Face value

It’s come – the line of demarcation in the season when I finally know all the players’ names and can correctly match-up each player with his family. I’m still working on pairing all parents with their first names though. But by the time the team travels to Cooperstown in July, I usually have this down too.

I’m mystified why it takes me so long to master this each year. Faces – I never forget. Names? Well, that’s a different story. I guess I’m a visual learner. That’s the best excuse I can come up with. But I really do believe that names are important. And I honestly want to – and try to – remember them. But in all these years, I just haven’t found the one trick that works best for me.

So Indian players and parents – past, present, and future – if I accidentally call you by the wrong name, I hope you will understand. And I want you also to know that, while I may forget your name, I will never forget YOU. The hundreds of people who have come into Bob’s and my life by way of the Indians have been an integral and important part of our lives. Collectively you have enriched our lives in countless ways. And though names may sometimes escape me, the many fond memories you have created for our family are a lasting treasure.

Ask not what your players must do for you; ask what you must do for your players

Bob loves coaching at third base. He tells me he feels he “earns his keep” there. But third base is pretty far from home – sometimes too far as it turns out. At this weekend’s tournament, the Indians seemed to gain a competitive edge by having their head coach stay a little closer to “home” – right there in the dugout with them.

It was enjoyable to see Bob and the players interact this closely – play after play (and also before plays). And it seemed to pay dividends.

It’s often said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. After an opening game loss that didn’t showcase the team’s full potential, the coaches knew changes needed to be made if the Indians were to have a successful tournament. But rather than just look at what the kids needed to do differently (what the coaches needed from the players), they also considered what THEY could do differently (what the players needed from their coaches).

So it was that Bob ended up in the dugout for the next four games (which we won!) – engaging the kids in conversation about the game and about situations, giving them more constant and direct guidance and encouragement than he is able to do at third base.

For now, this strategy seems to be effective. But you can be sure if it ever looks like it has stopped working, the Indian coaches will put their heads together once again and come up with some other idea – rather than keep on doing the same old thing over and over again, hoping for different results.