Monday, February 28, 2011

I Will Be Number 1

When you hear the statement "I will be number 1", what does it mean to you? What images are conjured in your mind? I think about a person who is either delusional or very serious.

In this case, it was uttered by our own baseball friend Buddy last week to his father. The context of the statement was that he was down on the ladder of left handed pitchers on the team. He felt that he should be higher. Actually, he feels that he can be the number 1 pitcher on the team if only he is given a chance.

I agree with this statement. Although he may be too ambitious as a freshman (from my perspective...). But, why not? Why can't he be number one? With his work ethic and commitment to his sport, he can do it. Yet, I am not sure if he can accomplish this goal in the quick time frame that he has in his own mind.

I read the book "Outliers" seems in order to be at the very top of your discipline and stay there, a person has to put time into other words...log hour after hour after hour of practice and study. Therefore, realistically, he may need more time to achieve the number one slot.

With that said, the statement may seem like bravado. Perhaps to some individuals, however, I have a different perspective on this subject. In order to get up in front of thousands of people and be the center of attention with the team relying on each pitch, a person needs to have confidence...not just "I can ace this test" confidence but uber-confidence like "I can detonate this bomb in the next 25 seconds before the world is destroyed" confidence. A person would have to be somewhat crazy to want to pitch anyway....I wouldn't want to do it....but as he explained to me in the is a control issue. He can help to control the game. He likes it...loves it....thrives on it....dreams about it...lives it....

So, the next time that you have an active bomb in your backyard, call on an uber-confident bomb squad officer with the experience and know-how to be the number one guy....he might be a bit crazy, but he'll get the job done....

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Titanic

Good Morning....I just had my first cup of coffee in a week and it was wonderful!

I spoke with Buddy late last night. He was in the lobby of a Comfort Inn working on his homework and projects. It was quiet and he was alone so he took time to call us. He shared with me that he was up to date with his school work and had earned an "A" in a quiz last week. He was starting to figure out the system and seemed more relaxed about school. This indeed was a break through....

This comfort was a long time July before his freshman year, he took it upon himself to select his own courses while I not so patiently waited for him to ask for my assistance....That request never fact, what I was asked to do was 'butt out'(inferred, not actually verbalized by my son)...Despite my protests and sharing with him my resume (I am a college professor), he did not want to discuss his course selections (calculus, astronomy, economics, some course all athletes take....). Horrified, I told him that he may want to consider talking to his athletic adviser before the schedule is finalized...."No, mom....I have don't understand this school..." Got it...I don't understand his idea...3 degrees....25 years of teaching experience in higher education....I don't understand....OK...time to back off and watch the Titanic hit the iceberg... not the lettuce the very big glacier that has more icy treachery beneath the surface than above the water....

Well, the Titanic eventually hit and began to sink in early October (later than I predicted)....thinking that he could figure it out on his own, he was called in by the athletic adviser and coaches for a "chat"...but before that, he had logged in more hours in study hall than in the history of the university (according to the cute girl at the front desk). Forces were then mobilized, the Coast Guard was sent out to rescue the sinking ship...the USS Buddy was floundering on the open sea...rudderless...then it happened....a mentor...a tutor in every subject...a visit to each professor....writing notes...opening the books, not attending every party that he was invited or not invited to, and so began to adhere....he saw the light house in the distance...

After a month or so of diligence, the grades began to rise. There was some breathing room in his grade point average. In fact, he was close to earning honors. What a miracle! He was starting to feel better about himself and worked with his mentor to establish a schedule. The mentor even told him when to eat and take breaks...bossy...but it was effective. Today, he continues to work with the mentor, has been proactive in contacting tutors, and is ahead of the curve. I wish that I could report that it was magic...but it wasn' was a lesson that he had to learn without me. My boy is growing up. He figured it out on his own and has been using the resources available to him.

So there you have it. Once again, lessons life has to offer are more compelling than parental advice. During the highs and lows, we were available to listen and counsel. The ball was in his glove and he had to throw it across the plate to continue at the university. Fortunately, he threw a strikeout with his curve ball as he continues to mature and develop....I am impressed....

Saturday, February 26, 2011


I am writing this note a bit late in the day for a number of reasons. First, I had to work so that superseded my this blog. Second, the team had a double header today therefore I wanted to wait until the games were over so that I could share an it goes....

The team arrived in Kentucky last night at 10:30 p despite the bus breaking down twice along the way adding to 9 hour journey. I did not communicate with Buddy today but was able to follow the game online. The team won the first game by 6 runs. Sadly, they only used three pitchers. They lost the second game (in 30 degree weather) by 3 runs. Again, only four pitchers played. Buddy did not play at all but watched from the bullpen.

Tomorrow, they have a 12 p game then return to campus. I will keep my fingers crossed that he gets into the game. I can imagine his frustration as he sits on the bench. Intellectually, he knows that he is a freshman and has a few lessons to learn, but all he wants to do is pitch and play ball. He is not accustomed to sitting, so he is learning patience. I am sure that the coaches have a plan for him, otherwise, why would they bring him on these trips? It's hard to tell someone who practices hard and lives to play that he will see the field in time.

There is no glamour here....just a few pitchers who are competing to get a shot on the field. So, as the bus drops the kids off around 2 am on Monday morning just a few hours before the start of their first class, keep in mind that they may have spent 20+ hours on the road and sat in a frigid dug out for 12+ hours, and ate at a Quizznos or Subway....a guy has got to want this lifestyle with a passion to willingly spend his weekends like this.....

Friday, February 25, 2011

Rain, Snow, Wind

Good Morning....the weather is wet and dreary. Soon, it will be time to leave the cocoon and enter the real world. Got to remember the boots and raincoat. No umbrella will be necessary today since the winds will gust up to 60 mph. It's been a wild weather week with temperatures hitting the 60's, 4 inches of snow and up to 5 inches of rain.

With that said, Buddy travels today for a weekend in Kentucky. The bus leaves campus around 2:30p. It looks like it will be a 10 hour drive (minimum). The preconceived thoughts that these D-1 athletes fly around the country has turned out to be false...wrong...not true. Frankly, I am a bit shocked that they are making this trip by bus, yet I guess budgets only have so much money for travel.

Buddy is not really sure that he is on the travel list for this weekend. He has yet to be told that he is going conversely he has not been told that he is staying on campus...quandary... what to do? As I listened to his conversation with his dad last night, I thought with a tad bit of sarcasm..."ask the coach..." Apparently, that was not the right thing to suggest....Buddy does not want to come across as unintelligent. He wants to appear confident with body language that screams "sure, I am going....aren't you?" His ultimate diabolical plan is to find another player to ask the coaches who will be traveling this weekend. However, based on what he already said, it looks like he will be on the bus playing license plate bingo, 20 questions, and 'I spy'.

If he had not gone, our plan was to travel to campus on Sunday to celebrate his birthday. Since he will not be there, I have had to amend the plan. It looks like I am going to be running today to find some gifts to send to him. Perhaps I can send a cake in the mail. Tink and I will see him next weekend and we can celebrate when he free.

