Thursday, June 30, 2011

Real Jobs

It was a very early morning or perhaps it was a really late night. I drove dad to the airport to catch a 6am flight to hang out with Buddy for the next few days. I do not know who was more excited...father or son....probably son, since he is lonely and out of money. He knows that he will eat with his dad around. As I drove home, I discovered at 4:30 am that more people and animals are awake than one would think. As I pulled away from the airport, I needed to listen to talk radio to keep me alert (no coffee yet). To my delight, I heard my nephew FTF III reporting from the Jersey shore. He was stationed outside a Realtor office waiting for an agent to report on whether a famed sports figure was about to purchase a home. Apparently, this was big news. FTF III sounding quite professional reported: "There is no one here." I wanted to clap for the 20 year old intern who aspires to be a radio journalist. He has been working the night shift during his school breaks since he was 14 tears old. He definitely wants this career. I went back to bed and never found out if he got his scoop when the office opened at 9 am. At least he was there, poised and ready with his microphone to interview an unsuspecting agent about an alleged report that rabid sports fan want to know. Well done, III...looking forward to the next compelling report on the next sports figure's choice of coffee in the morning as he is stationed outside a Starbucks at 5 am (the kids's got to pay his dues before he is given his own show). I am very proud of this kid.

On the baseball front, Buddy did NOT play again last night and to say that he was 'salty' is to suggest that a shark has sharp teeth that can rip you to shreds. Of course he was miffed, angry, upset, peeved, and sad. A player who showed up the day before pitched three innings instead. From the beginning of the season, I have watched things unfold with Stinky Pete and suggested on a number of occasions that he lets things go until mid season. OK, it is mid season and he has pitched 7 innings. Time for action. I am sure that many are thinking....OK BP mom...gonna run out to Ohio and slay the nasty dragon for your boy? Sure, you can think it, but the answer is "no."

Have I given up? of course not...this is his fight, not mine. My suggestion is to stop Stinky and the coach before tonight's game and have a "come to Jesus" talk. He is not to threaten to quit. He needs to quietly and articulately express his need for innings to improve his game. His worst game was at midnight after a long rain delay at the end of a long road trip. So, let's say that Roy Halladay would have struggled too. Since then, he has been stellar (when he is in the game). Therefore, it is time to have the talk. Deep breath...good eye contact...calm voice...tell them what you want in no uncertain not use profanity or name calling...remain calm at all punching, scratching, clawing, spitting or use of blades....As dad says (sorry coaches) "baseball players are not the brightest bunch. If they were intelligent, they would have a real job." (Again,I apologize to all players out there....).

I will report tomorrow how the conversation goes...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wet cellphones

The team is on the road today for a game against a cross state rival. Buddy is one of the pitchers on the trip. When he phoned last night, he was a bit agitated because he was told that he was going into the game last night. After warming up and mentally preparing, he walked toward the mound. Stinky ran out and stopped him midway and told him to sit down. The previous pitcher was going to stay in the game. Needless to say, one tall lanky pitcher was incensed. And so, we heard about it....boy did we hear about it...I actually have no comment on this, because it is the nature of the game...get over it, kiddo. This is not the first time nor last time this will happen.

On a bright note, Buddy's phone finally works again. My mind is not firing on all cylinders, so I am not sure if I mentioned that it "broke" one rainy night in the ballpark. As the rain fell in torrents during a game, he decided to make a few phone calls 'cause he was bored. When I found out what happened, we had a mother-son question and answer period. For 100 points: "Does water affect electronics?" His answer "not a few rain drops, no." Wrong answer...he loses and actually, so do I. The answer per Alex Trebeck is "any water or precipitation will alter the mechanics of any hand held electronic device." On the way to the airport on Saturday, we had to pick up a disposable phone for him to use plus a phone card plus order a new battery online and pay for the express delivery. All in all, a few raindrops cost about $75.00. Today I received a happy text..."phone works..." For those who do not understand texting communication language, this is super secret teenager code for "gee, mom, thanks for helping me to get my phone fixed. Whereas it is true, that I made a poor decision calling friends in a monsoon, you can be assured that I will never do it the way, you are the best and coolest mom ever....did I tell you that you look like you lost weight?" Isn't that nice?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Chaos in the bullpen

As Paul Simon sings: "Gee, it's great to be back home...Home is where I want to beeeeee. I've been on the road so long my friend...." It took me a few days to re establish my territory. Yes, dad and Tink did a fairly good job keeping it going. There were just a few casualties. I lost 2 buckets of flowers. I gave them 'horticultural CPR' last night trying to revive them. Only time will tell whether my petunias make it or if we will have a funeral for them. Long term prognosis is not good. I will have to alert their next of kin before I pull the plug. Next stop is Home Depot to adopt new flowers. Before I leave again, I will write down step by step instructions on how to water the needed: water and watering can....fill can with water.....can it be any simpler? We will have an oral and written exam before the weekend with a demonstration.

Yesterday afternoon, Buddy called to inform me that he is sick to his stomach and that his cold is worse. He knows what to do for a cold, so I did not rattle off instructions. However, after I asked him what he did about it, he did not have an answer. BP mom is not there, dude. You are on your own and have to deal with it. We have reviewed cold remedies over the years. I thought that he was paying attention, although I am now not sure. This is not his first cold, nor will it be his last. Hang in there...drink fluids and get enough sleep....what am I saying? This kid sleeps like he has African Sleeping worries here.

He called his dad last night and had him in stitches. I knew that he was not going to pitch because he was in the game on Saturday night. I was able to listen to part of the game and they were losing (big). So, I turned the game off and went to bed trying to re establish my normal sleeping patterns. This week, I am NOT going to bed at 2 week, sure...this week...NO!

Back to Buddy's call. As he spoke, dad began to laugh uncontrollably. After a few minutes, I found out what was so funny. It seems that during the game, the pitching coach whom the guys in the bullpen call "Stinky" (bad breath), walked out to the mound with the intention of pulling the pitcher. The pitcher screams at him (paraphrase)..."Unless you have a hot dog for me, you had better turn around..." Stinky turned around and went back to the dug out. The guys in the bullpen went crazy. This was a bit disrespectful as far as I am concerned, but I am not out there with this coach, so I am just reporting the facts.

After the big loss, Stinky gathers the pitchers and calls them all out. Buddy was one of the victims as Stinky mentioned that the team led the league in walks. "How many walks have you given up?" Buddy replied "five...all in one game. None before or after that game..." Stinky was not happy with the reply and told him to shut up as he called out other pitchers. Apparently it would have been perceived as ugly by the players if they respected Stinky, but they don't. So, here is my perception on this matter:

There are a number of Division I pitchers on this team who are accustomed to a routine and a certain level of coaching that is not evident here. The pitching coach wants to change the way that they throw the ball. This is a 'no-no' as they have gotten to this level through their fundamentals. The coach seems to be over his head. He also does not know how to handle a bullpen full of prima donnas. Yes...they are full of themselves and their accomplishments (including my own son). Therefore Stinky needs to approach them from a different perspective and establish himself as a leader, which he has not done. These guys want someone to follow. They also need a coach, who allegedly is a scout for a MLB team, to mentor them through the summer. Sadly, Stinky has done nothing but alienate the entire group. Therefore, he has chaos in his bullpen.

Is there hope for these guys? Yes! My advice to Stinky is: appeal to their egos. They do not want high numbers or statistics. They want a successful summer league. In addition, they have bonded with each other, so use this as an opportunity to connect with them. No player wants to give up a walk or game winning he kidding? These kids want to play MLB and they are on the them to achieve their goals, not by tinkering with their arms but with their heads. Again, do I have to run the bullpen too?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Happy Hours

Well, it's time to go home for a spell and check out the house, family, and friends. Has anything changed since I left? Have the flowers and weeds grown? Is the dog clipped and fed? Are the neighbors and friends around? Is anyone available for happy hour? I am leaving tomorrow for special reasons. It is time to celebrate some major milestones with family and friends.

As Buddy hangs out in the Midwest, I am heading for a big party. When I say "big", I mean huge, enormous, gigantic, mind blowing, and celebratory. It is a party that has been in the works for 10 months, 9 years and 56+ years. What do I mean by this? Well here goes....

Ten months ago, our dear brother in law and friend Big M was diagnosed with lung cancer. As a non smoker, this was a huge surprise and blow to Big M and all of us. He has been in our lives since we can remember. He is a former football player who is accustomed to competition as he owns his business, but this was the biggest foe in his life as he faced an enemy that would hit him harder than any lineman. As expected, Big M put on his gear and faced the challenge. After chemo (twice) and radiation, he had surgery to remove part of his lung. As fate would have it, he needed chemo post op to kill the remaining cells. He has faced this challenge with courage and perseverance. I am in awe of his bravery and ability to fight when the rest of us would have packed it in, sat on the porch with a bottle of Jack Daniels and a one pound bag of peanut M&Ms. Not Big M....he is throwing the party tomorrow as an "I beat cancer" celebration. I won't miss this one for anything.....'cause he is 'da MAN!

The nine years celebration is for my niece, Lil A. She is the youngest member of the family and has been such a joy to us all. Lil A is an athlete, food connoisseur, artist, and actress. She can sing, dance, and ride a skateboard. She runs with her dad and is pretty good at Wii. She is funny and intelligent and we are blessed to have her in our lives...By the way, they never miss Sushi Friday....what kid do you know enjoys eating raw fish on a weekly basis? Not mine, Buddy still does not add milk to his cereal....not adventurous at all.

