Saturday, April 30, 2011

Summer Plans

The team lost the first game of the series in extra innings yesterday. They battled back from a deficit to tie it and lost in 10 innings. I must say that the game was quite dramatic. On to today's after noon game. Usually Buddy either pitches on Saturday or Sunday. So, I will be watching......

After the game, Buddy called to review the day's events. We usually chat about what is going on in his life whereas his dad spends time analyzing every pitch and play. It's a guy thing...Anyway, we spoke about his desire to come home for a day....yes, one day. That means picking him up early on a Monday morning after a road trip and returning him on Tuesday morning before practice. He "wants to get away", yet on the other hand, he is "enjoying every minute of this season." This seems like contradictory statements, although, who am I to deny a kid who wants to come home and maybe (just maybe) see his mom? Do I really think that this is the reason for his need to sleep in his own bed for night? Nope.

My thought is that he wants to see his friends who are beginning to come home from college. He also wants to see his old baseball team play a game against a rival. Perhaps, he can squeeze in some of mom's cooking and family banter while he is checking his text messages. Actually, he thinks that he is good at checking them without me noticing. It's not hard to miss his head going down and eyes looking at his pocket while his left hand is moving its fingers in response. I call that multi-tasking.

Ok, I will take the trip and pick him up from his him home. I am sure that his 'bubbly' personality will be evident as we drive the three hours home. Then he will run to his room to his computer to see if he missed anything. He will grab the keys to the car and say that he will be back for dinner. After a quick meal, he will once again, grab the keys and meet the guys at the old hang-out. He will return around 11ish, go to bed, get up early, run to the store for a bagel, get into the car, and overpower me with conversation (not). I will drop him off at his dorm and return home, fully refreshed from spending quality time with the big kid.

Will the 24 hours go this way? Absolutely. Do I mind? The answer is "no". He has basically been on his own for 9 months. He has done pretty well in his studies. After taking Nutrition as an elective, he now tells me when I am going to bite into something that is "pure fat and has no nutritional value whatsoever (no more Twinkies or Devil Dogs with him around).

This is actually a good thing. I have wanted some uninterrupted time with him for a long time. I actually have a written agenda and want to hold a not-so-impromptu meeting. There are many unanswered questions that he has avoided and he plans to move in June to play summer baseball without resolution. First, he does not know where he is going to live. A hotel is not an option. He was asked by his dad to contact the team coach for ideas on housing. Has he done it yet? What do you think? He also has to take a summer course and find a part time job. These are his worries, not mine. Yet, as a parent, I am still concerned that these details will not be addressed in time for his move. Some have suggested that he will land up living out of his car. The problem with this solution besides finding a zoning ordinance that allows it, is that he technically does not own a car. So, we eliminate that idea from the list.

It's all part of growing up. They want their freedom. OK, they can have it, but that means that I no longer handle the daily battles and issues that emerge. If they want to grow up, they have to make adult decisions. Even if this seems like busy work (and it is), it has to be done. And so, I look forward to a very interesting month, as I step back as a parent and watch....And living in my car in another state is not an option.....

Friday, April 29, 2011

Mohawk May Mayhem

Good Morning....finally the Royal Wedding is over.....Kate's dress was amazing....They both looked happy....wishing them the best. Oh wait...they have the best, including people to dress them, wash their laundry, cook their meals, wash the dishes, and drive them mistake...OK, I wish them love, happiness, and a long life together.

I received a text yesterday with an attached photo . It was my son's picture with his hair cut in a Mohawk. Apparently, it is "Mohawk May" and he decided to take the shears to his head a few days early. His dad's reply was "now your hat is not going to fit..." Ah, this is all for team unity. Actually, the hair cut is a 'faux-hawk', because he did not cut it down so far that he is bald. I saw the picture and grimaced remembering the days of his beautiful hair. His hair is such that people would stop and ask to touch it. As a child, a waitress asked him if she could feel his hair. It is thick and bushy and soft (without the excessive hair gel). While in Disneyland, the characters who played Jane and Cheetah (Tarzan reference) played with his hair as he stood in line. This did not please him a bit.

