A Major League baseball team has twenty-five men on its active roster. The active roster consists of the players who suit up to play in a given game. Of these twenty-five players, five will be the starting pitchers. Typically, the bullpen will number seven more pitchers, consisting of relievers, a set-up man and a closer, and sometimes a left-handed specialist. There will be even more pitchers on the forty-man roster, which includes fifteen players who don't suit up for a game but who could be called up for the next one.
Anyone who's ever watched a baseball game – even a Little League game – knows how hard it is to be a pitcher. Not only must you be mentally tough, but the physical demands are extraordinary. So a Major League baseball team can't have enough pitchers, or at least enough good pitchers.
What does pitching have to do with family law? When parents divorce, then later marry someone else, all of a sudden a child has four parents instead of two: Biological mom and dad plus two stepparents. The child also acquires more of an extended family, too. The child has four sets of grandparents plus potentially dozens of new cousins, aunts, uncles and so forth.
Sometimes strains build up, usually in the first tier of relatives – that is, the parents. The biological dad might not get along with the new stepdad, or the biological mom might become upset with the new stepmom.
That's when I give my pitching speech. Just as you can't have enough pitchers on a baseball team, you can't have enough people pitching for a kid. Maybe the adults are having issues, but I tell them, “Look, your child now has four parents looking out for him instead of just two. Isn't that a good thing? Can't we all just get along for the sake of the child, or at least pretend to?”
Recently I attended a wedding where I encountered an unexpected application of the pitching principle. The bride's biological father attended the wedding, as did her stepfather. I don't know the back story – and it really doesn't matter – but apparently the stepfather had raised the bride most of her life.
So when it was time for “here comes the bride,” the bride walked down the aisle with two fathers, one on each side of her. And when the pastor asked, “Who gives this woman in marriage?” the two men responded, “We do.” It was a touching moment.
And it wasn't just for show. Later, during a quiet moment at the wedding reception, I happened to notice the two dads speaking softly with each other. Then they gave each other a bear hug.
They'd be starting pitchers on my team.