Lastly, the 56+ years of celebration marks Grandmom and The Saint's anniversary. They have been together for years and years and years. I have never seen a couple more devoted to one another as I have witnessed over the years (and years and years). They are together 24/7 and attend mass together daily, food shop, attend parties and events, and finish each others sentences. When seated next to each other, they hold hands....yep...PDA....they know where each other are at all times as they have built-in radar. I measure all marriages against this couple and none compare.

And so, there is so much to celebrate in our lives as we face the unknown on a daily basis. Giving thanks and celebrating the little and big things help us to get through a life that is filled with the unexpected. I don't know what happens next, since I am not clairvoyant nor intelligent, but I do know that when the there is an opportunity to be with the people that you love and share happiness, joy, and sorrow with them, we have been given an chance to offer part of ourselves in an intimate fashion and show unity and support. Tomorrow's celebration marks a number of important milestones that I have witnessed and absorbed. I am honored to be part of this as I raise my glass and honor the people who mean so much to me. Cheers!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Preparing for departure

My time in the Midwest is coming to an end soon. I will be leaving on Saturday for an unknown period of time and make an appearance at home. According to dad and Tink, everything is great..nothing is and plants are alive and worries. OK, so I will walk into a home that was the same way as when I left a few weeks ago. This should be very interesting.

Since I have been living away from home, I have gotten to know the big kid from a different perspective. He is still the moody, funny, and intelligent teenager that I have always known, but he has been evolving a bit too. He still takes the punches as they come in from the coaches. He had a very very bad outing on Sunday night at midnight when he could not get anyone out. His coach told him last night that he was not going to play until he works out his technique. The question do you work out the technique if you do not pitch? He sits on the bench for hours and hours and then is thrown into a game and is expected without warm up to strike the next three batters out. Further, the pitching coach never played above the high school level, so how does he guide someone who is more advanced than he is? Who knows, but I am now becoming annoyed with this summer and process.

Why? Well, I'll tell you...we moved 8 hours away from home and found an apartment. We wanted a 2 month lease, but they did not offer it, so we have to pay for three months rent. We bought a bed, furniture, television, pots and pans, etc. We left the comfort of home with the promise of a job and plenty of playing action. Since the season started three weeks ago, the job has not come through AND he has pitched 5 innings (maybe).

The goal was plenty of innings if not a start or two. Nothing...this town and team are one big money pit. Before I know it, my wallet is empty. Based on the promises, we would have made the same decision to move here, however, the promises were empty and now we are stuck (we never quit).

So, I am leaving at a time where he could use some support. With the frustrations offered by the team, he is despondent. He has followed through as a team player. The players are mandated to run baseball camps all summer one morning a week (they are not being paid). They have had to show up at autograph signing sessions as team representatives. Further, they take care of the field and mound. They were promised meals after the game and once had a steak sandwich and pizza.

The promise of the summer has melted like an ice cream cone in the hot sun. What do you do? The answer is that you adapt. To that end, Buddy has applied for a job at a local supermarket. It would be great if he could work in the mornings. The benefits would be twofold. First, it would get him out of bed before 1 pm. Second, he could earn some spending money for college. Perhaps there would be fewer "Hi Mom, how are you? I need money in my account....see ya..."

Is everything here bad? I sit at the table typing this note, I had a Maltese sighting (Diva dog is a Maltese and I really miss her). One of my slightly obese neighbors was walking his little Maltese in his too-tight, stained undershirt, slippers, and Superman boxers....You definitely do not see this at home. I would have run out to pet the dog, but the guy in the boxers was a bit odd and unaware of his appearance. Did he not think that someone like me would see him? If he doesn't care, then "NASA, we have a problem..."

Some other positives include the awesome library, YMCA, amazing food store across the highway, and simple nature of our lives. We are enjoying each others company and fallen into a rhythm. There are a few things that I would like to change such as the wet towels on the floor and inability to find the trash can. Aside from that, it is a summer that I will never forget....probably the last one with my son living full time under my roof. It is a nice way to say 'see you later'...'good by'...'remember to walk in the light and be true to who you are' and lastly...'lighten up...things always work out for good...'

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Rain, rain, go away....

Today the team travels by bus to another far destination in the north. I have no desire to drive 8 hours round trip to watch the big kid sit in the bullpen. Naturally, I have plenty to do, so he's on his own. Good luck guys!

Yesterday the game was postponed because of rain. Buddy was elated. Not just elated, but joyful, thrilled, busting with energy, happy, and smiling. it was like the old days when each Christmas, he would smile and say sweetly: "this has been the best Christmas ever..."

This happiness is in direct contrast to the 'good ole days' when he would basically throw a tantrum if it rained...what...rain? why, God, why?! This is true, when there was a rain out, he would be inconsolable. I used to think that it was time to call the pediatric psychiatrist and get this one under control. I would look at him and think...dude...there is plenty of baseball ahead...mark my words. And I was right... 26 games in 26 days...that's a heck of a lot of baseball. However, now that he is in the bullpen, he is not in every inning like grade school and high school when he played first base, so he has had to adjust.

And adjust, he seems that the bullpen guys are a bunch of characters that are not to be believed. They sit there either chewing seeds and gum or tobacco. There is a great deal of spitting action as they either use an empty bottle or cup. Sometimes they don't use anything at all. I used to think that Buddy had more saliva than any other kid that I knew. He could spit on command...hit dimes on the street with his sputum (he was that accurate). I had to admonish him on a number of occasions when there were sputum wads on the garage floor as he would let one ride before he walked into the door. It is gross and unsanitary. But is seems to be a baseball thing. I rarely see a football player spitting...or a coach...have you ever witnessed Joe Paterno spitting into a cup? Nope!

Spitting isn't the only thing that the Bullpen guys do. They adopted a frog during college. The frog would come out to the bp during practices and games. He was their pet....kind of a good luck charm.

They tell stories of one-up-man-ship...who has the grossest story...who has the best baseball story...who is the sickest athlete....who struck the best player out in the league...I have yet to hear about girls being mentioned in the bp. I think that this one is closely guarded and not for a mother's ears.

They do anything to entertain themselves during the long games as they try to stay awake and pay attention to the game. Something tells me that they often have no clue about what is happening during any given game because they are chatting, humming, spitting, chewing and dreaming about the day when their number would be called in the World Series to close the deciding game....hopefully it won't be raining...

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Night To Remember

I never know what I am going to write about until I sit at the key board...then a concept or event comes to's, right now I have nothing in my head except the events of last night....

If you follow the blog, Buddy had a two day, four game road trip to the other side of the state. I dropped him off early Saturday morning and did not expect to see him until late Sunday night. Therefore, I had the 'pad' to myself. All mine! No one else was there....what to do...what to do...what to do....

I made a quick list of what needed to be done and went to work. After spending the morning grading papers, I was ready to go. The question was....go where? First, I went to a mall to purchase some pots and pans for meals. I am tired of take-out and gaining weight at a faster rate than normal. Further, I don't have my 'fat clothes' here. They remain in my home closet.

Once I bought the cheapest pots and pans available, I found the world's greatest library. It had so many books, my eyes were spinning and the rest of the weekend fell into place as I read normal books. What do I mean by normal? Normal books are books that are read by everyone else like autobiographies, self-help books, and smutty novels. And there you have it...I read all weekend and answered texts from Buddy. Father's Day was not the same since I spent it alone away from my own dad and husband, yet I will catch up with them when I go home this week.

Is that the end of my weekend...just books? really was only beginning. Here are the events from my perspective. Buddy has not been happy with the team, coaches or his role (or lack thereof). He was very 'salty' on Saturday morning as he got out of the car and walked to the bus. I was hoping that the road trip would be successful and that he would be in a better frame of mind when he returned. After finding out that there were 3 guys and two double beds in each room, I knew that the weekend would not get any better. His college team usually had two in a room and they stayed at very nice hotels. I can only guess which hotel they stayed in. Before he left, I handed him $20.00. "What's that for?" he asked. "Extra money in case you get hungry." I replied. "Mom, they are NOT paying for meals. We have to buy them." Oh...this is not's a bit 'rinky-dink'...OK, I handed him (once again) the contents of my purse excluding my emergency change by my lip gloss.

I had a bad feeling about the trip. The forecast was rain and thundershowers. Like the forecast, the kid was in a very foul mood. As Sunday took shape and I began and finished Maeve Binchey's latest book and received a few texts....5:50 pm: Just finished first game.....7:00 rain delay 8:00 rain delay 9:50: game starting 9 innings to play. My heart sank. Anyone who plays in this game will indeed be challenged by the long delay and late time. Also, a 9-inning game can take up to 3 hours to complete then they have a 3-hour trip home. And I have to pick him up around 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 am.....I can't go to sleep. I have to wait for his phone call and I can't sleep through it...not that I would, but I did not want to leave it to fate.

