Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Rapping and Oreos

Good morning! Each day gets more and more interesting as I sit back and watch. Big Sis still does not have power. Perhaps they can consider this an indoor camping event (or not). Further, Tink is now a college student (yahoo). We had to buy yet another graphing calculator last night. This must make the 50th that I have purchased over the years. The calculators are broken, lost, without batteries, lost backs, not good enough and so on. Truly, it is the very last one that I ever buy...ever...until next year.

The issues with Nemesis continue to grow. We insisted that Buddy has a meal plan at school to eliminate the walk back to the apartment mid day and give him balanced meals for breakfast and lunch. The other three guys do not have a plan and are eating out of the apartment. Nemesis decided that Buddy is not to touch his food ever. He can't even look at it. It wouldn't be fair. So last night as Buddy left for study hall, Nemesis sat on Buddy's sofa eating his Oreos. Dad is heading up to take the leftie to see the eye doctor next week and will fill the pantry with snacks and foods under the provision that Nemesis can eat whatever he desires.

The guys are plotting how they can hide Nemesis's body after they kill him. He has decided that he is going to become the second great Caucasian rapper in the world. Therefore, he practices his rapping in the common area while the guys are chatting, eating, or watching television. According to Buddy, the lyrics and the rapping are ^$**$ awful (he used better words, but I could read his mind). There is a bit of hypocrisy in the lyrics. Nemesis is not homeless, has not lost a sibling to gun fire, is an upper middle class kid with an intact nuclear family, and has nothing negative to be angry about except Buddy looking at his Oreos. Maybe he can rap about some gangsta stealing the cream in his chocolate cookies or how he had to wait a full minute to use the bathroom with indoor plumbing. It's pretty comical but grating on the guys nerves.

With that said, I leave you with my own rap entitled "Buddy got a oreo...." Start a beat in your head....ready?

Buddy got a oreo; I must confess...
stole my cookie
took my gurl
got a tat of her eatin' a cookie on my chest
gotta find where
da dude hid my best
yeah my dime bag of oreos
missin' and wishin' for double stuffs n rest
he kin keep the gurl
but I protest
once again I am oppressed.....
by the man...yeah da man...
Buddy stole my oreo
n I got no cookie to caress.....
ba ba badda bing

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Listen to your mom

And so it goes...the aftermath of Irene has left its impact on our region. Big Sis still does not have power. I think that it is safe to say that she has either eaten all of the ice cream in the freezer or it is now a sugary soup. Here's hoping that the power is reconnected soon.

I heard from our hero yesterday about four times to just chit chat. He did not want or need anything. He just wanted to talk. he maturing? perhaps.

Anyway, he is now ready to move out of the apartment for a number of reasons that I already listed a few blogs ago. Remember the "it's too far"..."I'm going to hate this in the winter..." and so on. These were the sentences that dad and I used last spring when he insisted that this was perfect. Well, his nemesis (again, we asked him what he was thinking when they agreed to room together) is driving the other three guys crazy. He has a trigger like temper and is a prima donna (according to Buddy). Nemesis has yelled at the guys several times and has to have things his way. This is a very good learning experience. I have yet to say "I told you so..." What I did say was: "Your dad was right...can you listen to him more?" (This is actually something that I don't do myself, but I'm married to him, so I don't have to).

Buddy has been plotting with the Angel, California, and da Dog to rent a house next year. Again, what are you thinking? This house would become party-central. He would have drunken fools vomiting on his sheets and kids hanging outside of the third floor windows. Further, he still will not be 21 years old and could be arrested for underage drinking or whatever the cops want to throw at him. He would not survive in the pokey without his laptop and pillow. The police take these things away from the juvies after they are arrested. And so it BP mom, I once again have to put my foot down. No house....absolutely no house!

Will he listen to me? Naw...however, I have created a top ten list of things that have backfired when he did not heed my warnings such as:

*astronomy is not astrology, don't take it
*getting an apartment at this point is too soon
*the apartment located in Anchorage, Alaska is too far away from class
*do you really need a bicycle? ('Blue Lightening' has disappeared after he used it twice)
*let me see your schedule, I do know a few things about college classes
*be suspicious of girls who laugh at everything that you say
*try to meet people at places like the library. They won't be drunk and will remember your name the next day.
*do not live with your nemesis
*sleep in your bed and not the classroom
*learning is easier when you purchase, open, and read the books.

More to come...have a good day!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Leaving a Legacy

Good morning! The clean up in the Northeast begins. Thank goodness Irene was downgraded. It could have been much worse. Did you see that there is another one in the Caribbean? Yikes!

To day, I would love to pay tribute to one of Buddy's baseball coaches who is currently in hospice. The prognosis is grim and his current status is touch and go. With that said, Coach A is one of Buddy's former American Legion coaches. He is somewhere north of 60 years old and has devoted his life to the community. The past twenty years or so, he has been coaching baseball. Of note, he has been coaching kids other than his sons who are grown with their own families. This has made him unique, because most of the coaches are coaching to give their own sons advantages, but not Coach A. As a matter of fact, he has been volunteering and paying for his own expenses for a number of years.

I got to know Coach A a few years ago. He drove his Honda to West Virginia for a tournament one summer in June. The tournament took place over Father's Day weekend and he chose to spend the weekend with boys and families that were not his own. Anyway, I attempted to follow the Honda on the turnpike without success. He flew as if his passenger was about to give birth in the front seat. After a few hours of white knuckled driving, I let him go and I drove at a safer speed. This was the start of the jokes that came about his Mr. Magoo driving. While in WV, his Honda got stuck on active railroad tracks. He must have hit a hole and he and the coach were stuck for a few desperate minutes. Finally Coach A was able to unhook the car and drive to safety. I told Buddy that he was never to drive in Coach's car (actually, I did not need to, because none of the kids were brave enough to attempt it). I am sure that his passengers needed a blindfold and cigarette every time they sat in the car with him.

Anyway, he loved his team and did all that he could to mentor the boys. He was calm when the head coach was fired up. He had a great sense of humor and loved a cold beer and a good story. While he has been sick, many of his friends and former players have stopped by to see him and thank him for all that he has done for them. As the disease started to actively take his life, he told a mutual friend to give Buddy a message. Imagine...doesn't he other things or people to think about besides my son?

The friend called dad to relay Coach A's message to Buddy which is: "Tell Buddy that I believe in him and that he will go all the way...." As I typed the words, I get a bit emotional. Isn't this what it is all about? Leaving a positive legacy on the world? Thinking of others during times of crisis? Loving kids and continuing to mentor them even on the death bed? I am humbled and grateful that Coach A was such a positive influence on my son's life. God bless you Coach A and your family. You will never be forgotten as you have impacted hundreds of kids during their formative years.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Looking ahead....

The weather was really something here with the rain and wind. We lost power for almost a full day. No big deal. The only issue was that I was unable to make coffee. If that is the worst of it, then I am a very lucky person.

