Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Road Less Traveled is Often the Bumpiest

OK, Mother Nature. We get it. You are powerful. We are not.

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Now that we acknowledged your supremacy, cut it out!
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This weather has certainly wreaked havoc on the ultimate weekend warrior plans. The plan was to drive to North Carolina from South Carolina and meet up with BD, lil Sis, and Bull, but.......

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I received a text from BD with a photo of snow on the ground with plunging temperatures. This is problematic. As much as I would love to see the games in NC, I don't want to bring a snow shovel to remove the snow from the bleachers.It is obvious that the games will be moved or cancelled. My spidey senses are tingling and tell me that they will be moved to South Carolina if they can find enough fields since this is a tournament and not a weekend series. And so, I will wait to hear the news from the north.

Speaking of the north, I traveled yesterday to South Carolina with four suitcases (one was a laptop; one was my travel bag).

Two of the suitcases were filled with my cold and foul weather gear. Ironically, with the rain and sleet, my foul weather gear was soaked at the airport. So, it is hanging up now drying out.

The road to the south was quite bumpy......

Fade to black....

I got to the airport with plenty of time to spare and knew that I could grab some Auntie Anne's pretzel nuggets to hold me for several hours since I refuse to eat or drink on airplanes. AS I bit into my first pretzel nugget, it was not the warm, soft, fresh pretzel that I craved. Nope, it was hard as a rock. I was too far down the terminal to take my $6.10 pretzel nuggets and bottled water back. it was then that I had a premonition that this was not going to be a smooth trip......

The first flight to Atlanta was pretty good. I was able to actually move my legs and arms a bit with my seat mate being a normal size gentleman. On my last trip, my arms were glued to my stomach and legs were motionless as my seat mate took up her spot and mine too....anyway....

We are starting to land and the Captain announces (I paraphrase): "Ladies and gentlemen, we have had a problem with one of the flaps that I believed we have cleared. Don't be alarmed when you see the fire trucks surround the plane, the landing may be bumpy and this is just a precaution."

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Hmmmmm.....that is what he said....this is what I hear: "PEOPLE! MAY DAY! WE are in TROUBLE! The plane is defective. We might die. Say your prayers. I am not Denzel Washington and may not be able to land the plane with broken wing flaps. I repeat...WE ARE DOOMED!"

OK, this is not good news but not horrible. Prayers are always good. I can say them and ask for either a speedy death or a safe landing. God can choose.....

With that said, the landing was a bit rough but not fiery, the fire trucks did surround the airplane while we were isolated from the actual airport, and we were fine. Scary? Ahh....never a doubt....never a doubt.....
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On to the next was running late AND according to our flight agent, if we did not board the plane quickly, we would be grounded because of the plunging temperatures and sleet. We all ran onto the plane and threw our bags into the overhead bins.....not fast enough.....

The Captain announces: "Ladies and gentlemen, I thought that we could get off the ground before the rain froze, but I was wrong. The wings need de-icing and there is a back up. So, we are going to sit for a while on the plane. I will update you on the process as details emerge."

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This is what I heard: "Ladies and Gentlemen, we are enclosed in a capsule of ice. I repeat. We are enclosed in a capsule of ice. We cannot fly or move. DO not panic! DO NOT PANIC! Some one will light a match and defrost the plane."

OK, de-icing now. Sure, de-ice the entire plane and don't miss a spot. After all, my day started with a rock hard soft pretzel. I already knew that there would be trouble. The pretzel shared this with me earlier. I will just sit here and pretend to read my magazine......and look around....and wait to see the de-icers.....

Finally, it was time to take off and it was a bit bumpy. That was fine 'cause at least we did not have ice on the wings. As we landed, we were not moving toward the terminal. Uhh...Captain, make a left....then take us to Terminal D please.

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The Captain announces: "Ladies and Gentlemen, lightening has just struck the area and the ground crew is not allowed to dock our plane until this cell moves on. Therefore, be comfortable, we will dock soon." And so.....we sat on the plane....watching the teeming rain and looking out for more lightening. Fun trip, eh? After 20 minutes of sitting on the runway, we moved to the terminal and finally de-planed. This is one for the record books.

