Rain, rain, rain....hoping that it nourishes the grass and flowers and not my basement....Who needs a swimming pool there?
Tink and I have made our weekend plans. She has a nasty cold so we'll hold off from travel until Saturday morning. Hopefully, the worst part of it will have abated and she will be able to breathe freely. Nevertheless, we will leave around 6 am, arrive in Virginia around noon, watch a double header, stay in the team hotel (got a great rate), watch Sunday's game and leave for home...sounds like fun, eh? Actually, if the weather holds, it will be a nice time. Knowing that we may see him pitch once during the three games is fine. At least he will see some action based on his last performance.
Last week, Buddy and I had a conversation which surprised me. He said that his friends who are seniors in high school were now complaining about the spring work outs and the team dynamics. Dr Buddy told them to enjoy this time, because it can be the best in your life. A profound statement coming from a college freshman... Yet, the Oprah in me would not let it go without further interrogation (oh so 'Geraldo')....tell me...why was your senior year the best time of your life ('cause I remember it differently)? He replied that he loved being the best on the team and the go-to-guy. I guess I get it as he struggles to be noticed by the coaches in college and professional scouts...I get it...That was the end of the conversation because his paragraphs are two sentences in length and so is his dialogue. Therefore...end of discussion....moving on to dinner plans....
OK, I never spoke about his senior year. This was intentional as his struggles finally paid off. During the summer between his junior and senior year, he played legion baseball. His coach loved him (a phenomenon that he was not accustomed to) and he was the number one pitcher. Sadly, he got Lymes disease in June. He was out of action for a week before he forced himself to return to the mound. However, LD causes a number of physical problems such as weight loss, incredible fatigue, head and body aches, and lethargy. He had all of those symptoms yet pushed himself to return. As fate would have it, he lost considerable speed off his fast ball. This would impact the recruiting process significantly.
As he recovered from LD and his strength improved, there was a push to attend as many baseball showcases as possible for the schools that he wanted to attend. We traveled to NC, Va, NJ, CT, and Delaware. My only request was to keep the location three hours or less to home...that's it...As he threw during the showcases, coaches were impressed with his location but not his speed. There was nothing that he could do, because he was still recovering from LD and would not use it as an excuse. Therefore, schools were only mildly interested. He was pretty much devastated because he saw his peers signing their deals with universities early and he did not have an offer yet. He was despondent but did not give up. I knew that his fast ball was fast because he hit a player during the summer after LD and broke the kid's ankle.
We must have logged thousands of miles on the car, ate in dozens of fast food restaurants, and stayed in some not so nice hotels (think a haven for bedbugs and crawly creatures). Coaches spoke to him during the showcases, but again, no actual offers. As senior year began, he made a fall travel team that had the most significant impact on his college goals. This team traveled up and down the east coast and college coaches were in attendance. Unfortunately for the big kid, he was relegated to first base since that was his other position. He was very good at it and their first baseman was not as good, so there he was...upset that he was not pitching because he wanted to pitch in college. The fall season ended with again, only mild interest....
Senior year is always so stressful for the kids with the questions of where they would attend school. They now have admission applications on the internet, so the applicant does not have to wait by the mailbox but check on the website. As the year progressed, he was edgy and anxious...yet at the same time, he was confident. In a previous post, I mentioned his winter pitching coach, who plays in the Reds farm system. He tinkered with some of his mechanics and suddenly the kid was throwing mid 80's up to 89...He was shocked that Buddy had not been picked up and he began to make calls to his friends in the area....now he began to see a great deal of interest since the college coaches respected this pitching coach's wisdom. Let's fast forward to January and the team of his dreams started the recruiting process....an invitation to campus...tour of facilities....nutritionist, orthopedic specialist to monitor spines, arms, and shoulders...travel all over the country...sports adviser...sports psychologist...mandatory study hours...tutors...mentors...review of grades weekly....catered pre game meal...and HEATED bullpens! He was immediately smitten and overwhelmed but had to visit two more schools before the final decision. The schools did not compare to the dream school and the decision was made.
It was a very very long and painful process for him. He had to continually prove his value and worth. The way that I look at is, it made him into a fierce competitor who will battle until the end...bloody...bruised...never giving up.....focus on goals....it can happen...Yet, even though it was mentally grueling for him, we had a lot of good memories as we traveled and laughed and saw new places around the country. I would not trade it for anything. We all gained from the experience and will always remember the trips, tournaments, games, and the times that we spent together as a family.