OK, it is Mohawk May...What will this mean for the team? Did they all shave their heads? Will the lack of hair result in more wins? Or more losses? Or will their hats fly off as they run for the balls or to the bases? They can't grow hair back quickly. Remember Mustache March? Well, some of the guys as they settled into hitting slumps, shaved their beards and mustaches before the month was over. The reverse with Mohawk May is not they will have live with the look and the batting slumps should they emerge. Thankfully, the family pictures were taken last week, but it is a moment to remember.

So, does facial hair or the lack of hair on the head with one streak of hairy bush-i-ness offer any kind of luck for an athlete? My nephew, who is also on a college baseball team will not shave until his team loses. Currently he looks like he is Amish. However, based on my experiences, the answer is no...if it was true, I, too, would have had a Mohawk in college when I played tennis. Unless this is a recent scientifically proven phenomenon that has been validated over the past few years, I will consider shaving the sides of my head for my next tournament. It can be the "ladies secret weapon". We would be the only winning tennis team with a Mohawk. This could take us all the way to the nationals and maybe even international certainly is something to consider. Cheeri-o!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A bullpen player's life: More than leaning against a fence

I have decided not to complain about the weather anymore. With these crazy storms and tornadoes ruining homes and lives, I have absolutely nothing to complain I am done with it....My thoughts and prayers are with the people who are struggling now and trying to rebuild their lives.

On to baseball, last night the team had a rain delay but managed to finish with a win. Today they will travel to Michigan for a weekend series. I don't know if they are flying or taking the bus. I guess that I will know soon enough when I receive my weekly "we are on the bus" text. No phone call...just a text. Modern science has really streamlined the communication process between parents and children. Gone are the days of the rolled eyes and we get to decipher the cryptic text message. I know a few short cuts...but not enough (LOL!).....

As I was thinking about today's post, team travel did not seem like an exciting topic, so I will look at the season to date and share what I have learned as a bullpen mother. The season has 3 weeks or more left to it. The "more" is if they make the play-offs. This is a real dream of the players since the College World Series is one of their goals (besides MLB).

Division I baseball is a year round endeavor. From the time that the kids are on campus, they are working out and training. During the fall, there is a series of scrimmages against each other and local teams. During the winter, the team is running. lifting, and refining their skills. Usually this is done indoors, yet they have been known to be outside in the stadium running up and down the stairs for endurance. They are also nutritionally monitored and have to gain weight in muscle. The coaches wanted Buddy to gain 35 pounds in muscle. This made me a bit nervous since I wanted him to do it the right way and eat nutritionally sound foods rather than ice cream, double cheeseburgers, and nachos. Yet, all of this takes a great deal of commitment and perseverance. They miss many family events. This year, Buddy was not home for Easter. He will also miss Mother's Day and be on the road. Fortunately, he was home for Christmas and Thanksgiving, but that's it. July 4th will be spent in another state too. (This is where I have to adjust to him really being gone...). As we get together to watch the games, I take a number of photos. I am still in the "parent" mode and have not turned it off yet. There are so many professional photographers taking pictures during games, yet none of these fancy pictures are better than my blurry photos of his ear or side of his face. I want to shout "stand still for the picture and smile..." but I don't think that the coaches will like I am stuck taking pictures of him moving around.

At the beginning of the season, it was Buddy's goal to play in 15-20 innings. He would consider this a good season. As of today, he has been in at least 17 innings with three weeks to go. He has accomplished this goal. The only one that he has not achieved yet is to start a game...hence his position in the bullpen is maintained. As I watch him in the bullpen...(yep, I get a bit bored watching the games)...he leans against the fence in the same spot...has the same routine when warming up....he rarely sits but watches the game (I think, intently). When his number is called, he is ready to go. First the stretches, then the jumping up and down....rotation of the arms...legs....throwing the ball lightly....more power...then full plays...he runs out to the mound....deep breath...ready for action....This is a bullpen player's life. He could pitch against one guy or many. He never knows.