Tomorrow, the team plays a double header with the final game on Sunday afternoon. After the game, the players board the bus and hit the turnpikes. I can actually watch a virtual game online. Sadly, I have to work but I can still check in on the game during breaks. When the local professional baseball team was in the playoffs, I had to teach in the evening. The students were not happy about being in class and not in front of their televisions, so I turned the game on through the computer and projected it onto the screen. Did it get in the way of the class? Sure, but it was better than having to look at the class with their heads down texting or watching the game on the cell phones. Whenever something would happen, they would scream, tell me to stop talking, and turn around....then we cheered and went back to was actually a lot of fun...

So, tomorrow, let's keep our fingers crossed that Buddy will be called into at least one of the games from the bullpen.... 'cause Bullpen Mom will be watching.....

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Homeward Bound

Good Morning. I am listening to Pandora with Simon and Garfunkel singing "Homeward Bound". It's a great song that has a renewed meaning for me. We've been able to create a home that is comfortable and inviting. I wanted a haven...a place to be when things are rough or not so rough....a nest...filled with family, friends, laughter, and my parents' home where sibs and grandchildren stop by on a daily basis....Why am I so reflective about my home? Well, next week is Buddy's 19th birthday and he won't be home. I won't see him...he is gone (yet happy and where he should be)...this is a tough one for me.

Birthdays are big deals for most people. Yet, I firmly believe that birthdays are more momentous for mothers. I remember all of their birthdays, parties, cakes, and gatherings....I also remember giving birth to the biggest baby of the day. It was odd, I had thought that a mother would immediately bond with their child, but that wasn't the case for me. Don't misunderstand me, I was thrilled that he was here and I loved him, but if I took a walk to the nursery, I would not have been able to pick him out in a police line up. I am not sure why.

Anyway, it took about 2 weeks to really feel the enormous outpouring of love that I had expected immediately after know...the kind of love where you would run into traffic...jump out of an airplane without a parachute, jump on a bully, lift up a truck, or eat a bug for that person... I was sitting up in was around 12:30 am and I was watching The Dennis Miller show (yep....Dennis Miller...don't judge) and he (Buddy...not Dennis) was snuggled against my shoulder. Everyone in the house was asleep except for me. I looked in the mirror and saw the bags under my eyes, the hair plastered against my right ear, and a beautiful sleeping baby. Right was as if a dam had opened up. I started to cry and realized that there was nowhere else that I would rather be...watching Dennis Miller, sleep deprived with an active toddler in the adjacent room and my baby boy curled up on my shoulder. It was a moment that was so powerful and unforgettable. I would have stayed up holding my babies for the next 18 years if that was doable.

I am sorry that this one is a bit moody....but since I have been sick and in the house...I am a little more reflective. With Buddy's birthday next week, I won't be ordering a chocolate cake or making a chocolate chicken parm.....balloons.....special snack in the back pack....Got to get over this one....

This is a new chapter in all of our lives. It is the way life is supposed to go. Children are born, raised, leave home, and start their own lives. They have wings and roots.....It's time for me to really let go.....and order a cake to be delivered to his dorm....chocolate, of course ;-)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

We're back

It is a chilly day in the Northeast. I actually do not miss Florida at all. My last memory was not the most pleasant as I struggled with food poisoning or a flu. I am not sure what it was, but the microscopic germ was very powerful and knocked me off my feet. No more information about this one...going to keep it close to the vest, so let's talk about baseball.

I have a new respect for my son. He basically has two full time jobs, school and baseball. He had his books and laptop with him and was writing a paper in the hotel room and had to submit it by Saturday night. The professors do not let up on the students (nor should they). He has to abide by the standards and keep his grades up if he wants to stay eligible.

His second full time job, baseball, can be overwhelming. Practices, meetings, workouts, weights, throwing, etc are scheduled every day. The game on Saturday was scheduled for 1 pm. They had a 6:45 am breakfast and meeting and had to leave for the field by 9:30. The team worked out for 2 hours before the game and had a quick Quizznos lunch. Whether he plays or not, he has the pre game workout. He actually could be working out just to sit in the bull pen for the entire game. After the game, they had free time until 9 pm when they had stretching in the pool until 10p and an 11:30pm lights out. It was like this all weekend.

After Monday afternoon's game, the team flew home to an airport 3 hours away from campus since the university is located in a remote section of the state. The flight was delayed for a bit due to weather around the country. The plane landed during a snow storm, the team got onto the bus, and arrived back at their dorm rooms at 4:30 am. Buddy had a 9am class that he could not miss. It looks like this type of travel may become the norm as weather will impact the plans.

All in all, it was a good start. After opening the season with the 4 weekend games, my impression is that they are a fairly good team. Not great...not bad....above average. So, it should be a very interesting season, win or lose. Buddy has to stay on course, focus on his passion, and be patient. It is a long long season (50+ games). He will get into his fair share of games.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The intention of this blog was to chronicle the family’s travel, games, and experiences. I wanted to share the good and bad with readers. Today, I am adding another category….the ugly….
Remember Clint Eastwood’s movie, The good, the bad and the ugly? I can recall that he met up with a series of obstacles and lots of bad men with black hats, yet somehow he made it through the difficulties with only a few bullet wounds that eventually healed. Well, this weekend in Florida was terrific….it was the good part of the journey. The weather was amazing. The time that we spent as a family was wonderful, although Buddy drifted back and forth between his family and the team, we did not mind. It was good to see him in a relaxed setting. So, that was the good that we experienced.
The bad was not really bad. Perhaps it was more like …..”What are you thinking…?” A few of the teammates decided to spend some of their meal money on raw chicken….Why raw chicken? Well, their goal was to hunt alligators. On Saturday night, they bought the poultry at the grocery store and used their cell phones to light the sandy beaches of the lagoons to find the sleeping gators….keep in mind that these are college students and should be relatively intelligent. With that said, they did not find any gators. Not to be deterred, they bought more chicken on Sunday, along with a fishing pole and flashlights. This time they would have ample illumination to hunt the gators and watch as they chewed their ankles. Gators don’t care if their dinner is raw meat or human legs….it all tastes like chicken to them. I have not heard yet if the mission was successful….I also did not hear any ambulances, so, they are probably NOT bringing a pet gator home today for their dorm rooms.
The ugly part of the trip was the 24-??? hour stomach flu that I picked up. I’m on the plane writing this note and have not eaten in over a day, which is a record for me. Tea, ginger ale and Gatorade….yum….actually, I needed to lose a few pounds. I was in bed from 2p to 6a and only got up because I had to catch my plane. Sadly, I am currently sitting between two people on the plane and am praying that there will be no vomiting until we land.  I did note that there are no barf bags for me, so I am living on the edge here…..there is no way that the woman to my left will be able to jump up in time for me to make it to the plane’s lavatory….no way….whatsoever…..
Let’s go back to the good and the games that I watched this weekend. First, let me say that I was so proud of Buddy. He was absolutely terrific as he sat on the bench for 2 of the 3 games…..he was not “snarky” at all until the end of the 2nd game, when he muttered that he should have been put in…..yet he got over it. The team won the first two games in come from behind “Bad News Bears” fashion. Just as you think that the game is over with a loss, the Bears pull it out…..Game 3 was a very different story. The team was up 1-0 and I assumed that this one would be won without too much difficulty. The pitcher was terrific. The fielding on the other hand (ouch)….I counted at least 5 errors in the field. The opponents first 4 runs were unearned (errors….). The starting pitcher began to fatigue, so the coach started a number of calls to the bullpen. The fourth pitcher to enter the game was our one and only….Buddy!!!!! I started snapping pictures like I was Annie Leibowitz….front views, side views…facial expressions. I figured that I would focus on the photos as he faced the first batter then watch the rest of the inning.
Buddy’s D-1 pitching debut went like this….Curve ball…Ball 1…..Curve ball…Ball 2….Curve ball…Ball 3. I stopped taking pictures…..he walks off the mound….lines up…throws….Strike 1 (whew)…..Strike 2….(double whew)….Now is the moment…..will he walk the batter or strike him out? Buddy throws the ball, the batter hits it to an infielder…it’s a double play ball…..the infielder bobbles it……everyone is safe. Ouch…..OK, I am thinking that Buddy would take care of the rest of the batters…no problem…we thrive on stress, right?
Well, that was not the case as the coach slowly walked to the mound and took Buddy out of the game and brought a right handed pitcher in who threw a pass ball and a run scored. As Buddy walked back to the dugout, the look on his face was scary….tight lipped, eyes squinted, and muscles tensed… much for any more pictures…camera was immediately put away.
After the game, Buddy stopped by my sick bed to review his first appearance. He said that he asked the catcher not to call curve balls because he did not have it as he warmed up. However, once he could throw a fast ball, the batter could not hit it. So, the next time, he and his catcher will have a conversation about what is working and what is not.  He also said that the coach saw some positive things with his pitching so he would be playing in today’s game. Sadly, I won’t be there, because I had to fly home, but dad is there with the camera to capture the Kodak moments….Go team!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Merlot Moments (MM)