So, I tried to close my eyes, but couldn't sleep since I was so wired. Around 1 am, I started to watch some mindless television and was wide awake. The tenant who lives above us had a very active night and I could hear a great deal that was going on. It was not interesting enough to turn off the television. Around 2 am, I began to get some texts...bad day...I am more...I hate it....I am going home....worst game of my hates me....and so on....What a night...or morning...however you want to call it.....I finally fell asleep and got THE call...we'll be there in 30 minutes. Since Buddy really does not have a great sense of timing, I put the sneakers on after sleeping in my clothes and left the apartment. First, however, I looked up at the apartment above us. I could not tell much but all the lights were on at 5:15 am telling me that they never went to sleep.

It was a creepy foggy ride to the pick up spot. Since I am tentative driving in the region, I was a little intimidated by the conditions. As I drove, I looked around at the other night owls to see who else was up on this nasty morning besides my neighbor. Not too many people were awake, just a truck driver or two.

Finally, the bus arrives and Buddy enters the car. To say that he was in a crazed mood would be an understatement. I did not have access to electroshock therapy or Dr Phil, so it was up to me to help him through his emotional turmoil and personal crisis. After he once again reiterated how much he hated the baseball, coach, players, state, county, weather, fields, and so on, I channeled my best Dr Phil but it sounded more like Oprah...."Don't say anything else. Once you have had a hot shower and rest, you will feel better. We'll talk about it later." I wanted to add...we never, never, never give up....but I kept that one to myself. Quitting is not an option. It may appear that the kid is spoiled, and in some ways he is. But he has very high expectations of himself and he feels that he cannot relax..ever...and therefore he works harder than most to make it. When it does not happen, he has to reformulate a new plan of action. As a young man, he is trying to get his emotions under control. This will happen with practice and age.

To end this oh-so-lengthy post, I will share what Buddy and I witnessed when we parked the car at the apartment. Keep in mind that it is 5:30 ish, who is out? As I got out of the car, we could see a woman hugging another tightly in front of my building. Something was odd the woman drove away, the one left on the pavement looked at us with an empty expression and weaved her way back to the building. She climbed the stairs slowly and deliberately and entered the apartment directly above us....ahhh.....that's what was going on....I said to Buddy: "I guess her daughter is going back to school and they were packing her bags..." His reply was "Mom, that was not her daughter...." hmmmm, OK.....As we watched the woman climb the stairs, we hustled into our apartment and locked the door. She looked out of it....perhaps drunk. "Mom....she was as high as a kite..." OK.....hmmm...that explains all of the nighttime movements around her apartment. This was something I really did not want to know. life always is...the weekend that was to be one of the most relaxing in the summer turned out to be the most stressful and challenging. But as I previously mentioned, Buddy did not get to this level by throwing in the towel when things got rough. He bears down and works it out. I have the great fortune of being here to help him through it. These events are not typical and he has his family and friends to help him to sort it out. To achieve his goal, he has to go through rough's the only way to make it. No one said that it would be easy, 'cause if it was, anyone could do what he does. Time for some therapy...first rest, nutritional, then diversionary...would Dr Phil approve of this plan?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to all fathers out there. A special 'shout out' to my own dad who is a young 84 years old. An amazing man who raised 6 children and was able to make each kid feel like an only child. I have nicknamed him "The Saint" as he and my mother attend daily mass together and have been active members of their parish for 50 years. He says his prayers every day which includes a stack of prayer cards that take about an hour to recite.

Some of my greatest memories of my dad include transportation and travel. As bullpen mom, I have driven my kids all over the east coast to attend one function or another in a very comfortable sedan or SUV. On the other hand, my family owned a VW beetle for many years as the major mode of transportation. We would travel everywhere as a family in the bug. That's right...6 kids....two parents and often extra riders would cram into the beetle for a road trip (no Coach bus here). I remember one trip when we traveled to my grandparents house two hours away from home. We also had an extra rider, my heavy-set aunt who was a nun. She sat in the front of the car with my dad while my mother and kids sat in the back. Keep in mind that VW beetles were no bigger back then than they are today, therefore, add one normal size mother and her 6 kids under ten and picture how they would be seated in the car. Guess where I sat? That's right...on the floor of the back seat on the little elevation in the middle. My infant brother was on mom's lap, two brothers in the way back cubby, and my two sisters sitting on the seat next to mom. There were no seatbelts....if anything happened...When we arrived at Grandma's, we got out of the car one by one hunched over from being in the same position unable to move for two hours.

There was one incident in the bug where I began to feel sick. To this day, I have never seen my mother move so fast as to grab me from the cubby seat during a long trip. I felt sick...the breaks screeched to a mom's arms grew 5 inches grabbing me and throwing me like a perfect football spiral to vomit in front of the shoe store rather than in the car. Joe Montana has nothing on my mom.

That's just some of the many memories of my father and family. Dad was always there for us either with his wisdom or assistance. One father's day, he stopped by my apartment and helped me to plant flowers around the patio. It was 100 degrees and he did not stop until all of the flowers were in place. Afterward, we sat all hot and sweaty, drinking iced tea and chatted about life...then he hopped into his car (the bug was gone and he now had a Ford Crown Vic) and off he went back home to mom and the family.

Other great memories include the times when we would golf together. He took up golfing late in life...his 60's. Since no one belonged to a country club, we would play on hot Saturday afternoons on the public golf course. The temperature would often climb to over 100 degrees, but we did not stop. There were times when I had to move the game along as he did not like to lose balls. Not one for giving up on finding something that was lost, he would search for his lost balls in the rough. After a few minutes of not-so-patiently waiting, I would take one out of the bag and discretely throw it to another area giving him a good shot. I am pretty sure that he never caught on and if he did, he never said anything.

So that's my dad...A good guy...role model....mentor...he's spiritual...a good citizen...and 'walks the talk' father...someone I love and respect. Happy Father's Day....thanks for everything Pop! You're the best.....

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Weekend Travel

The team is playing four games this weekend (with 26 games in 26 days to follow) on the other side of the state and had to leave this morning at 8 am on the bus. Last night after the second loss in a row (2-1), the coach announced the starting pitchers for the next week. Buddy was not one of them. Picture in your mind a huge mushroom cloud after an explosion....did you envision it? Yes? Well, I lived it. To say that he was 'salty' would be minimizing his anger. So, as I dropped off Mr. Salty this morning at the local college, I had some private time to reflect on his anger.

This is a mother's perspective. I am trying to be objective and look at the big picture but I really cannot figure this one out. Buddy played more than any other pitcher during the college season except for one player on the team. He had the lowest ERA and played in a competitive conference. He pitched on television in some of the team's biggest games. He struck out players that were just drafted by Major league teams. Whereas the other pitchers are from lower Division I or even lower II/III schools. Their statistics do not even begin to compare to Buddy's. Further, the pitching coach works at a satellite campus of a small division I school.

With that said, I can understand his anger. He cannot believe that even Rat Boy has a start over him. As he puts it: "Every time I talk to him, I feel my IQ dropping...." It's a nasty statement, but he makes his point.

As he got out of the car this morning, the grumbles and growls were heard in London. He is not happy and wants to go home and leave this town. However, the big guy is a natural competitor. He is not going down without a fight even if he complains all the way. He will make the most out of it as he confers with his friend Hoosier and texts me while he is on the bus.

So, what's a kid to do? First, he has to get over his anger and buckle down. With so many games, kids injure their arms and they need someone to step in a take over. Second, he was always under rated by coaches, what's the big difference here? Once again, he has to prove himself and show them that he can be their ace pitcher. I think that this is what competition is all about, working harder than the other guy. Sadly, I would say that you let your statistics do the talking, but in this case, the coaches can't read. I did a check and comparison of the pitchers' stats and Buddy's were the best by far.

Last night after the game, he told me that his fast ball was clocked at 89 the night before when he was on the mound. He was 'bummed' that he did not hit 90. With that statement, I told him to focus on his goals. Goal 1: hit 90 mph on the fast ball. Goal 2: develop another pitch. If he achieves those goals, this summer will be considered a success.

Would I like to pack it all in this weekend and head east? bet...when can we go? But that is not going to happen. A commitment was made and he will honor it no matter how tough it gets. This is what trying to make it to the big leagues is all about...competing just to get noticed...competing for mound time...competing to be the strongest...fastest...smartest...As much as this hurts him, once he is able to think rationally, he will see that it is the best thing that could of happened....short of being home, asleep in bed, and dreaming about achieving his dream. It won't happen by just wanting will only happen with physical grit and that case, I have no doubts....This is just another speed bump on the road to the big leagues.

Friday, June 17, 2011

You're Out!

Good Morning! Once again, I am living the life of a college student as I was clicking the remote between Jimmy Kimmel, Jay and Conan last night. I stopped for a while on Jay and found his show a bit funnier, although JK has his moments too. As I morph into a night owl, I am missing Johnny Carson (yep, I am that old). Johnny was smooth and funny. His humor was self-deprecating and fun to watch. Even Ed McMahon was a good sidekick.

Why am I up again at midnight? To answer this question, I will begin with the usual.....a cup of Pike coffee from Starbucks and a story to tell....sit back, here we go....

Yesterday's game was at a field an hour north of the home base. The coaches decided the players should drive themselves and they would not have to spend the money to rent a van. Sadly, since these kids still do not have jobs, one of Buddy's friends, Hoosier, needed a ride since he could not afford the gas money. So, once Hoosier arrived at the apartment, we took off on the highway to the "Bicycle Capital of the Midwest." Yep, are you jealous? I did not see one bicycle last night...not one....