As a bullpen mom, I have learned a great deal from these experiences. First, patience is important. When you think that he is going to be in a game....we go home without a sighting. Second, the sun rises and falls on baseball. A committed player thinks only of his or her sport (24/7) and maybe the next meal. I now know that a slider is not just a little cheeseburger, but a pitch used in certain situations in a game. Third, happiness depends upon the last game and performance. For example, if he strikes players out...he is happy...if he hits a batter...look out...very salty....
Fourth, the sport is more important than anything....A player would rather spend time with the guys going over strategies and plays rather than hanging out with a sorority. Last, a successful player has the ability to channel their attention and concentration to the point where they can 'block' out any distraction. Buddy honed this skill at I would ask him to do a few things around the house such as take out the trash or clean his room. He was able to successfully ignore my requests...this was practice for pitching in big games....if he can block out my voice, he can block out jeers and cat-calls.

And so it goes....each day, I learn something new. This blog is a great platform to share this incredibly important (or not so important) knowledge that I have gleaned....I will continue to type each day and let you know if I am correct in my analysis or way off base. With that said, I have to check my cell phone to decipher messages sent by my son....

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bullpen Mom's Dating Advice

Another rain out for our favorite team. Storms rolled through and would not leave. Thunder, lightening, downpours, and hail...a typical day in the mountains. Boy, am I glad that I did not go to this game. The broadcast is almost as good as being there without the elements of nature.

Yesterday I mentioned the boldness of some of the coeds on campus. I can't let this one go without commenting. I will probably sound very old (...and yes, I did walk to school in the snow and rain....) but...what happened to the days when a boy and girl would get to know one another then go on a date if they liked each other? It may seem old-fashioned, but I have always felt that this was a terrific way to start the dating process....that is, spending time with someone that you like. From what I can gather as I collect data from conversations with my freshman son, he does not like the anonymous letters and text messages to get together with women that he does not know. I guess he is a bit of a throw back to a different era.

With that said, I am pretty confident that he wants to see the person and have a conversation first. True, he was asked to the prom by a girl with a sign at a baseball game. Thankfully, he said yes to the girl after she went out of her way to paint a sign, stand at the game, and ask him between innings. I actually think that he was relieved that he did not have to ask anyone because he may have been afraid that she would say no....the perils of prom time...

So, what is my advice to college kids and others who want to find a person to date? Go to the gym, library, college dances, and get involved in campus clubs. Sadly, baseball is like a second job, so being part of the general campus is tough for the guys. They have to be a bit more creative. Buddy has relied on weekly parties at the athlete's houses to meet people. It is his opinion that the guys who do not have girl friends have more fun because they do not have to worry about them at the parties.

However, going to the parties (once the drinks have flowed) can be a bit dangerous for anyone. Buddy has been punched in the face, spit on, and had his cell phone broken by guys who were drunk at the time. As an athlete (or someone who is sane), he cannot fight back. He could hurt someone and land up in prison, as my friend's son did in college when he hit a drunk student who was pushing him around. This kid was arrested, spent a night in jail, had to obtain a lawyer, go to court on a number of occasions, and sued. All he did was defend himself, but as he did, the other kid landed on his head and was in the hospital for 24 hours. And so it goes....rather than drinking beer, try some hangovers, fights, or flying sputum. It could actually be a good time....will he listen to his mom? nah....have a good day...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Weekday games

The team has a game on Tuesday and Wednesday night. I am not there to watch since Buddy will probably not play and the price of gas has risen to the point of absurdity. I am keeping my fingers crossed that premium does not hit $5.00 gallon. Who is profiting here? Certainly, it is not the consumer. The days of running to the food store several times a day are gone. That little Prius is looking cuter each day....

