May 22, 2016
The Matheny Manifesto by Mike Matheny
I love baseball. I like the Cardinals, who we see play a lot during spring training in Jupiter. I like Mike Matheny, a well-liked, respected, successful manager and former catcher, and the best looking guy in the MLB (wait, did I write that out loud?). I sort of liked this book.
I initially picked it up because of all of the above, and also because it hinted at parents taking a step back from their involvement in little league baseball, and just letting the coaches and kids do their thing, a concept that resonates with me. I can’t tell you how often I find myself wanting to tell someone, “Your kid’s not going to the majors. Can you just chill and let them play, and enjoy the game? Let me enjoy the game?”
To be fair, in our league, a lot of the blame goes not only to the parents, but the dysfunctional coaches and administrators of the league themselves, so we’re kind of screwed either way. Still, if Mike Matheny has some thoughts on the best ways to both step back and move forward, I knew it would be helpful for Wayne (the best looking guy in Little League!) and me, and more importantly, good for Jack.
I love the major theme of the book, which is to be focused a lot less on trying to raise major leaguers or college scholarshippers, and more focused on raising good people. If a college or major league career comes out of it, bonus, and in fact, this philosophy probably gives kids a better chance at that bonus.
What I did not like about the book is that all the credit for the values and virtues of leading a good baseball life as well as a good life in general—integrity, leadership, teamwork, confidence, humility, toughness, honesty, class—goes to God and Christianity, instead of just plain old boring humanity. And when that happens, there is always, always an underlying hum of self-righteousness, even as the writer or speaker insists there isn’t: Look at humble ol me, giving all the credit of all my wonderfulness to my creator. So virtuous.
I hate that shit.
But this is Mike Matheny’s book, and rightly, he doesn’t apologize for his personal beliefs and processes. While I will never be a major league catcher or manager (damn!), if I want a secular book about raising little leaguers to be good people, I’m sure there are others out there, or I should write my own.
In fact, I think I will.
Here it is. It’s a lot shorter, which Matheny’s could have been too.
The Prim Proclamation by Laurie Prim
Be respectful. Of everyone: teammates, coaches, opponents, umpires. Of baseball.
Don’t have pissing contests.
You’re not as good or as bad as you think you are, nor is anyone else.
Lead by example.
Encourage and lift up others.
Be a good sport.
Never stop learning and improving.
See? Not Christian. Just Human.
Let’s Go Marlins!