The field was in a large complex and was really nice...not flashy...showy...just well maintained and in a remote location. The starting pitcher for Buddy's team is a high school legend in this part of the state. He was 'all-city'...'all-state'...'all-county'...'all world'....and is now pitching for a well known school in the south east of the US. He pitched a great game as did his opponent. It was 1-1 after 6 2/3 innings. He was on a 'pitch count' and had men on first and third with two outs when there was a call to the bullpen,,,Yes...Buddy was called into the game to get Ace out of a jam. He pitched to a count of 3-2 then the batter lined a shot to first base and the inning was over. Neither team was hitting because the pitching was so good, so Buddy's team mates were retired 1-2-3 during the next inning. The coach kept him in the game. The first batter's count went to 3-2 then Buddy left a curve ball high in the zone and he cracked a double. After an error in the field, the batter scored. Buddy retired the next three batters that he faced. After the inning was over, he walked into the dug out. The pitching coach approached him and asked him why he threw the ball in the 'hot spot'. When Buddy replied that it was a mistake (note: no pitcher ever throws a ball that he thinks the batter is going to hit for a single, double, triple, or home run...never! So, the question itself was pretty stupid...). Then the coach loudly shouted at him: "You're Out!"

And that was that....he was out...another pitcher was in and retired the side. The game ended at 1-2 with Buddy's team losing and Buddy labeled as the losing pitcher. And, so it goes...he lost. Yet there was an unearned run on an error and no run support. This is the nature of the game: you win some and you lose some.

What is BP Mom's perspective on this scenario? Simple, the pitchers need to play more and have more of a routine to be effective in a tight situation. I could tell when he warmed up that he needed to face more batters to be at his normal level of competence. However, the coaches do not have a process and think that all they have to do is to insert the pitcher in a game and he will perform. This is not always the case with pitchers who are accustomed to starting games. Even 'all world' struggled in the first inning until he found his groove.

And so it goes...since Buddy pitched last night, he will not pitch tonight. I don't have to run to see the start of the game, I can wait until the 6th inning. Buddy made me promise to be in the stands by the 6th inning so that he did not have to give the flower to any one else during Bullpen Boogie (which he not just hates..he loathes).

Tomorrow the team leaves for overnight to play four games hours away from home base. So, it will be my first night alone in our "pad." We have figured out a system to burglar-proof the apartment. I have two large chairs by the door. How is that for an effective system?

Buddy and Hoosier mentioned late last night, while we were eating pancakes at the 24 hour IHOP, that they had to go to a sausage shop today to sign autographs for the kids in their uniforms. They were not happy. So Buddy just emerged from his bedroom and is in a very 'salty' mood. "Don't they understand that we are not a big deal? Why do we have to do this? They can make me run baseball camps where kids threaten me and hit me in the face and sign autographs but they can't get me a job?" He's right. They are benefiting from having these Division I players in the region yet have reneged on their promises to find jobs. These kids need to earn money for college in the fall and they are in a holding pattern as the summer progresses. Their promise to take care of the them has yet to materialize. If they cannot find the jobs, then so be it...tell them so that they can find their own jobs. With that said, Buddy just left to sign autographs....he's not happy...and he is not employed...he is just Out!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sloop John B

I just heard the song on Pandora that the Beach Boys sing called Sloop John B....the lyrics are: "I want to go home....let me go home....I want to go home....I feel so broke up that I want to go home..."

I am not feeling "broke up" but I do want to go home and so does Buddy. We are like 'fish out of water' here as we adjust to the new environment. Am I complaining? Nope! I made the decision to join him because we felt that he needed some support at this junction of his life. Since the day that I arrived, I know that I made the right decision. Yet as we continue our adventure, I do long to be home and feel the comfort of being in a place where I am mentally comfortable.

With that said, the big kid misses college (the atmosphere, not work), his school and home friends, home, sister (yep), family, and Diva dog. He does not articulate it, but I know that he does. He was promised a job that has not yet materialized and has to sit around all day or work out, wait for the game, sit in the bullpen, pitch or not pitch, come home...go to bed and it begins again. He is addicted to his Facebook and cell phone as he honestly has nothing else to do. Last night I caught him reading... Yes, he had Sports Illustrated open and was reading an article. The kid is definitely bored if he is reading too.

Oy! Now I am listening to Simon and Garfunkel's song "Homeward Bound" and have changed the words to reflect our baseball life:

I'm sittin' in the open bleachers, got a ticket for my destination
On a tour of one-night-stands, my suitcase and baseball glove at hand
And every stop is neatly planned for a poet and a one-man band

Homeward bound, I wish I was homeward bound
Home, where my thoughts escape, at home, where my music's playin'
Home, where my comfie bed lies waitin' silently for me

Every day's an endless dream of hamburgers and magazines
And each town looks the same to me, the movies and the factories
And every stranger's face I see reminds me that I long to be


Tonight I'll throw my ball again, I'll play the game and pretend
But all my words come back to me, in shades of mediocrity
Like emptiness and harmony, I need my home to comfort me

[Chorus repeats 2x]

Silently for me

OK, enough introspection and back to work. I will change the radio station to Lady Gaga or Katie Perry. Their lyrics are not as meaningful as Katie sings about an Extraterrestrial Alien and Gaga's songs all sound alike.....Paparazzi.....papa-papa-razzi!

Does it look like I am complaining? Probably...but I am not. The goal of this blog is to chronicle the adventures of a kid trying to achieve his goals. Goal 1 was Division I baseball....check....Goal II was pitch 20+ innings as a freshman with a low ERA...check....Goal in a competitive summer league....sort of...check....his debut was marked by the loss of electricity and therefore, he did not get to play. He sat on the bench during the home opener and got up for "Bullpen Boogie" when he had to bring a flower in the stands and dance with a woman (he is NOT a fan of that one) between innings.

So, I am trying to depict the journey from my perspective. It is not glamorous or fun. When he sits in the bullpen, he is mindlessly chatting and running sunflower seed spitting contests and throwing rocks into a can. He won the rock throwing contest on Tuesday night. As he sits, I sit and answer emails on my Droid and pray that someone will call me. Pulling out a book or magazine during a game is a major faus just is not done. So I let my thoughts and mind drift off to my happy place...

I am going to finally close this posting with a final thought (or two). This summer is an opportunity for Buddy and me to reconnect as a team. When he left for college, I felt the loss, but knew that he was moving through life as planned. He called home basically to speak to his dad about life and baseball. I admire their close relationship. Now, he and I have had some amazing conversations and he even asks my advice on certain things that do not pertain to baseball. So, as I get to know him again, he gets to know me. If anything, we will remember this summer as one last opportunity to spend some significant time together. As I have always said, "I am your biggest fan, whether you play or me it does not matter....I love you, kiddo..."

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Opening Day

Last night, the team celebrated the first real game of the season. Sadly, it was a loss but the evening was perfect for baseball as the full moon peaked over the horizon with a gentle breeze and moderate temperatures. No, Buddy did not play. This was game three with no Buddy sighting except for Bullpen Boogie (see previous post for the way that the team embarrasses these players). It was dollar beer night and I was not in the mood to partake (even for a dollar). However, many of the fans did which led to a rowdy crowd. I saw one woman throw 6 empty bottles into the trash....

Today Buddy had to arise early (9 am for this kid is the middle of the night for me) to help to run a baseball camp for little leaguers. If I say that he was a bit "salty" I would be understating the obvious. His mood lightened up a bit when I flipped him a $10 bill to buy a bagel sandwich at Dunkin Donuts. It's the little things that makes him an egg, cheese, bacon and a bagel (oh yeah...and a pop tart or two or a box...).

As far as the apartment is concerned, I now have new appliances, toilet, dishwasher, linoleum floor, etc. As Bill and Aaron finished this morning with caulking and painting, Bill noted that I no longer have running water. Yes, you read this sentence's off or WATER!!!! Is there a camera somewhere? Am I on Candid Camera? Am I being PUNK'D? Is my life real or is this virtual? Am I having a nightmare? This is almost laughable....almost....I guess that I have to walk over to see the Snake again and place a another work order in for running water. I think that my work orders fill one file cabinet. Do I ask for too much?

I have been slowly making friends. Ann works in the donut shop. She is 75 and looking good for someone who is surrounded by sugar and her fellow admirers. These guys are in their 80's too and hang out chatting, reading the paper, and drinking coffee while Ann waits on the sugar-addicted customers like me. I would be shopping for new clothes each week if I worked there.

Then there are Thomas and James in Starbucks. They work the afternoon-evening shift. I did not get the name of the guy today who waited on me, but he was the one who took my debit card and handed it back when it did not work on Saturday. He remembered me and looked twice at my card when I handed it to him today. It worked...we smiled at each other knowing that today I was not going to have to dig for change at the bottom of my purse and between the seat cushions in the car. I consider this morning quite a success even without running water.

Today when Buddy returns home with the car, I am shopping for a toaster oven, oven mits, and pots and pans. We will stop eating out today and begin living in the apartment...although I did find a thousand legger today in the bathroom. He went swimming in our new toilet.

With that said, I have to go and find the Snake before the rain sets in...have a good day....

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Night the Lights Went Out in Ohio...