Today is the Polar Bear Plunge...good luck to the sibs and relatives and friends who are really going to plunge into the water. Psychiatric evaluations are going to be done after they recover from pneumonia.....

Yesterday we started to use a new phrase "Merlot moments...." MMs are situations that we find ourselves in where we desire a Merlot or something much stronger at that moment. For example, yesterday we were lost looking for the stadium, I turned left (just as the navigator suggested) onto a one way street. Horrifically, it was the wrong way....MM number one.

MM number two was a similar situation when I made a wrong turn when I turned left onto the right turn lane rather than in the correct lane. The driver to my right just stared at us as we navigated to the correct lane. Fortunately there were no accidents, just a few more gray hairs and our MM.

It seems that the MMs occur when I am driving the rental. The car is tiny and has no pick up. So, we are driving in what I consider a roller skate with an engine...feeling like Spanky and Alfalfa when they built their racing car out of used lumber, rope, and their mother's stroller wheels. Then they would push the car to the top of a big hill and start the race against their nemesis Butch. While racing down the hill to win the heart of the beloved Darla, all kinds of mayhem would erupt. As always, Alfalfa wins the race and Butch's car ends up in a stream of water....This weekend, Tink and I are Spanky and Alfalfa...there is no Darla....just a race to find the stadium to sit and watch Buddy in the dugout....a perfect day....that will actually end with a Merlot.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Game 1

Today was Buddy's first college game in Florida. I am not sure if Buddy and the team were ready, but Tink and I were prepared. We both wore our lucky sneakers....double luck....the team's secret weapons....

This morning's game was at a Blue Jays facility (I think). It was situated next to the bay and very pretty. I could tell that we had moved up in the world as there are no longer port-o-pottys along the outfield for spectators to use, but actual restrooms with running water. From that point on, I did not need anything else. I was very happy.

Tink and I sat with the 10 other parents behind the team's dugout. I did see Buddy looking for us and we waved and waved and waved with no response. Hmmmm...perhaps he needs his eyes checked again. With that said, I took about 20 photos with my new fancy zoom camera. Unfortunately, all of the pictures are of Buddy's back and his number. On the bright side, the uniform photographs well and was not wrinkled or dirty.

As we sat in the bleachers with the blue sky and gentle breezes, I began to question my sanity. Why do I live in a region that has snow on the ground for months at a time? Each time that it snows, we have to shovel the driveway and walk as well as places on the lawn for the dog to use. It seems that the dog is more of a diva than anyone I know.

Back to the game....the team played fairly well for a group that had 5 hours of sleep. It took 3 hours to finish, but the team prevailed even after the pitchers hit 6 players and had 3 errors in the last inning. Somehow, they pulled it out. Buddy did not play, but he was on the field a few times after the team scored.

All in all, it was a wonderful day...picture different from last year when he played every inning. Now we have to be patient and wait for his first one knows when or where.... it could be tomorrow or next week.....time will tell

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Floridaaaahhhh! is so unpredictable. Yesterday I swore that I was going to meet the family at the shore and watch as they jumped into the frigid Atlantic. In a way, I am sorry that I am going to miss it. However, about 4:30p, I got the text message to pack the sunscreen, we're headed to Florida....with that said, I also got a call from a particular baseball player who claimed that he did not have the right clothes to travel and that his suitcase was too small. Again...this is not in the parenting manual.....Nevertheless, I left this one to him to figure out....By the way, I found his Visa card (actually it is mine) partially melted in the dryer last month, so he is going to have to use cash or debit to buy a pair of khakis today. He never mentioned to me that he was missing the card. I am still waiting for the frantic call to me as he exclaims that someone has stolen his Visa card....I am waiting. I may frame the melted card and send it to him as a memento to place on his shelf as a reminder that plastic can and will melt at the right temperature.

Tink and I made our 8 am flight to Florida. As we pulled away from the gate, the plane stopped and the captain explained that we had electrical difficulties. I may not be the brightest person, but when a plane stops moving with the explanation of electrical issues, I immediately wonder if I am going to be on the lead story on the evening news. It seems that the mechanics were able to fix the problem according to the captain as we finally headed to the runway. As far as I was concerned, only time was going to tell me that he was right. As we sat and waited for the plane to be fixed, I closed my eyes and listened to the chatter. It is President's weekend....a long are off from school for 4 days and where do they go??? Florida, of course! Needless to say, the plane was full of kids on their way to see Mickey and an electrical shortage was not planned for by their parents. It became ugly very quickly yet the little girl next to me was a cutie and well behaved....the ones in the front were another story....I traveled with young children and it was not easy...kudos to the parents who are just beginning their journeys.

Tomorrow is the big day.....Buddy's introduction to D-1.....the team arrives tonight around 1 am....I am leaving a do not disturb sign on my door.....More news after the game....;-)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Well, it was bound to happen some time. Tink passed her driver's test. It has been a long road and I decided while I sat at the DMV for 2.5 hours, that I have great respect for the people who work there. Besides sitting in cars with inexperienced drivers...the numbers of angry people who either work there or go through the office in an attempt to renew their license or take an exam are frightening. No one seems happy except the gentleman named Joe who finally passed Tink. Thanks Joe...(I think).

