Friday, July 29, 2011

Using the Sunday newspaper as a weapon

Another steamy night in Cincy as Buddy watched the game from the dugout and I sat in the stands cheering for the opposing team. Does that make sense BP mom? Yes, if you have been following along with the blog, you know that it does.

Before the away game, the Star Spangled Banner was sung by an autistic boy named Kyle, who absolutely nailed it and brought tears to my eyes. This is a team that has character and class. Buddy's team is known for its shady characters and its political biases. Poor kid, never had a chance to break into the line up which tells me that the cards were stacked against him before he entered town. The pitcher who started the game last night lasted 2 & 2/3 innings. During the third inning, he gave up 7 earned runs and was still not pulled from the game. Buddy gave up a walk and was pulled and humiliated by the coach. There is a great deal of hypocrisy from the top down in this organization.

Yet, before the game, he contacted me for some money since he was hungry and his wallet was in the car. I generally drop him off at the field two hours before the game and either find a mall to walk in or a library, so I am not around until the start of each game. With that said, he texted me asking for cash since he was "starving". Once I got there, he proceeded to tell me how the coach had been screaming at him during warm ups to "get the $%#% water..." "Where are you %^$# cleats?" "Get the %$#^ .......(you can fill in the blank). He was so angry and upset with the way the coach (and I use this term loosely) was screaming at him, that he needed to vent his frustrations when I arrived.

As he walked back to the dugout with his hot dogs and gatorade, I thought about his issues with this team. It took a while because I needed to be objective in my analysis and here is what I considered:

1. The team is deep with pitchers. They did not need Buddy and probably 5 other guys. The coach stacked his team deep with pitchers to prevent them from going to any other team.

2. Unless the pitcher throws in the mid 90's, he's useless to the coach. So, anyone who can spot a ball in the mid to upper 80's (Buddy) will sit as he lets the kids with heat and no direction take the mound. This is way off base when it comes to pitchers. Even major leaguers throw at this speed. Plus Buddy was/is accurate.

3. The coach is a bully and therefore found someone he could scream at who will not talk back to him (Buddy).

4. This is the only time that I will regret this sentence, but Buddy is a gentleman and non confrontational, therefore, he does not fight back at the coach. Since the coach is a bully, he does not respect my son who keeps his thoughts and feelings to himself (developing one huge ulcer). And he has someone to bully and humiliate, so Buddy is his target.

5. The player who lives with the coach this summer (and has been relegated as the coach's unpaid landscaper) told Buddy that the coaches do not have any faith that he can get the job done. Yet, he has not been given a chance to prove himself. His stats were the best of any pitcher on the team coming in, yet he is the one with the fewest innings.

6. The coaches have done a number on the big kid's self confidence as he constantly is in a panic when he throws the ball. Will he take me out if the batter gets a hit? Will he yell at me if I give up a walk? Not, he is thinking way too much and not throwing.

7. Coach R and T are appalled at the scenario, yet Buddy is basically powerless to do anything. According to Sparky, he has connections all over the major leagues. Buddy is fearful that one bad word about him will mean that his possible career in the majors will be thwarted before it begins.

All of the points ruminated through my shrinking brain (did you see the new research? The older you get, the more your brain shrinks. At this point, I have very few neurons firing at 100%). It actually took me the entire game to work through some strategies to help the big kid. Keep in mind, that he is 19 years old and has to fight his own battles. I can back him up in the foxhole, but mama cannot take down the big bad coach (unless I am provoked beyond my capacity to control myself...then you can witness Sparky soil his pants in fear, 'cause I can and would be formidable).

Here is where he stands. He was promised that he would pitch tonight against the worst team in the league. Even though they stink, they still have some sort of ego and will try to pull out an upset. Buddy continues to doubt himself and question his abilities. He is a mental mess. If he has a bad game, this could carry though to the fall season at school, where he fights for a position on a level playing field. So, I worry a bit for him. In the old days (two months ago), I sat in the stands confident that he knew what to do and he had the tools to be effective. Now I am a bit of a mess too, but have to maintain a strong facade to help him.

So, he has been given my permission to scream and cuss at the coach if he needs to...obviously, this bully does not understand any other type of communication. Perhaps this is why Buddy is the low man on the team, because he holds back his anger. Therefore, let him have not use big more than 4 letters in each word is necessary. Tell him how he has made you feel this season and why you have stuck it out this long (because we never quit). Tell him that you plan on playing for an opposing team next year to no-hit them any opportunity that you have....tell him that he is a big bully and coward...then move on. Leave the place in your dust with your head up as you drive away from this mess to the land where people respect one another and know what they are doing.

The way I look at it is Sparky is like a junk yard dog (I love doggies, but this is my analogy). He only understands communication that is nasty and belittling. If you take a newspaper and rap him on the nose, he pulls his tail in and heads to the corner and quiets down. This is a small town where these guys have big egos. So, Buddy is going to need the Sunday paper when he figuratively raps Sparky on his nose....(he can do this to Sparky, I would never hit a dog)

One last one of the best dogs in the world and one of my dearest friends (yes, a friend), a black lab named Jackson passed away. He was the greatest companion and the smartest dog that I ever met. May he rest in by Jackson...I will miss you :-(

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Throw the $^#$ out of the ball

Good Morning! I have two days to go in Ohio with the big kid and will miss our time together. He has been a great companion and I have come to know him in a different manner. It's true, he's still a teenager with those teenage tendencies....towels on the floor, dirty dishes in the sink, loud blaring music as he drives the car, texts too much, on the computer too much, moody, funny, intelligent, considerate, selfish, and so on. We have so much in common ;-)

Last night we drove to the Bicycle Capital of the Midwest and once again, we looked for a bicycle factory or kids on bikes. Did I see them? Actually, I only saw 1 boy on a bicycle. Now I am wondering how this little town earned this distinction. If it only takes one bicyclist, then my neighborhood is the Bicycle Capital of the World! Although, I must confess, the kids are not on bikes. They have these electric cars in which they hop in and drive to each others homes to play which are roughly 100 feet from each other. The family down the street has three mini cars. The boys usually hop into the police car or the mini Range Rover and cruise to the cul de sac. The daughter has a pink Barbie corvette and she drives her wheels around the driveway. When we drive to our house, we not only have to watch for big cars and running kids in the street, but crazy children in their miniature electric cars. Perhaps they need little road signs and should abide by the rules of the road, too. Tink could share with them some of the questions that are on the driver's test since she recently earned her driver's license. Once they pass the test, they can be given a tiny driver's license with their photo on it in case they are carded in a liquor store. Such a visual of life at home; I guess I am ready to leave Ohio.

Let's finish chatting about last night's game. Once again, poor Buddy collected dust in the bullpen. At this point, he needs lemon scented Pledge or End-Dust to remove the one inch layer that has accumulated on his cap. His fall from grace based on one bad outing is remarkable. I have never seen anything like it and hope never to see it again. As I walked to the car after the game, I thought about Notre Dame's Rudy and how the players finally insisted that he enter the last game of his career for at least one play. Then the whole stadium cheered and Rudy was portrayed in a movie. I don't think that this will happen to Buddy, 'cause unlike Rudy, he is tall and athletic and will make it without the players throwing a work stoppage. Yet, we scratch our heads and keep moving forward. Getting angry or upset is a waste of energy and puts a person in a bad emotional place. We look at the summer as a great learning experience and leave it at that...nothing more...nothing less.

After his work out yesterday with Coach R, the living legend, his mentor Big T called in a panic. "What are you doing? Why are you doing it?" Buddy had texted T to tell him about Coach R and asked his opinion and T responded immediately. Finally, Buddy unloaded his frustrations to T while I could hear some expletives in the background. T wanted to know what Coach R was working on from a mechanical perspective. He was concerned that the coach would dramatically alter his pitching form. When Buddy assured him that he did not and was teaching him a pick off move and follow through, T once again invited him to Kentucky to work out at his minor league facility. I could tell that T was concerned and very angry at Sparky and Stinky. Then T said something important to Buddy: "Which coach has played in the major leagues?" Buddy replied: "None." Then don't listen to them! T then advised him: "Throw the living *%^$$ out of the ball and your body will fix the problem itself...." And so, last night Buddy pitched in the bullpen and threw his best stuff all season. Here is BP mom's equation: Coaching + Practice + Skill=a %#$&& great pitcher!

And so, Buddy and dad wants to travel to see T in Kentucky on Saturday and be treated to a real minor league experience. After pitching at the stadium, they will get the official tour, hang out with the team, watch batting practice, and the game. I am glad that father and son can have this experience together. If it means that dad has to leave from home at 2 am to get Buddy to Ky by noon, he'll do it. Now that is dedication!

With dad coming to town, I am leaving to join Tink and Diva dog at home. On Saturday morning around 6 am, I will point the car east for one last time and head home where the grass is burned out, flowers are wilted or dead, air is hot and humid, and life could not be better. Have a great day!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

As luck would have it....

Yesterday's post focused on the topic of advice. After writing the blog, I went along my merry way and sat through two more baseball games in which my son did not pitch. I was beginning to simmer in the stands (and it had nothing to do with weather). It was Christmas in July at the ball park and the team pulled Santa and the Grinch out to entertain the fans. It was pretty cute as the kids were entranced by the big, jolly and hot man in the red fleece suit. There were no reindeer but lots of giveaways like a television set (nice). Since I am not lucky, I never win the 50-50, horse races, lottery, penny slots, or any type of raffle. Last night was no different. I should just keep my money in my pocket rather than handing it over for any type of gambling.

With that said, Buddy has sat in his bullpen for the last week without throwing a ball against a batter in a game. He is beginning to mold, collect dust, and atrophy. Yet, toward the end of the night, he was pitching in the bullpen with a catcher. The velocity was great but his location was way off. Then I saw him throw his glove and hat onto the ground and tear his shirt off....never a good sign as I have witnessed a number of memorable mound meltdowns. I was hoping that he was just hot.