Good morning....I am dragging a bit as I re-live my college days. These old bones are not designed to travel hours to games, sit and wait, then drive home and eat at midnight. The body is out of whack! This is a younger person's lifestyle. Where is my rocking chair and porch with the dog sitting on my lap as I drink a cup of tea? Buddy and I have been eating late after games at the 24 hour IHOP. Guess what? They have an armed security guard at the door after 11 pm. Whew! I feel much better as I eat my pancakes and look for concealed weapons.

With that said, we traveled to a little community in the northwest section of the state. It took two hours of interstate driving, then we turned onto a route that took us through a region that can be labeled 'small town USA'. Wal Mart has yet to invade this region and after I dropped the kid off at the field, I began my search for a bookstore or pharmacy where I could buy a book...nothing...there were a few closed pizzerias. But nothing else was there. I am not sure how people earn their income without businesses to support it. There is a refinery at the edge of town, so maybe the community works there.

OK, so here we are in this tiny town. The ball field is really a high school field. It was well maintained and the people of the community supported their college team. Behind home plate sat a number of senior citizens who pay $1.00 for their ticket, chat with one another, drink Budweiser's, and yell at the opposing players, pitchers and umpires. I sat in the "family section' where fans are not allowed to bring alcoholic beverages to their seats.

The game was exciting from the perspective that I could watch and listen to the fans behind home plate. They were very funny as they hassled the umpires and batters. 'Libido's' kid was the subject of their harassing. He's a big guy who struck out twice. The guys loved it as they chanted and yelled to break his concentration. Just as they thought that they had succeeded in intimidating Libido's kid, the player lined a single into right field. The peanut gallery settled down.

The team was leading 8-2 going into the 7th inning and Buddy was warming up. Yahoo. I had my camera and was ready to watch the big lefty pitch. It was time and he ran out from the bullpen and was introduced. Yeah....I was the only person who clapped, but I was pretty loud....he began to warm up with the catcher...looking good...ready to dominate. I am snapping pictures....nice...then it happened....the lights went out.

It was 9:30 pm and the lights turned off. Did someone forget to pay the electric bill? What happened? Coaches and umpires gathered at the mound. Lots of postponed until the lights cool off then are reactivated. Yep....we had to wait 30 minutes until the lights would go back on. So we waited. The players were throwing balls and empty Gatorade bottles at one another. Buddy played catch with the catcher and fans began to leave. As we waited for the lights, the umpires announced if the lights were not on in the 30 minute allotment, the game would be over and Buddy's team would win.

So, what do you think happened? That's right...he did not get to pitch with the big MLB scout in the stands....he picked up his glove, drank a water, and we drove back to town past the refinery and down the interstate. And so goes the saga of the bullpen pitcher and his bullpen mom as they travel to a variety of regions with the unexpected always expected.

With that said, here is an update on our slum lord...the manager showed up at the apartment yesterday and began to take photos. She was very apologetic and angry. I showed her everything from the crusted and stained toilet to the dirt that took years to develop. Frank from maintenance came and cleaned out the filters from the bathroom and air conditioners, which were grimy. The manager then said that the cleaning crew would be in. It was at that point that I told her that I was moving out until it was habitable and I would give her the bill for the hotel. She approved it and we left town to check into our hotel. And there you have it. I was not overly sensitive about the filth...I was right and she was appalled, so we are both on the same page.

After reviewing the last 24 hours, I must say that the people that I have met have been incredibly friendly. They have been welcoming and are helping us to find decent pizza and some New York bagels. We still are scratching our heads in disbelief that there are no fresh bagel stores in a 20 mile radius of the town. Do they eat English muffins for breakfast? Is this a business opportunity? We can open a bagel and pizza store OR bagels! This could be the business of a life time. We could franchise the idea. Look for it in the small communities throughout the US....Coming soon to a town near you..."Bullpen Mom's Pizza Bagels" for the bagel and pizza lover in you...catchy?

Monday, June 13, 2011


Good morning. It was day 2 in the apartment. No baseball on Sunday, just errands. We picked up an air purifier and Glade plug-ins to mask the broccoli smell with a modicum of success. Needless to say, we both slept better last night.

After speaking to the Snake yesterday, I was promised that the cleaners and maintenance people would be here first thing today. I am waitinggggg.......I also requested (with vigor) that the manager show up to say 'hello'....I am still waitinggggg........

Until the apartment is sanitized, I refuse to bring food in. We will continue to eat out. By the way, the bill is being paid by the manager of the complex.

On another note, Buddy is not going to the game today. The team is going to bring 5 pitchers to each away game. He went to Kentucky on Saturday and can sit this game out. Instead he is going to continue to work out at the Y and find a pitching coach to train with once a week. It seems that this team is not going to 'develop' the players, it is all about wins. Therefore, his goal to develop another pitch this summer will be altered as he works out with a former MLB pitcher who was recommended by a local parent.

As we settle into the rhythm of the summer, we have one last challenge. That is, to find a decent Midwest pizza. So far we have had the worst pizza and cannot believe the difficulty in finding pizza that is edible. True, this is not New York, Philadelphia or Chicago, but come on....dough...tomato sauce and cheese....let's go people! Do I have to do everything around here? Pizza is one food that we enjoy eating, however, a thick doughy bread-like crust with catsup and cheese on it is not acceptable....

I am writing this note and have the Today Show on...there is a size 2 model who is in the process of getting liposuction. According to the plastic surgeon, most of his patients are thin women. What's the deal! The doctor is justifying this surgery on thin women as people trying to re-proportion their shape. At size 2, there is very little shape there anyway. Yet another way for plastic surgeons to make money, preying on women's insecurities. Will the lipo make a difference in her level of happiness? Perhaps....but if she is so out of whack at a size 2, she is never going to be happy.

Sorry about the rantings. I am still adjusting to the new lifestyle and waitinggggg for the service people to show up to make the apartment habitable. Thanks for reading and have a great day.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The real adventure begins...

On Friday, we received our keys to the apartment. I would love to say that it is a very pretty garden apartment with lots of neat neighbors and friends, but I can't (yet). Today is Sunday morning and I woke up very early after my first night here. After a quick Starbuck's run, I have decided to write about the pros and cons of my adventure.....

1. the apartment is a dump (this is the best adjective that I could muster). When I walked in on Friday after having the actual address and location switched by my leasing agent that I now lovingly call "The Snake...",I almost had a meltdown. After spending a week in our nice, clean hotel with daily breakfast and all the coffee you can drink...I was ready for my own place (actually, it is Buddy's). After scrambling to call the electric company, cable company, and furniture delivery to re-route the services, I entered expecting a nice, clean apartment. OY! That was not the case.

2. My sweet garden apartment is on the second floor. Upon entering, I could immediately see the filth and my Spidey senses were tingling. From that moment, I began a tour and could not believe my eyes (and nose). The toilet was clogged and non functional, stained, and dirty beyond belief. I was a girl scout and never went to the outhouse (a testimony to my physical constitution) because it was disgusting. The thought of this bathroom is making me gag right now. The shower had painters tape surrounding it. Surrounding the toilet was dried urine...I am not done yet....

3. The kitchen was not fully clean. The cabinets are peeling paint. There are nails sticking out of the wall. The stove top has remnants of the last tenants dinner stuck to it. The dishwasher is broken and filthy on the inside. I will not use it until it is removed and burned out back and a new one is brought in.

4. When we returned home late from Kentucky last night, the odor that permeated into the apartment from next door was the scent of burned overcooked broccoli. I doubt if Yankee Candle is going to duplicate this scent for its fall line.

5. The light fixtures are coated with dust and dirt. Obviously, it has been years since they have been cleaned.

6. Since the Snake gave us a different apartment, the cable company deleted my file from the system and had to start a new one with the cable guy set to arrive tomorrow rather than Saturday morning as scheduled.

7. Closets are broken....dust...dirt...some mold are now my friends. If I see one rodent, I am packing it in and heading east....I won't even stop to pay court would convict me.

8. We are away from home and do not know one....I miss Tink, dad, Diva dog, Grandmom and Grandpop, sibs, nieces, nephews, the gang...and even Walking Waldo (the burned out guy who lives around the corner and walks every morning at the same time every day (in the same outfit)...

I did promise to mention the advantages, so here they are:

1. The people that I have met (except the Snake) are very sweet and friendly. This morning when I was in Starbuck's, I had a nice conversation with the barrista. At that point, I almost asked for a job, but held back. I am not ready yet to start any new adventure until this apartment mess is fixed.

2. It was so early that no supermarkets were open, so I landed up in a tiny donut shop picking up a few chocolate treats for Buddy. It reminded of Cheers on caffeine. Norm and Cliff were sitting at a corner table drinking coffee and chatting with Carla and Coach who were behind the counter. We struck up a friendly conversation and I was asked to stop by again. That's just what the waist line needs...comfort a caffeine addict, this invitation is all that I need to head down the path to sugar skid row....I just finished my donut while typing this note and it was pretty good but not good enough to eat another one. So, my descent into sugar toxicity has been averted.

3. The promise of new adventures and experiences....this is one of the reasons that I agreed to make this move. So far, the experiences have been unique and memorable and I would not have had this opportunity at home.

4. This is the most important advantage of all.....Buddy. He is in a new environment. He too is without friends, although he is making them quickly through his team. They invited him to go to Indiana to swim and use a zip line. It sounds like fun. Go for it.