Today I should be packing and running errands for Florida, but as of this note, we still do not know if Buddy is making the trip. The coaches have not announced the roster despite the fact that the team leaves tomorrow afternoon. Apparently, Buddy will know after a 6:30 pm meeting tonight and thanks to modern technology and his prowess for texting, we will know at 6:31p.

The ethical dilemma of whether to fly to Florida without Buddy has been resolved. Tink and I will not go without him and stay home. I can get a credit for the airfare but I am not sure about the hotel since we may cancel in less than 24 hours from arrival. Therefore, we may have to pay for one night's lodging. I also have to cancel the rented care. Oh well...

So, I do have alternative plans for the weekend. There is a polar bear plunge at the shore and I think that I want to attend. Will I plunge in? The answer to that question is an unequivocal "no"..."Nada"..."no way"....and... "are you crazy?".....

There you have it....the two extremes...on the one hand, we can go to the glorious sunshine and warmth of Florida....on the other hand, we stay in the cold northeast and watch the crazy, drunken swimmers dive into the frigid Atlantic Ocean....where would you rather be?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


I have good news and bad news. The good news is: today Tink takes her driver's test.....the bad news is: Tink takes her driver's test. I tried to postpone this event yesterday to allow her more time to practice to no avail. You need more than 24 hours notice, so, we're stuck. Tink is a pretty good driver, although she has a very difficult time parallel parking. This has been her downfall. I have done everything in my power to teach her how to pull backwards (short of developing a PowerPoint presentation with visuals) and land safely in a space. I even brought in guest speakers such as her dad, brother, and Grandpop and Grandmom (during the night parallel parking for her). Grandpop was a surprise guest. I figured that he taught 6 kids how to parallel park, has driven all over the city...why not Tink? Well, this experiment failed greatly when she was more confused than ever. Tink is a great optimist, so perhaps today is her day. And if she passes, she will have cake and a special dinner. If she fails, she will have cake and a special dinner for trying. Sometimes, we have to celebrate the journey rather than the results. By the way, this will be a test for the new lucky sneakers...I will definitely wear them.

Got a call from Buddy yesterday. He thanked me for the gift box filled with goodies that only he would appreciate such as suntan lotion, travel toothbrush, granola bars, multiple packages of gum, and facial cleanser and Skittles. He mentioned that the coaches have not announced who would travel to Florida yet. So, Tink's and my airplane tickets are ready to go, yet he might not go.....
Here is the dilemma, do Tink and I go anyway? I would LOVE a trip to Florida to get out of the cold and away for a few days. But would that be crass? Do I even have to tell him? I can still call and text him from Florida, I just won't let him know where I am....I will stay away from the beach, pools and tiki bars so there is no background noise when I speak to him. Would this be a rotten thing to do or would he applaud our little vacation? What would June Cleaver do if the Beaver did not make the travel team to spring training? Would Ward tell her to go anyway? What about Wally....would he join June and leave the Beav behind? This was not covered in the parenting manual.

Time for the driver's test....fingers crossed.....

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentines's Day

Happy February 14th to all. It's my nephew's birthday too.....happy birthday!

Just dropped Tink off at work. My plan was to go and exercise but I had no motivation whatsoever, so I grabbed a grande bold at Starbucks and went home to read the paper before work. Glancing at my horoscope (which I never read), it says..."squeeze in a quick walk today..." So, I have added it to my list of things to do even if I am quickly walking around midnight, I will squeeze it in....

This is the first Valentine's Day when Buddy is not home. I am still adjusting to the firsts with his departure. I really miss the kid but know that he is where is supposed to be, doing what he has dreamed of....for a very long time. So now I am going to reflect on his junior year in high school. Before the season, he passed his driver's test and was ready to take the car wherever he wanted...right? Wrong! As a kid who attended a private school, his classmates had cars waiting for them when they received their licenses. Mustang & VW convertibles, BMWs, Volvos, used Mercedes, Hondas, and those cute little 2 seat cars were beginning to line up in the parking lot. Poor Buddy was still taking the bus and not happily. There were mornings when I could hear him muttering loudly under his breath as to the unfairness of it was not fair.....despite his protests that he was the ONLY kid not driving to school, we did not acquiesce. The bus was free (sort of), dropped him off in front of school and was always on time. A new car for a 16 year old was not free and I was not going to buy him a car. He was going to have to tough it out on the bus with the rest of the kids whose parents were unreasonable like me.

Back to baseball.....between sophomore and junior years, Buddy played on a travel team. The team played in tournaments on the east coast. Gradually, after a horrendous sophomore year with the high school team, Buddy began to feel confident again. He started at first base and pitched each weekend and once during the week. He pitched well and these tournaments were national. Sadly, the bats around him were "silent" so his win-loss record was not stellar, but his overall performance was pretty good. His batting average was the highest on the team. He never hit home runs but he always made contact and never struck out.

It was fun watching those games since two of his high school team mates were also on the travel team. For two weeks in July, we traveled to Florida and Georgia for tournaments. The Florida tournament was great fun. The kids played at the Red Sox training facilities and they loved it. The games were competitive although their record was only .500. Buddy pitched in the heat against some of the best players in the country and had his favorite catcher behind the plate. There were college and pro scouts in the stands moving around from game to game.

The actual point of these tournaments was to attract the attention of a college coach. Buddy did that. With the showcases that he attended and the tournaments that he pitched in, there were several coaches who contacted his high school coach for more information.  I could picture his coach's reaction in my mind when a college coaches called him....."are we talking about the kid I call psycho?" "him?" "really, you think that he is good?" I am sure that he had no idea that Buddy was a decent player, because he relegated him to the bench keeping the book and chasing balls. So, in a way, this was interesting to watch. The coach honestly did not know that he could play....had no idea whatsoever....

Anyway, during his junior year, there were a number of key events that I can recall like they were yesterday. The most memorable incident occurred during the preseason. Buddy was a few minutes late for the start of a pregame practice. He finally got to drive the car, but had to drop his father off at work first. When he got to the field, he could not find a parking space since the school was having a big event in the gym. It took him ten minutes to find a spot on the other side of campus. He grabbed his gear and ran. When he arrived a few minutes late, the coach looked at him and screamed.....I will paraphrase...."you are @@@@77-ing late.....get the %#$@ out of here...we do not want or need you...get the #%$&&# out of here....." After being humiliated once again in front of his teammates (remember Buddy was always early and this was the first time in 10 years of playing ball that he was a few minutes late)....he went back to the car. I was sitting in the stands waiting for the game to begin and did not see my son. He called me in tears...."mom, he just screamed at me, told me to leave...he told me I am never going to pitch again...." I asked him where he was and if he wanted me to get involved. He said that he was in the car.