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After finding my luggage, my driver showed up and grabbed my wet bags and placed them into the back of the car. It was now pouring rain, a bit monsoon-ish....and yes, my driver was a bit older....and yes, he almost skidded off the road a few times. But I was not worried. There was no ice nor fire on the flaps. I was safe as he missed turn after worries. I was done being worried and just stared at him as he tried to get me safely to the house. Bob, turn not right...left....OK, we can make a U-turn, right? Uh, Bob, there is the expressway...stay straight...straight...OK, we can make another U-turn. In Bob's defense, it was tough to see the road.

I arrived at the house with the rain beating so hard the by the time the bags got to the garage, they were completely soaked. It seemed like a perfect time for a glass of Merlot. Did I have any food to go with it? Absolutely not. Did I care? Absolutely not.

And so, here I sit typing away and wondering what I am going to be doing this weekend. Will I travel to NC and sit in the snow? Will the games be cancelled? Or will the games be moved to South Carolina? I am hoping for option 3.Will the Phillies be contenders this year? Will Mother Nature stop bombarding the country with these icy temperatures?

With that said, the decision should be made soon and I will update this post when I know. Also, will I continue to travel even with yesterday's bumpy experience?

Absolutely! Airplane travel is the safest and most convenient way to travel in the world. A few problems here or there are to be expected. If I did not fly, I would be driving and Lord knows, I am safer in the air than on the ground.

OK, gotta try to find my kid......


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Introversion is not a bad thing

Good morning! It's time for the southern adventure. Over the next two weeks, the team plays ten games in the south and I leave today. As their biggest fan, I have two large suitcases to make it through the games. Since the south is as cold as the north, I needed a very large suitcase just to bring my coats. That's minus 20 degrees coat, 30-50 degrees coat, and light weight jacket, hand and feet warmers....heavy gloves, light gloves, hat, hood, scarves, heavy socks, blanket, and so on.

Why so much? Well, if you look at the forecast, the weather is going to be cold! After spending two of the three Texas games in frigid weather with my 30-50 degree coat, I realized that I have to be prepared for anything.

After all, I went from being Bullpen mom to Starter mom back to Bullpen mom in a manner of weeks. And all of this is because of weight lifting and a sore elbow. Rats!

Why is BPM so sad? Well, this means that I no longer know when he will enter a game and therefore am stuck (probably literally) to me oh-so-frosty bleacher seat for all of the games until the bitter end.

Yesterday, the big kid had a meeting with the Czar. The coach complimented him on his 5 pitches on Sunday and asked how he was doing and what he wanted his role to be on the team.

Here is what he should have said: "I want to start. Only start. I am a starter not a bullpen guy. I have the speed and stuff to mow down any team in front of me. When facing a foe, you punch them in the mouth. I am a mouth puncher. So, start me!"

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Here is what he said: "I am doing all that I can do to rehab and am feeling better every day. I want to make an impact on the team and want the ball. If on the mound, I will do all that I can to finish the job given to me."

I wanted to say "weenie!", but did not. After all, he has to play politics and appeal to this guy's ego. Therefore, he plays the game....and the game is not just baseball.

The coach was complimentary and said that he would be one of the first guys to get the ball. Yet, he would not start him over his freshman recruits who continue to struggle with command and velocity. Talk about political moves.

I guess this is what life is all about. It is not necessarily the best qualified who are hired and get the jobs. Rather, it is the person who is favored by the head of the company or coach.

Over the past few weeks, I have sent him a number of articles on introverts. He is one of them. After reading them, he seemed relieved and said "Now I know that I am not nuts. The guys are always saying that I have an odd personality. But I don't. I am an introvert."

That's right. And as such, you may seem aloof, but you are quiet. That's it. Quiet. You think and process. You are comfortable around one or two people rather than a crowd. There is nothing wrong with you. Embrace who you are. (Read Quiet by Susan Cain....thanks to Ice for the suggestion).

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And he has, as he reads more about introverted athletes, their work ethic, and their success. I believe that this has been an eye opener for him as there is a label for his inner thoughts and personality. Here is a link about introverted athletes. There is come comfort knowing that he is not a strange guy. However, over the years, he has been chastised for being a psycho or weird. I have always known him as a funny, self deprecating, passionate guy.