As he stormed to the car and slammed the door, he began to spill his guts..."I can't throw a strike. I can't get it over the plate. I have gotten worse since I have been here. I told Stinky and he said that they will work on it. Work on it...they caused it!" The big kid was despondent and I was unhappy because he was upset and I had watched yet another game in the heat without seeing him throw a ball. Again, this blog is not about me but my perception and interventions when needed with my son Buddy. I needed to pull out some creative BP mom ingenuity to dispense advice while maintaining an objective perspective.

It does not do him any good for me to say: "Everything will be OK. Get a good night's rest." OR "Let's get out of here...this is the worst organization ever..." OR "You are stink...drop baseball and become a teacher or pharmacist..." OR "Are you sure? Your velocity was good." As his parent, I could not give in to his defeatist attitude nor could I offer any consolation. He was upset, tearful, and angry, so I knew that I had to approach this one gingerly. So I tried unsuccessfully: "Call your dad...." "Call Big T, he's up now...perhaps you can meet tomorrow..." "Take a deep breathe in and center yourself...feel better?"

Nothing. Nothing that I said was effective in helping him to see the big picture objectively. When we returned to the apartment, in a period of desperation, I pulled out some of my tennis wisdom (please don't groan...). "You know...when I have trouble with a stroke, I go back to fundamentals and work my way back to the advanced stroke. Go back to your days with Coach P. What would he say? Picture the throw in your mind...." He looked at me with a very sour face (Perhaps it was indigestion) and ignored me. An ice cream Nutty Buddy would have been perfect at that point.

After a thinking about the situation during the night, some people call this insomnia, I had an idea...a brainstorm actually...First and foremost, I knew that I had to be objective and non judgmental. Yes, he was having issues, however, it does not do any good to sugar-coat it by lying about potential or ignoring the situation. Once I completed my assessment of the pitching issue, I moved on to a plan and implementation. After plugging the computer in this morning, I found a few local baseball academies and contacted all of them. The only person to answer my call was a scout for the Yankees (yep...Yankees, as in New York!). He listened to the question, issue, and problem as I poured my frustrations out to him....."And another thing....." I told him. Coach R listened to me, heard what I had said, and invited Buddy to a camp that he was running today. As luck would have it, he has two college catchers working with him and told me to bring Buddy within the hour.

Can you believe it? How lucky are BP mom and Buddy? As a person who never wins anything, I would answer that question with "Very, very, very lucky...." and be correct. This is the kind of luck that I needed, not the luck where you win a television that you do not need or 50-50 raffle but the kind of luck that can turn your son's demeanor and confidence back into its former swagger. I prefer this kind of luck to any other kind out there.

We drove to the camp and met Coach R who is an 'old baseball salt' and has been around the sport since he was four years old. He pitched at a high level and has coached many many many big league players. He claims to have taught Andy Pettite his pick off move to first base. Coach also name dropped a few other players and Buddy was impressed. After they warmed up together, Buddy threw two balls. Immediately Coach knew what was wrong, diagnosed the problem, and spent the next hour tinkering slightly with his mechanics. This is what Stinky and Sparky could not do; Coach R fixed the problem in minutes AND he taught him the pick off move to first base. We made a plan to return on Friday then the coach offered him a camp counselor job next week. Again, this is something that Stinky, Sparky, and Mr Steinbrenner could not do in his 7 weeks here.

Meeting Coach R renewed my faith in baseball and the Midwest. He gave Buddy lots of advice. Once Buddy shared how Sparky treated him on the mound, Coach R told him that he would have punched him and left the team. This comment as well as others confirmed to Buddy that he was not off base with his comments and the way that he felt about the team and coaching staff. In fact, Coach R said that Buddy's team had a reputation for being political and was not well regarded in the region. Imagine...Buddy was right all of the time.

I am grateful to Coach R for helping Buddy to find his confidence again. As we walked away, Coach mentioned that he was fighting cancer and showed us his bald head from chemotherapy. This man is battling the Big "C" and still has time to mentor kids. In my book, this guy is a hero as my son walked through the door a wreck and walked out a new man. My faith and luck have been restored.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Advice from unlikely sources

Good Morning! I just ran my early morning errands and stopped at my Starbucks for my tall Pike. As you know, I applied for a job as a barrista, read the CEO's book called Onward, and think that I am a qualified candidate for a job. I even order my coffee with accurate S-buck's vernacular: "Tall pike with room for cream..." I have what it takes to be successful behind the counter....I love coffee....I love music...I like people (most...)...I can stand for long periods of time....I can even add with a calculator or cash register. So, when I did not even get to interview for a job, I figured that they did not need anyone....boy, was I wrong! For the last 5 days, I have noticed a new person each time I walk in (doing the math, which I can do = 5 new hires this week alone). True, they are friendly and competent...but come on...I really wanted to work there. I have the tools...I can be friendly too...really even as I pour a cappuccino or suggest certain iced teas. I would be like Coach in Cheers...friendly, goofy, and accurate with advice. I could have been the Dear Abby or Dr Drew of Starbucks as I nod my head in agreement or shake my head in disgust.... Obviously, this coffee shop does not need anyone with my unique skills. Therefore, I am going to have to keep my day job and dream of one day working (not owning) at my local coffee shop dispensing my own brand of BP mom advice.

Speaking of advice, I had an idea for a job that I never followed through on...when I started to work on my doctorate, I considered completing a degree in counseling. I would then buy a limousine, hire a driver, and pick up my clients at their homes. We would sit in the back, run their errands together, and I would be the therapist for the busy woman. I would market myself as "Therapist on Wheels". What do you think? I could franchise it like Two Guys and a Truck or Chipotle. I gave up my Therapist on Wheels dream when I looked at the number of credits that I would have needed to complete the degree. And, have you ever priced limos? That monthly payment plus my chauffeur would have buried me. And so, I took my talents elsewhere and only offer advice when asked. No one has to pay for it. It's free of charge (and no limo ride). And if someone needs a ride, they can sit in the front of my SUV while I dispense advice or counseling.

And so it goes, I will never be paid for giving advice, so I have to alter my goals a bit and focus on the current job, family, and friends.

For example, yesterday I heard from my pal, Ice (giving her a BPM 'shout out'...Hey, Ice!). She is a kindred spirit as her daughter has the same personality and drives that Buddy has (minus the MLB-thing). She gets it and understands the strangeness of our situation. What we are doing is not the norm. I certainly am not pushing my son to do this and she is not pushing her daughter. However, the way that we parent the kids is often questioned by outsiders who don't get it and like to make snide comments. Let them think what they want, each child has to be treated uniquely, and if one has the resources, helped to achieve their goals. Ultimately, the parent can open the doors and offer emotional support, but the kid does this on their own.

Ice understands the complexities of a budding athlete's mind as well as the important role that parents play in the development of the person. After reading the last few days of blogs, she suggested that I listen to two songs that are relevant to our situation. One song was written by Darrius Rucker called "It Won't Be Like This For Long". As I listened to the words, I could see what she was saying. Our babies are destined to grow up and leave the nest. The time that we spend with them is a fraction of our lives. Enjoy the blessings that we have with these kids each day, 'cause it wont be like this for long....

by Darrius Rucker
It won’t be like this for long
One day we'll look back laughin’
At the week we brought her home
This phase is gonna fly by
So baby just hold on
‘Cause it won't be like this for long

It won’t be like this for long
One day soon that little girl is gonna be
All grown up and gone
Yeah, this phase is gonna fly by
So, he's tryin’ to hold on

‘Cause it won’t be like this for long.....

Great advice Darrius and Ice...They didn't even have to earn their counseling degrees for it AND the advice was to remember it when I am working at my coffee shop and a tired looking woman enters to order a tall pike. She'll probably be digging into the bottom of her purse, counting her loose coins, trying to find enough change to pay for her coffee. When I see this, I'll pour the coffee and hand it to her...."It's on the house, honey. You look like you had a tough day...tell me about it..."

And so, as I drank my coffee this morning, I was watching the Today show and Kathie Lee (believe it or not) offered some interesting advice (that went something like this): "Find something that you love to do and you will never need to be paid." I like this is what Buddy and Ice's baby have to do. What is it that they like, love, and have a passion for? They have after it...lasso it...hold on tight...but, receive a weekly paycheck, for Pete's sake. Sometimes, it takes a college degree, education at a culinary school, apprenticeship, or time in the military. However, in our kids' minds, the path is not so clear and they have to take the roads that are less traveled (Peck) to achieve their goals. Any advice that we give to them will probably never be absorbed or taken, so instead we offer the gift of ourselves as friendly faces, someone who loves them whether they miss a foul shot or pop up. Having this foundation gives them what they need to succeed. No advice is needed, since actions speak much louder than words.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Last week of summer baseball

Last night's game was postponed due to the thunder and lightening. The players were thrilled especially since they were up all night traveling from a double header loss. In the old days (a few months ago) Buddy would have screamed: "Why God why? Why me?" "Why does it have to rain?" Those days of questioning God and Mother Nature are gone....long gone...

This is the last week of the regular season. The play offs begin on August 1. The team has to win 2 out of 8 games in the next 6 days to qualify. I hope that they do, I cannot imagine watching a week's worth of games where they lose every game. Not only would it kill the coach, all members of his staff and Mr. Steinbrenner, but a pitcher would have to take the loss. I don't want this to happen to any of the kids. Ideally, they can make the play offs and lose in the first or second round. This would make it a competitive season.