After a few minutes and talking with his dad, he decided to go back to the coach and apologize for his lateness. The coach uttered a few more expletives and told Buddy to stay out of his way and sit on the bench out of sight (which he did). The team won the game, but my heart was broken for my son. This was the first time he was late, yet other kids were late all the time. I desperately wanted to take the coach down a peg or two (figuratively, of course). I had visions of what I could do from a parent's perspective. I wanted to go to the head master or athletic director and complain about his language. I was going to approach the coach and tell him that his interpersonal skills were abysmal...I had plans...many many plans...then I was told by my son and husband to "butt out."...?butt out? What! OK, so I "butted out" but I never forgot what had transpired.

Upon reflection of this incident, I must say that I have never had a conversation with this coach even though I had multiple opportunities to chat. As much as I would like to forgive and forget, I can forgive...but I won't forget this one. When I saw the devastation from the event and felt Buddy's agony, I tried to weave a shield around him to offer skills  for when this happened again. With hot-headed coaches in any league, things like this are going to happen. Parents and friends have to offer support and help to pick up the pieces and be there for when the trouble erupts. I have made it a policy to attend as many games as possible, whether he plays or not, just to be a support in the stands...a friend..a confidant....someone who is trustworthy and always has his back.

With that said, I have to go to work...have a great Monday!

Sunday, February 13, 2011


The weather is chilly and Valentine's Day is tomorrow. I am chillin' listening to old Simon and Garfunkel on Pandora. The songs and harmonies were amazing. Paul Simon writes
"Hey, I've got nothing to do today but smile......" What a great line...nothing to do but to try it sometime...soon...when ever I have nothing to do....definitely on my list of things to all day....just smile....

Yesterday I took Tink and Grandmom shopping at a big outlet mall in our region. There were two goals. Goal number one ....find the lucky sneakers. Goal number two: get back early enough so Grandmom could drive home in the day light (no night driving for's got to be daylight.....ahhh, the pressure). After a big breakfast, we took on the outlets with a large number of people, like us, looking for bargains. I doubt if anyone was out there searching for lucky sneakers, although one never knows. I obviously was not wearing lucky shoes, socks, clothes or underwear, because I could not find a parking space anywhere near the stores. So, like a good mom and daughter, I dropped them off in front of the store, parked in an adjacent state, and walked to the store trying to find them.

Anyway, we went from store to store on a quest to find the lucky sneakers. What constitutes lucky sneakers? How does a person know that the sneakers that they hold in their hands before purchase are "lucky"? The answer one knows....that is all part of the allure of luck. No one can really define it. What is lucky to one, may be unlucky to another. Like a snow day.....the kids think that the snow days are lucky...the parents may disagree and find that snow days are dreadful and anything but lucky.

Yet, I do have some luck parameters when it comes to sneakers. First, the sneakers have to be wearable without socks. Yep, feet have to slip in and feel comfortable walking from the car to the ball field while carrying the baseball tote bag and shade chair. Second, the sneakers have to be somewhat "cute"....they can't be ugly or an odd color. I have seen pink, purple, black, gold, silver, and chartreuse sneakers....all of the colors are NOT lucky and are therefore crossed off the list. Last, the sneakers must be on sale....that's right at least 50 to 75% off the original, let's review....lucky sneakers are white, fashionable, comfortable, and cheap...that's it....

After a few hours roaming through the stores, I found the sneakers in Ross (of all places....I have a Ross store 5 minutes from the house and did not have to travel 80 minutes). The sneakers met all of the guidelines from white (small blue stripe....racy...), comfortable, somewhat stylish,  and $12.99! Yep,  a  pair of leather Keds were about luck....They were so cheap, that I bought a second pair of sneakers making me doubly lucky....

So, now I am almost ready for the start of the season. All I need now is to pack and download the plane tickets. Interestingly, at this point, Buddy does not know if he is on the list to travel to Florida. I am the optimist and am confident that he will be with the team...this will be a big test for the lucky sneakers......

Friday, February 11, 2011


Good Morning,
I have only a few minutes to write, so this should be a short one OR I will be very very late for my appointment. First, it's Buddy's dad's birthday. Happy Birthday! He is going to work ('natch), eat pizza for lunch, work some more, come home and eat 'something wonderful' for dinner. Not sure what that 'something wonderful' is going to be since he will have already had pizza and we always have pizza for Friday dinner. Perhaps, if I add a topping or two to it, he won't notice that he ate it twice in one day....

Tink and I are leaving in less than a week for Florida to watch Buddy's inaugural D1 games. I have to get my signature baseball tote bag ready to pack. The tote is a medium size bag with enough room to add bug spray, suntan lotion, 2 bottled waters, granola bars, gum (sugarless), a few dollars, some change, a magazine, iPod, and Off's bug fan. The bug fan actually works. I highly recommend it for the muggy, mosquito filled nights sitting by the diamond watching your son sit on the bench. The iPod helps to distract a person during the long games. Billy Joel, some classical music, Led Zeppelin, Beatles, Springsteen, etc often sit with me in the bleachers.

There is one more item that I have to purchase this new lucky sneakers. The lucky sneakers are legend in my family. It all started in college when I wore a pair of pumas until there was no more leather around the toes and heels. The holes were in strategic locations and I knew how to dodge puddles and not get the feet wet. I held onto the lucky pumas for 20 years. I wore them during certification exams and graduate school tests, which I passed with the assistance of the lucky pumas. Sadly, like all treasured shoes, the lucky pumas ran out of leather and I had to leave them on the shelf in the garage. They sat there year after year looking battered and forlorn. These shoes were then replaced by lucky polos then lucky keds.

The lucky keds ran their string of luck out last year during the playoffs when Tink had me take them off when the team was losing their final game. The writing was on the wall, the lucky keds were no longer lucky and needed to be replaced. So, here is my quandary...what do I replace the lucky keds with? I have to go shopping tomorrow and search for a new pair to bring to Florida. I have no idea what to buy, but I will know when I see them.

Have a great day!

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Hello. It's a few days before Valentine's Day. Have you been bombarded by commercials and flyers leading you to purchase a diamond heart necklace or a big box of chocolates? I have had a number of Valentine's Days under my belt and now look at it from a simpler perspective. Don't wait until 2/14 to tell the people that are important to you that you love them. Each day is precious when you have the love and support of family and friends around you. Forget the hearts and flowers....write a note...give someone a hug...tell them that you love them now. My dad says...."I want flowers now, not at my funeral..." He makes a very good point.

Now that I have that off my chest, I would like to continue my thoughts about coaching. I have not had a great fondness for a few of my children's coaches, but when individuals volunteer for the role, I am restrained, sit back, keep my mouth shut, and support my athlete. I coached for a number of years and so did dad. In fact, Buddy's dad coached a number of his teams from ages 4 until 15. These teams were either grade school basketball or township baseball or soccer. He did his best to be fair to all of the kids. However, there were times as the kids aged that they became more outspoken and belligerent. The coaches had to say something to the kids to keep them in line and unified as a team. Sadly, parents were another story. Their kid was always the most gifted and athletic. They had a number of criticisms during each game and practice regarding the coaching or lack of coaching techniques.