As an athlete, he does not care about what they think but about his performance. He can train alone and will be seen in the locker room exercising and strengthening his core and game. This is not uncommon for introverted guys just ask Larry Bird. With that said, a coach needs to understand each player and their quirks and idiosyncrasies. I don't believe that any of these coaches get it, but I am hopeful that one day, in the near future, a coach will find him and embrace the differences and actually encourage them.

And now, I must pack the thermal underwear.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Logic and baseball

I'm baaaaccck! Yep, sorry about the lack of communication BUT I did not bring my laptop AND I stayed two extra days in Texas.

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Really? Yep....

Fade to black.......

On Thursday, I prepared to fly to Houston, watch Friday's game and come home on Saturday because logic of all logics....the big guy would enter the game when things got rocky to save it. It was logical and made sense. Did it happen?

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The team that they played was nationally ranked. Logic would reason that a team from the northeast that was rebuilding would try to work out the kinks with schools that have comparable skill sets. This way, the players would compete at their own levels and gain experience and confidence.

Once again, logic was not part of this plan. Nope, no logic.

And so, I landed in Houston and drove to the middle of no-where Texas where a big name school was hosting our little band of pale misfits. OK, I am wrong. They are not misfits, but they are pale since they have not seen the sun since October.

The drive was about 90 minutes via a super highway with the location in the middle of the state. I did not have the planned Prius but a large black jeep. Yep, I did not have the perfunctory pick up truck but I came pretty close with the jeep.  So, it was me and the jeep...the jeep and me.....Whatever, looking for the university in the middle of no where when the signs appeared and the jeep and I followed them. Mind you, I did not have any Skittles or Swedish fish since I have started Weight Watchers again.

Ok, I drove to the hotel and caught the big kid as the guys were entering the bus. I got a big greeting and hug and sent him to do battle.

Once I checked in, the jeep and I rolled to the baseball facilities. OK gang, this is where big time baseball lives. First, I had to pay $5.00 for parking. I would have thought that I was paying to go to a Phillies game but parking there costs $15.00. After paying the rate, I walked to the stadium to buy a ticket thinking that there was no way that he would remember to leave a ticket for me. I was shocked when I was asked to pay $15.00 for a college baseball ticket. Seriously? Fifteen dollars? Where am I, Yankee Stadium? Whatever, the credit card came out and was swiped in seconds. Whew, glad that it still works.

On to the field.....the stadium was packed with students and alumni. I sat behind the dugout and watched the game.....the night was cool and I was appropriately dressed until a cold Canadian wind found itself to the field and I began to freeze. Nevertheless, I was not going to leave until my kid pitched. As I saw it, he should enter the game after the 4th inning.........boy was I wrong.....

The starter won the job when the big lefty went down with his elbow injury. I figured (again with logic) that this would be his only start and the lefty would enter the game when it got out of hand. After all, he could not start since his elbow was just starting to feel better.

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The pitcher is one of the big lefty's friends and a nice guy. I only wish success for any of these kids. Sadly, he lasted three + innings and was removed. While he pitched, he threw low to mid 80's while the starter on the Texas team threw 95-97 consistently. I knew that the team was outmatched before the start of the game and was there to witness that it looked clearly like the Bad News Bears versus the Red Sox. The man behind me chuckled when he saw the velocity of our pitcher. it was apparent that this game was over before it started.

As the opposing team made our kids look like little leaguers, I began to get a bit miffed with some of the scoreboard's antics as each player struck out. If I was a fan (which I am now) I would have loved it. As the pitcher struck each batter out, the scoreboard would show the old television show opening from the Rifleman.

They played the Rifleman over and over and over and over and over and over this weekend......

Back to the game, the relief pitcher to stop a rally was not the tall lefty but a sophomore. OK, I get it....he's in trouble....on to the A freshman? Really? He's putting a freshman into a game against a nationally ranked team...right out of high school? When that didn't work, I knew that the big guy's number was going to be called....nope...a sophomore.....nope....a freshman.....OK, game over. I am out to buy a pizza for dinner.

