Ethan is nearly 7 months old here. The boy is damn well going to walk. Daddy has just returned from a trip to the Cape to hang with his partner in intellectual terror, from the old MA days. Hence, the bronze. Thankfully, E got my skin, also. His mother gets red and peels in a day, I am1/8 Cherokee Indian and turn dark brown, if I spend any time in the sun. Homey is just the same, with his 1/16. That and our hair blonds up big time. He was born with brown hair. My hair was WHITE until I was 6 or so. It is quickly becoming so again. Ethan certainly has his, “What? Me fail? Pssssha!” look, as do I.
It’s the look I would give pitchers when I played baseball, it was natural for me. Ethan does the very same thing; it’s uncanny. The effect, you get first base a lot, because dude thinks you may be coming to eat him and he hits you. E and I actually talked about this at dinner after his last game of the year a few years ago. When I told him that I wanted to see the pitcher stare back, he broke in and said, “Exactly, then you know you’ve got a chance to hit the ball.”
Before long, he’ll need to understand when to take offense at that pitch. It will happen when he begins summer ball. There is always at least one big scrum a year in summer ball, and it ALWAYS starts between the two biggest guys on the teams. I think that most of you who played serious baseball will agree. If you’re that guy, you generally play short and pitch, both because of arm strength. Ethan is exactly like me in that he makes the other kids look like they ought to be in a lower age bracket. (Both of our coaches had copies off our birth certificates. I can’t say how many times I was challenged for age. My coach, James Ward, would say, “Come with me Big Guy, give the coach your look.” Same thing every time.)He will be the one who gets drilled in 2 or 3 years. In an all-star summer league, there will be a couple of guys probably who are at least close to his size. Their arms will have an extra 10-15 mph on them. That’s like the speed of light when trying to hit a baseball.
There is no doubt that Ethan will be “drafted” by the best team in his region, if they still do it that way. They will find at least one team in their travel area that will threaten their undefeated record. That will be fight game. The two pitchers were penned in when the schedule was published. Damn, there is nothing like being a kid, chillin with the cats you play with, the team no one wants to see, and headed to the one team that both believes and has the talent to beat you. The only acceptable result is to put the opposing big guys pitch so far over the fence he can’t see it land, and get around those bases like you’re saying, “Yeah, sure, you want to do the same thing, but I just stole your mojo. I own you now!” He’ll likely be so eager that you can take him outside for the first two & back him off with one down the middle. I began teaching E-boy a 2-seam fastball nearly 3 years ago. It puts no extra torque on the arm, but if practiced and perfected, he will not likely see anyone who can recognize its spin and hit it or, more likely, lay off of it until High School, and not many then. A good 2-seamer will hit the tip of the plate and dive down and to the right for a right hander, which is the result primarily of how the ball is held and the fact that one exerts most of their pressure on the top two fingers, relaxing the thumb. This sends the ball towards the plate off-center. Physics does the rest. I was lucky enough to have a coach teach me the grip in 10 & under, by 12 I had enough command of it to flip the whigs on coaches who refused to believe that they had just seen an intentional pitch such as that. I practiced it for hours and hours at a time.
Ethan gave his the bite but not the break the very first time he threw it to me; too much thumb pressure. It sounds easy, but learning to relax that thumb just right is hard as hell. If he masters that pitch, no doubt it will be his job to drop bat, throw hat and always miss everyone else rushing out most often looking at one another. He turns Strong Safety with the job of putting pitcher on the ground with authority, don’t give your move away too soon E. Look like you’re going to slug, so you don’t have to do so. He will not be planted for a tackle, shoulder into diaphragm. You knock the wind out of him and you can start to sell shares in the guy. Unconsciously, the guy will be weary of retaliation, and you have already shown him some pain. In that case, fastball outside off the plate, 2-seamer, he’d swing at the third pitch if you threw it into the outfield. That’s the greatness of baseball, it’s a head game. If you can confuse the other guy, often by doing something audacious like throwing a dead center thigh high heater, a ball that would normally look like a basketball to a good hitter, for a looking 3, you’re already on check mate with all but the toughest minded kids. I would rather go to see a GOOD little league game than the Yankees, any day. I will see you play this summer, boy-0. It has come to me to make that pledge right here. Can’t wait to see you put on that face with your helmet in the on-deck circle, as natural as looking at the page of the book you are opening. I’ll give you my Alice ‘n Chains CDs, and you can play “The Rooster” until your mom has nightmares about them, and remember "Man In the Box. (Tracks 6 and 4 on the Live CD you like so much!) She never did appreciate Layne Staley’s brilliance. That new cat they have singing suuuuuuks in comparison; Staley was THE greatest voice to come out of Seattle in the 90’s; now only good old Cornell, the best writer left, and guess what boy? Got e-mail, new album on March 22. Perhaps rock’n roll will live in this rusty cage of ours. So, it’s a baseball game surprise, all my Alice & Chains, in addition to my Soundgardens. You know the deal don’t you? Can’t wait.