Michael Sullivan Online


Week 24: Let's Focus on the Positive: Mike's Coaching Debut

CANBERRA AUSTRALIA - 18 October 2000 - The weekend started good enough for Mike. He shot some pool with Danne after work and finished his Christmas shopping. On Saturday morning, his under-12 baseball team (Ainslie) had their first game. Since there was no umpire, Mike volunteered and had a rather inconsistent strike zone. Both teams had good starting pitchers so it didn't matter too much. Ainslie played a great game including gunning down a runner trying to steal third and turning a double play on a pop-up right to the seond baseman. Ainslie won the game 6-4 and held off a last inning rally.

As far as Mike's baseball playing goes, Mike didn't play too well. He was 0-2 at the plate with a walk and a strike out in the B-grade game. His timing at bat was completely off and he really needs to spend time on his hitting. In the field, things weren't perfect either. He started in right field and couldn't decide whether to aggressively play a ground ball or be a bit more conservative; he ended up doing something in between which resulted in the ball going under his glove, off his foot, and rolling about six feet behind him. This allowed an extra run to score. On the next play to him, cleanly fielded a bouncing ball. The following play, however, was a bit interesting. The ball was hit in the vacinity of center field. Mike heard the center fielder say he couldn't see it and Mike thought it was hit right at him. Mike jogged over toward his right then realized he had a chance at the ball. He say it hanging up in the wind and tried a basket catch as he had gotten himself out of position. Unfortunately, the ball glanced off the glove and landed on the ground where Mike quickly rounded it up. From that point on, Mike decided to be aggressive no matter what. This was tested on Mike's last play of the day. with a strong wind blowing in, Mike was playing somewhat shallow. One of the opposing batters hit the ball fairly hard in the air. Mike turned and went back on the ball. Mike got a bit turned around and nearly over ran the ball. Once the ball decided to fall, Mike was under it like he was catching an American football pass. The ball landed in the glove but Mike's feet had gotten so messed up that he fell to his knees. Thankfully the ball stayed in its home and Mike made a successfull catch. Mike came into the dug out at the end of the inning and his teamates congratulated him on his catch not necessarily because it was a great catch but more because he'd caught it. Thankfully the team is very supportive and Mike hasn't heard a bad word as he's struggled a bit. Unfortunately, Ainslie lost but kept it close against the defending champions.

Mike watched the A-grade game from the stands in between having a few grilled hamburgers. The game started out with the visiting team getting an early lead on the Ainslie club. In about the fifth inning, the visiting Vikings hit a three run homer. The previous batter, number 4, who had just gotten a walk started talking like he was the best ball player around. He ran around the bases in this fashion inciting the home crowd. The umpire gave him a warning. Speaking of the umpire, he had a very inconsistent strike zone and missed a few calls, most notably an infield fly. The players complained and were rather frustrated in general. In addition, he had lost control of the game. The next time number four came to bat, the bases were loaded. The crowd wondered if he would throw at the batter but those fears were relieved on the first pitch which was a strike. The batter was a bit nervous but worked out a walk. In one of the following innings, things got more out of control. The first Ainslie batter came up to the plate and swung at a very low ball. In his follow through, the bat came out of his hands and landed in between the pitcher and first baseman. The hitter and pitcher glared at each other but the umpire said nothing. On the next pitch, the ball sailed about 5 feet over the batter's head. He responded by taking three steps towards the pitcher and headed back to the plate. Immediately, the umpire ejected the pitcher and soon the batter followed. About half of each team congregated around the umpires to defend their teamates if need be against each other and the umps. The third base coach for Ainslie argued that the batter shouldn't have been ejected since he didn't actually charge the mound. Soon he was sent to the stands too. Once the dust had settled, the game resumed. In the top of the eighth inning, there was another controversy. A Viking runner had been caught in between first and second and a runner had come in to score from third. However, it had looked as though the runner between first and second grabbed the shortstop and left the base line during the course of the run down. Ainslie had argued that the run shouldn't count. The catcher, who had his differences with the home plate umpire but had always smoothied things over, was quickly tossed by the field umpire and for no apparent reason so was the runner. The Ainslie catcher was due up in the ninth and already had two home runs and a double. His ejection had pretty much sealed the fate of the team even though they'd battled back to 11-15. The replacement catcher was called in from the stands and was not at all ready to play but did a fine job under the circumstances. Without a large part of the team, Ainslie lost 17-11 but Mike had a great time watching.

After the game, Mike met most of the team at the Ainslie Football Club, where he became a member. He had a few drinks and a steak for dinner while he got to better know some of his teamates.

On Tuesday night, Mike went to his boss's house for a BBQ. Leo hosted a group celebration of Danne's graduation and imminent departure. It was a cool night so everyone sat inside.

Here ends Mike's twenty fourth week in Australia.

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