The baseball schedule is out for the spring. Buddy will be traveling to Florida, North Carolina (twice), Mississippi, Alabama, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio. That is amazing! During the last part of April to mid May, he slept in a hotel 25 out of 30 days. That's a lot of take out food.

All I can say about this is that he is one blessed guy. At his age, he is traveling around the United States doing what he loves. He is with a bunch of guys who share the same interest and goals and has the ability to perform at the highest level. What kid in his right mind would not want to do this? The opportunities that each day presents are full of new places, people, and experiences. He is living his dream.

Here is my BP mom take on it....dear have been given an extraordinary gift of physicality and talent. It is up to you to hone your skills so that you can achieve the ultimate dream. But, while you are working toward your dream, don't forget to enjoy the journey. Life is taking you places where people can only imagine. Take time to look around, absorb the culture, and notice the differences in regions. Talk to the local people and make friends where you go. Bring a smile and a positive attitude and people will see you for who you are....a kid on the road to a dream.

Congratulations on making it to year II. According to the schedule, there will be many BP mom stories forthcoming.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

It's wet out there!

The monsoon is here, the earth shook....I wonder why Mother Nature is so annoyed with us. Was it something that we said? If it was me....then, I am very sorry Mother Nature, I will never do it again.....happy now?

This was the first week of class for our hero and I only listened to 18 to 24 complaints. For brevity's sake, I will consolidate them into a few sentences and offer a montage....."It's too far to walk....they are sold out of books (?huh?)....I have to switch a class already...I'm tired...I'm bored...I have to arm is dead....the freshman threw too hard and hit my meal card does not work...."

Interestingly, there was one complaint that caused the big kid to hang up on me. His coach decided that he needed 7 hours of study hall per week, whereas some of the other geniuses have fewer hours. When this complaint was processed by me, I asked him: "What's the big deal? Aren't you there to earn a degree in something?" His reply was something like this: "Yeah, but $&#( &^%#)) and he's an idiot and he has fewer hours! &)^##" Hmmmm... perhaps the coach wants to make sure that you are eligible. According to the NCAA rules and guidelines that govern your sport, you need to maintain a high enough grade point average that you can stand in your bullpen during each game, leaning against the rail, spitting sunflower seeds out of your mouth, and talking in salty language...right? Click! (ouch...that one did not hurt)....what's the kid

As sophomore year begins with multiple athletic goals, I think that he forgot about the academic goals....personally, I am grateful to his coach for making the kid go to study hall whether he thinks he needs it or not. The next time that he complains about it, I may email the coach and ask him to double his hours.....isn't this something that June Cleaver would do to Wally? I think that Cliff Huxtable would have thanked him on Theo's behalf.

And so, in my mind, the first week was a rousing success. Practices and work outs are daily and he continues to work on his slider and ball speed. I think that there are some NCAA issues that they must abide by during the fall, so the practices are not really considered formal. However, they are 'cordially' invited to attend all of the practices and not blow them off. The weeks are packed with activities, will he still have a chance to hang out with the guys and attend parties and gatherings? What do you think?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Under the radar

Good morning. It's a beautiful day today as the humidity has dropped and blue skies are over head. I cherish these days as they are few and far between during the summer months.

Anyway, I have not written much in the past day or two for a few reasons. First, I have to get ready for the start of my classes next week and have been putting it off. Don't call me a procrastinator, call me a person who is trying to squeeze the last drop of summer out of August. I love my job, but I love summer a smidgen more. Second, there is not much on the Buddy front except work outs and classes have begun. The only feedback so far is that he likes his criminology class. This poses the question of "why?" My immediate thoughts are: 1. He can sleep in class without interruption 2. There are no papers or tests 3. They watch CSI for 90 minutes rather than having a lecture 4. There is a cute girl who sits next to him and fins him funny. 5. He finds the content interesting. I think that it could be a combination of all of the above.

Did I mention that I found a hefty bag (yep, Buddy's luggage) full of empty beer cans on Sunday? Give me a break, I was not looking to be Columbo or one of Charley's Angels but while I was waiting for the sofa to make it into the apartment on Sunday, I went to his luggage to empty it and place it in the closet. The full bag was sitting in one of his bins, hence, I thought that it was full of his socks and equipment. Wrong! Luckily he was standing next to me and had an immediate response: "Oh...that...uh..yeah...(pause)....Ok...a lot of people stopped by last night and they brought their own beer and had a party. It's not ours but the neighbors......" He took a deep 'under age drinking and busted' breath with his mother staring at him. It's amazing that everyone who stopped by the night before drank the same two cases of beer. I guess they only sell one type of beer at his university. This brewer has a gold mine here with no competition! I think that I am going to invest my few pennies in this stock. Anyway, my response to his lame excuse was "do not do anything stupid...." and I walked away. Make sure that you recycle these cans.

And so, the last that I heard from our hero is that he was sleeping on the legendary sofa bed because he was asked to "step out of the room" for the night. Hmmmm.....the mama in me is not pleased.

Buddy did call his dad yesterday, so there was a break through in the communication as he shared that the urban legend started by the haters continues....what do I mean? Well, the reason that I started the blog was to set the record straight as to the kind of work and sacrifice that this kid has made over the years to play on a D-1 team, yet there are/were 'friends' from high school who wished and prayed that he would not make the team. Jealousy? perhaps...Hatred? maybe....a basic lack of understanding and the inability to be happy for another class mate's success is more like it. Anyway, he was running through campus yesterday and saw a freshman whom he had known from high school and stopped to chat. The frosh mentioned that he was sorry that Buddy did not make the baseball team and wished him well. I guess the myth continues because the haters still cannot let it die. The fact is Buddy is alive and well and fighting for a starting spot thereby leaving the bullpen (perhaps forever).

And so it goes....people cannot be happy for the success of a fellow classmate until the kid really hits it big...then the comments will be: "We ate lunch together all the time....he was a hard working guy....nicest guy in the world...we were best friends..." I can see it now. This is one of the reasons that he has a hard time trusting people. They often turn out to be faux-friends looking for an advantage, tickets, or entrance into a party.

By the way, his friend Meat collected $20 on a bet he made in the pool that Buddy would be cut from the team by the end of freshman year. Meat made a good bet and the loser who was running the pool lost money. No respect... as he he once again floats under the radar, he is like a copperhead...quiet and lethal...when necessary, he is deadly with his slider....and so another year begins and I will continue to share the lows and highs with you.

Have a great day!

Monday, August 22, 2011

A legend in the making...

Yesterday I got to see Buddy and his room mates in action as they tried to figure out how to move the sofa into the second floor apartment. To say that the world is in good hands with guys like this is an understatement. They plotted, discussed, collaborated, conspired, and worked together to figure it out.

The sofa is the size of a baseball field, so immediately its size and the width of the door spoke volumes. They were going to have to use their noodles to figure this one out. Dad and I sat back and said nothing. Although I had the forethought to take photos with my camera to document this future legend.

