Perhaps the memories of actually playing baseball are the reason I have spent a lot of time watching baseball on the TV during my life. However; the further and further I get from the actual events of throwing and catching and hitting a baseball make it less and less watchable for me. At least I thought so, until I was flipping around this weekend and started watching some of the Little League World Series qualifying games. It's not like I've never watched Little League baseball before, but when I realized I'd rather watch a bunch of 12-year olds play the game than watch the Cardinals and the Cubs, it came as a bit of a shock.
Little League was crucial to my life. For me, it was the pinnacle of an organized team sport which was also actually terrific fun to play. After that came Babe Ruth League and that's when the coaches started getting serious about "training" and "conditioning," and that's when I gave up on organized baseball. I had signed up to throw and catch and hit; not to run laps around the field in 100 degree heat.
Throwing and catching a ball should be one of the fondest memories a kid shares with their dad. I know it's one of the clearest and happiest memories I have with the fellow who was a great dad to me when he had a ball in his hands. (With a bottle, not so much.) And I know my daughter tells me that this is one of her happiest memories, too.
When she was young, we could sit and toss a ball back and forth for extended periods of time without getting bored. Before she got old enough for actual hardball, the art of picking out just the right ball for this was crucial. Tennis balls were too hard and too difficult for her little hands to grasp. Something around that size, or even larger, was great if it was soft enough to grasp while, at the same time, had enough weight and substance to toss hard when the "game" got into the later innings. The "game" with us was the simple pleasure of seeing how many times we could throw it to each other without it hitting the ground. I'd usually be in a chair and she'd be sitting on a beanbag or pillows across the room. I know we managed to pass the triple-digit mark more than once. That was a great lesson for her in both perseverance as well as hand-eye coordination. She's a pretty good dart tosser even now.
I can remember some of the balls we enjoyed during that cycle. One was a pink softball-looking monstrosity. One was a green sticky thing with light green spots on it, looking like a diseased spore of some sort. There were others, but she and I still talk about them, so many years later, probably with the same amount of reverence Roger Maris would use to talk about the ball he hit for Number 61 that marvelous year.
As a result of all this practice, my daughter does not "throw a ball like a girl," as the common phrase goes. Some have surmised that girls' shoulders have a different anatomy than a boys' and that's the reason so many girls throw a ball the way they do. But there is no difference in the anatomy of the arm and shoulder between boys and girls. Look at a good girls' softball team's catcher or shortstop throw someone out. With folks who never learned how to throw, the series of actions that are used to throw a ball with any velocity are just not working in the right order. It's a learned ability that you either had an adult teach you or you did not.
If you think I'm wrong, pick up a ball with your non-throwing arm and try it. You'll "throw like a girl" with that arm because you've never trained it to do the task. You'll face the target with your entire body and your elbow will be at waist-level, pointed out in front of you. You'll tilt your forearm back toward your shoulder and you'll hold the ball like a dinner plate and then you'll release it "like a girl." As with hitting a golf ball or serving a tennis ball or almost any other action involving a ball and velocity, you do a lot of it with your lower body plus a series of quite complicated hinges along the way to your hand. With throwing, it's the difference between "pushing" a ball forward and "hurling" it. The most obvious visual element of "throwing like a girl" is that the elbow stays low instead of coming up to shoulder height or above, which almost invariably will cause rotation of the chest and lower body.
Your current President throws like a girl, and I could show you links on YouTube which would serve as visual proof. This doesn't make me think less of him as a person, but it does make me sad for him that he didn't have a dad to teach him how to throw, as his predecessor did. Links of that visual proof could also be found on YouTube.
In case that minor political aside angered you, here's a little story you'll like. I was in Walgreens the other day and I found myself slowing down in the aisle where all the toy balls were. I started reminiscing and fantasizing about my daughter and me standing there in a similar situation when she was a little kid, trying out the different balls to see which one we'd take home for our little game. I picked up a couple of them to get the feel. There was one kind that I'd never seen before. It was about the right size and it had several symmetrical raised humps on it. I was thinking, "This would make for a good grip and would probably be easy to catch." Then I thought, "But if you tried to bounce it, like we'd do sometimes, it could go anywhere." And, being impulsive, that thought hadn't been in my head for two seconds until I bounced it right in front of me on the floor. It came up and hit me squarely and quite painfully in the nuts.