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Apodaca: The unwritten rules of baseball

March 11, 2011|By Patrice Apodaca
(Becky Yeh )

Spring is fast upon us, which in my house means one thing: It's baseball season again.

All around Newport-Mesa, baseball fields are bustling, with the littlest Little Leaguers to brawny high school players hoping for fleeting moments of glory that make the long hours of practice worthwhile.

As they rehearse, I do my own prep work. When a new season arrives, I do a mental inventory to remind myself of the guidelines I've established for my own behavior.

I freely admit that my code of conduct might not jibe with others' ideas of good parenting. But I believe I would have adopted a similar approach no matter which sport my sons had chosen to pursue.

For what it's worth, I humbly offer my Rules for Staying Sane During Baseball Season:

1.) Keep my mouth shut.

Over the years, I've learned the hard way that it's best to stifle any impulse to go beyond generic "Go team!"–type cheers during games, and empathetic nods and "hmms" afterwards.

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Anything else doesn't help and sometimes makes matters worse, whether it's pointless directives ("Get a hit!"), post-game platitudes ("You tried your hardest, and that's all that matters"), or other useless suggestions ("Visualize success!").

I've managed to minimize my role as my kids' biggest fan to maintaining a quiet, patient presence. I offer a supportive shoulder squeeze here, a hair tousle there, but I otherwise can the unnecessary commentary. In other words, I let them figure it out.

2.) Don't criticize or make excuses.

The players get plenty of critiquing from coaches and other players. By the time they get home, they know what they did wrong — or right. They might want to talk about it; they might not. Either way, I refer back to Rule No. 1: Keep it zipped.

Even parents who know baseball backwards and forwards trip up on this one. I offer one exchange from years ago between my sports-fanatic husband and oldest son as a case in point:

Dad: "You know what your first mistake was?"

Son: Silence.

Dad: "You should never walk the lead-off batter."

Son: "You think I tried to walk him? Like that was a strategy?"

Dad: "No, but that was your first mistake."

Son: "How does that help?"

Exactly.

Making excuses was my bit. It's tempting to unfairly malign umpires and coaches, but I realized long ago that my rationalizing set a lousy example, and I had no idea what I was talking about, anyway. Which brings me to…

3.) I don't know anything.

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