They had a tape measure, duct tape, rope, and their heads. The Angel admitted that he was not really smart and left the "thinking" to one of the other guys. Buddy bowed out at that point, he knew that he was in over his head. So, the leadership was left to Big Red (formerly known as Big A) and number 2. Number 2 emerged as the leader as he was able to work with the guys and get the big piece of furniture through the first door and up the stairs. Once they got to the apartment, it was apparent that they were doomed. There was not enough room to maneuver through the tiny door in the old building.

Were they defeated? Heck no! They lugged the sofa out the front door and dropped it on the lawn. Then they sat together and continued to debate the issue. Issue number 1:we were not bringing it home with us in the van. Issue number 2: they really really wanted it, 'cause it had a bed too. They could see possibilities of having friends over and offering them a bed (watch what you wish for, fellas).

It was time, the sky darkened and the rain was coming. The sofa was still on the lawn. A girl ran out of the building screaming, because she saw a spider. I wondered if Larry, Moe, Curly and Shemp were going to assist her, but they kept thinking while sitting on their beloved sofa bed.

Then it came to the Angel..."Guys, we need rope...let's hoist it over the deck and bring it though the sliding door." Remember, this is a second floor apartment. Rope from Walmart finally emerged and dad tied two sailor knots, the sofa was off the ground and being lifted onto the deck. There were 9 guys working on this process. Over the edge of the deck....turn it sideways...success! Marching bands, balloons, fireworks were set off....jumping up and down...high 5's and 10's! The rain came and everyone was happy, happy, happy!

While the geniuses were hoisting the sofa, I took pictures. I had the one with the 4 of them sitting on the sofa on the front lawn enlarged to a big poster. I told the guys to keep the wall open behind the sofa for the poster. Now they have a story to tell anyone who is interested and sees the poster....yep...The story will go something like this: "No one was home...the rain poured and the wind howled, but I was able to lift this sofa over my head and bring it into the apartment. The other guys were in bed asleep...while lifting the sofa, I fought off a bear and a drug got ugly, but I saved, as you can see, I am a man of many talents...."

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Moving in

Yesterday was quite the day. After Buddy's excellent adventure leaving SC, flying to Atlanta, Dayton, driving to Cincy north, and driving another 8 hours in the van, they arrived at the apartment at 9 pm to very little celebration. Only one of the guys was there. With a packed van and very heavy sofa, it looked like a very long night.

Room mate Big A fresh from his Hawaiian adventure was somewhere with his girl friend. Room mate number two was out with his parents somewhere local, perhaps enjoying the town with Big A and his numero una muchacha. That left room mate number 3 whom I am going to call (not to his face) "The Angel". He came out to greet us and gave me a big hello. Was he happy to see me or the sofa? Angel proceeded to help move the contents of the van until it was empty (except for the sofa). There was no way that I was going to let an exhausted father carry a sofa bed with 2 teenagers while I watched (I wasn't go to do it) up three flights of stairs. Yes, you read this right...three flights. Big A and number 2 had it right...they were out of there when the sofa arrived.

Currently the aforementioned sofa is still in the van parked in front of the building. I have no worries that anyone was going to steal it unless he or she had a forklift. However, I did carry the cushions up the three flights and they have a nice place across from the television.

The apartment is pretty nice. Although the kitchen is small and there is no dish washer. They have a refrigerator and stove. Buddy and Angel are sharing a room and cutting their share of the rent in half. Big A and number 2 have their own rooms. They have everything a college apartment needs including the perfunctory strand of chili lights adorning the banister. It's a nice look.

Room mate number two eventually made it home but not to the van. He saw the kitchen table and decided he should screw the legs back on it with his dad's power tools. The only problem with his idea was that he did not charge the tools, hence the legs never made it onto the table, and he still did not make it to the following my train of thought here?

After emptying the van, we left to find a place for a late dinner. They guys had planned on having a party. Guess what? No party....too much to do...power tools are not charged...beds are not made...they have 1 light bulb except for the chili lights to illuminate the place. When we left, they were still trying to figure out how to assemble the table....three college kids...three power table and four legs....I am not sure if the table is a table yet or a large first base....still on the floor....lying there helpless...waiting for these kids to figure it out. It's actually pretty comical....yep, they are ready for the world or at least Home Depot where they can be paid to share their talents on how to assemble a table. There are five parts....4 legs + the table top....a few screws...that's it. No directions....did they need it? Did one of them take their fancy phone out with 3G and look up how to assemble a table? Didn't any of them have Legos as kids?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Movin' on

Today is the day the big kid moves in with the guys. He left South Carolina at 6 am, flew to Atlanta then Dayton, drove to the apartment two hours from the airport, loaded up the van, and is driving back to college in the mountains of PA. I will join them tonight around 8 pm to watch the boys move the contents of the van into the apartment. I won't be participating since these kids are 19 years old and athletic. They do not need BP mom pulling a muscle, a tendon or ovary to move the sofa into their bachelor pad. My job is purely supervisory with a clean, plastic cup of Merlot in my hand.

He has been counting down to his return to school since June. It is pretty obvious that he wants to be there and not home. Therefore, after draining my Merlot, I will then look around and say my goodbyes in as many ways as I know how:
"Sayonara, Buddy!"
"Ciao Bambino!"
"Adios, muchacho..."
"Au revoir"
"Auf Wiedersehen"
"ood-gay ye-bay"

Friday, August 19, 2011

Stormy weather

Good morning. The thunderstorms were unbelievable last night as the wind howled and so did Diva dog. She does not like loud noises...paying attention to her owners....or any kind of self control. In fact, she was thrown out of Doggie Behavior school at the request of the teacher. She would not stop barking, so she failed. She needed to be in a class all by herself...Yes, she graduated at the top of her class and was valedictorian. Sadly, like many people, she did not retain any of the skills that she learned in school. Definitely a waste of a diploma, yet I proudly placed it on the fridge to show off her accomplishment.

Speaking of schools, tomorrow Buddy moves into his apartment with his 'boys' as he prepares for his sophomore year. As they went fast (not!). Freshman year, like life was filled with highs, and lows and lows. He had to adjust to the new system and not being the king of all things. He was more like the court jester, lovable and clueless. Yet, he figured it out on his own. He learned a great deal about life, school and people. And I learned that I have absolutely no control over my children...none...except if I hold a dollar bill over their heads...then I have their attention and only for a moment, 'cause you don't get much for a dollar these days.

This is a huge deal for the big kid. He is going to be responsible for Something inside of me has always said that he is not ready, yet he thinks that he is and went ahead and did not sign up for the dorm when he was supposed he is stuck in a place on the edge of campus across from a busy street. He cannot walk to class or practice and must take the bus. His choice...I am not going to listen to complaints....although, I probably will, I will just sing the National Anthem to myself until he changes the subject from the guys who eat his food, leave a mess and spill beer on his bed. Hmmmm, let' make a BP mom prediction....I predict that his first complaint will come after the second party. There will be a mess and he will begin to revert to his cranky self. He will then call home and tell me how life is unfair. After the unfair speech, he will share why he is angry with the guys, then I will say: "You have to communicate. Talk to them" about five or six times....then he will say: "Thanks for nothing..." and gingerly click on his end button on the cell phone as if he has walked into a dead zone.