There was one incident when Buddy was 15 years old. He was playing in a township game on a very hot day and his dad was keeping the stats book since he no longer desired to coach. He sat quietly on the bench and tracked the game at the coach's request. I was working at home and did not plan on attending the game. However, Tink went and sat in the stands. While the game proceeded, parents began to talk negatively about Tink's dad. They were nasty and felt that he should not be coaching and leave....but they also felt Buddy needed to stay. They talked more "smack" and Tink was becoming visibly upset. She left the stands and called me at home relaying what she had heard. I asked her if she wanted me to come and she said that she was fine. I hung up the phone and went back to work thinking about her words. I usually have to process new information rather than immediately reacting so it took a few minutes before the gravity of the situation hit me. I learned this at work and over the years, so after a minute or two, I knew what I had to do.

These gossiping parents had violated an unwritten code. The code is...if you do not have all of the facts, then you are not allowed to comment. In other words, there was a great deal of information that the parents did not have sitting in their cozy seats that rendered them ineligible to comment. As my blood pressure rose to a level that is not compatible with life, I got into the car and sped to the field. Slamming the door, I left the car in an unauthorized spot and found Tink. As I asked her questions like Allie McBeal and found the culprits in the stands. Asking the leader to step away from the stands to speak to me, I began to "school" him.

The instigator was a father who sits in the stands, eats seeds, and comments on everything. Has he ever volunteered to help the team, sweep the field, keep the book or coach? Nope...but he considered himself an expert. Since I was taller and angrier, (I think) I was pretty intimidating. As I looked him in the eye, I calmly (yes, I was calm) told him that there were things that he did not understand about the team, players, and coaches and that he needed more information. I also told him that he spoke in a condescending way about my daughter's father as she sat in the stands in front of him. Did he not see her? Please use more restraint when you gossip about someone especially if the family sits in front of you. I also told him that my daughter was upset and crying. How did that make you feel?

He was perspiring as I spoke. I actually did not give him an opening to speak since I did not want to hear anything that he had to say. After the figurative "smack-down", I asked him to be more careful in the future, if he had any questions to ask the coaches and do not assume anything. I shook his hand and said...good luck as I looked at him in the eyes. He sheepishly went back to the stands and I went home, sat down, and had an iced tea.

Why do I bring this incident up? Well,  I feel that volunteers should be given a "pass" when it comes to coaching. I also think that if a parent has an issue or suggestion, he or she should speak to the coach. If they are not going to help, then sit back, eat your seeds, enjoy the game, and take your athlete out for ice cream when it is over.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

HIgh School Highs and Lows

Good Morning. The ice is slowly dissipating from the driveway and it is not as slick. I did fall last week, but not on the icy driveway. I slid on the steps inside the snow...just me being very clumsy. Fortunately I landed on the fleshiest part of my body. With all of the padding, I bounced back up.

Anyway, back to our favorite topic.....Baseball Buddy. It is now sophomore year and the coach has been "replaced" by a coach who had "left" another high school. This is a real sports rotation....With any high school program, there are politics. There are "inside" deals and favoritism. Generally, the best players are the starters. However, this may not always the case. If a player is not in good graces with the coach (es), then he or she will sit on the bench. It does not matter how good the player is. The coach makes the calls.

The new coach was announced during the fall and he had a brief gathering to meet the players. After the meeting, Buddy went to speak to the coach on his own and introduce himself. He shared his impression of the coach with us, which had been favorable. With that said....let's move forward three years to Buddy's last home game as a senior. The coach always prepares a short speech about the graduating player. When it was Buddy's turn, the coach shared with the team and families his impression of meeting Buddy for the first time. This is a paraphrase....."when I met Buddy, he stopped me after a meeting. I wanted desperately to go home, but this kid stood in front of me and says that he is a good player and is going to play Division I baseball..." After the families and players chuckled, the coach continued..."I turned to the assistant coach and said...'who is this psycho?' From that point on, we called him psycho behind his back." The audience again laughed and I stood dumbfounded. Did I hear him correctly?  Did he just call my hard working, driven boy a 'psycho'? Is he calling a kid who made All Conference and All State and broke a number of pitching records a psycho? Is he calling my son a psycho???? Is he kidding? Someone had better hold me back....'cause I was hot!
Blog space and good manners will not allow me to continue my train of thought on the 'psycho business' but believe me, if looks could maim, the coach would be using a walker today.

So, I am going to reflect on the term psycho in sports. I feel that I had enough experience as a former D-1 athlete to comment on this, so here it order to move to the top of any sport, a person must display a passion for training and their goals. Further, a person may be born with athleticism, but it is up to the individual's commitment and hard work to make it to the top of their sport. There are sacrifices that must be made such as missing parties, gatherings, events, and sleep. An athlete must practice and train and tinker with their mechanics. To achieve their goal, they eat and sleep the sport and do not deviate from their ultimate goal. In Buddy's case, it was D-1 baseball. The neighbors would comment on Buddy as he threw buckets of balls against a screen on the driveway. He would swing at balls on a tee. He took extra batting practice and went to the batting cages. After dinner, he would pitch to his dad in the backyard. Buddy would also be the first person on the field before practice or a game either running, stretching, or swinging the bat. The coaches often arrived on the field after he did. So, is this a psycho or someone who is working hard to achieve a goal? Is this someone that you want on your team? Is he a leader or psycho?

Sorry to have deviated from the rest of sophomore year, but this senior year comment reflected the type of relationship that Buddy had with the coach for the three years. When Buddy finally got into games to pitch, he was on a very short "leash". If he loaded the bases or walked a few players, the coach would scream...'get him the @#$$% out of there'...and he would be pulled out of the game by the pitching coach. Interestingly, he never allowed Buddy to pitch out of troubles. From a confidence perspective, Buddy would dread making any kind of mistake, because he knew that he would be taken out and then humiliated. His confidence was at an all time low. This reflected in his personality at home. When he had a good practice or game, he was happy. When they lost or he had a bad outing, he was miserable. Gradually (this took a lot of time), he re-gained his confidence when he played on tournament and legion teams with different coaches who believed in his skills. The value of a good, intuitive coach is not to be minimized. It can make the difference between a high level of performance or wanting to quit the sport and take up knitting or crochet.

With that said, I have to go to work...enjoy the day....

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

High School Days

Greetings....I am sitting at the desk, listening to some oldies (John Mayer), reminiscing about the good old days.... John Mayer is singing..."I want to run through the halls of my high school...." Yikes, I would have gotten 5 demerits and a Saturday detention. No running for me...just a quick pace between classes.   Although my good old days were pretty darn good, my thoughts roam to Buddy's freshman year in high school. Those were NOT the good old days and here is why....

Buddy is a bright person. He has the tools to succeed in most settings. However, the level of academic competition at this high school was intense. Although he wanted it, I don't think that he was prepared for the challenges that were ahead of him.