With that said, besides the games, the semester is coming to a close. I heard from the big guy who was extremely angry that his professor "popped" the final exam on the class last night. "There goes my cum...." he reports. "Cum?" I think....OK, this guy was sort of looking at (maybe...perhaps....from a distance) the Dean's list. Hmmmmm...close...not close enough.....I hate the phrase that I keeping saying..."So, what did you learn with this incident?" It seems trivial and contrived, yet I said it anyway. Wrong thing to say! I think that he wanted to hear..."yeah, the guy is a were robbed..." Nope, I could not say it. 'Cause deep down inside, I think that the class may have known about the final exam and chose not to believe that this could happen. One of the players skipped the class altogether, so instead of a grade of (let's say....) 40, he will receive a grade of zero. No one said that college would be easy.

We spoke last night after the 'I was robbed' conversation. He was telling me that the girls were very aggressive. "Mom, they put their phone numbers on a piece of paper and slide it under my door...." He's not crazy about the aggression. It pushes him away. They seem to like him because he plays a sport and not for who he is....That is sad. My advice to him was to find a girl who does not like baseball....maybe she is into ballet or art....a nurse...or better yet....go to the library (it's in the center of campus....big building with windows and books)! This has made him sad. He's a nice guy, but is introduced as a baseball player. People don't even use his name.

I guess that he has to find his way in this world. He will learn to deal with coaches, room mates, professors, and the opposite sex. The best teacher seems to be experience....good luck Big Guy.....stay true to who you are.....don't fall into any traps....don't let anyone use you....With that said..."go team!"

Monday, April 25, 2011

Winning is not enough

Happy Easter Week!

We're back after spending the Easter weekend with the family near campus. The team played three games against a conference rival. We were lucky to be able to watch all of the games. Naturally, when we attend any of these events, we experience all kinds of weather. This weekend did not disappoint. Snow showers, downpours, clouds, some blue skies, and temperatures in the 60's. It was odd and memorable. I had six different coats in the car and was prepared for anything except warm weather. Naturally, the temperature went into the 60's and the heavy sweater, boots and turtlenecks sweater nearly killed me as I began to melt during Sunday's game.

Anyway, it was a wonderful time. The opposing team was an "elite" team who flies to games in their own! Just knowing that, I expected big losses....'cause if I was a great baseball player, this school would be where I would want to own plane...yeah! Although, WWAGD? (WWAGD=What would Al Gore do?).

With that said, this team was so good. Most of their players batted in the 300's, so you know that they could hit. In addition, pitchers easily hit 90 mph fast balls without breaking a sweat. It seemed like it would be a blood bath for our little team in the mountains, yet, it wasn't ;-)

The home team lost the first game. They looked and played run support....pitching was OK, but without runs, no team is going to win. The second game, the home team won (yahoo!). It was up to Sunday's game to see who would win the series. Naturally, we sat through a double header in the cold and rain and did not see Buddy play. I did get a few Easter photos for the album from his bullpen...that's it.

Easter Sunday looked to be a beautiful day. As I walked through the stadium gate, I asked the usher if it was going to ran, she confidently told me " rain today..." Ten minutes later, there was a downpour....Umbrella in the car...wool sweater soaked...A 6 foot Easter bunny was walking around shaking hands with the kids was wet and one was all fun.

To the game, we go....back and forth with the scoring. It seems by Sunday, the teams' pitching is not as sharp as Friday and Saturday, so usually, the scores are higher. Naturally, I assumed if we were going to see Buddy, it would be at the very end of the game. Unexpectedly, he was called out of his bullpen during the 7th inning (earlier than usual). The music played, he ran out....was handed the ball....and began to throw. It was very obvious that he did not have his "stuff"....this was NOT good. I believe that the score was either tied or the home team was up by 2 runs. He had to keep the opposing team from scoring for three innings and they would win the series. First batter faced....hit by pitch (oy!). Here he is on first base, with the tying run at home plate. The batter hit a double and the hit batter scored. Team up by one run....the coaches decided not to pull him and he "gutted" out the rest of the game. It was not easy. He did not strike anyone out. It was one of those pitching performances where he had to work hard for each out. Finally the game was over and the team won the game and the series. Currently they are tied for first and will meet the best team in the conference next week.

