(Copyright 1997. All rights reserved.)

The Tattoo

--- Making a Permanent Impression Since 1994 ---

October 7, 1997

Benchwarmers: The best seats in the house

By COLLIN SEGUIN
Tattoo Staff Writer

Some people play sports to score touchdowns, or
hit home runs or nail three-pointers.  Others
just sit on their butts.

For benchwarmers, games consist of chasing foul
balls, cheering teammates, keeping score and
dreaming of glory.
  
You don't always see them, but they're there. 
They're on the team, yet you might never see
them play.

They go to all the practices and, for the most
part, work as hard as anyone -- but they're
lucky to get a chance to play every five or 20
games. 
 
They might get a hit or score a goal, and then
realize the score is 26-0 and nobody really
cares anymore.

I know what it's like.  For the past season,
I've sat on the bench waiting for my chance.

There were only a few of us sitting on those
hard metal benches at Page Park, watching the
action unfold in front of us.  The coaches were
on the field, flashing signs and yelling
instructions to the players on the field.

Then, a base hit.  A double follows, then a long
drive that skitters to the street.  A rally is
starting and the team is starting to get
excited, as it seems that we are going to win
another game.

I look satisfied.  I'm standing up, cheering,
and congratulating players as they cross home
plate.

However, on the inside, I am torn apart at the
fact that I can't get into the action.

This, for me and many benchwarmers, is a typical
game, wasting away on the bench, feeling useless
and not really part of the team.

This is my first year sitting bench all season,
so I am still getting used to it.  But I think I
handle it pretty well.

Every person handles sitting the bench his own
way.

Some are very upset with their role.

"I'm not happy about it. It's boring sitting on
the bench with nothing to do, not being able to
play," said Tom Positano, a junior at Bristol
Central who plays baseball.

During a Monahan League game, a benchwarmer who
did not want to be identified said, "This isn't
what I paid twenty bucks for. It doesn't feel
like I'm even on the team."

Some players, when told that their playing time
is going to be severely reduced, even resort to
throwing things, including temper tantrums.
slmultwidctlpar There is a rare class of
benchsitters, though, who are resigned to the
fact that once in a while, they aren't going to
play.

Matt Zbikowski, a junior at Bristol Eastern who
plays soccer and baseball, said that he
"understood why I was sitting bench.  It gives
other kids a chance to play, and it gives me a
chance to relax."

My outlook on sitting bench combines resignation
with anger.

I am frustrated that I am not able to play more
and contribute, but I understand that there are
better players who deserve the time more than I
do.

But the real problem lies with younger players,
especially Little Leaguers, who never get the
shot they deserve.

If you've been playing for five or 10 years and
feel bad about sitting bench, imagine how a kid
just starting out feels when they are told by a
coach that they're not good enough to play for
their team.  A young player's dreams can be
crushed by a coach who wants that elusive tee
ball championship.

For those discouraged players, I asked some
members of the Yarmouth-Dennis team in the Cape
Cod league to give some advice.

The players I asked, pitchers Ryan Fry and Mike
Moriarty, had the same message: "Be patient. 
Some players don't develop until they get older. 
Everyone has to pay their dues."

Coach Chris Podeszwa had some additional advice:
"Be supportive.  Only nine players can play at
one time.  If you have the desire, enjoy the
game, and really want to be a ballplayer,
eventually you'll get the chance."

Maybe, then, the message is to work hard and
stick it out.

Besides, if that doesn't work out, at least
you'll have a great seat to see the game.



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