The team's spirit and competitive natures have been altered by the coaches. The players want to leave...go home...go on vacation....get out of Dodge....hit the dusty trail....jump into the minivan, turn the key, and never look back. What does that say about a bunch of guys who could not wait until the summer began? On a positive note, they bonded despite the coaches interventions. They plan on playing again next year, but not on this team. The coaches are going to have to recruit a new group of guys to play in 2012.

With that said, we are going back to Kentucky for a 5:30 pm game. Since KY is one of my favorite locations in the league, I will be going too. The beauty of the landscape and friendly people are part of the draw to this region. I hope that Buddy is going to be on the mound, but one never knows with this guy. So, I will bring my lawn chair, water, lucky sneakers, and book to pass the time.

Since it is the last week of the summer season, it is time to think about closing the apartment and heading home. We intentionally did not move a great deal of personal items here in order to make a quick departure. In hindsight, it was a very good decision. Everything except the furniture, television, and plates can be thrown into one of Buddy's luggage pieces: the Hefty bag. I plan on loading up the car on Saturday and will drive home alone. Dad is coming on Saturday afternoon to wait out the play offs and have a final conversation with Sparky and Mr. Steinbrenner. This should be good. Wish I could be there...Not! I will probably be able to hear the "discussion" from the turnpike since it might be a bit 'heated'.

With that said, I will actually miss this little place and the simplicity of our lifestyle. Yes, you read correctly...I had the big change in attitude the other day. It's a little late, but I am glad that I had it. I believe that the big kid enjoyed having me around as it meant that there was food in the cabinets and clean clothes and towels as well as companionship. I can do this one last time for him. We joked over the weekend that he was home for 12 days since Christmas. In a way, he does not have a real address. He will be leaving for college on August 20 until Thanksgiving, so his address is actually his cell phone.

I will miss our time together but now see a new, more mature relationship between mother and son. I see him more as a person who is struggling to find his way in the world and achieve his goals. There are promises and glimmers of a more mature attitude and personal growth. Conversely, at times, I also witness a total disregard of manners, cleanliness, and respect....but he is only 19 years old. He has more time to finish developing into the man that he is going to become. With that said, my work as a caregiver is probably over. He is almost ready to be launched into the world. He knows our values and personal rules. He can take what he wants from the relationship and develop it into his principles and personal philosophy of life. Again, I will be on the side lines or in the bleachers watching him become a man with my lucky sneakers on and probably munching on a bag of Skittles.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A long day's journey into night....

Good day! The steamy early morning temperature is currently 90 degrees in the Midwest. So many people are suffering from this heat wave. The woman who lives above me never has her air conditioner on. Buddy thinks that she is on meth...but that's beside the point. Even a crackhead needs to be cool. Every day I listen to hear if she is still walking around. So far, so good. She is still alive. She is dropping things and still is a night owl pacing the apartment during the wee hours of the morning. The floor boards squeak, so I have not had to call 911 yet.

I am currently reading the book "Breaking Night" by Liz Murray. She is the woman who had a horrific childhood, neglected, taken away from a home with no running water, parents were addicts, mother dies from AIDS, and so on. This could have been the great American tragedy, but it wasn't. Somehow (I'll get to how later to today when I finish the book), she overcame the odds, went back to school, earned a Harvard scholarship, and had a movie made about her journey. She is an American hero....not the guys who can hit a baseball over a fence or throw a ball into a hoop. She is the one who gutted out abandonment, isolation, addiction, truancy, and a chronic case of head lice. To me, this kid overcame tremendous odds. It is a must read for any middle class kid who thinks that he or she has it rough because their parents make them do chores.

Why do I bring Liz Murray up? Well, the reason is that I had plenty of time to dive into the book since Buddy was on a road trip. Like Liz's story, this one is not to be believed. Yesterday, I dropped him off at the bus stop at 11:30 am to drive to a 4:30 pm double header on the other side of the state against the second place team. I had heard that there were rain showers but did not know the extent of them. Around 8 pm, I received a call from Buddy: "Mom, the game starts at 8:45pm." Ok, game two is starting a little it goes...."No, mom, game 1 is starting at 8:45 pm."

Huh? Game one! Those kids have been sitting in the rain and heat since 2:30 in the afternoon without food except for a few oranges. Fine, I guess that game two has been canceled, right? "No, game two will start after game 1." Doing the math, I figured that this could be around midnight. Surely, you are joking, right? "Mom, no...our coach demanded to play it and called the league to obtain permission. So we have to play the second game."

Oy! Double OY! Around 11 pm, I received another call. "Mom, we lost. Second game begins at 11:30 pm." Deep breath, BP Mom....Ok, good luck!

AT 2 am, I received another call, "Mom, game is over. We'll be back between 4 and 4:30 am. See you then..." Sigh.....

I left the apartment around 4:15am and began my journey to the bus stop. While driving slowly with the car doors locked, I looked around to see who was awake. For those of you who are asleep at this hour, let me share with you where you can go should you decide that you are hungry at 5 am. First, White Castle is open for business. I also saw the Waffle House had a full complement of guests eating waffles in the booths by the windows. lastly, the donut shop had the lights on with Mr. Donut making his pastries. The single people walking along the street were mostly men who were missing their shirts and perhaps their teeth (can't be too sure in the dark). I drove past them looking for the bus to come.

Eventually the bus showed up at 4:45 am, making it a night to forget. Buddy walked to the car and was low key. So, what happened? "We lost the second game. Our coach insisted on playing it even though the rest of the team wanted to go back. But the real story is what happened on the bus." Intrigued, I felt a quick jolt of adrenaline and wanted to hear about the bus ride home in the middle of the night.

It seems (I am relaying the story) the co-owner of the team was on the trip. He was angry at the team announcer because the home announcer called the players names and their home schools out wrong for the three people left in the stands. The announcer had mispronounced the names and "Mr. Steinbrenner" was peeved. What do you want from these people at midnight? So, George proceeded to scream at the poor announcer who had nothing to do with the mispronunciations and errors, it was the secretary's fault. During the altercation, the poor announcer quit. Mr. S plans on doing the announcing 'cause a "monkey could do it..." Ouch!

Buddy and team were incensed. What the heck is this guy doing? Everyone was tired including Mr. S. Anyone with a brain knew that it was not the team announcer's fault. Therefore, sit down and shut up! Sheesh! This guy has a real self important attitude. I have observed him around the stadium and he does not make eye contact with anyone or speak unless he is bashing someone. The poor kid who has to live with him since he is one of the hosts, is regularly pulled out of bed to take care of the field. This guy is nuts.

Sadly, something like this had to happen to place a cherry on top of this season. Buddy and his posse want to punch this guy in the face. It does not do any good to talk him out of it (he's all talk and won't do it anyway). Mr S. is a former army ranger, so stay away, he knows techniques with one finger that could disable Hulk Hogan, Spiderman or Captain America. Again, this is another teaching opportunity for the gang. They can see what to do...and what NOT TO DO when confronting someone. I also suggested that they take their cell phones out and document the carnage for the future.

By the way, there is a game tonight. The guys did not go to bed until 6 am, after dropping a double header in the early morning hours, they get to play again by being at the field at 4 pm. I never asked Buddy if he played or not. He did not offer to tell me. I guess when the door creaks open later this afternoon, we can have a discussion. Until then, I will go on with my business and finish my book on Liz Murray...a good read for a hot summer afternoon....

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Another paradigm shift

After I posted today's blog, I began to consider my own shift in attitude, 'cause I had one too. We drove back to Ohio after a nice 6 day break at home. Days before I left, I felt a tension in myself. I could not fully identify it and the feeling made me uncomfortable. Naturally, we made it back to the apartment at a slower pace since we were not in a hurry to assume life again. It was if we never had the break. Then I started to receive invitations from family and friends to get together, go out, dinner, movies, tennis, and so on. These are the typical summer activities and I was left out. I felt myself sink into a pit of sadness. Like Buddy, I did not want to be here either.

Reflecting on this despair, I hopefully did not let him know that I was pretty miserable. What good am I as a parent and role model if I can't walk the talk...make the most out of it...change the can be happy wherever you are....

Then it occurred to me. Suddenly, my attitude shifted and I was humbled...this is my last summer with the big kid...this is more...nada... It is my last chance to have some quality and quantity time with him. It is the last chance that we can get to know each other as individuals and not as mother and son. It is an opportunity for one lasting connection in which he knows that I consider the word love as a verb...not a noun...Love is something that you live. It is something that is performed with actions rather than words or lip service. Love is doing something for the person that you love not because you want to but because he or she wants to and it is the right thing to do. It is a selfless act. An act that should not be measured against anything else. Furthermore, love is companionship, being there in the good times and bad, moving across country if necessary, leaving comforts of home, support, and listening to their preferred stations on the radio. It is a personal choice.

That epiphany opened my eyes and made me more aware of the unique opportunity that I now have to connect with my youngest child. These situations and experiences that we have had together will remain with the two of us forever. The trips, miles, dinners, laughter and the tears were worth the sacrifice of a little time in my long life. The parties, invitations, beach, happy hours, and tennis will be there when I return....Buddy won't be. He'll be back at college with his friends and team mates creating his life and future on his own, yet knowing that in a battle or dog fight, I will be there to either pave the way or show support. What a tremendous gift I have been given. It is something that I will never forget. In a way, I have been taught something of great value that really cannot be articulated, only felt. I am glad that I figured it out before the summer was over. As I now look back, it has been one of the best summers of my life.

Paradigm Shift

Yesterday's trip to Ky was great fun, something that has been lacking this summer. Although, isn't it all about perspective? A person can be content and happy anywhere with the right attitude.

With that said, we made the trip to Louisville. It was hot and steamy. I do not remember being so hot for such a long period of time. I truly felt like I was melting as the perspiration poured out of my body and left a puddle where I was sitting. Everything including my hair was soaked. I felt like I had played a game of football with full pads on in a sauna. I was wet enough to lather up with soap and rinse off without ever turning on the faucet. Kind of an organic bath...saving water for the environment....something to consider to keep the water bill down.