After the game, we waited for our Bullpen player for quite some time. When he finally appeared, he was in a 'salty' mood. He just won the game, and was in a very bad way. I knew why...he did not pitch up to his standards and therefore was not satisfied, even with the win. He is not good at masking his emotions (definitely not a theater major) and is very easy to read. He mentioned that one of the players was upset that the season rested on the shoulders of a freshman (Buddy). Buddy was insulted by the remark and let it bother him. It did not matter that the coaches were complimentary to him. He heard one nasty statement and this is what he remembers. And so it goes....they won the game....he won even without his "A" game....and he is not happy.

My BP Mom explanation is simple...he has to be the best...he has to give a great performance....he has to feel confident out there. Perhaps, without his game, he felt vulnerable. His comments throughout the season of "I would own them if I pitched..." were not articulated. Perhaps he was intimidated by the reputation and strength (and airplane) of the opposition. I don't know and will probably never know because he does not talk about feelings much.

With that said, he will work hard to regain his edge and confidence. I have no doubts....neither does he....One of the spectators asked me if watching him pitch during games made me nervous. I was honest when I told her "no". Buddy knows what to do. Even if his confidence wavers, my confidence in him does not. He has the work ethic and drive to be successful. He has a good defense behind him and excellent coaches. My heart might beat a little faster when he is in the game, but if I let it bother me, I would have died by now. After watching him pitch for ten years, I have learned to relax when he is on the mound. I say a few prayers...lean back....and throw positive thoughts in his direction. So far, so good..... Have a great day!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Happy Birthday to you!

I did not have the opportunity to post yesterday for a number of reasons. However, the most important reason was that it was our Tink's birthday! We spent the day together and traveled as a family to see Buddy pitch (or sit in the bullpen) during the evening game on campus. It was a great day and we enjoyed being together.

With that said, because it was a very important day, I tried to do things with Tink that were special or out of the norm. So, we had time to browse in the stores, have a leisurely lunch, shop, and sit at the bar before the game. I believe that this was the first time that I sat at a bar with my daughter (who was carded by the bartender....yet, I was not....) and her dad. It was time to order my "usual" ordered his usual club was Tink's turn and she decided on a "Shirley Temple". That's right...a concoction of soda and some type of cherry sweetener. The bartender looked cross eyed at her...but that's Tink....true to pretensions....just being herself. She would rather have a soda than a mixed drink. As a mom, I love it!

Game time approached and we got our tickets and sat in the midst of the Greeks. Not the Greeks from Greece, but the sorority and fraternity type of Greeks. It was "Greek Night" at the stadium, so the alphas and betas and zetas were represented. I expected loud and rowdy behavior, but did not see it. They were quite subdued, maybe even a bit tired from classes or last night's party. So, Greek night was not as I had expected.

There was definitely a chill in the air as we donned our "watching baseball in the mountains" attire. This consists of sweaters, long pants, gloves, two coats and a blanket. It was dad's first game, and he did not feel the need to bring a coat...rookie mistake. If he wanted to appear cool, he certainly the middle portion of the game, Tink and I had to surrender our blanket to him.