Back to the big kid....for now, he needs the support that either dad or I can provide. He is a fish out of water and the youngest kid on the team. Most of the players are into their 20's and can drink. They invite him to pub crawl, but he can't because he is not 21. He is also trying to make sense of the coach and team dynamics. There are unique characters on the team such as "Rat Boy" who is one of the smallest pitchers with the biggest mouth. RB is quite an interesting and shady character out of Florida. Perhaps RB would like to meet the Snake. They can compare notes.

The coach has told him that he was going to play a small specialty role and be a relief pitcher...because.....he can "throw strikes..." Did you see that? He can throw strikes! That's what a pitcher does. So, rather than start him or put him in an extended relief role, he will pitch to one or two players out of the bullpen when and if needed. This one made my blood pressure hit a stroke or heart attack level. Let me get this straight...he moves away from home after pitching successfully in a very competitive conference. Players that he pitched against and struck out have been drafted by teams in the Major Leagues. His former pitching coach and mentor is a shade shy of pitching in the majors and his other coach was drafted by the Yankees. He pitched on television several times in high stakes conference and play off games and has an earned run average of less than 2.0 as a freshman and they are going to sit him in the 'pen and call him out on a not so semi-regular basis?

Deep is just the start of the season. This kid has always been under appreciated and largely ignored until he is finally given his chance, then he shines. So, nothing has changed in all the years that he has been playing. Once again, he has to prove himself. As he calmed down after his conversation with the pitching coach, we looked at each and we go again. We both know that he has what it to jump over another hurdle. He can do it and this will make him stronger....just like my apartment. I am learning skills on dealing with the Snake and apartment management that I never knew that I had. I know that I can handle this and will turn this place into a home and Buddy will go out to the baseball diamond and throw strikes.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Cheesecake and batteries

It was bound to happen. My goal was to work to get Buddy onto a more stable sleeping pattern. I was determined for him to wake earlier in the day and be more productive. It was him or me....and so it goes....I slept later than I have in years. He has completely turned my clock around and now I am living in confusion. This won't do....

Today is the day when we move into the apartment and our last night in the hotel. I will miss the soft bed and pillows and ready to eat breakfast and coffee and semi maid service. It was nice while it lasted. Unfortunately, I am still missing some important items for the apartment, so we went shopping yesterday to finish. First, since Rip Van Winkle woke up, we went to lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. I haven't been there in years, so it was my plan to have my semi annual slice of cheesecake for dessert. It was yummy but way too much so I decided to bring it back for dinner. I couldn't wait. It is the little things like a half slice of cheesecake that has made the trip worthwhile.

It was really hot....burning hot....stifling...we walked to the in and cranked the start...just a few can't be happening...I am in the middle of nowhere with a car that will not start! I called dad then he suggested AAA. Good idea, mind was melting in the 100+ heat and so was my dinner cheesecake, I was not thinking right. I pulled the AAA card out and made the phone call. As I looked at the card and read the number to the operator, I turned into a massive ball of perspiration. The AAA membership on the card expired June 1, 2011! Don't panic....deep hot breath...keep reading the number, maybe they won't notice. Perhaps no one will notice when I finally get home and kill dad for not paying the AAA membership.

According to my friend on the telephone line, I had to wait at least 45 minutes for service. She diagnosed the problem as a battery issue and sent someone with a new battery for our car. I knew that 45 minutes really meant an hour and I was concerned about my melting cheesecake dinner. There is no way that it would survive in the heat. So I did the only thing that a desperate person would do....I sent Buddy into the furniture store with the cheesecake to sit there in the air conditioning until AAA arrived. He found a cozy sofa and curled up on it and took a nap while I melted in the heat. It was my only alternative to save the cheesecake.

Finally, my new friend Mark arrived with the new battery. First, he had to diagnose the problem, then put in a new battery as Buddy slept in the comfort of a 68 degree temperature on a $4000.00 sofa. He worked quickly and finished in an hour. Bless you Mark...thank're the best. While Mark worked, Buddy walked out to the car, apparently he was discovered and was sent packing. Mark was far from being finished....what did I do? I looked at my cheesecake bag and sent him back to the mall. I'll call you when he is done..go! Fast!

Finally Mark finished the job and the car started. As I looked at the engine for the first time ever (the car is 9 years old and has 150,000 miles on it), I noticed that one of the bottles of fluid was low. "Uh, this bad?" Mark smiled and said..."yep, especially in this weather..." With wide eyes and a pleading gaze, I said, "Mark, can you fix this too?" He smiled...."No, I don't carry fluid with me, but you can overheat..." Let's review this scenario....he's a mechanic for AAA. He carries batteries in case some desperate soul needs one, but he doesn't carry fluids for radiators? Do I have to run the world? Even I know that this can happen on a hot highway and my AAA guy should have all of the tools to save idiots like me.

With that said, I knew that my time with my new friend was coming to an end, so I handed him Buddy's credit card and looked for tip money. As I rummaged through my pocketbook, I found a 5 dollar bill, three singles, some sugarless gum, a pen, ripped envelope with a shopping list from Christmas dinner, and lip gloss (I thought I lost it). I took the little cash that I had and handed it to Mark....bless you....thank you....I knew that the $8.00 tip did not begin to express my gratitude nor was it even a decent tip, but I had no idea at the beginning of the day that I was going to need $20.00 to tip a AAA repairman to change my battery outside an Ohio mall in 100+ degree heat. I don't have that kind of ESP.

The car was running I texted the cheesecake....oops, I mean Buddy to come back to the car. Let's go....I need to find a place to add coolant before we overheat. Thankfully, by the hotel was a service station, and my newest friend Steve filled the bottle up and did not charge me (whew...I gave Mark all of my money, so I was pretty much broke at that point except for some change next to my newly discovered tube of lip gloss).

And so it goes...the life of BP mom continues with new experiences, new friends, and a freshly renewed AAA card. As I sat in our hotel room when Buddy left for practice, I reflected on the day and how well a bad situation worked out. It was time for my cheesecake. I earned it. I deserved it...I had a craving for it. I was hungry. I pulled it out of the little refrigerator and opened the carton and began to cheesecake melted and was no longer I did what any other person would do, I got a spoon and ate my cheesecake as a was still yummy!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

All this for a dollar?

Good has significantly slowed down. Now that the preseason and MLB draft are over, we are starting to work on buying things for the apartment such as lamps, end table, shower curtain and so on. I have spent much more than a dollar at the Dollar Stores. Whoever owns them is a genius. One day I took dad to the Dollar Store. As a business man he could not comprehend that everything is really a dollar. He had to see it for himself and now is hooked. It's true that most of the goods are junk....for a dollar, who cares? Also, we only need them for 2 months. If it breaks, I will go out and spend another dollar.

I have been challenged to furnish an apartment for less than $200 (this does not include the bed, tv or sofa). Therefore I have been invading all kinds of discount stores. The only item that will not be discount will be sheets. The 'lying on sandpaper' feeling from certain brands is not something that works for me....

Happily, we are able to enter the apartment Friday at 4:30p. Finally! Living in such close quarters has been challenging. I leave the room in the morning until noon and then get him out of bed so the maid can clean. After yesterday, I feel that she has given up on our room and threw up the white flag in surrender. She no longer makes his bed or straightens up. Perhaps, it is the odor of his sneakers that has knocked her unconscious or the mess of having our apartment contents in the room creating an obstacle course that have proven to be too much. At least my bed is made and we have fresh towels. It's the little things that make me happy, if he sleeps on sloppy sheets, so be it.

I looked at the police reports for our apartment complex. It is not surprising that the number one crime reported is burglary. This does not work for me, so I plan to rig up some type of system to dissuade unwanted guests from entering. For example, my brother attended college at an inner city university with a very high crime rate. He would appear to the public as a hobo so as not to draw attention. It was his "style" for years....that's how he explained his appearance. I actually think that he liked the look of scruffy and a bit dirty....So, I have to think of something similar or put a bucket of water over the doorway so when someone enters, the water falls on them. Or maybe, I can place tacks on the floor...have recording of a German Shepard playing while we are out....Perhaps the best thing to do is not have anything of value there....hence the trips to the dollar store...if someone wants a dollar spatula that bad, they can have it.

And so, the adventure continues. The search for pots and pans, toaster oven, bowls, and so on will take up the rest of the day....Once we settle in, I will determine whether I am needed for the summer or run off while he is sleeping and go home to check on the family and plants. After living apart for so long, I did not realize that he needed so much sleep. It reminds me of the days when he was a baby and would take 4 hour naps and sleep all night....not much has changed....

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Zin Your Face

My life is upside down again. I was sort of chased out of my lobby office by several little league teams. It's not that they aren't the cutest bunch of kids, but my work space has been violated by food crumbs, sticky tables, and noise. There is nothing wrong with any of those things but I am worried about the computer since I don't back anything up (yeah...I know...major faux pas). So, now I am relegated to the meeting room adjacent to the laundry room. I guess tomorrow I will be on the steps by the pool and by Friday, I will be typing on the highway. And so it on the road.

Last night, the team played their last exhibition game against another marginal team. The goal of these preseason games is to see how the players are going to gel as a team. I dropped Buddy off early and returned to the hotel for a personal happy hour. While I was relaxing with a cup of wine (only plastic in the room) and cheddar goldfish, he texted me and told me to follow the draft online for him to see if any of his friends or foes were drafted. Gotcha...follow the draft...really? During my 'happy hour'? (Side note...I found a bottle of pinot noir called "Zin Your Face" in the supermarket and had to try it....not bad....).

