Single page view By Jim Caple
Page 2

Everyone is focused on the final "Star Wars'' movie that just opened, but what concerns me more is the upcoming release of the "Bad News Bears'' remake.

Remaking "The Bad News Bears'' is like sending Halle Berry to a plastic surgeon. What's the point? The original "Bad News Bears'' is not only one of the great sports movies of all time, it is one of the most honest. The original so accurately portrays Little League that you can practically feel the snowcone juice dripping down your hand.

Little League is filled with overbearing coaches, parents who take the games too seriously and thoughtless, foul-mouthed kids who pick on the smaller players. And because of that, it's time for the Off-Base guide to coaching Little League.

1. Show up sober. Or if you must drink – and coaching Little League is enough to drive a Southern Baptist minister to hard liquor – at least drink vodka so the kids can't smell it on your breath. Otherwise, they start questioning your hit-and-run calls.

2. The parent is always right. By this, of course, I mean the parent is usually wrong, pigheaded and embarrassing, but it's best just to nod your head and agree. Remember: it's just baseball. It's not worth getting shot over.

3. Snowcones are nice but money is a better incentive. My favorite manager gave us a dime for every hit and 30 cents for every hit against select pitchers – and remember, this was back when 30 cents could buy you a pack of baseball cards and a comic book. Just be prepared in case your star player shows up before a game with his older brother as his "agent.''

4. Don't be an jerk by yelling at the umpire. Remember, it's only a game and he's a volunteer doing the best job he can. The best way to handle a bad call is to shrug it off and tell your players that no one is perfect. Then after the game, slash the umpire's tires.

5. Opt for the Clear instead of the Cream when dispensing steroids.

All right. Now that you have the basics, here are some actual tips from real major league players and coaches:

1. Don't pressure the players – there'll be plenty of time for red-faced, overbearing authority figures screaming and cursing at the kids when the government reinstitutes the draft in a couple years. "Don't push kids too hard,'' Derek Jeter says. "The only way they're going to stay around the game is if they're having fun. Yeah, you have to make it a learning experience, but it has to be a fun experience.'' Vary practice routines and keep the kids active. Hit them grounders and fly balls during batting practice so they aren't standing around, picking their noses, while the worst kid on the team swings and misses at pitch after pitch. And if things break down totally, just hose down a section of the infield and let them practice sliding around in the mud.

2. Give positive reinforcement – At least, as much as possible, when they miss a fly ball because they were busy picking dandelions. "There is so much of 'Don't do this' and 'Don't do that' in teaching baseball to kids but they also have to have enough positive feedback that they want to come back again,'' Seattle pitching coach Bryan Price said. "The kids want to know when they're doing something right. They may only do it right one time out of 10, but it's important to really focus in on that one time.''

Continued...


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