By about this time, all over America baseball all-star teams are winding down their seasons.
Many already have lost in their double-elimination tournament -- and those few that haven't soon will. A select few -- very few -- will travel to state and regional tournaments.
What you hope all of them will get before it's over is an all-star experience. I don't mean a lot of home runs, strikeout pitches and errorless innings. I mean walking off the field after that final out feeling good about yourself and the experience. Shaking the opponents' hands one last time, having learned more about sportsmanship and teamwork then hitting curveballs and snaring line drives.
Youth sports should be fun, even at its highest level.
We've all heard all-star team stories about crazy parents yelling at coaches, crazy coaches yelling at kids, and crazy confrontations between parents. Unfortunately, we also hear those stories during the regular season. What we don't often hear about are the good things that happen during all-star season.
I recently followed a 10-year-old all-star team in its double-elimination tournament through emails from one of the coaches. Through his words, I felt many of the emotions that I probably wouldn't have experienced from a lawn chair beyond the center-field fence trying to tune out the negative comments surrounding me.
This was a team that, like all all-star teams, had some controversy, some ups and downs, and eventually lost Game 2 and its season ended.
During Game 1, they had several kids crying after striking out, complaints about calls and several kids pointing fingers.
The coaching staff addressed that during the practices after the game. They preached: "Win or lose, we are in it together and there is no reason to feel pressure or to cry, mope or blame others."
During what would be the last game (after winning a couple), the kids that had cried could be seen doing everything possible to hold it back. A kid that had to be told not to blame others was seen sitting next to a kid who struck out and telling him to "get him next time."
The coach proudly told me it was "good stuff," despite the loss. Unlike some all-star teams, this one lost in style.
That "be positive" slogan is too often not understood by those involved in youth all-star teams.
Not this team. They got it. They truly had an all-star performance.
Contact Jon Buzby at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him @JonBuzby on Twitter.