Back to the draft, Buddy has a number of friends who are very good and ready to be drafted. Therefore, he was very interested in finding out the results. The MLB draft takes place over three days, so we were in day 2. Before he left for the game, I would hear him say...."That guy? I struck him out!" "Him? He popped up on me..." and so on. There were 2 shows in the room yesterday...the draft and his commentary which were equally compelling. Buddy has a new team mate who was expected to be drafted, so much so, that he skipped last night's game to sit by the phone and wait for a call, which never came (ouch). Perhaps his issue was that he had been on three college teams in three years with a final grade point average of 0.6. That's right...just a shade over "F".

So it could have the best fast ball in the country, but I guess they are also looking for commitment and some functional gray matter in the brain.

As I watched the draft, he texted me again and said that he was not going to play (again). I still had to go to the field to pick him up so I took my time getting there thinking that I would arrive in the 6th inning....wrong....I got there with 8 innings to go. They started late and there was a very long first inning. Therefore, I knew that we were in for a long night. It was hot and muggy and the game was so-so. However, during the 6th inning change over, the team had "Bullpen Boogie." BB is when the pitchers emerge from their bullpen with a rose or carnation, hand it to a woman or girl in the stands and they dance with them for a minute or two. Shades of humiliation for the guys. And so.....6th inning.....who comes out of the bullpen with a beautiful rose, big grin on his face and gritted teeth. "thank you, young man...." I said as a rose was presented to me. He turned and ran back to his post. Two of the pitchers did dance for a bit gaining big cheers from the crowd....not my guy....he ran as fast as he could to get out of sight....Actually, BB woke me up from my thoughts and daydreams and I began to watch the game again. During the 8th inning, the opposing team began a rally and was closing in. With two outs and two runners on base, there was a call from the bullpen...a tall kids runs out. I look up and barely recognize that it is Buddy! we the game....he is introduced as Buddy from his college and there is a warm applause by the 8 people left in the stands. He warms up and is ready to go. The batter that he is facing is perhaps 5'8" and maybe 150 pounds wet. The opposing player looked just a tad bit concerned....pitch...ball one....pitch....Buddy hits the batter on the hand and bat....therefore it was a strike (note...the kid walks away from the plate and has agony on his face after being struck by the ball) pitch...inside corner of the plate...strike....pitch...ball...the count is pitch, the kid pops up to shortstop. Inning over...Buddy is out of game. That's right...5 pitches.... I am glad that I did not blink during his performance. After the game, Buddy mentioned that once he saw the kid was upset by the hit, he was going to continue to throw inside to continue his a way, he was saying..."In your face..." or perhaps it was "Zin your face...."

The first game is on Saturday evening in Kentucky. That's right....Kentucky. I have never been there before, so I am interested in attending this one. The ballpark is two hours away from the apartment. It is time to gather my supplies...lucky sneakers, camera, bug spray, iPod, comfortable lawn chair, gum, granola bars, and Skittles (naturally).

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A new lifestyle

Good Morning! I am back in my Ohio office in the lobby of the hotel equipped with my laptop, cell phone and big coffee pot near the breakfast area. The hotel keeps a pot brewing all day for addicted guests like me. Today's cup of coffee was particularly good, so I mentioned it to the woman who puts the breakfast out. Her comment to me (and I am not lying....): "Good, I just cleaned the pot...." Hmmmmm. I have been drinking this stuff for three days and the coffee has been brewed in a dirty coffee pot? OY! No wonder my stomach has been feeling funky....dirty coffee...ew. It's almost enough to make me quit....OK, let's not go that far....

I am sure that you have lots of questions for BP Mom that I am going to try to anticipate....

Question 1: Hey, BPM, what do you do in the morning when Buddy is asleep on the sofa coach?
Answer: Glad that you asked that question. BPM has lots to do especially when it pertains to work. I am teaching an online class for the next five weeks from the lobby of the hotel and then the apartment. I am captivating students with my knowledge of leadership and management. That's know the theories and concepts and can apply them in a professional manner. Although I often have trouble applying them to my own life....

Question 2: Oh, BPM, what is it like living with your 19 year old son again in a region where neither of you know anyone?
Answer: Wow., another great question....Well, all I can say is that both of us have made tremendous adjustments to our schedules and lives. We are both accustomed to our freedom and making decisions on our own. Now that we have one car, one bathroom and small accommodations, I anticipate that I will soon grate on his last nerve. On the other hand, he has tested my patience already. With that said, there is a basic level of trust and love, so we will get through this with a more improved understanding of each other.

Question 3: BPM, tell us about your apartment.
Answer: That's a tough one since we are not moving in until Saturday morning. From what I remember from the model, it has a small bedroom, kitchenette, living room with the pull out sofa bed, and tiny dining room (BPM's office). It is on the first floor of the apartment complex located near the region's food pantry.

OK, I only have time for one last question....

Question 4: Yo, BPM....what do you do all day?
Answer: Whew...tough one to answer since I am sooo busy (not!). I usually let the big kid sleep since he has a different clock then me. I write in the lobby and am working on finishing my research on vulnerable populations and health care access. Around 11 am, I have to get him out of bed, with at least one stick of dynamite, so that the maid can try to clean the room. Today, we have to do laundry and I have been collecting quarters for the machines.

In the afternoon, we run errands and find a place for him to eat. Yesterday I decided to go to the movies in the afternoon for a change of pace. There is a theater near us that charges $3 per ticket to see older movies such as Hop and Lincoln Lawyer. We saw LL yesterday. He refuses to see Hop with me.

In the evening, I work out in the hotel gym while he goes to practice. We meet for dinner and hang out reading, watching tv, or on the computer. On game days, I drop him off by 4 pm, return to the hotel and work until it is time to leave to watch the game.

Tonight's game is the last of the exhibition pre season games. The season officially begins on Saturday in Kentucky. So, there you have it in its simplest form....a unique summer pairing two very different people in a new setting. The experiences will all be documented here as I sit back and observe my new environment, friends, and develop a new appreciation for my son.

Monday, June 6, 2011

New people...a whole new world

Good day! It's Monday and I am in my new office in the lobby of our hotel. Buddy is asleep on the sofa bed in the room, so I have left the room to work. Yesterday's breakfast guests in the lobby were the little league kids. Today, we have a family in town for a funeral. I don't have all the details yet, but my radar is on and apparently the man in the crisp white shirt and nice tie is giving the eulogy that he has yet to write. He is sitting at the computer next to me typing it as I am writing...the pressure is on. His family is waiting for him so they can leave for the funeral, yet he will not budge until the speech is written. His son looks bored. His brother is standing by the curb. The wife is not worried, she is sitting at a table drinking coffee....the man is typing furiously....more later. I won't leave my post until I have all of the details for you.

OK, it is day 2 for me in O-hi-O. I am beginning to get a feel for it. It seems that part of the community is 'small town'. Everyone knows each other. They are polite, kind, and good citizens. The other part is a bit more alarming. Yesterday I witnessed a major fight in Wal mart with a boyfriend and girlfriend screaming expletives at one another. I was paralyzed watching it. The rest of the shoppers went on with their shopping. (UPDATE: man delivering eulogy just printed speech and is headed for the door. It took him 6 minutes to think about it and write it....note....whoever delivers my eulogy, please spend less time on it and more time drinking coffee and spending time with family).

So, where was I? Right...Wal mart....I was minding my own business buying shampoo and granola bars for my kid when a fight erupts by the cashiers. No one looked up. Frankly, it is not my nature to ignore a fight in a discount super store run by the billionaire Walton family. The guy with the mohawk and multiple tattoos was screaming at the girl with the tats on her legs. She screamed back with an equal number of curses. He was louder but somehow she was the one who was going to win this brawl. As they moved toward the door I lost sight and sound. My cashier with the big rose tattoo on her forearm never looked up and continued to process my order. I was finished and the fight moved on.

I then headed for the ball park to watch the game. If you follow my blog, you know that Buddy is a pitcher and does not play everyday. It is a situation that I have had to adjust to since for the past several years, he was in each game playing first base and pitching in the rotation. I knew that he was off last night, so I was in no hurry to get there. I arrived at the bottom of the first inning. It was a beautiful night and I sat in the bleachers by myself with my own camera, just a water, hot dog and cell phone in my dreaming and watching the fans and players.

His team is comprised of various D-1 players from the east and midwest regions. He does not know anyone yet. Yesterday, he was a bit salty and claimed that he did not want to know any of them because they have nothing in common besides baseball (isn't that why they are here?). Further, they were not up to his 'intellectual level' (my words paraphrased, not his). The coach showed him how to get water for each game since he is now the pre game water boy and suggested that he write the instructions down so that he would not forget them. son is not a nuclear physicist, but he can remember the water routine (I think).

As the game progresses, I am intently watching it and texting Buddy and Tink. Yes, this league is a bit more relaxed and he has his cell phone in the bullpen. There are multiple characters that intrigued me. For example, there is a man with tattoos on each extremity and long salt and pepper hair pulled back in a ponytail. He has the team shirt and hat on. This gentleman in his 40's, I will call Gumby, because he does not have any teeth. Like Buddy, he has a job. He runs and collects the foul balls for the team. Although he does this at every game, I do not believe that he is paid. He can get into the park for free and have all of the Pepsi-Ones that he can drink.

