When William Shakespeare wrote “All the world’s a stage,” he used an analogy from his profession in the theatre. Having taught high school English for some four decades, my analogy became “All the world’s a classroom.” And what comes immediately to mind is that everyone’s a teacher sharing his or her expertise, especially baseball coaches.
Having seen a few of these coaches this spring takes me back fifty and sixty years ago when I played the sport. And I recall what I thought were good coaches and not so good coaches. Patience, humor and discretion make the very best coaches and teachers. The Technology Titans learn baseball from just such a teacher. Mark Meinhofer, whether his team wins or loses, exhibits patience, humor and discretion. He has the good sense to know that the teaching takes place during practice, not during the game.
The Titans have had chances to see the other kind of coach recently. I had a few like these who constantly talked to the players every minute of the game. These coaches interrupt the player’s concentration. Sometimes they humiliate a player in front of everyone during the game. For example, a couple of weeks ago a right fielder on an opposing team, a very good hitter, dropped an easy catch. Embarrassed, the fielder covered his head as his coach criticized him.
Sorry to get philosophical, you just want to know the score. Well, the Upper Lake Cougars defeated the Titans 14 to 2 Thur., Apr. 18. The Cougars scored three in the first, two in the second, eight in the third and one in the fourth inning. The Titans answered back with one run in the first and another run in the fifth inning.
The Upper Lake batters compiled nineteen hits. Dalton Slater led the way going four for four, scoring two runs and driving in two runs. Diego Velasco held the Titans to five hits along with giving up the two earned runs.
After things went south for his team in the third inning, Meinhofer substituted a variety of players to give others the game time experience. Learning comes through playing and playing involves player thinking. The next practice the coach can talk about errors and walks and poor base running.
One thing is certain, each player knows when he or she has messed up. No amount of coach criticism can make a player feel worse. Take it from one who struck out plenty of times. A player is not hearing the coach’s “You should not have swung at that pitch.” And no player ever just wanted to strike out.
Meinhofer knows all of this. He has the sense to wait until practice and to not put any player on the spot. He realizes that a major part of baseball is failure, not success. And if anyone got anything out of playing baseball, it’s how to deal with failure and how to improve.
The story is about success as well as failure. On Tue., Apr. 16, the Titans defeated Rincon Valley 10 to 0. Matt O’Brien, outfielder, infielder, and starting pitcher, hurled six shutout innings as he struck out twelve batters. He only lost his no hitter in the last inning as he surrendered one hit. The Titans’ bats also hummed as they pounded out eight hits and worked nine walks. Apparently, Titan runners alertly stole seven bases. And all ten runs were earned.
The Titans’ season is a tale of one team, not two, learning about baseball, dealing with defeat and failure, understanding success and winning. Coach Meinhofer’s patience, humor and discretion, contagious, show up in team members as they learn to deal with the ups and downs of baseball and life.
Sam Morrow shakes off another foul that found his helmet. His calm demeanor and even keeled nature remain in tact. One of the nine freshmen strikes out and senior Matt O’Brien, like an older brother, informs him that it was strike three and assures him that there will be another opportunity. Annie Brassfield checks in with her rooting section just before the game to get her sunflower seeds and water as family members encourage her to have a good game. Titan baseball at its best.
The season of education, life and baseball continues. Next up for Coach Meinhofer and his Technology Titans, is another go at Rincon Valley Christian in Santa Rosa at 4 p.m. Mon., Apr. 22.