There was a bit of excitement on our part as the opposing team's coach was one of the coaches who had rejected Buddy when he tried out as a senior. The coach's "we'll be watching you..." never materialized during his senior year and therefore was never contacted again. This had been a blow to Buddy since he really wanted to attend this university (or any D1 school). So, once again, a big chip was on the big kid's shoulder as this team drove into town in their big coach bus. Remember the old Western movies when the bad guys in black hats rode into town on their horses? The townspeople were scared and hid in the saloon under the bar, yet the sheriff bravely walked in the middle of town with his arms ready to grab his guns and shoot upon provocation. Well, the baseball version of an old Western is not as exciting. However, Buddy was the sheriff waiting for the bad guys to yell "draw!" The question of the day was "will Buddy get a chance to prove to the opposing coach that he was wrong to stop recruiting him?"

The answer is "yes!" By the top of the 9th, the mid reliever began to fatigue. He had one out and one player on base. The team was up by two runs and they were desperate to win especially after Sunday's spanking by the conference team. The pitching coach walked slowly to the mound...the music began....Lynard Skynard's "Give me three steps..." was playing on the loudspeaker and Buddy's face appears on the scoreboard and he runs out to the mound...vengeance(in a figurative way!) revenge! It is time to show them what they could have had....First batter he faced....strike out! The second batter....grounded out to first base. Game over! Buddy has his first save and satisfaction of knowing that this team had made a mistake. As the players shook hands, Buddy stopped and approached the head coach. He mentioned that he had attended his camp. He thanked the coach for producing an excellent camp that helped him develop his pitching skills. Sheepishly, the coach said that he remembered him and wished him luck. Buddy walks out of the stadium and handed Tink the game ball as a memento of his first college save and a birthday present.

All in all, both kids received gifts for Tink's birthday. Buddy had the chance to make a point with his pitches, whereas Tink received the game ball. Although. he could have had the opposite reaction when he saw the opposing coach and been intimidated or aware that he was not good enough to play for this team. Instead, he pulled it together and channeled the inner competitor while making a statement with his game rather than with words. In my opinion, this is the best way to make a point. Let your actions speak louder than your words (...advice given to me as a kid by Grandmom).

It was fun and memorable for the family. What happens next is anyone's guess. We'll travel again this weekend for the conference series and spend Easter together. I will not be able to post until Monday, so stay tuned....until then...Happy Easter to you and your families.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Canceled classes and golden mufflers

There is not much to report on the team front. Buddy was keeping a low profile yesterday as he dove back into his school work. Believe it or not, he was annoyed when his Monday evening class was canceled due to the professor's illness. The days of desiring a snow day, teacher education days, and pandemic outbreak of swine flu are over. He actually wants to go to class....yet, I have to check into this one. My immediate analysis for his anger include the following reasons:
1. he walked to class and expected a class. The exertion of getting to a distant campus building needed to be rewarded by the chance to sit in the back row and take a nap.
2. he actually did his homework and wanted to surprise the teacher by turning it in on time.
3. he enjoys the class.....
I am going to rule out number 3. Perhaps his 'saltiness' was due to a combination of the first two possibilities.

I have known this kid for a number of years. There is usually a reason for his responses and reactions. Some of them are based on ethical and moral grounds....others are not...For example, I will never forget the day when he told me that he wanted to be a member of the clergy....He was sitting in the back of the car as we drove to the convenience store. He was in first grade and solemnly stated..." when I grow up, I want to be a priest..." As I nearly drove into a barrier, I quietly asked him about his "vocation" at the age of seven. He responded that they only work one day a week..on Sundays....hmmmm...7 years old and looking for a job where he only has to work one day a week. There is some budding critical thinking in that little mind....His calling lasted a week, then he wanted to be a fireman. By the time he was in 5th grade, religion and putting out fires were behind him; he wanted to be a major league baseball player.

Now his goal is to join the major leagues and pitch in the World Series. This works for me....don't these pitchers make big money? Let's dream a bit....OK, he signs a contract for let's say... $15 million dollars. In all honesty, a person only needs a few million to make it through life (especially with the current price of gas). So, with the extra $13 million, he could do a great deal of good with it. Build schools in Africa and Haiti, donate to Habitat for Humanity, establish scholarships for underprivileged kids, and buy a new muffler for Tink's car.

