, but buoyant middle class? That group, however, will be the next to fall if it doesn’t get a break or two soon. It is supporting the carefree foreclosure-laden banks with their fees and surcharges. The government treats it as the well-adjusted middle child and says, “Oh, he’ll be okay.” The middle class has watched this absolute embarrassment of an election campaign, and tolerated the type of drivel and baloney that probably has real presidents like Lincoln and Truman spinning in their graves like a lathe! I believe today’s politicians come from the same cast of characters that told those watching the levees crest in Louisiana that they will be OK–no big deal. What does one have to do to get their attention? They are focused on Band-Aids and spot repairs instead of solving the problem.

Before any of the overpaid mouthpieces try to complicate it, try this on for size: Dear American Politicians, here is how we save our country:

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