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Jewish World Review June 6, 2002 / 25 Sivan, 5762

Michelle Kennedy

Michelle Kennedy
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Consumer Reports

This game fits
parents to a tee | ANNOUNCER: "Good afternoon, baseball fans, and welcome to this evening's game. Tonight the mighty Brewers are hosting the Astros, so everyone sit back and make yourselves at home."

Sit back? In the bleachers, comfort is adjusting the splinters so that they only hit the seams of my pants.

ANNOUNCER: "As the Brewers take to the field - we see that Nos. 12, 3 and 8 are pitching this evening. No. 12 will be the right-side pitcher and No. 8 will take the left side, leaving No. 3 on the mound.

"The Astros first batter is No. 5 and after a few practice swings, he sets himself up next to home plate - and, oh a swing and a miss. All right, he sets himself up again and oh - it's a piece of PVC pipe headed straight for third. But that's OK - the runner takes his base."

Confused? Don't be. In tee ball, if you hit anything in the vicinity of home plate, it's good for a run to first base. That's if you remember to run to first base.

ANNOUNCER: "Our next batter is No. 3. No. 3 is straight out of kindergarten and showed a lot of promise in the preschool Velcro glove league. This is her first at-bat in the big leagues. Beautiful - a hit to the right-side pitcher and she is off - straight to second base! This girl is so good, she didn't even need to run to first base first."

And so it goes. Kids are running to bases that haven't been invented yet, while other children - led by my own fearless 6-year-old, are drawing pictures with their gloves in the dirt. He looks up every now and then to watch a grounder go by or cheer on someone on the other team who hit a home run.

ANNOUNCER: "No. 7 hits it to between the legs of the first baseman; he's safe at first; the first baseman throws it to second - oh, it goes over the second baseman and into center field; the center fielder finds the ball - but what's that? Oh, the center fielder is heading for the Porta-Potty - it's a home run for No. 7!"

And the crowd goes wild. What's funnier - at least for the rest of the parents (particularly the parents of the center fielder) - is watching the father of No. 7 brag to everyone how talented he always knew his son was.

By the ninth inning, the score is 653-625.

My oldest son is 10 years old and now plays baseball in a league that keeps score. We all go to the games, and we cheer and when they lose, we feel bad for them. I was, of course, a little dismayed when at the first game the coach told the team that the "name of the game was winning." (I thought it was baseball - but maybe I missed the memo.)

Now, don't get me wrong. I understand the need for competition and the fact that there has to be a winner and a loser and blah, blah, blah. But there is something joyous in the game of tee ball. Everyone wins, everyone gets a cool team T-shirt (and a juice box and a granola bar after the game), and even if you ran to second base first, you still get a chance to hit the next time your turn is up.

And for us parents - particularly the ones who are shuffling multiple children between soccer, dance and baseball games all in the same evening - sitting down to watch a game of tee ball is the most entertainment we get all day.

ANNOUNCER: "It's a grounder to the shortstop. And look the third baseman, left fielder, second baseman, all of the pitchers, and ... is that? Yes, it's the runner from first - have all come to help him out. The second baseman - I think - picks up the ball and throws it to the first base runner and - the batter's out."

Hah! Not so fast. Remember this is tee ball - and if the runner tagged out still wants to run, well ... let him. In fact, if he wants to head in for a home run, well, it's tee ball - and in tee ball, everybody wins.

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JWR contributor Michelle Kennedy, who reads and responds to all of her mail, is a reporter and columnist for the Green Bay News-Chronicle. Comment by clicking here.


05/09/02: "Shut up!" "Stop shoving!" it's Mother's Day
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03/25/02: Thrust into a Barbie dreamland
02/01/02: Shooting the 'surplus population'
12/20/01: Zen and the Art of Clutter
12/14/01: Confessions of a serial library fine payer
12/06/01: Too good at my job, I quit

© 2001, Michelle Kennedy