Am I going to be upset? Nope...this is yet another growth and learning opportunity for our leftie. He continues to live his dream, although at times there will be a few nightmares. Good luck this semester, big guy....keep in touch...lova ya!

Before I end...a quick shout out to Scooby, my younger's her birthday! Happy day today and always!

Another shout out to Ice, the Queen of England and Granny as they play tennis in New Jersey in an attempt to qualify for the nationals...go team! Remember to bring your plastic balance bands, gatorade, and extra pair of socks.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Post showcase

It is a beautiful day in Pennsylvania with low humidity and beautiful sunshine. We expect rain over the next few days, but who cares? Today is the best day of the week!

Buddy returned home last night after staffing the baseball showcase at school. According to the southpaw, no one was offered a roster spot or scholarship. "Mom, they stunk." Ouch...poor kids...poor parents...poor delusional kids and parents...Why am I so negative? 'Cause I still think that this is a major league scam (excuse the pun). These MLB-wannabes are drawn into these two day events in the hope that they will reap a scholarship, play on a big name team, be drafted by the Yankees, and sign million dollar contracts. Sadly, the reality is that this is not going to happen and their wallets are lighter because of it.

After watching the MLB and college baseball process over the years, I can confidently say that there are only a few out of thousands who will make it to the majors. Further, I am not sure if my own son is going to make it, but he will die can put that in your pipe and smoke it. Wanting it is not enough. Dreaming about it is not enough...You need hard work and determination...skill...perspiration and oh yeah...a physique for it. Standing next to these players, they have one thing in common, they are huge and as Buddy would say: "jacked." They work out, run, practice, mentally prepare, pray, focus, and sacrifice. It's more than the sum of its parts...

If things out for Buddy the way he wants them to, he will be drafted by a team at the end of his junior year. Kids are eligible for the draft after high school, junior college, and at the end of junior and senior years. Buddy has a two year plan in which he will catch the eye of someone who needs a leftie. He will keep his ERA less than 2.0 for the next season and develop a better fast ball. What does all of this mean? Well, if he has his way, he will not be finishing college.

How do I feel about it? Well, as a college professor, I am ambivalent. He definitely needs a degree, but whether he earns it by the time he is 22 or 32 years old, I am not one to care. My philosophy is to let him live his passion when he is young. There is plenty of time for college and studying, but only a finite time to accomplish this goal. Go for it, kiddo....practice, work out, focus, meditate, maintain your composure and eye on the prize. I'll certainly be here documenting the highs and lows, and the joys and sorrows.

And so, there is no end to this story yet, it is ongoing and no one can predict what will happen...although cousin Sparky and my nephew, Tuna have it all figured out. Buddy is going to be sitting in a major league bullpen waiting and waiting for his opportunity. Finally, it is the bottom of the 9th inning and the bases are loaded, the manager calls Buddy's number....Buddy gets up and takes a deep breath, grabs his glove, and looks up in the stands and sees BP mom sitting there with her rosary in her perspiring hands....he smiles, runs out to the mound and strikes out the next player....the only question left is who will play BP mom in the movie version?

Monday, August 15, 2011

The end and the beginning

It was bound to happen. Life does not stand still even if we wish really really hard. If my wish came true, the kids would still be 4 years old and I would be 30 something without gray hair or memory loss. Where was I going with this? Oh

So, time did not stand still and Buddy left this morning for school. He was asked by his coaches last week to help to run a showcase for high school kids. As previously mentioned, showcases are the means to "show" off an athlete's talent in the attempt to get a look from a college coach. Buddy attended a number of showcases. Now that he is running one, I would like to discuss the process that took me a few years to figure out (it's a memory and processing down slide that I have been on).

The word "showcase" depicts an opportunity to parade around and demonstrate one's special skills. In many ways, it is like being on stage. One has to prepare physically and mentally for the pressure of a showcase. I know this since we traveled all over to individual college showcases. Up and down the east coast...the dirty utility bag and the pitcher's and first baseman gloves along with the high powered special titanium DeMarini bat....lucky shirts and high school baseball caps were stuffed into the bags along with the cleats, long socks, and baseball pants. Do not, I repeat, do not ever show up to a showcase wearing shorts. You will be put at the back of the line and ignored the entire time. Does a surgeon show up with out a scalpel? I will let you answer that one.

The showcases that Buddy attended were mostly for big name Division I programs. He was a bit of a college snob since he wanted D-I, nothing lower. It was his personal goal. "I only want to play Division I." My question to him was: "What if you get into the college of your dreams, but not on the baseball team, would you go?" His reply was an unabashed "no!" And so you have it....a kid with a dream....a parent helping him to attain it....lots of flying out of the wallet....peanut butter sandwiches....pancakes and omelets for dinner....

Each showcase cost about $300.00 which does not include travel expenses, meals and hotels. The showcase would not only be run by a leading school but other representatives from local colleges would be there too. For example, University of Virginia would sponsor a showcase and William and Mary, Coastal Carolina, and perhaps Mary Washington would be there. Each coach or representative would earn a stipend for attending and the school would be placed on the brochure. Potential college athletes would receive the notification of the showcase either in the mail or through e-mail. The way that the brochure was worded was that the invited athlete was one a few selected by the coaches. Therefore, the kids and parents thought that the athlete was being considered for a scholarship and place on the roster. Was a free ride to college worth the time and expense of a show case? Yes! Absolutely! Did it work out that way? NO!

It was all too good to be true. All he had to do was go to the showcase and he would be selected for a team. Not bad, easy to do....Wrong! When a person arrives at a showcase, there are 300+ kids there at all levels of athleticism. The elite nature of the camp never materialized. An athlete had to really stand out in order to have a coach even speak to him. There were even major league scouts at these camps.

A few times, coaches would walk up to Buddy, chat with him, then promise to watch him throughout the next season. "We'll be in touch..." and the kid would leave the showcase at a high. Did these coaches call him? Maybe one or two...the others from lower division schools wrote letters. Based on NCAA rules, coaches cannot contact the players until July 1, then there is a flood of calls...right? Wrong. Only one coach called on July 1 and he was elated and deflated. He did not leave the house that day waiting for the call. It was sad to watch as he stared at the phone. Did this stop him from attending showcases and working on his stuff? Nope, he became a man possessed with his goal. He was going to make it even if these coaches did not want him. One coach will see him and he will accomplish his goal.

If you have been following the blog, you know that he was discovered in his backyard through the efforts of his mentor, Coach T. The rest is "history."

Back to Buddy staffing the showcase....I hope that he does not lead any kid on as to their talent. I also advise him to offer some mechanics advice and warranted praise. Do not lay it on so thick that the player is overly confident. On the other hand, do not squash any kid's dreams. Be a supportive coach...someone with some pointed advice....then move on. Remember where you were at this point of your life and give back in a way that you needed at that time. Keep in mind that these kids also have the same dreams and goals that you had....encourage them but at the same time do not disillusion them.