Anyway, Buddy briefly met with Big T before the game. T seemed very happy to see him as they only had a minute to chat since batting practice was starting and T had to be on the field. He gave us tickets to the bat factory and game. Buddy was thrilled to see him as he promised to come back soon.

With the factory passes, we walked slowly to the museum to check it out. It was pretty neat as some of the big time former players like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig's bats were on display. There were life size figures, Norman Rockwell gallery of sports paintings, and a gift shop (naturally). Since we were late, we were unable to take the tour of the factory and watch how bats are made. After the museum, we had dinner and went to the ball park to watch the game.

Big T left us great tickets. They were right behind home plate and Buddy's view of the pitchers was spectacular. He was able to read the catcher's signs and see the pitcher's technique. Here comes a fast ball inside corner....slider outside....curve ball...oh nasty....did you see that? Hmmm, yes, I saw the pitches but could not tell the difference between a curve and slider or a two seamer...I don't even think that I could put the words in a sentence.

As the day progressed, I noticed a big change in Buddy's demeanor and thought process. He had a renewed attitude about baseball and his work ethic this summer. He has been tough on the coaches. I think that this has been warranted since they were not as they were supposed to be...that is...knowledgeable about the game. For example, two nights ago, Hoosier was on the mound and from the dug out the coach was screaming at him to throw strikes. After the inning, Hoosier stormed back to the dug out and screamed back at the coach about his profanity and yelling at him while he was trying to concentrate. Let's quickly review....a pitcher's ultimate role is to throw the ball over the plate in a way that the batter cannot hit it or hits it in a way that the ball is caught by the fielder for an out. This is defined in T-ball. A coach does not have to remind his D-1 players of their role...they got it already. Telling a pitcher to throw strikes can be humiliating, 'cause he knows what to do and it is not as if he is trying to throw balls...After the game, the coach apologized to Hoosier, but the damage to the relationship had been an ongoing process. It seems no one will return to this team next year.

Back to Buddy....Big T sent a trainer to him and gave him a team hat. The big kid was thrilled. It is now one of his prized possessions besides his bed and lap top. The team won and we had to leave during the 9th inning since Buddy had to travel this morning on the bus across state for a double header. If we had stayed, he could have met again with Big T who wanted to take him out for a late dinner.

Anyway, we laughed on the way home and I could see the change in him. He began to open up and talk about what went wrong this summer, how he lost his aggressive streak, along with his plan to turn it around during the next two weeks. No longer will there be excuses about fields, defensive players, and's about him and his attitude and swagger which are back.

We laughed as he compared his relationship with Big T to Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller's. Buddy was the blind and deaf Helen who could not throw a cutter until Big T came along, grabbing Helen's hand and showing her how to throw that ball across the plate. He was also Obi-Wan-Kenobi to Buddy's Luke Skywalker .... Yoda and Luke...Dr Dre and Eminem...Plato and Aristotle....Charlotte and Wilbur the pig....Yogi Bear and Boo Boo....

Big T (in his Annie sort of way) taught Buddy how to throw a curve, change up, and add velocity to his fast ball. As they worked together each week, Buddy's pitching was transformed and so was his personality. Therefore, with the right coaching, a player can achieve so much more. It's a matter of personality and influence. T had it...Buddy was the protege...T is the mentor.

Buddy is going to call T again to meet with him. He wants T to check out his mechanics since he is still hanging a few balls over the plate for big hits. Mechanics, physicality, and attitude equal a pretty good pitcher. With that said, the change in Buddy's personality was remarkable. He did not complain about the impending double header or coaches. Instead, he had his former game face on...the one that has been missing all summer...the one that he put on the shelf after college baseball was over...he's back. I am looking forward to hearing how the attitude change or paradigm shift translated into better baseball. The answer will be revealed some time tonight after the double header....go team!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Friends in strange places

Today we are headed to Kentucky to see Buddy's mentor. They met two years ago at our local training facility. "Big T" took over the role of working with Buddy when his previous coach found another job. Big T is a minor league player who also is left handed and went to high school in Delaware. Naturally, they bonded and Big T had a great deal to do with Buddy's success. He was the guy who called Buddy when the university was looking for a left handed pitcher. T immediately thought of Buddy and called him for a try out. Further, T tinkered with Buddy's mechanics and taught him a number of lethal pitches.

Why isn't T in the majors right now? Well, the major league team that he is associated with is deep with pitching talent. If he was drafted by any other team, he would have been starting for them by now (except the Phillies and Yankees). He was called up to the team earlier this summer and sent back after four days. The head coach decided he wanted T to be a relief left handed specialist, so back to the minors to perfect this role. With that said, after Buddy contacted Big T, they made plans to meet before tonight's game. T invited him to stay with him at his home, but Buddy has an early morning and has to travel to the other side of the state to play a double header. He'll take a rain check on that invitation.

The timing of the visit could not be better as Buddy has been struggling on the mound. On a number of occasions, the coach has asked him why he isn't pitching like he did in college with the strike outs and low ERA. I could share with you what I think that the problem is, but his performance the other night except for the juicy fast ball that he hung over the plate that was hit for a triple, was good. His fielders let him and team down and Buddy had to take the runs on to his ERA.

But that's baseball...sometimes it's all talent...sometimes it is luck. Of course, when I played tennis, I relied heavily on luck since I was not the greatest of players and was very slow. If I kept pushing the ball over the net, I kept my fingers crossed that the other person would hit the ball out. Thankfully, 50% of the time, they would. In baseball, that would be hitting .500....pretty good, eh?

So, we are going south today and looking forward to seeing a friendly face. On Wednesday night, I made friends with an opposing player's mother. She confided in me that Buddy's team did not have a good reputation around the league. Nodding my head, I told her that he would not be back and was going to find another team. She invited him to try out for her son's team. This would be terrific since Buddy would not have to pitch again against the stud who hit his fast ball for a triple. Cross him off the list of feared opponents. Furthermore, I liked this team. They seemed to be more professional AND they had healthy snacks for sale. It is the only stadium where you can buy an ear of grilled corn. My mouth started to water when I saw it. I miss the Jersey and PA corn this time of year, so it looked particularly appealing. Also, the host team actually fed the players after the game. They gave them a healthy dinner rather than buying pizzas and handing each kid a box for the ride home.

It's almost time to rouse the big kid out of bed. He's tired from working out twice yesterday. He has something to prove in Ohio and does not plan on giving up. Maybe Big T can offer him the coaching that he has missed for the past two months. If anything, they can both commiserate about the unpredictable nature of the game. Then they'll agree that there is no where that they would rather the middle of the country doing what they love to do....playing's a bond that these two have...mentor and and pitcher....player and player...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hot times on the field of dreams

Boy, was it hot last night in the stadium. The players were melting in the heat as were the spectators. I could wring my clothes out by the end of the first inning. After I dropped Hoosier and Buddy at the stadium, I looked for a mall to walk through and stay cool. Sadly, there were none in the region and I was not ready to go back on the highway to find one. So, I found a Target and had a great time walking through the aisles and looking at the back to school items. In the past, I would have been I am happy that the kids are returning to school to continue to work on their futures. I no longer have to purchase crayons, back packs, and lunch kits as they have moved on and buy their own. I guess that I do not look at them as children or adolescents but as young people ready to make a move on society. Is society ready for them?

As I browsed through the clearance areas, I received a text from Buddy asking for blue Powerade since he was beginning to cramp. This was not a surprising request given the heat and humidity. Once I arrived at the stadium, I could feel the heat flowing from the field and pitied anyone who had to play baseball. From a distance, I could see a high school football team with their helmets on practicing for the fall. it was 8 o'clock and the air sizzled. These athletes are amazing as they forgo comfort to play their sport. I give them a lot of credit.

On to the game...The Stud was on the mound. The last time that the two teams played one another, there was a fight at the end of the game. I missed it since I knew that Buddy was not going to pitch. I go to many many games where he sits and I bowed out of the game with the fight. Looking for some action, I was poised and ready with the camera. There was no foul name single finger was calm. Perhaps they were too hot to expend extra energy doing anything except playing ball and breathing. The Stud walked the first batter that he faced which is never a good sign...then it continued to snowball into a bigger problem from there....He was kept in the game despite his difficulties for 5 innings. By the end of the third inning he looked like he had lost ten pounds of fluid and could barely stand up. He was disheveled and soaking wet. As I sat next to a mother of a player on the opposing team, we were both concerned about his look and health. The coach had to pull him or I was going to as a matter of saving the kid's life. It must have been 110 on the field and he looked like he felt every degree of heat.

Finally, after giving up 6 runs, there was a call to the bullpen and who runs out? Yeah, that's kid...Oy! He has not pitched in 10 days. The last time he was out, he had trouble with the fielding behind him and was yanked out. As Buddy was introduced, I sat back in the bleachers and was prepared for some fireworks. There were two runners on base with two outs. Buddy came in and logged in a strike out. Inning over. OK, this is a great start.

He stayed in for the next inning and struck out the first batter. The second batter got a weak hit over the third baseman's head and was on first base. As he was pitching to the next batter he was able to "pick off" the runner on first base. Picked off means that the runner tries to steal second base, but the pitcher throws the ball to the first baseman in anticipation and tags him out. This is what is supposed to happen. What actually happened was...the runner began to move toward second...Buddy threw the ball to the first baseman who threw the ball to the second baseman. The problem with the play was that the second baseman was on second base waiting for the throw. The first baseman threw the ball into the outfield. With the error, the runner advanced to third. Once again, I got a bad feeling.

