Respond to the following questions using complete sentences. Use your neatest cursive handwriting!

Example Question: Your travel baseball team is playing in the State Tournament Qualifier. You lose the final game to the Golden Eagles. The Eagles decide this is the last tournament they are going to play this season, so they offer your second place team their berth to the Final Four tournament in McDonough, Georgia. Do you accept, even though you are not “technically” one of the four best AA teams in the state?

Answer: This is not even an ethics dilemma, students! Of course you accept. It’s a free tournament and your coach is never going to turn down a free tournament (a $350 value!). Who cares if your mom and dad have already made plans for that one baseball-free weekend in June? Plus, you get to play the three best teams in your state AND the championship trophy is not a trophy but a gaudy gold-tone Super Bowl-style ring that you will probably lose while playing Nerf Wars in the woods behind your house.

Question 1: You’re an outfielder on an 8U travel baseball team. The Final Four championship in your state is down to the Final Two: your team and your arch-rivals, the Catfish, the team with the pitcher who is probably eleven and is—let’s face it—pretty much un-hittable. Most of the time the Catfish beat your team, but you pulled out a miraculous win against them this morning and now you’re playing them again, this time for the gaudy gold-tone Super Bowl-style rings.

Your team is down by one run in the third inning. Your coach comes over and tells the parents that if the Catfish let that eleven-year-old-looking pitcher throw even one more pitch, he will be in violation of the innings-pitched rule. You are up to bat. Your coach hangs back. The pitcher throws a fastball. You fan it. This happens two more times, and the ump calls you out. Your coach jogs onto the field, motions for a timeout, and all the coaches huddle with the umpires and the tournament director. After ten minutes, a lot of spitting, gesticulating, waving of lineup cards, and a barrage of cursing, your coach walks back to the parents and presents the options. Your team can either…

A) Collect their rings and take the requisite thug shot victory photo because the other team violated the rules, which necessitates a forfeit, or…

B) Magnanimously allow the other team to put in a new pitcher and re-play the last at-bat.

Keep in mind that if you choose B, your team will lose, 4-12.

Question 2: You are a mom. Your son wakes up running a fever of 101 degrees. In a few hours, his baseball team is playing in a Final Four tournament in McDonough, Georgia. The team is already down three players, all of whom are in Panama City, Florida watching their older brothers, who also play travel ball, compete in a tournament where everyone in the bleachers probably just wishes they were a few miles south, sitting next to the Gulf of Mexico and drinking a Bud Light instead of sitting in a rising tide of human sweat and drinking blue Powerade. In fact, you think you should be sitting beside the Gulf of Mexico too. This was the only weekend in June that a baseball tournament wasn’t on the family calendar. And then, just like that, one gets penciled in.

Your son’s coach thinks he can pick up an extra player, but that still only gives him nine, including your sick one, which means he’ll have no subs. Do you…

A) Call the coach, tell him your child is too sick to play, and leave the kid in bed until the fever breaks, or…

B) Wake him up at six a.m., dose him with Tylenol, drive him to the game, which is in a brand new ballpark without even a sad Bradford Pear tree for shade, and let the coach send him out to right field, at which point you will begin urgent prayers to any available baseball demi-god that a ball doesn’t roll in his general direction.

Keep in mind that whether you choose A or B, another player on your son’s team will also start running a fever, but his mom will whip out Tylenol AND Advil and roll her eyes when her kid starts puking in the trash can.

Question 3: You are the coach of an 8U travel baseball team. By a stroke of luck, your team has secured a berth to the Final Four championship in McDonough, Georgia. You didn’t win it, but that shouldn’t deter you from posting the good news about going to the Final Four on your team web site; if you word it carefully, no one will notice, right?

You’ve got three players out, but you pick up a player who has played with your team on occasion but who isn’t officially on your roster, and that gives you enough kids to still play. You pitch the pick-up player a few innings and, in his only at bat, he gets to base on balls. He looks better than the sick players, who are shivering in the dugout with FroggToggs over their heads to bring down their lava-like body temperatures. Your team comes in second place in the Final Four because you decide, after making a big stink over a pitching violation by the other team, to go ahead and play out the game. You give a speech about not wanting to win like that, that it’s not a good lesson for the boys. Some of the parents grumble that there’s a lesson to be learned in not cheating, or at least paying attention and following the rules. Your players have grim faces in all the post-game photos. The Catfish show off their gaudy gold-tone Super Bowl-style rings, and your boys look like they want to lob the second place, plastic “shooting star” trophies right at their skulls.

Your next tournament is the Junior World Series, the final tournament of the season, where teams from all over—Florida, Texas, even California—come to, you guessed it, McDonough, Georgia. You know your team doesn’t have a shot at the big prize, but your boys can win some games here and there. You think you might be able to advance the team through the consolation bracket. Do you

A) Take that same pick up player you used in the Final Four with you to the World Series as a 12th player, start him in the outfield, put him 9th in the order, and sit three of your regular players—boys who have practiced and played with the team all year, boys you personally picked for the team and trained in their positions, or…

B) Dance with the kids that you brought to the dance.

Keep in mind that if you choose A, a few long-suffering parents will probably lose some respect for you. The three kids will remember being benched during the Junior World Series (but they may learn a valuable lesson about how much winning means to you). So what will happen if you choose B? Who knows? You went with A and your team was eliminated in the second game, 13-12.

Extra Credit Question: You are an assistant baseball coach with a smokeless tobacco habit (okay, so it’s Copenhagen). Do you…

A) Suck it up and chew on sunflower seeds during games and practices, or

B) Tell the kids that’s just flat Coke in your Deer Park water bottle.