As I wrote this entry, I received a call from Buddy who arrived at the showcase early. As he walked to the stadium, he watched the athletes get out of their parents cars. He was taken back to where he was and humbled. In fact, he remembered his showcases and the nerve that it took to do them and the uncertainty of where life was going to take him. I no longer need to offer any BP mom advice..he gets it...from this vantage, the kids will get it too. Kids, have fun out there....

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Preparation or superstition?

"If you don't lose, you'll never be a champion." were the words uttered to me by a friend, the Kidd. The Kidd knows what she is talking about as she prepares with her local 4.5 tennis team for the sectionals to be held in New Jersey next weekend. Kidd, Ice, and the Queen of England have been practicing religiously to win this championship in order to qualify for the nationals in California. This is a big deal for 'women of a certain age.' We don't have the travel teams anymore or the opportunities to do something cool like this on our own. We are working, caring for the kids, families, and animals, volunteering, and keeping up with our homes and apartments. This is basically it. So, the girls are pumped and psyched for this tournament.

I am sure that they will also be preparing just like Buddy and his team mates do before each game. In fact, Ice was sharing that she wears the magnetized balance bracelet and is afraid to take it off. Is this crazy? Seriously, afraid? Nervous? Believe it or not, I get it. In fact, with the way Ice has been playing these days, I may buy myself two of them for double Ice power. My little team is trying to make the regionals, so if 1 bracelet gets Ice to the sectionals, then two should propel us to national champions...right?'s all a matter of mental and physical preparation or is it? The cool calm demeanor comes with personalized preparation 'cause this is different for each person. For example, I just had a quick conversation with Buddy and I posed the question: "What do some of the athletes do to prepare for a game? I am looking for mental preparation because by game time they should be physically ready."

Here is the list:
1. Drink Red Bull then put on cleats.
2. One pitcher when starting a game, places a single pouch of crisp blend dip (chewing tobacco) in his front lip 35 minutes before the start of the game.
3. Some players listen to their IPods and certain play lists.
4. Other players play ping pong in the locker room (yes, they have a ping pong table)
5. Another player listens to Mortal Kombat
6. One outfielder plays the song "Turn me on." in the locker room and does his pregame dance. Yes, I said dance....can you picture Albert Pujols dancing before a game?
7. If the team wins a weekend series, there is a big party at the baseball house (no freshman allowed except Buddy after one game). They call it "Sunday Funday" and according to the big guy, it is a "fun" day.
8. Buddy has more of a regimen than I initially thought....all of the following must be done in order from start to finish. There is no deviation...none at all.
Here is Buddy's secret recipe for game day:
-get to field early
-chug a blue G2
-batting practice
-eat a vanilla powerbar
-wear long sleeve top without the jersey
-stretch arm with bands
-place a big wad of gum in mouth
-listen to Techno beats
-tie cleats
-put on jersey
-sit in dugout for 4 innings
-chug another gatorade
-another powerbar (vanilla only)
-bathroom break
-stretch and run in bullpen
-talk with self
-play catch with TD (another pitcher)
-stretch again
-time to pitch

According to the big leftie: "It's a system. Do whatever you need to do because it works." So, I understand. Playing sports is a holistic endeavor...mind, body and spirit. All three need to be in alignment to succeed. Therefore ladies...put on your plastic bracelets, drink your gatorade, eat your powerbars, tie your sneakers one at a time, take deep breaths as you pull your racquet out of your bag, say a quick prayer, bounce the ball 5 times before each serve, take a deep breath before each play, and do not forget...never forget...that this is really for fun. There are no TV cameras, no life and death matches, just women who enjoy competition, are good at something, and can see what this is all about...a privilege to be out there on the court with a group of friends doing something that you love.....

An athlete's mind: Routine and preparation

The big kid just left for his fall haircut. It's all about the hair with him. His thick head of hair and style is the talk nationwide. When the kids were young, like all other families, we headed to Disneyland. While standing in line for some treehouse, one of the characters sauntered over and started to pet his hair. Another time, a waitress stopped by the table and asked if she could touch his hair. Odd request...although he let her do it. From that point on, the bravado came only when the hair looked good. Think about Mohawk May...his fast ball was not as deadly with his Mohawk cut. Once it was gone, he regained his speed and placement. And now you have it...the secret to success....very Samson-like....remember in the Old Testament when Samson was a strong guy but it was related to his hair? Delilah cut it and he lost his strength. So, when you think of Samson, think of Buddy and the need to have a dynamite looking cut.

The reason that I am bringing up the hair is twofold. One, he has to look good and not just for the ladies, but guys notice too. Second, Buddy like other athletes have certain regimens that they follow each day and for each game. One pitcher jumps over the first base line when he strolls onto the field. Another pitcher drinks a Red Bull right before he goes into the game. Other pitchers pray, make the sign of the cross, or take several deep breaths. During playoffs, some kids do not shave until the team loses, which can be nasty for some women athletes. Buddy has his own routine. He gets to the field first. Then he does his stretches, long toss, short toss, drinks his powerade and eats his powerbar, and builds up steam to enter and dominate. The other players dress the same way and eat the same foods. One Hall of Fame pitcher ate Ellio's pizza before he pitched. Others eat peanut butter sandwiches. It's all about the routine....

Have you ever watched Ryan Howard prepare before he bats? He does the same routine every single time. He never deviates. Similarly, my favorite leftie has the same type of process when he enters the game. He runs to the mound, never walks....throws...spots...touches his toes off the mound, deep cleansing breath, wind up and throw.....For years, he has done the same thing. It's all about being mechanical and not having to think too hard, just focusing on placement. There needs to be a great deal of hard work with enormous courage to go out there in front of a stadium full of people and television cameras. That's why the routine is so important. It is one less thing to worry about. So, the next time that you attend any type of sporting event, watch the preparation of the athletes. The way that they enter a game tells a lot about the individual. It's part of a puzzle that fans enjoy as they piece together an event that they can participate in their minds. Just a word of caution.....try to stay in your own mind and thoughts rather than enter the athletes...a person could get lost there.

Have a good day.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Who wants ice cream?

The countdown has begun. Next week, Buddy is headed to his college to help to run a baseball showcase, then fly south for two days, then fly back to Ohio to pick up his furniture, then drive back to college to move into the new apartment. Either that is multitasking at its best or a whacked out schedule. Any way that you look at it, he is going, going, gone.

Is he happy with the craziness? You bet he is...he is loving his life. Or actually, he was until early this morning when I told him that he was not allowed out of the house until I know what his fall schedule looks like and his choice of majors. To say that he was not happy is an understatement. Think about waiting for months and months to eat something that you have been craving...for example, an ice cream sundae with all of the toppings. You have kept away from ice cream because of a weight issue. Now that you have lost the 250 pounds, you can have a bite of that ice cream. As you watch the sundae made, hot fudge is dribbled all over the delectable vanilla ice cream, some nuts and whipped cream are added...maybe another scoop of ice cream and you have your mouth open and ready to taste...then a big ogre comes and takes away your sundae and throws it out. How do you feel? What does your face look like? Well, this is how Buddy looked when I brought up the schedule and major, as if I was the ogre who threw out his ice cream. Not happy...not happy at all....