The inning went as predicted with two more errors and one gigantic triple that my new friend's son hit off my boy. He hit the ball right after I said to her "he is not going to give him anything good to hit." With that erroneous comment, the ball was pitched in an area over the plate where Grandmom could have hit it (after the cataracts were removed) and soared into the outfield missing a home run by inches. Finally, the inning is over....Buddy is out of the game. I receive my first of multiple 'salty' texts about defensive support and let it go. Then he communicated something to me that had me very intrigued....

It seems that his home pitching coach and mentor is still in the minors in Kentucky. While the game continued, he texted him and asked if he could see him. To me, this was Buddy finally asking for help and sending up the white flag. It's not the coaches, the stadium, the fans, the heat...he needed to see his personal coach for a tune up. If the guys behind him could not make plays (which Stinky admitted to him), then he was going to have to strike out the batters that he faced. It is a new strategy for him. The old strategy was to get the ball in play for the defense to take care of it. Since they are struggling (could be the heat) then he has to be more aggressive.

This all leads to a road trip to Kentucky on Friday afternoon to see the coach. I think that it is a terrific idea and will set up the navigation system and point the car south. Hopefully, Buddy will find the answers to the questions that he has had this summer. Looking back on it, the past two months have been very valuable. The holes in his game have been identified. Now he can work on spackling them before the start of the fall season.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Living well: The best revenge

Good morning! It is a hot and steamy day in the Midwest. Late night the temperature finally dropped to 95 degrees at 10 pm. I was sitting in a pool of perspiration while catching the highlights of a come from behind victory. Naturally, Buddy did not play. It was his first night back after the break and the coach does not have any confidence in him. Thankfully, Buddy sees this for what it is and is not taking it to heart (I think).

His team mates were questioning him yesterday as to why the coach hated him. He had one bad outing a month ago after a long road trip and rain delay. If you eliminate it, he has an ERA less than 1.0 and more strike outs per inning based on his performance than any other pitcher. Therefore, they are just as confused as the rest of us. I, too am perplexed and wanted to get to the bottom of the issue like CSI bullpen mom. So, I posed the following questions during a ten minute car ride to the field:

Why doesn't the coach like you? "Dunno"
What did you say to him? "Nothing"
Can't you speak to him and clear the air? "No"
Did you make fun of him in front of the team? "No"
Did you show a disrespectful attitude during a game? "No"
Did you curse him out? "No"
Did you soap his car windows? "No"
Toilet paper his tress? "No"
Make fun of his kids? "No"
Hit him in the head with a fast ball? "No"
Forget to wash his car, do his laundry, iron his undies? "No"
Did you mess up the Pepsi arrangements in the cooler? "Only once..."

That's it! It all boils down to his lack of focus on one hot day and he added only 5 of the 6 Pepsi's that the coach demands before each game. No wonder he is in the dog house. As a coach, I would be angry too. After all, isn't this kid here in Ohio for my use and abuse? He should be one grateful ball player that he has the opportunity to wear this uniform and sit quietly in the bull pen while the other pitchers play. What's wrong with this ingrate?

After our 'oh-so-brief' discussion, we chatted about the future. His demeanor changed dramatically as he looks forward to returning to school and seeing his team mates. The fall is going to be very interesting as freshmen try to secure a place in the line up. Thankfully, Buddy did not lose his swagger or confidence during the summer. If anything, he is more determined than ever to show Sparky what he could do. Perhaps Sparky can catch him pitching on television next May when his team wins the conference in front of a national it by living well...leave the negativity in the dust...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

We're back

Yesterday's 9 hour drive back to Ohio was fairly mundane. Buddy slept and I drove while listening to the radio. We had a short conversation (about 2.5 minutes) about the rest of the summer season, then he settled into 'the position' and nodded off. I wish that I had this talent for closing my eyes and falling asleep (can this be translated into something he can earn a living? Perhaps in a carnival setting...people can pay to see the big kid fall asleep in 10 seconds). During his 2 minute period of coherence, we shared a bag of peanut M&M's which had enough sugar to get me from Florida to Maine without stopping.

While at home I took some time off typing the blog. It was time for us to refuel...Yet, as soon as Buddy parked and unpacked the car in the driveway, he took off. He was home for a total of 12 minutes before he grabbed the keys giving me a list of places where he was headed. Where did he get this sudden burst of energy? He sleeps 16 hours in Ohio, yet at home he is energized and ready for hanging out with the gang. His first stop after a hair cut to trim away the remnants of the May Mohawk, was their favorite fast food Mexican restaurant. I cannot believe that it is still open with his patronage missing for 8 months. But lo and behold, they met by the "fountain" and headed to Moe's. He had dinner there almost every night while we were back. I have no idea what the attraction is or who bought his food ('cause he claims that he does not have any money) but it is their place to meet and greet the old gang. I guess it is like Cheers for teenagers....everyone knows their name.

I am glad that he had fun. Fun was missing in Ohio, not because Ohio is fun-less but he did not have his posse and does not make friends easily. Actually, I am not judging him because my only friends were at the grocery store, donut shop and Starbucks (all related to wonder I have gained weight).

OK, back to baseball. Tonight's game is at home. Will he pitch? Who knows..the last time he was on the mound, he did not have his best stuff. The team has a shot at the playoffs, so knowing this coach, I doubt if he will see any significant time unless they are way ahead or way behind. He does not care, as long as he has an inning or two. At this point, Buddy sees the team and coaches for what they are and knows that he is not a favorite son.

We spoke about next summer with the understanding that he will not return to this team. His preference is to play on a team in the northern part of the state. This team is in last place and not very good. BUT his friends are there and he would spend the summer doing what he loves, which is pitching and not sitting in the bullpen making you tube videos and throwing rocks into a pail. I am not sure why he is going to miss this excitement 'cause every night there is something different to watch such as Bullpen boogie, sleeping, ducking the fire crackers that the neighborhood kids throw into their cage, and watching the police arrest people behind the stadium. One night, someone tried to out run the police by jumping over the left field fence scampering through the stadium. There aren't too many dull moments.

Sadly, he missed painting the stadium with the team during the break. Apparently it took them 6 hours to chip the old paint off the dug outs and repaint them. They were not paid and were told that it was community service. Add this to the baseball camps, parade float, autograph sessions and so on that the players were mandated to attend and I have to scratch my head in wonder. So, here goes....deep breath....the players are recruited through various methods to play in these leagues. For a fee (yes, money), they are told that they are going to play ball and be members of the community. They have a choice of living on their own or with a host family. The host families are generally nice however not all of the kids are comfortable in this environment, therefore, this was not an option for a guy like Buddy. Just a quick note about the host families. Generally, they are good, down to earth people, however, some of the kids have met with some unusual situations. One player cannot get any rest because the young kids in the house have a different sleep pattern. They also want him to join them in all activities and he is reluctant. Another player was told that he could not eat any of the food in the house. In fact, only one family provides food for the players. The players who are faced with buying their own meals are in a jam (so to speak). According to Buddy, since they do not have jobs, they use the little money that they have on the dollar menu at McDonald's and Wendy's. Another host family woke two players up early on a Sunday morning. They were told to water the outside flowers and weed the garden before noon. They got out of bed and reluctantly went out to the yard.

All of the out of state kids were told that they would have jobs and play all summer. Some of the promises were not kept and therefore I look at it as a bit shady. As they were used as cheap labor, I wonder (aloud) at the intentions of the coaches and whether this is the norm in all of the country's leagues. Never wanting to judge, I must say that I was initially shocked and have moved on to acceptance.

With that said, there are 11 more games until the end of the season. I am sure that there will be more stories from the bullpen and naturally, I will be compelled to share them. Stay cool!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What are you doing the rest of your life?

So happy to be home. In hindsight, I would move again to help my children achieve their goals and dreams, yet, while I am here, I cannot believe how happy I am. In other words, I really like my life! Family, friends, home, work, exercise, and activities make me a happy and content person. In Ohio, I tried to get a job at Starbucks. That was a bust...I did not even procure an interview. Imagine! Then I thought about volunteering at a food bank and walked in to offer my services, but the found out it was closed for the summer (I guess the impoverished don't eat between June through August). And so, to bide my time, I occasionally worked out, read a great deal, taught my online class, hung out with an awake son (2 hours/day max)and watched baseball games. I also acquired a taste for some of his music. Believe it or not, I know who Kesha and Ne-Yo are. I can also identify their songs and know a few rap lyrics. By the way, the mix with Katie Perry and Kanye is dope.

'Nuff of that....Let's chat about being a bullpen mom at this point in the season. It has been tough for the big kid to come to the realization that he has been relegated to the bullpen once again. He has always been the starter before he attended college and has had trouble adjusting to the role. However, I see lots of benefits to it as he has to compete at a very high level for playing time. Once he is in the game, he has to either strike the players out or cause them to hit pop ups or ground balls. This is quite a skill to develop and it takes time.

Granted, three of the pitchers on his team currently hit 96 miles per hour on their fast balls. This gives him something to work toward. This summer, he hit 90 and thought that was pretty great until his team mates hit 96 consistently. Here is another goal. Goal number one was to hit 90. Now he has to work toward 95-96 and throw it over the plate. I see lots of kids with big fast balls, but they cannot find the plate. To make it, he has to do both.

To do this, he needs to be in excellent physical shape. He needs to take care of his mind, body, and spirit and have a balanced life. Lots of good food, exercise, training, and rest will create harmony. There is not much time for anything else. This includes a job. Sadly, his job in Ohio did not work out, however, he has a few around the house to finish and may work as a mascot at an ice cream parlor when we return home for good. I wonder if the suit is a size XXL?

