You’re on a team as a new guy… either as a walk on, new sign-up, or as a freshman at either the high school or the college level. As you look up and down the bench you start to make some mental notes and assumptions based on either your witness or appraisals of those on either side of you.
“ Yes, I can play better than that guy, that guy, him over there … oh heck, no sweat with that one.”
So, you and the others take the field and you start to display your talents … a little awkward at first, but things start to come around and confirm you initial estimates of those that were on the bench with you. Things are looking pretty good, and you know deep down in your gut you’re one of the best prospects on this club.
Then things start to slide a little sideways … you’re benched for a couple of games, you’re put out in right field with the mosquitoes, dandelions and just within earshot of a bunch of little kids on bikes that have a talent for heckling the daylights out of you.
Your senses are telling you that you don’t belong here … what’s with this?
It’s time to understand the coaching role and some of the things that weigh on a coach’s decision to place players on the field.
More often than not, a coach has had a roster with him/her for a few years and that builds relationships, appreciation for effort and heart, and a sense of accomplishment watching a player going from a diamond in the rough to a darn good performer. In addition, there are tradeoffs in making a roster that has to balance fielding skills (defensive) with batting and baser running skills (offensive). And then there are “must play” rules and protocols that are adopted by leagues that state that every player must complete a certain number of innings during a game, so everyone plays.
I’d like to go back to the first subject in the paragraph above, “ builds relationships”. I’ve had pitchers on my rotation that were with a club for a few years and no one was more eager to win than me. However, I knew that playing days were number for a couple of guys and regardless of the situation, deliberate decisions were made - by me and others, to put these guys in a series of games while others with fare more talent sat. Was this fair? Well, that all depends on your interpretation of the word fair.
Fair to the club, in total, if we lost? Fair to the more talented pitchers if we lost, again? Is this game (not the business end of things), that important. Would it be to you?
Now don’t go jumping to conclusions that sympathy governs the coaching process - it doesn’t. But other things must be considered beyond the box scores - that’s what we as humans do. On the other hand we don’t deliberately scratch a game when all our experience and reasoning tells us otherwise.
So be patient when occupying a roster spot, a place in the rotation or batting order. There are other things in orbit that a coach has to consider for his/her sake and that of the people he/she has to address later. You too someday will have a clipboard under your arm, weighing this and that, trying to avoid eye contact from the young man that says “ just give me a chance coach.” So don’t rush things, you’ll be there sooner than you think.