Monday, March 14, 2011

Crime Fighting as a Second Career

My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Japan as they recover from the devastating earthquake and tsunami. May God bless them during this time of pain and rebuilding.

Based on my first thought, I realize how truly lucky and blessed I am as Diva Dog sits quietly on my lap and I reflect on the activities of the weekend. It was quite a trip as Tink and I headed to the coast of Virginia to watch two double headers on Saturday and Sunday. Knowing that Buddy might play in one of the games was all the motivation that we needed to start the trip at 5:30am on Saturday. As one would expect, traffic was very light and we arrived in record time. In fact, we were so early that we checked into the hotel before heading to the games. The hotel was packed with all kinds of activities. There were two college baseball teams, a formal wedding and lots of preteens attending a dance competition. This played a large part in our request to change our room as we were sandwiched between the girls and their activities. As they ran from room to room, decorated doors, and screamed, I thought that I would rather be on the wedding floor....I was really happy that the kids were having fun, but we were losing an hour to daylight savings time, so I was reluctant to listen to the fun all night....

Anyway, once we checked in for a second time, we were off to the games. The weather was nice, a bit chilly but we were prepared with our blankets, heavy jackets, cooler of snacks and water, camera, and lucky sneakers. Ready to go....the first game was pretty good from a player's perspective. The starting pitching was excellent and I realized quickly that Buddy would not make it in for this game. So, after a while, bored, I began to watch the people in the stands rather than the game and take a few notes. I could actually watch the game and write. This comes from years of watching TV, listening to the radio and dog barking, and doing my homework. It's a skill that I have honed over the years. Now people call it multitasking.

First, I watched the cluster of dads from a sociological perspective, who gathered together to chat, analyze each play and pitch, batters' stances, and umpire calls. It was like I was the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin, and I was observing them in their habitat. I still have not figured out which dad goes with which player until this game, then it soon became apparent as each dad would be especially observant and critical of the umpire during a particular at-bat. Even watching the dad phenomenon, I became more bored. Nothing really interesting here except for some of their comments...."all right...good stick....good eye...come on blue...taking the bats out of their hands...pick 'em up....way to lay off....keep battling....we can do this....coming, coming, coming...yeah!....atta boy.....come on 2-3...." Taken out of baseball context, these phrases are puzzling, yet at a game, I understand them.

Tink let me use her notebook and I jotted down my thoughts and observations. During the second game, I started a list of ten things to do when a person is bored at a baseball game. Once I began the list, it turned into a 25 count bulleted list. So, this could actually turn into a posting of its own in the near future. Stay tuned....

Game two like game one on Saturday ended with a victory and no Buddy sighting. I was tired and in a bit of funk, so off to the hotel's lounge for a very expensive, cheap glass of Merlot. Tink had her usual Shirley Temple and we sat there and waited for the big guy to appear post shower. He was in a fairly good mood and he took us to one of his favorite spots for dinner, Johnny Rockets, a chain of burger joints. By the way, when I say that he "took us", I am referring to him showing us where the restaurant was located. I paid for dinner and he pocketed his meal stipend from the university. We walked to the mall, had dinner and walked back. The reputation of this city is one of high crime and a large police presence, but the mall was just a few blocks away and I was not too worried.

After dinner, Buddy, Tink and I sat in the room chatting about everything from the games, to school (lots of B's, he says), and future team travel. We made plans to attend early mass together and he left to pack. On Sunday, Tink and I were ready to Buddy...after a series of calls and texts, he finally showed up in a very 'salty' mood. "I'm tired", he says....."Who isn't?" was my reply. In fact, my changing rooms earlier from the pre teen scene backfired as the couple in the adjacent room spent the night arguing using a lot of profanity. The argument would die down and escalate. Yikes, I was hoping not to hear anyone getting physically hurt, but I could not help but wonder if they realized that the entire floor could hear them.

After church, I dropped the moody, tired kid at his favorite cheap bagel place next to the hotel so that he could grab breakfast and make the team bus to the game. "Good luck" we said....I think that I heard in reply..."Thanks mom, you're the greatest. I am dedicating this game to you..." Nah...I didn't hear that. What he said was something like "hmmm...grrrr....bye..." I watched him walk toward the restaurant, and we drove away. "Hey, Tink" I said, "let's find a place to eat a big breakfast and skip lunch."

As we sat in the car and thought about it, we remembered a street a few blocks away that had a number of little bistros and cafes. Since the city is a bit dangerous, we decided to drive. Turning the car around and making a left, we saw something that was on hindsight pretty frightening. It was Buddy walking quickly down the street with a man closely following him. This did not look good as he was gaining on my kid. So, I did what any super hero would do, I drove the Honda across the divide and yelled at him to get into the car. He ran to the car and we sped away. OK, what was going on? Apparently, this man was vigorously asking him for money and he would not take no for an answer. Interestingly, Buddy's salty morning mood turned into a very relieved and happy guy to see his mother and sister. This could possibly be attributed to our successful crime fighting prowess, but I can't be sure.

As we drove to a McDonald's to grab a #12 meal for him, he told us that the guys asked the local people for suggestions on where to eat when they arrived in town. The locals watched as the kids received their meal stipends in the lobby of the hotel and knew that the kids had money on them. What they did not know is that by Sunday, the money is long gone, so if you are going to rob a college ballplayer, do it at the beginning of the week and not at the end. With that said, we safely deposited him at the hotel's door and went to brunch. Tink and I found a nice place and as we looked at the menu, the man sitting next to us had a "not so concealed" gun on his belt. Ok, he's either an undercover cop (who has blown his cover with us) or a criminal (maybe?). Why else would you have an exposed gun? Not so unfazed, we sat and had breakfast before checking out of our hotel.

Off to games 3 and 4. We decided that if Buddy played in game 3, we would leave before the 4th and get home at a reasonable hour. The team lost and Buddy did not appear. Just my luck....time for game 4. Tink and I sat and watched a great pitching game where the team's starting pitcher was pitching a no-hitter. I soon realized that the kid would finish the game and Buddy would not enter the game. Since it was a no-hitter, we decided to stay. Toward the latter innings, Buddy's number was called and he began to warm up in the bullpen. OK, I can take some bullpen photos. Just as he began to warm up, the no-hitter was busted with a single. It was looking like the starting pitcher was tiring and was soon replaced with...yep....the very last inning of the very last game and the end of the afternoon...Buddy!

He warmed up and faced the first batter...Strike 1 (yeah!)....pitch...single between shortstop and third base (oh boy...).....happily, they did not take him out...the next pitch was hit by the batter and it went deep...deep...deep...and caught on the warning track (whew)....the next batter that he faced hit the ball for a double play. Game over...Buddy closed with success....yeah team...let's get out of here....later guys!

On the way home, Buddy texted me. As Tink read the text, he thanked us for coming, looked for us after the game, and told me that he had the ball from the last out that he wanted to give me. That was nice....I told him through my assistant Tink, that he played a great inning and we would see him in few weeks. Next week, the team travels to Kansas. Before he leaves, I am going to review Rule 124.26 from the Parent Kid Commandments (one that he had memorized until he left home)...."Thou shalt not talk with strangers and flash money on a city street...." After our crime fighting incident, I think that he should memorize it and write it on the blackboard 100 times...I will not talk to strangers.....I will not flash money....I will listen to my mother....

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