As his life evens out this summer, he needs to choose a major. What does he want to do with his life if baseball does not work out? What will get him up in the morning? Where are his passions? As I try to have a conversation about it, he pushes me off. "I am working on it..." he says. Great, work on it, but tell me or let's talk about your interests...."I got it..." Hmmm, glad that he has it....Where does that leave the rest of us? Well, dad is becoming very impatient about the major and gave him a year to figure it out Time is running out...time to choose.

I have a few suggestions, but it is not my life, so I sit back and watch as he "has it in his head." Tink used to say, "I am thinking about it in my head." This is a good place to think about your head. Excellent. Back to Buddy, here are my suggestions: journalism, broadcasting, sports business, or education. He would be a terrific coach or teacher. He has presence and would make a good broadcaster as he also loves sports. Based on his interests (baseball, baseball, baseball, and sleep), I am not sure which major he will choose. Maybe he can perform sleep studies for people who suffer from sleep apnea. There are so many other fields to choose from. I don't see him in medicine (please God, no). He could be a lawyer if he had the ambition.

OK, I am out of ideas. Fortunately, the school that he attends has over 600 majors. I guess this is why he is struggling to narrow it down. He has until August first to figure it out, per dad's ba baaaa...they will have THE talk...It will begin with "What are you going to do with your life..." I am not sure if hanging out in a bullpen will pay the bills, so this should be a very big conversation...memorable, perhaps. Since no one wants my opinion, I will sit quietly and listen. If there is an opening, I can raise my hand to speak. If called upon, I will offer my two cents. If not, I will watch, listen, and enjoy the show.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

We're home! Did anyone miss us?

We're home! Yesterday's drive was not bad for Buddy at all. After waking up and loading the car, he slid into the front seat and slept until we hit West Virginia. He loved it. My right foot is still in a flexed position. I'll need some physical therapy to work an extension out of it again. The trip took 8 1/2 hours and we stopped for 5 minutes to fill the gas tank. There was no way that we were going to stop until we made it to our ultimate destination.

Once he woke and became coherent and could carry on a conversation, we discussed our plans for the next few days which included a good pizza, soft, hot pretzel, a decent hoagie, home cooking, our own beds, and hanging out with Diva dog, family, and friends. Nothing else, just the simple pleasures that life has to offer. We're going to divide the week into phases and make sure that we accomplish our goals. He will go his way, and I will go mine. Once he washes the inside and outside of the car and completes a few chores, he is a free man....

Before he left, he made friends with Stinky, the pitching coach. According to Buddy, he is actually not a bad guy at all. He is stuck under the thumb of Sparky and basically has no power. Since he did not play college ball, he has no experience, so he is just a guy out there trying to figure it all out. As a friend once said to me, "everyone has a story..." and so does Stinky.

And so it goes...time for phase I of our home and Diva dog.

Have a good day.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Time for a break

Today is our last day in Ohio for a week. It is the All Star break and we have no desire to attend the game although it will take place in a major league baseball park. When asked what time we would leave tomorrow, I replied "8 am..." The response was very different than what I had expected from Rip Van Winkle: "Can we leave at 6 am?" I guess that someone is in a big hurry to get home. Sure, 6 am works for me as long as you drive some of the way and I can hit Starbucks for a Venti bold, we can be home in 8-9 hours if we stop for gas. So, there are our plans. Nine hours in the car with Buddy who will probably set the seat in a recline position and pass out until 10 or 11 am. Oh well...I want to get home too!

As packing begins, I can now reflect on the past 6 weeks with some objectivity. As mentioned yesterday, the league and team were misrepresented to most of the players. The development part is missing as the only goal seems to be to fill the owners pockets with money and win a championship. Actually, the team is the reigning champion, so there is a pride issue that has emerged as the coaches want to repeat the championship. As a competitor, I can understand the goal; as I parent/customer, I do not appreciate the callous way that the pitchers have been treated.

Last night, Buddy was placed in the game in the 7th inning. I could tell as he warmed up that he did not have his best stuff. The first batter hit a deep double, then there was a couple of errors with 2 runs scoring. End of Buddy's day. He stormed to the bullpen at the beginning of the 8th inning when he was replaced without being told. It seems that only the coaches and the next pitcher knew of the substitution so once again, he was humiliated. This treatment is beginning to take a toll on him.

This morning, the bear emerged early from his cave seemingly defeated. Perhaps it is fatigue...perhaps it is the acknowledgment that the summer when he planned to reveal his best stuff was a big dud. I am not sure, but I don't like the hunched over shoulders and body language that screams...I done...

With that said, my perspective is that he has been on a single lane highway for too long. To have the fullest life possible, one must take care of their body, mind, and spirit. I actually do not see much of that going on. When he is not sleeping or playing baseball, he is in his room chatting with his friends online or watching movies. This cannot be good as he figuratively vegetates into a carrot or piece of spinach. He has books by his bed that have not been opened and are collecting dust.

As a parent, I look at where I was at 19 years old. I did not have these opportunities but I did have the personal drive to achieve in my chosen field, which I ultimately did. My vocation was connected to additional education whereas Buddy's goals are linked to physical performance. Yet, he also has to attend to his mind and spirit. One coach thought that he was not aggressive he took it to the next level. I now see that his aggressiveness has been displaced by despondence. He is still a kid and probably needs some down time to reflect and work up the energy that he once had in college. The time to do it is now if he wants his ultimate goal of being drafted and playing in the big leagues.

I can only make suggestions. He is on his own to work through his thoughts and weave a way out of the maze of barriers that the summer coaches have placed before him. Do I have any doubts that he can be the player that he was in May? Nope...this may take a few months to recapture. First, he has to get over his disappointment from the summer league...put it behind him....then attack the fall season with a vengeance.

All of this is new to us as a family. If he wanted to be a doctor or lawyer, I would have answers. But this major league goal is so different, that I am perplexed. He has friends who have been drafted or are playing in the minor leagues, so he knows what it takes.Therefore, he is in charge of his destiny. All I can do is to be there to listen and offer some minor suggestions. The ball is in his glove. I have to sit back, grab a water and my lucky sneakers and pray that he is happy and content wherever he lands....

Sunday, July 10, 2011

How many ball players does it take to line 6 Pepsi's in a cooler?

It's Sunday morning and I have an hour before I have to place some dynamite under Buddy's bed to arouse him. We are going to mass then lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant. Sadly, this is the only place that we like here. We tried every single pizza place and none of them compare to the pies in our neighborhood. Last night after I picked him up at the drop off, I thought that I was treating him to an all-you-can-eat pizza and salad buffet. In my mind, this was the perfect place for him as he decompressed from his long trip and time on the bench. After sitting in a booth, we bit into the pizza, got up and was so bad. The search continues....what did I expect? The buffet cost $4.99.....we certainly are not in Atlantic City at the Borgota! My advice is...if it seems to be too's not...a $4.99 all-you-can-eat buffet will be loaded with inedible food. Take our word for it.

So, now you know...he went to the game yesterday and sat on the bench again. To make the most of it, he continued to work out with his bullpen buddies as they perfect their own games. They make a game of ignoring Stinky and have now reconciled that the summer did not pan out as it was promised. Buddy is not the only pitcher who is not being given enough innings. More than half of the guys sit in the bullpen rotting away as they spend the game sleeping and texting their friends. Buddy has been my texting friend as I sit in the stands and watch the game. We chat about a number of random things from Libido's kid as he strikes out to Rat Boy and what we are having for dinner. There is nothing he can do except continue to push for innings, a start, or an opportunity to play. The coach seems oblivious to him. Sparky seems to be more concerned with the way his Pepsi's are placed in the cooler before the game. By the way, during the All Star break, the coach mandated that the guys who are not in the game have to paint the dugouts.....OK..wait a second....deep I go (see next paragraph).

PAINT THE DUG OUTS!!! Is he kidding? It must be a joke...really...a joke. Let's review...."you are cordially invited to play for ______ a prestigious collegiate baseball league in the heart of the Midwest. You will be given the opportunity to play in a competitive league and hone your skills..." The team promised development, work outs, a job, nightly meals, and a place to stay. By the way, there is a large fee to play on this team, but the money will come back to each player in the form of uniforms (they have to give them back....Buddy's is missing buttons), training, coaching, and travel. The players have been following directions and showing up at kiddie baseball camps, autograph and photo sessions, parades, and so on. Now they want to use them as manual labor and paint the dugouts and stadium. Not on my way, Jose....not in my lifetime....over my dead and lifeless body...

We are going home for the break and staying for 6 days. He will miss a game that he would not have played in anyway. He mentioned this to Stinky who immediately got upset. Hmmm...there are 16 pitchers. Buddy and 10 of them do not play regularly. If he misses one game, they won't notice (or is it because he won't be painting?). Actually, they do not notice when he is there except Sparky's Pepsi's would not be in the right alignment. Perhaps Buddy can delegate the Pepsi delivery to a starting pitcher. It does not take a rocket scientist to line them up per the coach's desire. He could create a diagram with pictures of Pepsi (not Coke) and post it in the dugout. Now that the soda issue has been resolved, we plan to leave at dawn on Wednesday, point the car east and not stop until we find some edible pizza. It will take about 8 hours, but we don't care...the pizza from last night is still sitting in a big wad of dough in my stomach and will still be sitting there until the end of the month.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Being liked is not what this is about....

It was an early morning as I dropped my favorite baseball player off at a mall 30 minutes away to catch the van to drive to the afternoon game three hours west of the apartment....follow that one? He was a bit 'salty' as I had to wake him. In the old days, he would have been up, ate breakfast, and had his bag packed on his own. Today, however, he needed some parental push to get out of bed. With that said, he was the first player at the drop off point and he had to wait for the rest of the team.