With that said, since I am the banker in his life, he deals the information or I don't dole out the dough., let's see...will he choose rocket scientist, computer informatician, brain surgeon, or building development? Whatever he chooses, he will be a success. I have no doubt. If he puts as much energy into his studies as he does perfecting his slider, he will make it. All I want is for him to be happy with his chosen profession and to do the best job humanly possible. That's I am hungry for some ice cream.

Enjoy the day!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Work...a four letter word

Greetings! It was time for a new post even though there is no real baseball going on. I think that I have enough news to fill up the page. It's early and Tink and Buddy have left the house. Both have jobs today. Yes, that's right...they are doing a four-letter word that begins with "W" and ends with "K". The best part about this word and action is that they will receive a pay check. Nice....perhaps the car will receive a gift...a full tank of gas. It has been so long. Buddy commented yesterday that for $11.00, he put 3 gallons of gas into the car. Can you believe it? A budding accountant....OK, let's not go that far...he is becoming a wary consumer since mama cut him off.

Last night Buddy and I were invited out with his friends and their moms. This was so nice. My son is no longer embarrassed by me and even laughed with me in public (I have a photo of all of us smiling together). Is he evolving or am I less embarrassing? Granted, we paid for everything and even bought them the "Great Wall of China" Chocolate cake at PF Chang's, but it is not all about food. It's about spending time with friends and your parents when you can relax and actually have a bit of fun. This is in direct contrast to his horror when he saw us walk into the baseball banquet together. He did his best to hide his 6'4" frame from us without much success. We landed up sitting on the other side of the party and pretended we were with another kid who liked having his folks around. On Diva dog's life, I swear that I did not curse or dribble my food from the left side of my mouth or get slap happy drunk. My pants were zipped and buttoned. Perhaps there was something else that made him flee from the site...maybe he thought that I was going to bring out the baby picture with him holding one of his action figures or smiling on his ma's lap or a lock of his hair from his first cut. Not sure, but I am happy that things have changed.

Tomorrow, Buddy is taking the car with the remnants of his $11.00 gas purchase to college to meet with his coaches. He wanted to be the first to tell them about his less than stellar summer. A frontal attack is always the best, since they will understand what happened from his perspective. Dad and I are not going. This is his life, not mine. He is bringing his pal, TD. TD just turned 18 last week and I think that I saw a whisker on his face. My, these boys are growing up. Buddy mentioned that he is bringing TD in case he needs someone to push the car up the mountain when the gas runs out. Perhaps he is going to convince TD that he should pay for the gas and in return, Buddy will give him the $11.00 grand tour of his campus. It's like paying for a ticket in London to travel on a double decker bus to see the city or the Hollywood bus tours that you can take to Lucille Ball's and Henry Fonda's houses.

And so it goes...the big kid cannot wait to get back to college life and move into his new digs. No, he is not going to be in a dorm room like BP mom advised. Instead, he is going to be with his 3 pals in an apartment on the edge of town. It has bus service since there is no way that they can walk to their classes or practice. I do not think that this was a well-thought out plan and will watch as his orderly life comes crumbling down around him. He is sharing a room with one of the outfielders. He is also living with the catcher (freshly back from his Hawaii vacation) and his main competition on the squad, another leftie, who receives more innings than Buddy but has poorer stats. This is going to be interesting. The outfielder can catch the snide remarks as they fly through the air. The catcher is in a no win situation as he will be stuck between two pitchers who are competing against each other. Did anyone, I mean anyone think this through? Probably not.

Once again, this is a lesson that he is going to learn on his own. I may want to, but I won't say "I told you so...." Now that we know each other better, he can use that line on me. So, I will keep my lips sealed whenever I see him in public. As one of my favorite songwriter's sings..."It's another day in paradise."

Monday, August 8, 2011

McHale's Navy and prison

Ok gang...I swore that I would not write about this, but it is part of the journey, so here goes.....

Two weeks ago, Buddy struggled with his pitch location while playing baseball in Ohio. He was upset and unable to self-correct, so I got the great idea to look a coach up on the Internet. It was really an effort to reclaim his confidence and swagger. After a little digging, I found three coaches affiliated with different baseball academies. The only answered call was to Coach R, the "Yankees scout" and self proclaimed good friend to Chris Collinsworth, a football player.

I was so happy that he could take Buddy within the hour and did not consider the reason why he could do this. If a coach is good, he is in great demand, right? So, why didn't I consider the reason why the coach could see him right away? Why didn't I use my noodle and consider or pose the question to myself? Why? I'll give you the answer...'cause my boy was struggling and I wanted to help him in the only way that I paying for a tune up.

Coach R gave him some good advice, but really nothing new. He built up the kid's confidence and we left in a better state than when we had gotten there. He also offered Buddy a job for the following week. This was all good. They made plans to meet in two days for another lesson. The morning of the second lesson, I needed a crow bar to pry the kid out of bed and back to the field. I even had to call on the battalion leader, dad, to move him to pick up his glove and drive to his lesson. It was a tough one, but I was happy that I was successful in getting him out the door.

Then the phone call was from dad. "Did you look Coach R up on the Internet?" Stupid question...of course I did...what was he thinking? Yes, I looked him up. Yes, he is a Yankee scout. Yes, he knows a great deal about baseball. He is also helping my son with his confidence. In fact, the other day, Coach R was on the phone to the GM of the Yankees and told him about Buddy. Cashman said that he was going to be following him this year. How is that for checking him out on the Internet?

"No, BPM, you needed to dig deeper on the Internet. For example, did you know that Coach R was a thief and has been arrested a number of times?" Huh? way...I checked the guy out...he played in a number of leagues, runs a baseball academy and baseball camps....he hangs out with kids...he has taken my son under his wing....For Pete's sake, he is a scout for the Yankees!

After I revived myself, I "googled" the coach and was amazed at what I discovered. He had been arrested a number of times for petty thievery. The last incident was early July when he stole a McHale's Navy DVD boxed set worth about $100.00 from a Barnes and Noble and was chased into the woods on foot by the security guard. The police found him hiding behind trees. He was then arrested and as far as I know has not had his trial or court date yet. He also left a gas station without paying for the gas, and a number of other thefts. Sigh...I left my son at one of the lowest points in his life with a thief....and not a very good one. He was constantly caught by the police.

So, what does this say about me? I have beaten myself up over it and have some to a realization. Coach R is a liar. He's not a Yankee scout. He did not call the GM of the Yankees about Buddy. Further, I don't think that he even knows the guy. In a way, it is a comical situation....the gullible athlete, the naive mom, and the professional liar. The job never materialized, but Buddy was happier. I was not going to share this information with my son, because I did not want him to fall back into the hole that he was in....but he let me know the other night that he already knew about Coach R, so I was the last one to figure it out.

