CHICAGO – A highly touted prospect debuted last month in the Kennedy Park T-ball League.
Howard “Bubba” Ludwig’s first appearance came at the plate. The four-year-old phenom hit third in the order and didn’t disappoint. On first swing, Ludwig (my son) sent the ball into the gap between first and second, loading the bases.
This turned into a big inning for the A’s (more commonly known as “the green team”). Everyone in the batting order was sent to the plate. The opposing Orioles (a.k.a. “the orange team”) recorded just one out before coaches instructed the two teams to switch sides.
Ludwig took the field after briefly misplacing his hat. He anchored third base. Not a single ball was hit his direction, yet the rookie made his presence known by chatting up opposing runners.
His strategy seemed to work. One distracted runner sprinted from third base across the diamond back to first base rather than heading home as the ball was punched off the tee.
This was one of many base-running blunders throughout the game. A few batters later, the runner advancing from second to third base stopped, picked up a handful of dirt, threw it in the air a la LeBron James and walked into third.
Errors abounded in the field too. The ambitious pitcher and stubborn shortstop fell to the ground wrestling over who was going to throw the ball to first base. The second baseman chewed on her glove while a ball rolled inches past her feet. And the first baseman seemed more interested in wearing his mitt like a facemask than a glove.
It wasn’t long before the O’s ran through their batting order and were sent back into the field. The A’s returned to the dugout seemingly unaware of their many mistakes.
Ludwig again batted third in the order. He stepped to the plate wearing a batting helmet that could have fit over a beach ball. With runners on first and second, the rookie hit a grounder to the first baseman. She scooped up the ball and stepped on the adjacent bag. This was the first out of the inning.
Ludwig seemed stunned. He ran to first base and stood there anyway. It wasn’t until one of the coaches told him to return to the bench that he walked off the field looking like a disappointed bobble-head doll.
Despite the early out, the A’s again ran through the batting order. The team was then sent back out onto the field for the final half inning.
Ludwig was asked to defend second base this time. He returned to his standard form of distracting base runners with inane conversation.
He spoke in depth with one runner about the benefits of wearing a batting helmet. He took his glove and whacked the runner over the head to illustrate his point. This backfired when the runner walloped the helmet-less Ludwig in return for this demonstration.
Again, not a single ball was hit his direction (perhaps by design?). He finished the game by drawing ornate shapes in the dirt with the tip of his shoe.
The two-inning game concluded with an inside-the-park home run by the last batter. All innings end this way.
Finally, the players stood in parallel lines. With their right hands extended, the lines converged with as opponents congratulated each other by repeating, “Good game. Good game. Good game.”
Honestly, the game wasn’t very “good.” I certainly hope the level of play improves, particularly from the much-anticipated rookie. However, I doubt baseball games ever get more entertaining.Google+