Why do I bring up the muffler? Well, after her accident last week, we got the repair bill. It seems that mufflers are made of gold and studded with diamonds, 'cause I gotta pay $2500.00 for a new one. With the old one, we can turn it into a planter and place it on the deck with pretty petunias in it. Or, I can wrap it up for her birthday. Another thought is to place it strategically in her Easter basket....A lasting memory.....

Monday, April 18, 2011

Little Big Horn

I don't really know how to begin this post except in chronological order. Saturday's game was rained out due to the monsoon that passed through our beautiful state. Depending on where a person lives, determined the amount of rain. We lost power for 6 hours, which didn't really bother me, although the smoke detector wired to the electrical circuit beeped all night.

While we tried to sleep with the beeps in the background, Buddy was awake in his dorm listening to the floor party late in the night past midnight. Around 1 am, he heard the student in the next room give off an odd scream. Bothered (don't disrupt this guy's sleep), he walked to his neighbor's room and found him on his back, passed out and vomiting. He was choking on his vomit. Knowing the seriousness of this, Buddy did his best to revive him and had to hit him hard (ouch..he does have a bruise). He dragged him to the bathroom and got him to drink water where he proceeded to throw up for the next 30 minutes. Confident that the alcohol was out of the kid's system, he brought him back to his room. According to the drunken mess, he swallowed 14 shots of liquor then returned to his room. Yikes! My take on this is that he wanted to get stinking drunk with this amount of alcohol in his system. In the days when I would "party" a bit, taking more than 1 shot was unheard of...first, I was a light weight and would fall down with this. Second, the effects that you would have the next day made that shot seem really stupid.

Ok, so our Buddy saved a kid's life. This was done on behalf of his grade school best friend who died this past summer after ingesting too much liquor. It was a little bittersweet that he could save the life of a student that he did not know yet could not help his own friend. Lessons to be learned here. ..lots of them....we are not invincible.

On to the double header....the forecast was cold and windy....and yes, it was.....
We arrived in time for game one at 11 am. It was a good game, where Buddy's team won by a run. Yeah team. He did not get into the game, so we figured that we would see him in game two. After all, this was a conference series and his earned run average was the lowest on the team.

Game two started around 2:15pm. We were bundled in our foul weather gear anticipating at least a cameo appearance by the big kid...after all, why else would we sit in an empty stadium with wind gusts up to 50 mph and a chill factor in the 30's? For Buddy...that's why!

Game two was a DISASTER! As I mentioned at the beginning of the season, the team's talent is somewhere in the middle...not the best...not the worst....Well, the worst emerged with a vengeance....By the third inning, our team was down, the 6th inning, then team was down the 8th inning...the team was down 14-3....we lost count...the opposing team was hitting baseballs like they were tennis balls. The home team looked and acted like the Bad News Bears, except they were not the finely tuned machine like at the end of the movie...they were the team that Coach Buttermaker found in his drunken state at the beginning of the movie sans Tatum O'Neill....

It was cold, windy, long and miserable. By the middle of the 8th after trotting out the entire bullpen except for Buddy, Tink and I made the executive decision to leave the ball park and run an errand. Even his dad turned the radio off because he could not stand to listen to it....We doubted greatly that he was going to enter this wild game, so we left. After the game ended, we picked up the big kid and took him to dinner.

He was in a very "salty" mood as we sat at our table waiting for the burgers and chili (only after a loss....with a win, there are salads....). As we reviewed the game, he said something about the errors that occurred while he was in during the 9th. What? You were in the game? Huh? I waited in the cold wind for 8 hours to see him play and when I left, he got into the game! What!!! My face has wind bottom has the grates of the seat embossed into it....what!

