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 food...no 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!