He struggled in the classroom and could not figure out the system. We had to take him for some academic assistance a few times until the advice that he was given clicked. The headmaster felt that he would be better off at another school, but Buddy would not hear of it. He was so determined to succeed that he put his head down and studied, studied and studied. Sadly, the initial grades did not reflect the amount of work that he put into it, but once he figured out a method of retaining the content, his grades sequentially moved from the basement to the first, second and third floors. He never made the penthouse, but he did have honors one semester (another cake and dinner celebration). In other words, he held his own and had a great deal to be proud of as he overcame yet another challenge.

Now Buddy knows the rules about academic eligibility. These are pretty important for the high school athlete. Stay ahead of the curve by being proactive. This is the only way to succeed.

In January, the baseball coach announced that he would start 6 am (not 6 pm...that would have been more humane) work outs twice a week for the prospects and players. Since Buddy had the goal of making the team, he wanted to attend the sessions. This meant that he would have to rise at 5 am and get a ride to his school 30 minutes away and be ready by 6. His dad (quite the trooper) got up twice a week and took him on the long drive to training. Buddy was a regular at these sessions. The coach would then cook eggs and the kids went to class. I never drove because I had to put Tink onto the bus.

In February, the team held try outs. Buddy and his dad (again) were nervous about his ability to make the JV. They sweated this one out....and lo and behold, Buddy (and ten others) made the varsity. This angered so many of the upper class men, that they decided to quit the team. So, here is Buddy, a shy, introverted guy on a varsity team that had a great deal of dissension. Eventually, some of the kids returned to play, but the negative tone had been set. One upper class man told Buddy that when he was on the mound  he was not going to field any balls that were hit to him out of spite. This guy held true to this threat as I watched a number of weakly hit balls go by him that my 70 year old mother could have fielded. So the season begins....

Buddy did get into a few games. The first game that he pitched in was against a top team. Not knowing why he was the "sacrificial lamb" for this game, he was lit up (that means...lots of runs, walks, hit batters and a very high score). He was almost destroyed by this outing. As a freshman, he had a great deal of talent, but he did not have the mental toughness that comes with cumulative positive experiences. After that initial game, Buddy was installed in a few others as bullpen relief. He did extremely well as his confidence bloomed. By the end of the season, he was feeling pretty good about himself, although the team dynamics were toxic. The upperclassmen never eased up on the freshmen. Many parents were negative too. No one spoke to me as a parent. I was basically by myself at each game unless dad or Tink came. Even though Buddy did not play each game, I still went to support him and the team. I felt ostracized in a way as I sat or stood by myself. Overall, this was fine. There was gossip and trash talk about some team members and the coaches. I did not want to participate in this type of chatter. Let's keep conversation civil. No one is a professional athlete out there, and the goal was to have "fun"...right?

More later about the "fun" enjoyed with each season.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Preparing for the season

Another sunny day and I am wondering how long it will continue....after all, it is winter. Perhaps Old Man Winter and Mother Nature are lulling us into complacency then will hit us with a big one....It's their way of having fun...

It's February 7 and in 10 days we leave for Florida. Buddy begins his college pitching career in a few days. He is not talking about it, but I wonder how nervous he is. How do the coaches prepare the freshman for D-1? It's my opinion that this is a very big deal. For Buddy, it is something that he has worked hard for, sacrificed and dreamed, now that it is finally here, is he ready?

When a person is so close to achieving their dream, how do they respond? Is it like the feeling that you get when a big project is completed well? Is it elation? Happiness? Contentment? And when the big dream is actualized at such a young age...then what? What does an 18 year old do?

I have some ideas. If a person as a teenager achieves a long term goal, I think that there is a confidence that develops that helps them in the future. If the goal is something that has been longed for and that person had to sacrifice and work hard to achieve it, the mind is stronger. A person gets the sense that he or she can attain anything. With hard work and determination, so much can be accomplished.

As a parent, I never pushed my children into anything such as sports or music. The decisions came from the individual child. It was my job to be supportive and drive them from place to place (and fund it too....). With Buddy, he decided that he wanted to grow as a ballplayer. His dad and I fed his hunger with providing him the opportunities. He further decided that he wanted to play in college. Again, dad and I helped him with the coaching lessons and travel teams. He had to do the rest.

So, now we plan on traveling to Florida, then NC and Va. Whether he plays or not, I will continue to do what I did when he was 4 years old and hitting plastic balls off a tee. I will attend the games and support him and the team. I will take the journey with him as someone that he can confide in and count on win or lose. It is going to be a very interesting season....

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Back in Time

The sun is shining today. Last year on this date, there was 2 feet on snow on the ground. A snow day turned into a snow week as schools closed and offices shut down for the plows to get through. Very memorable.

As I think about last year, my mind wanders back to the interesting high school days of Buddy the ball player. Now that he is in college, I do not have the day to day contact that I once did....OK...the contact was usually through a closed bedroom door, a text, or a 1 minute appearance at the dinner table...but we did have daily communication. However, it was this time of year that he waited for the college acceptance letter to come from his first choice. This school had recruited him in January and he applied later than most of the high school seniors.

Waiting for the letter of acceptance even though the baseball coach said that it was a "done deal" was agonizing for Buddy and his dad. I knew that the letter would come, but they were a bit more skeptical. I am not sure why...but they needed verification that he would actually be a student at the university AND on the baseball team. With that said, the letter finally came and the excitement was palpable. His classmates did not believe that he actually was granted acceptance into this university. The disbelief that he was on the 2011 baseball roster was further verbalized as they did not understand the extent of his talent. Buddy is a quiet guy. He does not brag nor boast. So, the folks at his high school were not "believers." Some turned into 'haters' as one of his classmates ran a poll among the seniors as to when Buddy would be cut from the university team. This hurt him quite a bit since he really wanted congratulations and not jeers.

Upon reflection, Buddy made the team because he worked hard and had a goal. He sacrificed parties and gatherings to travel with his baseball teams. He worked out almost daily and had a pitching coach who believed in him. When a kid has the support of a family, group of friends, team or community, he or she can accomplish anything. Attitudes make a difference in the outcome....he was positive that he was going to succeed. The proof is his name and number in the locker room at the university.....

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Plastic bags: A fashion statement?

It's an icy morning (again). The driveway is slick and dangerous. It's time to consider relocating or a trip south where wearing boots is fashionable as opposed to a necessity. My Timberland boots sit by the door waiting for me to run my errands. They have become my most important piece of clothing this year.
Back in college, I could not afford to buy waterproof boots. All my money went to tuition and books. However, I had to make the trek across campus in the rain and snow to get from class to class. My shoes and feet would be soaked by the time I made it to the next building. The rest of the day, I would sit with frozen, wet feet trying to focus on the teacher and class content. My mind would wander as I would think about how I could prevent this annual wet and frozen toes fiasco from continuing and ruining my day....until I had an amazing idea that I will share with my readers...plastic bags! Yes, I would wrap my feet and socks in plastic bags before going to school. I used bread bags. The plastic kept my feet dry and comfortable throughout the day. Although the shoes were wet, my feet were dry....It was a brilliant & inexpensive this day, I remember my college days, frozen feet, and plastic bread bags and making the most out of a frigid situation.....My classmates laughed at me when they heard my feet crackling from the bags every time I moved them...but after a few days, more of the students began to wear the bags...I was a bit of a Michael Kors for the coeds in my day....For those who want to use the bags.....Sunbeam bread bags were the best....