There is another man who watches the games. His son plays the infield. According to dad (who was here for the first few days and made a number of friends), his wife gets upset when Junior is in a batting slump. Per this man, whom I am going to call 'Libido', he "doesn't get any action when Junior does not hit 'cause it upsets the little woman....'" After observing Libido in action, the little missus may be using Junior as her 'headache'. Last night Junior was 0-3 until the 8th inning when he ripped a single down the first base line. Libido was one happy guy as he cheered Junior and smiled at his wife.

There are so many more characters and new friends to write about and I will reveal them over the summer. Yesterday I was able to schedule the electricity and cable for the apartment. We move in on Saturday, then Buddy leaves for Kentucky for a game. Interestingly, we are sharing one car. I haven't shared a car since I co-owned an orange Volkswagen dasher with a big black racing stripe with my brothers in college. I did not like it then...I like it less now. But, that's the way it's time for me to go back to work...have a great day....

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Mom in the house....

I made it! Nine hours driving west on my own, and I did it. The traffic was not bad until I was 10 minutes away from my destination, then everything completely stopped. No one moved on a 4 lane highway. I looked around and began to count my blessings. I had XM radio and air conditioning and gas in my car. There were multiple cars sitting with their windows open to let the balmy 94 degree temperature in to cool them. It was a nasty accident and if I had pressed the car any faster, I could have been in it. Again, very lucky indeed!

I arrived 3 hours before the evening game, Buddy left for the field and I was given the grand tour of the hotel room and community. The room is actually a room and half designed for the extended business traveler. We have internet and sofa and desk. This would be perfect if I could use it. Buddy is currently sleeping on the sofa bed and I am in the lobby with a little league team and their families typing this note. I have to wake him up soon. His circadian rhythms are way off with the night games and college life. The way I look at it is....he is going to adjust his sleeping routine or I am going to be really friendly with the hotel staff as my new office becomes the lobby. On a positive note, the lobby has a plasma tv, printer and all the coffee I can drink.....a perfect blend of accoutrements designed for me!

Back to work...this blog has been designed by me to tell our story from my perspective. Therefore, all impressions are mine based on observations and conversations. Writing is a way to share the story of a kid and his family as he works toward his goals....the hard work, sacrifices, travel, and real life craziness that accompanies his quest to play baseball at the highest level. In life, baseball and the real world...things are not perfect, but they can be funny and teaching tools. Therefore, my view of all of this is to see it in a humorous light. There are no complaints, just a mom watching from the sidelines....ready to support her child when he needs it.

Right now, the little league team is leaving for their tournament. I do not want to go back in time, but those days were wonderful. When Buddy traveled at that age, he was like an old man. His view of baseball was business-like...preparing for battle...sleep...good diet...mental preparation....visual imagery...he was old back then...when these kids finish their game, they are going to the water park or pool. Buddy would not have liked that unless the tournament was relaxing until business has been completed and his performance on the diamond has been critiqued and analyzed. Let's see...what did you do well? What are your challenges? How can you prevent the errors from re-occurring? It's all part of the process of self-reflection and creating goals to improve. It's part of his mentality.

My greatest desire for the big kid is that if (and I do mean "if") his dream to play in the Bigs does not pan out, he finds something to do that he is equally passionate about and content in the outcome. He has to find an alternate to baseball to quiet his mind...right? I suggested that he writes his story and he likes that idea. Maybe he can take up ceramics or paint....perplexing.....

Got to battery is about to die.....

Friday, June 3, 2011

Leaving home

It's time to finish preparations to leave home for an extended period of time. I can't remember being gone from home for longer than 1 week. This is very new for me as I try to decide what to bring from home to live in a hotel for 9 days and then a small apartment. I have made list after list....thought about what I needed....and will probably forget most of the essentials like Skittles. I am not even sure how I am going to find this place on my least I have navigation in the car.

I have a vision of my time with Buddy being like Felix and Oscar of the Odd Couple. At this juncture, am I Felix or Oscar? Given the nature of his bedroom and dorm room, I can clearly say that I will be Felix but I do have Oscar-like tendencies that may emerge as I live in a tiny apartment with a baseball player. Where is he going to keep his smelly clothes and dirty cleats? In the apartment? In the car? I can't open the windows because we are on the first floor and I am worried about someone coming in and stealing my coffee pot (can't have that).

Also, whom will I talk to? He is going to be at the ball park late afternoons and evenings...sleeping late...going to his job....AND we only have one car! About his job...the team has sponsors, so the kids are able to work part time around their baseball schedules at one of the businesses. It looks like Buddy will be selling milk and eggs in his spare time. Here is where my Starbucks job would have come in handy...sadly I have not heard from them yet. I call....perhaps they don't want me...maybe they checked my references and feel that I won't be able to figure out how to make a double espresso-triple shot frap grande deluxe (they would not be wrong) no job for Bullpen Mom....just her keyboard, internet and imagination....

On the bright side, this is an opportunity for Buddy to play in a region that is new....see different new people....have new, here we go....

My only wish is that everything is the same when I return plants are watered and have survived.....weeds are not obvious in the garden....and the dog and Tink are happy....see you in Ohiooooooo......

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Summer officially begins

Last night Buddy had his first practice with his new team. Many of the kids mentioned that they saw him on television during the playoffs...a bit of a celebrity...yet not...let's not let this brief appearance on the network go to our heads. However, at this level there are many reasons to feel a puffed up version of oneself and misconstrue the attention. During last week's tournament, I watched the kids stand around the bullpen begging for balls and autographs. One kid, whom I fell in love with, had a plastic cup and asked Buddy to give him some sand from the diamond. Apparently, this guy collects sand from ballparks. He also asked him if he could have his jersey. Gutsy....Buddy looked at him and saw himself in the kid's eyes. I am sure that he remembers standing by the dug out waiting for the players to run in...."ball...please...throw me a ball....sign my hat...sign my ball....please...." I pray that he never forgets the days as a wide-eyed innocent watching, wishing, and praying that he was there. This is his dream....stop....look around...reflect...this is it....I am where I want to be. I worked hard...dreamed...sacrificed...and am now in Ohio doing what I love...I am blessed and very very happy.....

I could end this post with the last paragraph but I still want to reflect on the "little kid in the big kid." As a parent, I encouraged him to work hard to achieve his goals. With that said, his goals were always to play baseball at a very high level and stay eligible in high school and college by keeping the grades up. He has achieved them. Now I want to add one more goal....stay true to not let the attention go to your not try to be someone that you are not. His quiet nature has caused team mates to think that he was arrogant and self absorbed. But he isn't...he's a guy who can struggle in social settings. He has trouble talking about anything except baseball. But that is who he is right now....a guy who is committed to his goal and focused. Kids his age are not accustomed to seeing this type of sports-related work ethic, but an athlete needs it to move to the next level.

Consequently, it is not just hard work and desire, success can be a series of lucky events that help the player. Last week, his pitching coach and mentor made it to the big leagues...four days later, he was demoted back to the minors....It takes a tremendously tough personality to go through this trouble and often heart break....

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Do you want room for cream?

The guys left this morning at 5:30 am to drive to Ohio. Within the past two hours, I have received three phone calls because the driver is bored and the navigator is asleep. Care to guess who is driving and who is sleeping?

I did a quick check of Buddy's room. Already, I see that he forgot his pillow. I have not gone into the bathroom yet, but I anticipate more items are sitting on the sink and waiting to be packed. There are times when I think that my kids feel that the money is picked on a tree out back. I remember when I would say to them that I do not have any money..."sure, mom, you do. Go to the atm machine...." They still don't understand the concept of money, how it is earned and how it gets into the atm machine. There is no magic here, just hard work.

Anyway, I will join the team on Saturday. Dad will come home on Sunday and I will be living with the big kid until we fix the apartment over the next two weeks. I had thoughts about getting a part time job (very part time...maybe 8 hours a week) at a local Starbucks as a barrista. I already applied online. Do you think that I would be hired? That could be my fun for the summer. There would be cool music in the background, air conditioning, and lots of caffeine. I would even meet some interesting people. Do you think that I would get any tips? Do you think that I could figure out how to make all of those drinks? That part worries me. I think that I could maintain the cash register and make change (with the help of my Jethro Bodine from the Beverly Hillbillies used to say: "I kin 'cipher...."), but creating a latte is an art and science...could I do this? Would I tell my co workers, Kimmie and Petey that I have a doctorate and still cannot make a decent frappucino? Lots of unanswered questions, but very could be a sociological study....the people of Starbucks and their need for intravenous caffeine OR middle aged barristas and their support hose....It could be lots of fun OR the worst experience of my life....

So, I am getting the house ready for my departure. I have left dad and Tink instructions on what I do on a day to day basis....I only pray that the dog gets food and is walked and that my plants do not die....that's all...very simple...I don't require much...water and food for anything that is alive....

I am going to miss a big chunk of my summer, but we do this out of love and a commitment to help our kids achieve their goals and dreams. We create the opportunities, but it is their responsibility to make it happen....I open the door...they do the is simple and very complex. I wish that someone had developed a brochure. I could have used a map or navigation system....