Ahhh, here is my final not be in a hurry to fix a problem. If you rush it, you will find yourself being duped by guys like Coach R. A person needs to spend time considering and contemplating any problem or issue. If you rush, you will be at the hands of people whom you would normally avoid. I am sure that Coach R is basically a nice guy, yet not someone I want to entrust my son with....although I always loved McHale's Navy....

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Turn it inside out

Greetings! I have taken a few days off from writing since there is no baseball news for a while. Today, dad and Buddy took a trip 2 hours north to see Coach T pitch against a regional minor league team. What they did not do was to check the weather, 'cause they encountered a monsoon. Game is fun if you are a duck...come home.

We have been acclimating ourselves to our home. Buddy has been out more than he has been in. I just got a call asking if he could stay with a friend tonight rather than come home. Oy! He complains that he is not home, then once he is home, he goes out.

This afternoon, he walked into my office and announced: "I cannot wait to get back to school and work!" I was puzzled by this statement and he looked at my face which expressed complete and utter disbelief. After a moment, he understood my quizzical look and laughed... "No mom, not that kind of work....Work for know...working thought that I meant studying?" Here is where we both had a good laugh....for a minute, I thought that he was lying to me, because he is not one to seek out work. As a matter of fact, I know for certain that the only thing that he read besides Facebook this summer was Sports Illustrated, a June issue. Do I know my kid or what? He wants to go back to school to play baseball....Oh, I get it now....By the way, I am still waiting for the big announcement regarding chosen major and what he is going to do the rest of his life. Perhaps this announcement could be broadcasted on ESPN, like the LeBron James debacle last year when he selected Miami over Cleveland (after spending time in Ohio, I get offense to people of Ohio).

And so, life goes on with the family under one roof for one more week. I started exercising again today at the local Y. I had forgotten the class and instructor schedule while I was gone and walked into a class that should have a warning label on the door: "Enter at your own risk." I am sure that I will be feeling the class and the toxic instructor with the smile on her face later while trying to find a comfortable place in bed tonight and tomorrow night and probably the next night.

With one week left before Buddy moves back to college, we have a list of necessities to purchase. Since his funds have dwindled to a few measly dollars, it will be up to me to make sure that the big kid has enough underwear and socks to make it through at least one week at school without having to turn his underwear inside out and re-wear it. This is an old trick that friends of mine shared with me. Rather than washing the underwear, turn it inside out and you basically get two uses out of one pair. I am not going to the place where I can envision this, 'cause it is a bit disturbing.....I am sure that you agree.

By the way, before I end, I want to send a shout out to my brother in law....The Guitarist who is celebrating a very big birthday today. Best wishes, big guy on your big's a toast to many, many more.....

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Beautiful, Dirty, Rich

Everyone is back home under the same roof and life continues. The kids and Diva dog are in bed catching up on their beauty sleep and dad is at work. We'll gather tonight for dinner and to make some plans for next week. All very typical and routine feels very nice!

After the long drive, the boys arrived home last night with pizza. Naturally, to celebrate all of us together and Buddy's summer season, we had the usual celebratory chocolate cake. Then..poof....everyone was gone...into another room to do whatever he or she does in the evening when not with friends. Buddy texted his cousin Little A and asked her to breakfast. The nine year old has been waiting months to see her big cousin. She plans on downloading Skype to contact him in college. For some reason, these two are pretty tight and like hanging out with each other. Buddy and Tink are her favorite babysitters. Perhaps it is because he falls asleep on the sofa and she can watch whatever she wants to on television and raid the pantry without anyone noticing.

As we ate our Pennsylvania pizza (it is nothing like Ohio's, no offense), Buddy talked about his last hours in the bullpen. As he warmed up to enter the game, he took one of the many gatorades that were in the 'pen. As he squeezed it into his mouth, he immediately spit it out. Apparently, this bottle did not have the sugar and electrolyte concoction in it, it was filled with beer. Someone, he does not know who, drinks beer while waiting to enter the game in relief. I wonder if this is standard practice in leagues? Yet, a guy could disguise his beer in any kind of bottle. As a college professor, students are not allowed to bring water bottles to class because they create crib sheets and glue them on to the bottle, so as they take a sip, they are cheating. Back to gatorade beer, this could be marketed as something major....consider flavored gatorade or favored milk for the kids who are lactose lemonade....and so on....the possibilities are endless.

This week, he has to find some kind of work. His funds dwindled to less than 50 dollars for the school year. I will support housing and his meal plan, but there has to be a line where his parties and concerts are not funded by his parents. This is up to him to figure it out. So, I have a few suggestions.....lawn mowing, laundry services, window washing, babysitting (a family with 6 kids just moved in down the street....all under the age of 7), or ice cream scooping. His southern grandparents have hired him to do some work around their home, so he will be there before he returns to college. The push is on to find something that pays well. The CEO position of Dominos pizza has been taken by someone more qualified as has Vice President of the United States, so he will have to find a job in this economy in which he can make some fast money...bootlegging moonshine is off the looks like he is going to have to get his hands dirty...

As Lady Gaga sings in "Beautiful, Dirty, Rich"

"we do the dance right, we have got it made like ice cream topped with honey
but we got no money

Daddy I'm so sorry, I'm sorry yea, we just like to party, like to pp-party yea,

Bang Bang, we're beautiful and dirty rich
Bang Bang, we're beautiful and dirty rich"

In Buddy's case, he might be beautiful and dirty when he comes off the mound...but he ain't rich...time to roll up the sleeves and hunt for work....

and life continues.....Beautiful, Dirty, and Poor

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

One and done...

Yes, you are reading this correctly...the defending champions were smoked last night...they were never in it...The Stud came up small. In fact, last week, he pulled his groin muscle and could barely walk. Sparky craving a win decided a lame Stud was better than a dusty Buddy. Here is another example of poor decision making.

By the 5th inning, they put Psycho in (another pitcher with a crazed personality). Psycho was no better and injured himself too. His college coach is going to be ______!

And so, it is 10-0 by the beginning of the 8th inning, what does the team do? That's right, when things can not get any worse, they dust Buddy off, remove him from the bullpen shelf, put his glove on his right hand, and asks him to stop the hemorrhaging. Guess what? He faced 6 batters in two innings, struck 2 out, no one made it to base, no walks...the only pitcher who did not allow any runs or base runners. By the way, if you remove his one disastrous outing, he had 13 K's, 1 walk, and ERA 2.5. This is more than respectable, in fact, it is the best on the team. Too bad Sparky and Stinky did not realize this and held a grudge all season for the one bad pitching performance. Their emotions got the best of them and they were unable to make good team personnel decisions.

I am not happy nor sad about the results of the season. As I reflect upon the summer, there were a number of times that I wanted Buddy to take his button-less uniform shirt off and place it where the sun does not shine in the closest coach, but I held back my antipathy for the process. On a number of occasions I wanted to point the car east and drive until we hit the Jersey shore (no Snooki or Bookie or whoever those people are), but stayed to make an important life point. A person cannot give up even when the cards are stacked up against him or her. Buddy stuck it out and made a statement with his limp arm. Yep, his arm is in a bad state by this time in the season. But he hung in there and showed the tiny town what he could do, yet was never asked to do. Does that make sense? Dad heard some fans talking smack about Buddy last night when he entered the game. They commented on how little he was used. Dad wanted to have a conversation with them and called home instead...don't do it...let it's not worth getting into an altercation about this. As Derek Jeter would say: "Criticism is part of the business."

