Tonight we had our first Little League game for the little little, followed by the second game.
The rules are truncated for the littles. We play two-inning games, with everyone batting in each inning, and no outs. Three pitches from the pitch machine, maybe more with fouls, at the lowest setting. If the batter doesn't hit, we get out the stand, and they hit the ball into play, usually with a swing or two. Then it's a bunch of coaches tossing out "run" and "get the ball" and "get to first, ready to catch" and "throw, throw, throw..." At the last batter, it's a base-clearing "home run," no matter what happens with the ball. We only have seven players, so we play without a catcher (coach does it) or center fielder.
There are a lot of intermittent "look at the batter," "stand up," "put your glove on," and "stop drawing in the dirt." Dirt swirls and dandelions are the most interesting things, it seems. Sometimes even when the ball is in play, as we had one collision between base runner and second-base player doodling in the sand with their toe.
It's all to get the basics in. Few of the kids can catch, or throw, at least to the target. All of them can send the ball sailing. That's all cool. They all seem to want to slow-motion bat the ball into oblivion, even in practice. But, it's all fun. All of it is supposed to be fun.
They grumble and groan at any direction. Even the simple things like "look that way, so you can see the ball coming at you." They give "I know, I will" more than they just do.
But when things go well, and they do the thing, like track down that grounder, throw on target, catch in the glove, or hit on the pitch...it's all glee and "did you see that?" It's all laughs and high-fives and smiles. It is all fun.
The second game started as normal bedtime approaches. By the end of it, half of the team was grumpy, and half of them laying in the field at least some of the time.
The pandemic hit the games in weird ways. We work to stay a little separated in the dugouts and on the field. Everyone wears a mask, unless the batting helmet makes that hard, but even then we try. Although we're outside and separated by many yards in the field, the masks are required. We also have to be careful with the gear. Thankfully everyone has their own batting helmet, but not everyone has their own bats, plus in the pace of the batting, not everyone grabs their own bat (about half of the team have the same blue Easton bat).
We'll get it going. Excusing the "ugh" that comes out trying to encourage kids on their first team adventure, it's all fantastic. Time outside, watching and playing baseball, and with the kiddo. It's all fantastic.
Everyone is healthy.