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Random thoughts

Good morning.....the sun is shining and the ice is beginning to melt...except the ice on my driveway, it will be there until May.

I just read an article written about Cliff Lee, the Phillies left handed pitcher. The reporter asked him what he liked to do....His reply was something like..."eat, sleep and go to the ballpark." This remark made me laugh. On a particularly difficult day for Buddy, I asked him what made him happy. His response was...."baseball, sleep and sometimes the dog..." I reflected on that statement and asked where I fit in (as his beloved mother). He said somewhere around 5 or 6th given the day. So, here is where I stand on his scale...somewhere between a large bag of Skittles and a pint of cookies and cream ice cream.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Finishing Elementary School

It's Groundhog Day and Phil DID NOT see his shadow. Therefore, winter should be over in 6 weeks. Let's share that bit of trivia with Old Man Winter. He seems very annoyed these days.

My goal for the first few blog postings is to share Buddy's history as a ball player. His skills did not develop overnight. He was not the best player on most of his teams and he had to work harder than most kids to stay in the line up. With that said, he was blessed with athleticism, height and left hand dominance. All of these factors plus training and perseverance led to his making a D-1 school.

With that said, 8th grade is almost over. The regional play off game was scheduled for a steamy Sunday at a local high school. Buddy was scheduled to pitch against the top team in the region. He knew that his skill and lots of luck could lead them to a victory. It was all on his shoulders as he prepared mentally for the game. To offset the jitters, we talked about the previous game and how fun it was. We also delved into the years at his elementary school and how life would change dramatically in high school. Yet, despite the small talk, he was nervous about the start.

Sunday's game was scheduled for the afternoon. Usually 10-15 people attended the games. This time there were 90-100 sitting on the hill. There were no bleachers, so families had to bring blankets or chairs.
The game began and Buddy pitched with a tenacity that the opposing team did not expect. There were no earned runs while he was in the game. Sadly, as baseball goes, the strike zone "shrank" on Buddy and he no longer hit the corners of the plate. He began to walk his opponents and walked in a run. After 65 pitches, the opposing coach called a time out to take Buddy out of the game. It seems that there is a maximum pitch count at that age and he could no longer stay in the game.

After Buddy was removed from the mound, the opposing team scored a few more runs on the next pitcher and they ultimately defeated St A's. St. A's had 3 hits, Buddy hit two of them. This was no consolation as the regional playoffs were over and Buddy was now finished with his grade school career.

Reflecting upon the grade school years, I see a number of very positive events that helped him. First, he had to work to make each team. He did not assume that he would automatically be on the roster. Second, he sat on the bench seething on a number of occasions. Again, this was a good thing as he vowed take advantage of any opportunity that he got to play. Last, he discovered that he would rather pitch than play first base since he could basically control the game. All of these factors were instrumental in building his confidence and commitment to the sport. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Beginning 5th Chapter

Have you ever had peppermint coffee? Sounds gross...but it's not. I bought some leftover from Christmas and it is pretty a coffee peppermint patty (without the calories)

Sorry for the incomplete post yesterday, but I had an appointment in the city and was running late. It's icy today, so I will probably have another abbreviated post.....

Back to 8th would think that as an 8th grader, a kid would be on top of the mountain (elementary school-wise)...and yes, in a way, they are. Yet there are so many hidden pressures especially for the kids with big dreams and goals. They want it all and begin to realize that the only way to attain their goals is by working hard. This is something that many adolescent boys do not want to hear or do. They want everything....they want it yesterday...and they do not want to work for it. This is probably a generalization, but it is my personal experience after witnessing a class at an all boys school come of age. However, there is the inherent competition that comes with the gender and adolescence. Who is the smartest? The most athletic? Most handsome? Who has the most friends? Invitations to parties? Awards?

I watch the kids and wonder how I ever got through this time of my life. Sure, there were pressures, but they were different. We all knew where we were going to high school. No one had a car, we walked everywhere, and we knew that we had to work for what we had since it was not handed to us. (I am's the educator in me).

Oops...this blog is about Buddy, not me.....Ok, so finally, the letter of acceptance came in February. It was an acceptance to the school of his choice. We celebrated with a cake and special dinner. Then it was back to work. Early March approached and Buddy prepared for the season by hitting in the batting cages and continuing his pitching lessons with Coach Phil. He also played indoors with a local high school team. The coach tried to recruit Buddy to attend his high school. However, once Buddy turned him down, the coach distanced himself and was rather nasty during the rest of the indoor season. I remember him being nasty and condescending to the kids. He yelled at them and was a bit of a bully. I was glad when this season was over.

The light finally appeared as the days of chasing balls into the woods, sitting on the bench, keeping the score book, carrying the water coolers, and lining up the bats like crayons were over. It was his time to be the big man as an 8th grader, but he was more like the 4th big man. There were players ahead of him who were considered the best on the team. Buddy decided to work harder. As the line-ups were posted, it seemed that he was going to bat fourth. This is an honor and a big stressor. The 4th guy in the line up is the "clean up" hitter. He is expected to hit the ball and move the players on base and bring them in to score like Albert Pujols or Ryan Howard. Right away, I noticed his posture had changed. He felt the pressures of being the 4th batter. Be careful what you wish for....once you get it, you have to stay on the top of the heap and that can make a kid and mom worry.

Why does a mother worry? Why doesn't she? What mother does not worry? Name one....I worry about everything when it comes to my children....their minds...their spirit...everything....this parenting thing, as wonderful as it is, it has a life of its own. I never relax when it comes to the kids. They are aging into young adults and I am aging into a ball of nerves concerned for their welfare and happiness. I don't want to see them hurt mentally or physically, yet I cannot prevent life from happening. I can only watch and celebrate the highs and support them through the lows.

So, as a contact hitter, he never struck out. He may have grounded or flied out, but he never struck out. This was pretty impressive. Over the years, I only saw him strike out a few times, then I got his eyes checked by the doctor, contact lenses were adjusted and he saw the ball better. Last year, I took him to have his eyes checked and his prescription was changed. The next game, he hit several rbi's and a home run.

Back to St A's, the kids won their district championship. There was a play off game on a cool, misty day in May. They played their best and beat the first place team to enter into the regionals. With two outs in the final inning and the go ahead runs on base, the opposing team batter hit a ball between first and second base....Buddy dove at the ball and caught it mid air...He rolled in the mud and held his glove up with the ball in it to validate that it was a clean catch (although his uniform was really dirty, the catch was clean). It was time to celebrate the day's victory. It was a great time with trophies and congratulatory hand shakes. The kids celebrated as they were the district champs. Yet, with the regional play offs the next day, it was Buddy's turn to pitch and start the game. He got his wish....he was to start in the biggest game of the year against the number one team in the archdiocese....

More tomorrow....