Help me talk to a 14 year-old boy about baseball.
April 12, 2012 3:30 PM   Subscribe

Help me talk to a 14 year-old boy about baseball.

An upcoming meeting w/ a friend's 14 yr. old ex NY Little Leaguer son; I'm told he liked fielding and shortstop. I need to engage and hopefully impress him (and his mother) in short order. Nothing too complicated, cause I may not be able to do an intelligible follow-thru.
posted by ebesan to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Do you know which team he roots for?
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:31 PM on April 12, 2012

Ask him what team he likes. Then ask him how they're doing so far.

If he likes the Yankees, ask him what he thinks of Jeter's fielding.

If he likes the Mets, ask him a) what he thinks of the team without Jose Reyes and b) if he thinks they should trade David Wright, and if so, for who.

Googling those guys beforehand will help.

I need to engage and hopefully impress him (and his mother) in short order.

The less you worry about this, the better this conversation will go.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 3:33 PM on April 12, 2012

Ask him lots of questions and let him explain stuff to you. Be interested in what he has to say. Kids--like everyone--generally love to talk about stuff they love doing, especially when someone takes a sincere interest in hearing what they're saying.

No question is too dumb if it's asked sincerely.

(And, honestly, I wouldn't be too impressed by someone who tried to sound like they knew what they were talking about because they bandied about a couple of baseball terms or dropped a few names. I'd think they were a poseur and I might get annoyed. But that's just me.)
posted by MoonOrb at 3:36 PM on April 12, 2012

How much do you know about baseball already?
posted by box at 3:44 PM on April 12, 2012

Not alot. so I need to tread carefully, and not sound like a jerk. (or poseur)
But I actually DO want to know the game better on my own, and w/ the season starting, this is a good time to begin. (the Brooklyn Cyclones, small park, less $$ seems a good start)
posted by ebesan at 3:51 PM on April 12, 2012

A 14 year old boy will not be playing "Little League." He will be playing Pony/Colt, Connie Mack, Cal Ripken or Babe Ruth leagues, or some other similar organization (which may include a Little League affiliation). But he will have outgrown what is traditionally known as "Little League."

More likely, at 14, he's also thinking about (or already) playing in high school. Ask him about that, and if the school has a summer league or something.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:55 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

AND, I just discovered David Halberstam, and great writers on baseball. A passionate backdoor to the game w/out the statistics, etc. that I lack.
posted by ebesan at 3:55 PM on April 12, 2012

Oh, and ask him about fantasy baseball. He may be doing that, too.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:56 PM on April 12, 2012

he uses Wii games
posted by ebesan at 3:58 PM on April 12, 2012

You'd be better off letting him tell you about baseball, imo. Don't try to fake your way through anything, kids can smell inauthenticity a mile away.
posted by empath at 4:12 PM on April 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

Show him film clips.
Double plays, triple plays.
Perfect throw from third to first.
A catcher nailing stealers at second.
Long throw from deep right to home plate.
Jackie stealing home.
Maury Wills.

Or maybe what they really need is a smell for the glove, for the dirt, for the hard-hit grounder a split-second away from their chin. Some kids have that, but a lot don't. Can you really give it to one?

IANYFKC. (friend's kid's coach)
posted by LonnieK at 4:14 PM on April 12, 2012

Agree with all the people who say you should ask him questions: when I was a fourteen-year-old baseball fan I would have loved having a chance to explain the game and what I liked about it to an adult.
posted by Levi Stahl at 4:22 PM on April 12, 2012

The Yankee's big rivalry is with the Red Sox, who recently experienced a historic collapse last season. Much as I hate to suggest it, he might enjoy making fun of the Sox if he's a Yankees fan.
posted by bessel functions seem unnecessarily complicated at 4:30 PM on April 12, 2012

How much time do you have before the meeting? If you have time, find a copy of Baseball for Brain Surgeons by Tim McCarver. Reading this book changed the game from a bunch of men standing around in stretch pants (that has merits of its own for me, but YMMV) to a nine-inning chess match. I had been watching baseball thinking that there must be something I wasn't grokking; reading this book helped me to see all the dimensions of the game.
posted by workerant at 5:09 PM on April 12, 2012

If you want to learn more about baseball in general, Ken Burns's Baseball is a great place to start.
posted by aloysius on the mixing boards at 6:58 PM on April 12, 2012

Start simple: ask what position he plays. Ask about his coach: kids love to bitch to adults.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:15 PM on April 12, 2012

He's a kid so I doubt he's much into the stats and history of the game, so ask him to explain to you what you've been wanting to know about, especially if you've seen a game. If you have time ot work one in, go and watch the shortstop (he's the guy between second and third base) and talk about what you saw him doing with said kid.

Honestly you're going to do better asking him to explain stuff and being interested, if kind of clueless, rather than doing the "So, chum, you like the baseball? I like when the centerfielder catches the curveball" phony-adult thing.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:31 PM on April 12, 2012

In my opinion, you have no hope of having this conversation go well if you do not tell him you are just learning about baseball. At 14, daughter could tell you why Derek Jeter was actually out of position when he made the amazing flip play. I think you impress the young man by telling him that you know he likes baseball, you have been starting to "get into it" yourself lately and what does he recommend you do to learn more.

Also, 14 year old boys change their likes and dislikes frequently. He may not be into baseball by the time you meet him. What about talking to him about other potential common interests like music or girls or explosions or facebook or something. Heck, depending on where in NY and how "sophisticated" he thinks he is, he could be smoking joints and drinking on the weekends by now. (This is coming from someone who grew up and still lives in the NYC suburbs.) If he is in 9th grade, he is in high school where pretty much anything can be expected. (My 9th grader is huge into sports, music and weapons shows on TV. My 10th grader wants to be a Marine officer and works out and studies all the time. My 12th grader pretty much thinks she knows everything so I stay out of her way.)

My two boys also burn lots and lots of calories which means they consume mass quantities of food (Think Coneheads). Maybe just take the boy to a deli and buy him a meatball parm might make his day.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:41 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Let him tell YOU stuff about baseball. Or about anything. He's an ex-little leaguer, not a current one. I think I was a little leaguer at some point; by the time I was fourteen baseball was probably the thing I wanted to talk about the least and was considerably more interested in punk rock and politics. 14 is around the age when kids start to differentiate themselves socially. Ask him about the social dynamics of his school. If he still plays baseball, he'll talk about HIS baseball team, because that's where the interesting things are to him.
posted by Jon_Evil at 5:55 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Totally on board with the ask questions approach. Don't pretend you know something you don't. If you act like you're genuinely interested I bet you'll be fine. You can ask him what the best/hardest/funnest thing about playing shortstop is. Ask about his favorites (team, players). Ask why. Etc.
posted by that's candlepin at 1:16 PM on April 13, 2012

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