The view from the bench

Paul Salomon

The sky is falling. The sky is falling. This is not true, but you might have heard that story. I recently saw the new “Chicken Little” movie in the theater, and I had some thoughts. This is still a sports column, but whatever. The sports stuff is coming.
I liked the movie. They took the story you know and added an alien invasion, which was weird. The good news was that there were enough cute little guys for me to forget about the sports they added.
That’s right. They squeezed in some baseball, which I thought was cool, but not so much. The premise is that the crestfallen Little, looking to redeem himself in the eyes of his high school baseball star father (Buck Cluck) tries out for the school team. He makes the squad, and plays left out for basically all of the season. That’s at least in part because Foxy Loxy is hitting home runs literally every time she is at bat.
In the big game against their rivals, Chicken Little gets his shot. All the reserves are hurt except Chicken, so he comes to the plate. It’s bottom of the 9th, 2 outs (naturally), with the tying run on third. Taking into consideration the fact that C.L. has a strike zone about the size of the ball itself, the coach tells him not to swing. He’s basically guaranteed a base. Hey, a walk is not a bad idea given the fact that the MVP slugger Foxy Loxy is on deck. Actually, that’s textbook!!! Any coach in their right mind would have made that call, because that’s the right call. That’s how you play the game the right way.
Here’s what happens. Chicken Little wants to be the hero, and starts swinging away after the first ball. On a 1-2 pitch he knocks a base hit. The outfielders underestimate him so much that they’re sitting down or hiding underground in the case of the mole center fielder. So Chicken Little ends up stretching this thing into an inside-the-parker to win the game. He’s the hero and redemption feels good.
Forget the fact that it was basically absurd that Chicken Little even touched the ball. The movie is saying that it’s OK to defy your coach as long as you come through and win. Chicken Little is the hero because he overstepped the boundaries. If he had played it the right way, he would have been on first when Foxy jacked the 3-run and would have still scored the winning run. Do you understand what I’m saying?
Here’s the part where Mike Wilbon butts in with, “but they won the game!” Here’s the thing. This is absolutely the wrong message to send to kids. Baseball doesn’t need this kind of attitude. You’re supposed to play the game the right way, and this wasn’t it. It’s this kind of stuff that gives you the T.O.s and the Kobes.
Any little-leaguer that does something like this deserves a long talk and a seat on the bench, not a hug. Tell your little siblings and cousins how baseball ought to be played, please, because this was just plain stupid.

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