Last night's game had me figuratively floating to my happy place. As I sat in the stands, my mind and spirit wandered to the place that always makes me smile. I can't share that place 'cause it is my happy place. I will share anything else that I own or imagine except my happy's mine....if people knew where it was, then they would drop in and mess the place up or rearrange the furniture and mojo....I have a sign on my happy place trespassing...People are always welcome at my not-so-happy place and anywhere else....stop by when I am not in my happy place....

Enough of that....last night as the mind wandered to wonderful places, the pitcher, another local legend, was tremendous as he had a no hitter going until the 7th inning. Then he gave up a hit to end it. However, he went deep into the 9th inning before he was replaced on the mound. Buddy was not the pitcher of choice, so he sat in his bullpen with his boys....sleeping, creating you tube exercise videos, and complaining about da man....they always complain about Sparky and Stinky Pete. This is nothing new.

As he put his gear in the car last night, he said something odd to me. "They don't like me." Huh? What? Not like you? What is there not to like? You arrive early, work hard, are a great player, reliable, witty, mend the pitcher's mound each night, get the water for the dugout and arrange the Pepsi's in the cooler as the coach likes them (three on the more....more ice....) This idea that he has that the coaches do not like him seems a bit overly sensitive and possibly absurd. So, tell me more...what makes you think that coaches don't like you? He replied: "I can tell by the way that they ignore me and treat some of the other guys...They are nicer to them and play them more even though they are not as good..."

OK, at first, I thought that he was tired, cranky, or looking for an excuse for lack of playing time. Then I reflected on my own life and I can tell when someone does not like me. Some people are not very good at hiding their disdain. For example, in graduate school I had an instructor who I did not understand at all. Her directions were wacky as was her teaching style. My classmates and I would often comment that we needed a very long happy hour after her classes because she stressed us out. I once asked her a question and she replied that I was too esoteric and could not figure it out. First, I had to look the word up in the dictionary, because I did not know what it meant. Guess what? I am not esoteric...far from our relationship went on a downward spiral.

One day she told me that she wanted me to move my seat. From the first day of class, we all sat in the same seats, but she wanted me to move mine. This seat was in the third row in the middle. I sat next to my group partner, a religious nun. We were NOT disruptive...she was a nun, for God's sake!!! Anyway, I refused to move. Before the next class, the professor placed her books on my chair before I entered the room. This was weird. She did not want any other student in the class to change...just me. Guess what I did? Yep, I moved the books. She was not pleased and told me so. Her comment was that she put the books on the chair so that I would have to move. I looked at Sister, my partner and said..."what did I do to this woman to incur her wrath?" Sister shrugged and opened her book (coward!). We continued to spar throughout the course until it was over...then I slammed her on the evaluation and earned my "A". I am sure that professor 'rod up her #%$@' needed to be sedated when she recorded a not-so-esoteric "A" on my report card.

So, I get it...Buddy feels that the coaches don't like can and does happen. What can he do about it? Well, the season is more than halfway over. We are driving home during the All Star break for a week. Then he comes back to finish his stint in the bullpen. My only advice is to continue to work hard to achieve your personal goals. You will never be back on this team and you don't have to look back when you are gone. Also, it is important to know that not everyone can or will like us. If we please everyone, then we are not doing something right. Keep in mind, however, that you have made some terrific friendships with some great guys and you did reap something good from the experience. You became internally and mentally stronger. As Christina Aquilera sings in her song, "The Fighter", she thanks the people who were against her and this made her tougher and more determined. Use these words to become the man and player that you want to be...overcoming adversity through determination and grit....

'Cause if it wasn't for all
That you tried to do
I wouldn't know just how capable I am to pull through
So I wanna say thank you

'Cause it
Makes me that much stronger
Makes me work a little bit harder
Makes me that much wiser
So thanks for making me a fighter

Made me learn a little bit faster
Made my skin a little bit thicker
Makes me that much smarter
So thanks for making me a fighter

Never saw it coming
All of your backstabbing
Just so, you could cash in on a good thing
Before I'd realized your game

I heard you're going 'round
Playin' the victim now
But don't even begin feelin' I'm the one to blame
'Cause you dug your own grave

After all of the fights and the lies
Guess you're wanting to hurt me
But that won't work anymore
No more, uh uh, it's over

'Cause if it wasn't for all of your torture
I wouldn't know how to be this way now
And never back down
So I wanna say thank you

Friday, July 8, 2011

Thunder, lightening, and a scuffle: A great night at the ball park

Good morning! Storms rolled through last night in more than one way. It thundered loudly and lightening struck throughout the region and at the ball park....more about that later...

I decided since Buddy was not going to play, I had the opportunity to sit and complete some work without interruption. He took the car and I had a number of projects that needed attention. It was hot and I was focused on my work when an exuberant bullpen pitcher burst into the room. The smile was so big that I had to look twice to see if it was my mostly sullen kid.....It seems that the game took on a gangsta' tone as the starting pitcher, The Stud was striking players out on command. He is a local kid and has the reputation of being difficult and not a team player. Yet, according to Buddy, this is not true. He is a great guy and super team mate, so he did not know how he earned this reputation.

Back to the game, Stud was on fire as they played the number one team in the region who generally dominates all teams. Yet, Stud was the man on the mound and did not leave any prisoners. As the game was moving along, both teams were yapping at one another cussin' and swearin' and frankly using words that I have never heard in church. Toward the end of the game, Stud walked to the dugout and the third base coach accidentally on purpose bumped into his shoulder....hmmm....nonverbal communication suggesting...let's rumble...
Stud was replaced by the closer, Mr. Domination who proceeded to strike out all three batters that he faced with a 96 mph fast over...rumble beginning as Mr D lifted his shirt up to demonstrate his flawless play....the other team DID NOT like this and the teams began to scuffle and continue the war of words....

My son, not wanting to miss the action, yet not someone who likes conflict stood back a bit and used his fresh mouth to fight rather than his fists (heaven forbid that he breaks that hand....). His bullpen friend pretended to hold him back as he verbally continued the assault...then an opposing player asked him if he wanted to go at it....Ooops...ah no's just a stupid game, get over it. The peacemaker emerged and he backed off. Scuffle ended with Sparky yelling expletives at the other coach and players (again, he displays his leadership talents). No one was injured. No punches were actually thrown, but now the team has a great story and the war has united them more than the coaches could ever had without the melee.

My only question had been "Were any young kids watching the fight?" His response was "What do you think?" OY! I am sure that this moment in team history will live on in these young impressionable minds for a long, long time. I can picture my kid standing on the outside of the fight circle encouraging his team mates as he buzzes around the conflict...participating but not participating....not wanting to be hit nor hit anyone.....just having a good time doing what is perceived as "guy stuff".

By the way, The Stud, who is reputedly not considered a team player was in the middle of the fracas protecting his team mates. What does this tell you about reputations?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

I can see clearly....

Back from Kentucky~! It is such a beautiful state with the rolling hills, horse farms, and interesting people. Sadly, it is also one of the poorest rural regions in the country as the economy has impacted the residents' ability to earn a living and access health care. I have a few suggestions for the government, but no one has asked me. Once again, do I have to run everything?

As I dropped the big kid off at the field, I had a chance to explore the area and found the beauty to be quite memorable. As the game approached, I pointed the car in the right direction and sat on my chair with my lucky sneakers on, ready for an interesting game.

And so it was...NOT! The opposing team was not up for the challenge and were crushed by Buddy's team, 10-1. And the answer to your question "did he play?" is 'yes.' After 7 innings, the team had a commanding lead and he entered the game. He struck the first player out, gave up a playable hit, struck out the next two batters. During the second inning, he went hit-less and scoreless with one strike out. Then he was taken out of the game for the "closer." Game over...let's go home.

On the two hour road trip home, we chatted about the shift in his demeanor and goals. He is no longer upset about the lack of playing time since he is basically exhausted. He has nothing to prove to the coaches. His revised goal is to pitch 20 innings with an ERA of less than 3.00. Sadly, his one bad outing at midnight after a long road trip and rain delay, started his ERA at 60+, so it has been a battle to lower it, especially when the coaches refuse to give him a chance to play. This is particular puzzling because Sparky took him out of the game last week after giving up an opening walk and cursed him off. In contrast, during yesterday's game, I watched the starting pitcher give up 6 walks in the first two innings and he was allowed to stay in and battle. Interesting contradiction....dichotomy....hypocrisy...whatever you want to call it.

Now, the team is counting off the days until the end. Only a few local players are enjoying the competition and games. The rest, like Buddy, are looking forward to returning home, then back to college. The All Star break is next week. It will be the first one in years that Buddy will not play in, yet, no one really cares. We are heading east for the break and going to enjoy family, friends, and home cooking. Maybe I can get Buddy to wash the windows like he was supposed to before he left for the summer. I can place the rags, ammonia, and bucket where his laptop would be while he is sleeping. When he wakes up and does not see his precious communication device, he may come to the conclusion that I mean laptop or car keys until I can see the backyard from the family room. I don't ask for much (OK, really I do), but all I want him to do this summer is to wash the windows....after a summer living in Ohio trying to achieve his dream, it is my dream to be able to view the trees and deer that run through the yard without streaky dirt blocking my view. Bullpen mom is going to morph back into "Baby, it's good to be finish your chores..." Mom....Do you think that I was missed?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I don't understand...or maybe I do....

Another day in Ohio....another game is over....a new perspective has no longer matters how, when, and if Buddy enters a game to pitch. He is going to work on his goals with his bullpen crew and disregard the coach. Looking back, he still can't figure out why the coach does not want to play him. Perhaps it is because the pitching coach was very upset initially when Buddy would not change his mechanics based on his suggestions.

Let's review....Buddy has been coached by major league baseball players. At 19, he has a great curve ball and fast ball that has begun to hit 90 mph. He had one of the best freshman ERAs in the country. The summer coach never played past high school and wants to change his toss based on his limited experience. Since Buddy would not change, he sits in the bullpen while I sit in the stands watching a train wreck of a team.