I am sure that you are now scratching your head, wondering how I can quote Jeter rather than Einstein....Last night on HBO, there was a documentary on Jeter's quest for his 3000 hit. The cameras followed him around until he accomplished this goal. I was mesmerized as I watched his preparation and mind set. Then he made aforementioned statement about criticism and the guy is right. If you put yourself out there on the mound or on the field, people pay to watch a sport and get away from their problems. They are more than welcomed to coach or play from their seats.

This leads me to one last thought about baseball and life (OK, I have more, but will reserve them for future posts). As Buddy mentioned earlier this season, the coaches hated him and he hated them. Yes, the statement has been made. Let's look at this in the context of life and not baseball....

We all work for or have people working for us that we would like to see jump off a pier without a life vest; however, life has been designed for us to use our 'noodles' and figure out how to work with these people in order to accomplish our personal and organizational goals. Therefore, we hone our interpersonal skills and have to work with people that we would prefer worked somewhere else (like on the moon or Mars).

To that end, Buddy must develop skills and strategies to work with people like Sparky and Stinky. He cannot let people that he does not want to have a beer with interfere with his attainment of his goals, therefore, for the rest of the summer, I will harp upon his need to be able to play nice in the sandbox. When another kid has the toys, you gotta play nice in order to be included in the party. I am not telling him to be fake, but to develop some strategy for the team leader to notice his gifts without losing his sense of self or compromising his values. Buddy, this is an important life lesson. Do not let your boss stop you. You must figure out a way to ingratiate yourself to either be placed on the mound on a regular basis or be given enough playing time to be noticed by major league scouts. And so it goes....looking forward to some time relaxing on the beach or family dinners.

Have a good day....

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Bullpen tchotchke

Tonight the playoffs begin and Buddy's team is the defending champion, therefore, Sparky is going to pull out every weapon that he has to take down the opposition. Since Buddy is not considered anything but a bullpen tchotchke, he will watch the action from his place on the bench. If you do not know what a tchotchke is, a Tchotchke is a Yiddish word for knickknack, toy, bauble, something that you place on your mantle that is pretty or unique and collects dust. That's Buddy this summer...a dusty tchotchke, I say with all due respect and great love and admiration.

In June, Buddy drove into town in his SUV, tuned up from a season of success as a freshman southpaw in a competitive conference. He had amazing statistics and in great physical and mental condition. Unfortunately, he will leave town in a discombobulated state who is doubting his skills and his choice of profession.

He is looking forward to putting his glove down and returning to a seemingly blissful life at home. His dream of being home with his own comfy bed, laptop, friends, and fully stocked refrigerator and pantry will be interrupted with the realities of family living...that is...chores, physician's visits, laundry, curfew, making his bed, no towels on the floor, and eliminating four letter words from his conversation. Also, there is a 1 acre "No spitting zone" surrounding the house. These are some of the house rules...oh the way, Mama no longer fills the gas tank...he's on his own to spend his own money or bum a ride from one of the boys. Ahh, life at home...something that he dreamed about for 8 months and something that he will long to leave within 8 days.

And so, tonight is the night for the team...sink or swim. From what I understand, all of the guys want to leave. No one wants to play. The season, although successful in the standings, was unsuccessful in the dug out. The guys loved playing with each other, but loathed the coaches and 'Mr. Steinbrenner'. What was lacking besides an understanding of the game and basic leadership skills was the administration's inability to work with the individual. There were no practices. If someone struggled, rather than work with him, they would place him on the bench as he received the "Golden Splinter Award." The golden splinter is awarded to anyone who sits on the bench for a prolonged period of time, with pieces of splinter embedded in their derrieres. Ouch!

One of the kids already left. He had been benched after the first few weeks and was increasingly frustrated. Finally, last week, he drove to the field, took batting practice, hit a home run, tore off his uniform and threw it at the coach. With that, he went home. Take that, Sparky (he didn't care). Right now, he is probably in his own bed at home or lying on a towel at the beach....happy in his own mind, yet the kids on the team have called him a quitter.

What did that teach me? Well, a player can talk about hating the process, the coaches, team, or playing BUT cannot quit (ever). This is an unwritten code, which I am writing about in this blog. Talk is cheap...actions speak louder than words, but do not walk away from a fight. Sit there, collect gold, silver, or bronze splinters, but do not walk away. These guys would rather go to the ER for elective surgical removal of the splinters than be labeled a quitter. And so you have it...complain...complain... complain...finish the season, go home. In their minds, they can quit...but do not walk....this is worse than giving up a three run home run in the championship game or dropping a fly ball in the bottom of the don't do it. It is a standardized code of ethics among ball's not done...and so, here the guys are gutting it out....ready to leave, but never, ever quitting....

Monday, August 1, 2011

Coming to an end

It's Monday and I have been home for one and half days. In two weeks, a lot of things have changed around the house. My very creative brother in law and nephew, Big M and Little M landscaped the house in the heat of July and it looks amazing. Now it is up to me to use my skills honed at the feet of Mother Nature to keep these plants and trees alive. I am currently jumping up and down doing an ancient Native American rain dance hoping that the sky will water the plants rather than standing outside with a hose for two hours. besides, the rain is free.

With me home, dad has been in Ohio since Saturday and is now annoyed with Rip Van Winkle. He does not see the need for the big kid to sleep for more than 16 hours a day and has tried everything to wake him. Sadly, I forgot to give him the key to the safe with the dynamite in it. Two sticks under the bed are always effective in arousing the sleeping giant.

The team won their last game last night in the Bicycle Capital of the Midwest (no, they did not see any bicycles). Buddy did not see any action as the dust collected on his hat again. On Friday night, he made it into the game in the 9th inning with two outs and the bases loaded. It was up to him to strike out the opposing batter without giving up a run. The pitcher on the mound before him not only loaded the bases but gave up 5 runs in that inning. So, with the bases loaded on a 1-2 pitch count, he throws a fat lollipop over the plate and yes, it was hit for a single with two runs scoring. The kid has lost his confidence in tough spots as the coach lets him know that he has disappointed the team. Let me be clear on this...the bases were loaded, the team was down by 5 runs....Buddy did not get them into this predicament. The poor kid who proceeded him on the mound before he entered the game was responsible for the score of the game.

And so, the summer season ends this week after the playoffs are over. Buddy texted the university pitching coach on Friday night. He wanted to talk to him about the summer before the coach was "briefed" by Sparky. It was planned that he and dad would stop by campus to speak to him about his performance and the team itself. After the coach read the text, he was alarmed, because he thought that Buddy was injured. In a weird way, the big kid was happy with the coach's response. At least someone wants him to pitch. And if it had to be someone, he was very very happy that it was his college restored, renewed, a happier, yet sleepy kid.