Thursday, March 27, 2014

Opening Day Special: Welcome to the Middle Leagues!

Yes, those are my REAL ears!
(I grew into them.)
          I know that Opening Day is supposed to be all about new beginnings -- a time when baseball fans are full of hope and optimism. But I’m not going to lie. For me, the start of another Major League season dredges up bad memories of Little League season after season. The overzealous parents. The overbearing coaches. It’s a lot of pressure on a little kid. But as if that’s not enough, as a Middle Child there’s also the added pressure, internal or otherwise, of trying to live up to the reputation of your older brother or sister. It’s really a lot like having the same teacher they had. Right from the start, everything you do gets compared to what they did.
          If your older sib was a great athlete, it can be a daunting challenge. If they were really bad, then you come into the league with one strike against you. You just can’t win. Of course, if you’re lucky and your older sibling was a total spaz, the bar may be set so low that you might be able to exceed expectations without having to actually be a very good ball player at all.

A League of Our Own:
a different kind of MLB.
          In my case, I did not have a lot to live up to. My brother was by no means an All-Star. Let’s just say managers weren’t exactly scouting me. I did more choking at bat than choking up on the bat. But you know what’s even more damaging than thinking you’ll be told you’re not as good as your older brother? Worrying that you won’t be as not-good as your older brother! Look, I understand that we can’t all be world class athletes, but I say a kid deserves the chance to suck at baseball on their own terms. Couldn’t I even get some negative attention I could call my own?
          Maybe there should be an alternative to Little League. How about Middle League baseball -- a league where no one lives up (or down) to the legend of their older sibling. “Ridiculous,” you say. “It will never work!” But just remember, that’s exactly what people said about the U.S.F.L. Finally, I realize this problem is not just limited to Middle Children and could be an issue for anyone who's not the first born. My suggestion to them: GO FORM YOUR OWN LEAGUE!
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          Baseball clearly wasn’t my favorite pastime as a kid. But in celebration of Opening Day, please enjoy my take on an American classic: “Take Me Out to the Ball Game -The Middle Child Mix," a.k.a. “(You Never) Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” performed by the world famous Smack Dab Singers. 

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Middle Children need to be heard!