Even though his freshman year statistics were better than any other pitcher while playing in a tough conference, he remains puzzled by the attitude, disrespect and disregard. Fortunately, the bullpen has bonded and the guys are in this together. Currently, he is working out with another player as they tinker with the speed on their fast balls and create new pitches.

With that said, the bullpen guys enjoy each others company and have gotten very silly to stay sane. They scratch the number of games left on the fence in the bullpen as if they were incarcerated. They share odd stories ranging from players that they struck out to their girl friends. There is also rock tossing into a cup competition for points. A champion will be crowned at the end of the season. Last night, they started to create home made exercise videos on their cell phones and are posting them on Facebook and You Tube. The first topic was building arm strength by waving a bat one hundred times. Tonight, the pitchers will focus on core exercises in the bullpen. To say that they are bored would be an understatement....

At this point, Buddy is happy and progressing with his personal goals. This morning, he ran off to the Wednesday baseball camp for the inner city kids to deliver gum that he promised to a boy if he played hard last week. When the kid saw him, he shouted: "Where's my gum at?" Buddy handed him some BubbleTape and all is well. So, I see some personal growth.

As Buddy has reconciled the summer as part of a greater plan to build his perseverance, his dad has begun to show frustration and irritability (lovely....Buddy's emotions were finally under control, now I have to deal with the big guy). Last week's visit opened his eyes to a number of issues that Buddy and I have witnessed, complained about, but fell on deaf ears. Now dad is on the warpath and plans to come back to Ohio next week to have a showdown with the coach. The turning point for him was watching Buddy walk a player then give up a sacrifice bunt. He had one out and the coach walked out to the mound, screamed at Buddy and told him that he "sucked" and continued to insult him as he wondered aloud how he was able to play Division I baseball. He grabbed the ball, told him to get the &*$$ into the dugout and brought another pitcher out who threw a wild pitch then balked the winning run in....Buddy could do nothing but was horrified.

And so, life in baseball continues uninterrupted by the drama. By its nature, it is competitive. Each person competes for time in the game and has their own set of goals. Without communication, players struggle to achieve the aforesaid goals. Yet, communication starts at the top as the coach should know and understand each player to get the best out of them. Unfortunately, this guy is interested only in his own personal goals and has misrepresented himself and the team to Buddy's college coaches. Next year, we will be much smarter as we interview the summer coach before making a commitment to move. This summer has been a learning experience for all of us. On to this afternoon's game in Kentucky....

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

July 4th

Happy July 4th! Hot dogs, hamburgers and watermelon for everyone! I hope that you enjoyed the day....

We had a terrific day beginning with a parade near the fairgrounds. The team was mandated to be part of a float in the July 4th parade. Needless to say, my boy was very very 'salty' as he left early in the rain and headed for the fairgrounds. I was ambivalent about attending a soggy celebration, so I took my time getting there. It was over when we got there, although I did catch the baseball team's float as they traveled back to the cars. The guys were smiling, waving flags, and joking in the rain, even my son. Although, when I finally spoke to him, he reverted back to that sullen 'it was a joke...why did they make us do that? I hate this place' type of conversation that I try to avoid at all costs. Yes, I try to avoid conflict of any sort...problem with that?

The last time that I left the blog, Buddy was going to have a conversation with the coaches, then we were going to pack everything that we could fit into the car, and leave town. He would then work out with baseball professionals and not little league coaches. Here is how it actually went down:

On Sunday, he approached the pitching coach, Stinky and shared with him the concerns that he had about his lack of development and use during the season. He mentioned that he needed a schedule so that he could continue to work out his body and strength train. He also said that he has not been given a chance to display his talents. He was very calm (he saves the rants for when I am listening) Stinky agreed. End of story....yep, end of story....he did not play on Sunday night....story continues, because it has not ended.

On Sunday, dad, Tink and I watched the game together. It was the second game of a double header in which Buddy's team won the first game. The second game was a different story and we were able to see what was going on from an objective perspective. As the starting pitcher fatigued, Stinky and Sparky (head coach) began to call out bullpen players. One by one, they entered the game and were unable to throw strikes. They were flat. The balls had no pop to them. Why? The answer is simple...they do not have training during the week. They do not throw except every few days. They have lost the edge that they came in with post season. In fact, all of the pitchers have regressed and not just Buddy. As one pitcher struggled greatly, it is the role of the head coach to walk out to the mound and relieve the pitcher and pat him on the back. The last time Sparky did this with Buddy, he cursed at him and told him that he was terrible. Back to the player on the mound, Sparky refused to go out to the mound since he was too upset. So, he let the dugout coach walk out and pull the pitcher. What does this say about Sparky's leadership style? Basically, he does not have one unless you want to call it passive-aggressive...then I would not use the word "leader" to describe him.

Dad was livid as everything fell into place. He watched Buddy be pulled out and humiliated unnecessarily on Friday night and saw Sparky's lack of coaching talent prominently displayed on Sunday. It was like fireworks on the 4th of July...boom!bang! evident....As we did a background check, Sparky never played college ball. In fact, he did not attend college. Furthermore, Sparky is part owner of the team, so he is focused on the bottom line financially and not what is best for his players. I was livid when I realized that the money from the 50-50 raffle that I participate in each game goes back into the coach's pocket. When the tickets are sold in the stands, the woman claims that the money goes back to the "team" so people think that it somehow goes to the players for Gatorade, uniforms, or pizza, but it doesn't. It goes back to Sparky! Some winners donate the money back to the team! If they only knew!

Where do we stand now? Buddy is going to 'gut' it out and stay until the bitter end. His father has given him permission to talk back to the coach if he disrespects him again on the mound. This is contrary to everything that we have taught the kid about communication and respecting people in authority. But the respect comes when it is earned, no matter what age a person may be. He has to take care of himself and communicate in a way that Sparky understands.

Upon reflection, it has not been a total waste of time. The kid has learned some valuable lessons that only life and an inept coach can teach. He has demonstrated perseverance and the ability to walk through the storm unscathed. Tonight the team plays against a foe from the northern part of the state. Two of his college buddies are on the team, so it will be nice to reconnect with them. And so, I, bullpen mom, will sit in the stands, let my mind wander to my 'happy place', cheer on the players, and NOT participate in 50-50.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


Last night started off a very festive holiday weekend with sister Scooby hosting a pool party with fireworks. There was lots of great food and awesome fireworks set off at the school down the street from the house. It was wonderful...

As we sat enjoying the beautiful colors of the sky show, there was another set of fireworks erupting in the adjacent state as Buddy's flame burned higher and brighter than any other man made pyrotechnic display. While watching the rockets red glare, there were bombs bursting elsewhere. It seemed surreal as the roman candles burned brightly, I received a call from dad. Buddy is warming up and will go in the game during the 8th inning, which was the exact time that the fireworks were exploding.

According to dad, he walked the first batter on a 3-2 pitch. The second batter placed a bunt and moved the batter to second base. The second batter was out. So, there was 1 out with a man on second. This is nothing for my son. He thrives on a bit of stress, and this was nothing...until....

Sparky the coach walks out from the dugout, tells him that he stinks (my cleaner version of the comment) and pulls him from the game. Mortified, he sits in the dugout while the next pitcher throws a wild pitch advancing the runner to third base then balks with the winning run scoring. The team and Buddy lit off rockets that were seen throughout the Midwest and Southeast US. In fact, I think that the beautiful fireworks display that I was watching was a further manifestation of what was happening in Ohio.

Does it sound like I am making excuses for my son? Nope....the first, second and third pitchers were wild and gave up 5 runs. Buddy did not have a chance to settle in to the game. The last time that he pitched was 8 days ago. The coach expected him to stand up and throw the ball across the plate with no practice. It is bizarre.

On the way home from the party, I received not 1, not 2, but 3 phone calls from 2 angry people. The calls went something like this..."#$AM)STD%%%*&<.....furthermore....*U@#!@@@(^$% Coach...*&$V(%^....wasting my time &^*%%$#$..." Get the picture?

I calmed him down and we all agreed (I am glad that dad was there to witness it) that he would speak to the coach...keep it under 1 minute because Sparky would be unable to follow a conversation for a longer period of time...The plan was made and we said good night...

An early morning wake up call (thanks dad) to discuss the matter further began my day. We worked out the details of the plan and made a few decisions. First, the conversation with Sparky will take place today. Buddy will tell him in a nonthreatening, factual way that he has not been given the opportunity to display his talents or develop under the coach's tutelage. Second, he needs to know what the coach's intentions for him are and that he needs some type of schedule as to if and when he is going to pitch. Without a schedule, he cannot work out. His coach at his college gave him a routine for each day with running, weight lifting, aerobics, stretching, and so on. He cannot do any of the activities if he is going to throw. if he does not know when he is going to throw, then he cannot train....see the dilemma? Also, he has lost a significant amount of weight with his illness and inability to train. With weight loss comes muscle loss and results in a slower fast ball.

With that said, after the conversation with Sparky, he is going to call his coach at school and share the details. He will follow any advice that the coach gives him. Further, he has our blessing to leave the team and return home to train with coaches who understand the game and how to develop players. He actually has my permission to resign from the team. The goal of improving and being given innings to improve his fast ball have not been forthcoming. If anything, he is regressing...

And so....Look up in the sky tonight...if you see an errant rocket exploding, it could be the results of Buddy's conversation with Sparky and Stinky Pete....What ever his college coach decides, Buddy will abide by...this means if he is told to leave the team to train at home with professional coaches, he will....sadly, we'll miss the cheap wine and Bullpen Boogie...and so it goes in the life of a bullpen kid.

Have a great to party number two......