We Jews may be the Chosen People, but in general, we are not the athletic people. This does not mean we don't harbor dreams. In my youthful fantasies, I got the call in the ninth inning, rode the cart out of the bullpen, stepped up to the Shea Stadium mound and fired three sinkers on the outside corner, then walked slowly into the dugout while 50,000 New Yorkers cheered.
We get older and our dreams shrink. Now I would be happy to lead my team of 9-year-old Jewish kids to just one Sunday victory in the YMCA 9-11 boys' league. We had our first game today.
I am only a semi-fiery coach, but quite sensitive to perceived wrongs. Sandra Bullock, who coaches alongside me, sometimes dominating the proceedings as only she can, cares not at all for the behavior of our opponents.
Following today's game, in which we were, frankly, destroyed by a team of 11-year-old public school kids, I was livid. S. Bullock could not have cared less. Maybe it's a guy thing.
Why was I livid? Because the team we played was much larger than us, much more skilled than us, much older than us, and spent the second half smiling and laughing. The team's parents, in fact, joined them in smiling and laughing, as if they were content fans of the Harlem Globetrotters and we were the hapless Washington Generals. It was a bloodbath. They did everything but fire a bucket full of confetti at the ref.
At one point, I yelled something to one of our players, a very cute, very small girl, about getting in front of the extremely large boy she was covering. She just shrugged her shoulders. Wisely, I might add.
Being passive-agressive, possessed of a long enough memory to recall the last time I got mad at an opposing team and ended up getting called out by their much larger than me coach, and frankly being a little scared of the tough-looking lesbian (named, hilariously, Brooke Shields, I kid you not) who led today's opponents, I tried to keep my mouth shut. I shook her hand and siad nothing at all.
And then turned and announced, loudly, to my crew of concerned parents, "That team should not be playing in this league!"
Our league is purposely non-competitive. I know, it's lame, but that's what it is. We don't even keep score. Why this team of extremely skilled, extremely large, extremely agressive 11-year old was slumming in our 9-11 league is beyond me, unless their purpose was to show up every Sunday, kick the living crap out of their opponents, then smile and laugh their way home where their parents can pat them on the back, puff up their chests and congratulate themselves for having such athletically adept children.
Not that I said any of this to them. I kept my distance.
But the whole experience left a bad taste in my mouth, worse than that left by the rice cakes we had afterwards for snack. Our first game, and admittedly we are not only not very good but also undersized and co-ed in a boys' league, and we get slammed so hard that our kids are now looking ahead to yet another year of Sundays like this. Perhaps it would be better for all concerned if highly-skilled teams led by frightening women named Brooke Shields with glib, self-congratulatory parents found leagues in which they were challenged.
Let me be clear: the kids themselves, other than the laughing and smiling but who can blame them, they were bored, were fine. They played clean, they didn't trash talk. I can't imagine it was much fun for them, other than in the way that shooting a barrel full of fish with a 9 mm pistol would be fun.
I don't know what our team's athletic dreams are. Other than a couple of players, it seems like in general they'd just as soon be doing something else than chugging up and down a basketball court, listening to me yell, "GET A BODY ON THAT GUY!" and trying in vain to hoist up shots with three enormous 11-year-olds draped all over them.
Maybe our next game will be better. Maybe this league contains only one team that should be playing CYO or PAL basketball with kids their own age. Maybe the rest of the teams are like ours -- little, still learning how to play, longer on enthusiasm than skill.
We can only hope. Otherwise, look for this coach's mouth to write a check that his butt is in no way ready to cash before the season is over.
My mom always told me that my mouth would get me in trouble someday.