No, the kid did not play. The team was slaughtered like Crockett and Bowie at the Alamo or somewhere like that. Perhaps the Czar is waiting until Saturday That does mess up my plans to return home and since I did not pack for three days since my sense of logic told me that he would play on Friday night, I began to worry as the northeast was hit by a snowstorm......More about that later.....

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The kid knocked on my door after the game and had his backpack. Going somewhere?

"No, I have my equipment and no one can see me work out since  I am banned from doing these exercises. But, did you notice that the pitchers on the opposing team's velocity? Pitching doctor."

yep, I could see the difference in throws and technique. This opposing team had a different form and therefore had the velocity...hence the Rifleman.....

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While I munched on pizza, he performed the banned exercises. When I tell you that these exercises are nothing to worry about, I mean it. I cannot believe that the coaches would not let these kids do these stretches. All he does is add weight to his wrists and stretches his shoulders. That's it. Why this has been banned is beyond me. Except, perhaps there is some narrow minded arrogance as the trainers and coaches think that they have all of the answers. If this is the case, I will ask them about curing cancer and global warming.

On to Saturday....I met with the kid after breakfast since he has to eat with the team. After he left, I walked down the hall and bumped was him....the Czar...he makes eye contact...I make eye contact.....

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He says 'hello'

I say "hello' and then I did it.....

"Hello, Coach, I am the big lefty's mother. it is nice to meet you finally."

"He's a great kid. A great guy."

"Yes, I think so too. Interesting game yesterday. I am glad that the guys did not quit......BS.....BS...BS....How is your family? BS......good luck today....BS....."

"Thank you....."

Hmmmm.....he seemed like a nice guy but so did Jim Jones before he gave his followers Kool Aid.

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After an hour, I left for the game....and it was more of the same.

This time, I had BD to text and chat with as I sat in the sun watching and waiting....waiting...another freshman.....Rifleman........more runs.....errors.....sophomore.....who is this pitcher? Never saw this guy before. All of them had the same velocity...low 80's. The opposing team made contact and one pitch landed was hit so hard that it landed in Dallas.

After this game, the kid worked out in my room again, showered, and had dinner....then he was gone.....

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All I could say to him was "your time will come."

But would it? At this point, I did not want him to pitch against this team since he had been on the bench breathing and rehabbing for several weeks. I did not want to see him punched around like the others. I silently prayed "Dear God, let him stay on the bench and play next week."

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Uh huh....God certainly answered my His own way....

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On to was bitter cold. My hands, feet, and body were shaking uncontrollably, but I stayed until the end of the game in case the kid was put in.....

And then it happened......the starter did fairly well and lasted a few innings....another was now 20 degrees with the wind chill and I was standing in the bathroom shaking hoping that the game would be over when I heard the announcer on the radio (game is piped into the bathrooms) announce that the team had a left hander in the bullpen warming up. Oh jeez, it is the bottom of the 8th inning....Crud...double crud...triple crud....I knew that it was him.....

I ran back to my seat and shook as he warmed up. Looking good...but now it is raining....windy....freezing....he is getting over an injury....there is one out and THE BASES ARE LOADED with an All American player coming to the plate. So, who goes into the game? Yeah...that's right, Bullpen mom's kid.....

Image result for coach and mom baseball gif with the cell phone....rosary vomit in my mouth.....

First throw-ball 1 (more vomit)

Second throw-strike 1 (

Third throw....Fouled off.....(one more more strike.....)

Fourth throw.....the kid hits the short stop....steps on 2nd base and throws it to first. The batter is safe by a fraction. A run scores, but the bases had been loaded. He technically got a double play hit but the ball was hit too softly for the shortstop to get it to first on time.


We were cruising. He needed one more out....but guess logic...the Czar took him out of the game for a right hander who happened to get the final out. Really.....

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I watched three games in Texas and my son went in the 8th inning and threw 5 balls.  He hit 89 with little to no effort.....That's it, folks.

After he was pulled out the of game, I walked to the jeep to travel to Houston's airport. As I left at the top of the 9th inning, I could hear more of the Rifleman in the background.....
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And so, I traveled to Texas, stayed until Monday due to weather cancellations, and saw my son throw 5 pitches.  Would I do it again? Sure, let's start with next weekend.
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'nuff said.....