With that said, the coach said to him...please make this stop....go in and finish them off. Before Buddy entered the game, it was like Little Big Horn and General Custer...all of the team's General Custers had been by one...until our Buddy entered. Batter 1...hit a ball directly to third base...the third baseman dropped the ball...picked it up and threw it over the first baseman's head....batter safe...same thing with the next 2 batters...bases loaded ( that I did not see it). In fact, the first 3 batters that he faced made it to base on errors....the game would have been over without the errors...undaunted and a bit angry, he took over and ended the game on three easy plays. No one scored...bloodshed over...Dr Buddy took care of the hemorrhage.

Today, the team has the day off to regroup.....I am going to work and try to purge the day from my mind. I love the my the team...which is probably why watching the game yesterday was so painful. I felt their pain...their inability to get out of a funk...their frustration. We are all glad that it is over and look forward to Wednesday's game. Will I attend the game?'s Tink's birthday, I will let her decide. Until to go to work....have a great day...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Never a dull moment

Yesterday was transitional day for our Tink. She had her first car accident. Before anyone sends cards to the hospital (no need here), she backed Dad's car into a mountain of dirt and ripped the muffler off. Then she made the decision to drive to her father's office to confess and share with him the "dirty" details. I found out about it via a very exasperated phone call from the office. First, I am so glad that this was a muffler bender and not something more serious. Thank God she was not injured....Second, how can you get angry when she sheepishly asked me about any accidents I may have had?.....oops...there were a few and they were much more serious than hitting a mound of dirt. I guess that is why they are called "accidents", 'cause they are not planned....I doubt very much that she planned on hitting the dirt, it was not premeditated...So, let's use this as an educational moment....look behind you when you back the car out of a space. It is interesting, because Buddy also had an accident and it was the "other person's" fault. Similarly, Tink suggested another driver caused her to back into the dirt. Caution....there are people out there driving around unaware that they are causing accidents....beware!

As far as baseball is concerned, the team lost their first conference game of the weekend last night. It seems that they left a number of players on the base and could not get timely hits. The first pitcher went 7 innings, then the first reliever came out. The game progressed into the top of the 9th (game was at home) with the reliever struggling a bit with one out and two base runners. Then it happened...the game stopped and the pitching coach was called to the mound. The pitcher had an injury and had to be replaced immediately. A call to the bullpen...a call to the bullpen...a call to the one emerges....then a tall, lanky leftie runs out to the's Buddy! Where was he? Why didn't he immediately run out to the field? Why was he late? I had questions that had to wait to be answered. In the meantime, he faced two batters and got them both out. No additional runs scored. Sadly, the team could not score again and they lost the game.

Now comes the phone call home. After chatting with dad for 15 minutes, the phone was handed to me. " won't believe it..." Here it goes.....Apparently, Buddy was told that he was NOT going to enter the game, so he relaxed in his bullpen. At the beginning of the 9th, he decided to take a bathroom break in the locker room. As he sauntered back to the bullpen, the pitcher sustained his injury. The coach called Buddy's number to enter the game. Not prepared even emotionally, he could not find his glove. It was missing, or under coats, or under the seats, or (better yet) ...stolen....His walk on music is playing, the coach and infielders are standing on the mound and Buddy is running around the bullpen trying to find his glove. When it could not be located, he took another left handed pitcher's glove and flew to the pitcher's mound.

All's well, because he was able to get the final two outs but his "mojo" was interrupted because he did not have his personal glove and had to use another player's glove. It did not feel right. He shared with me that rather than focusing on each pitch, he was thinking about using this glove. He was out of his comfort zone. This can be compared to Federer using Nadal's tennis racquet...a person just doesn't do that....Buddy's glove was designed and made to his specifications (a D-1 perk). He loves his is his adult version of his 'blankie'....he is never far away from it..always in his sight....He learned his lesson and will always keep the glove with him...even in the bathroom (not...maybe he'll hire a babysitter to watch it) ;-)

As I reflect on the past 24 hours, I have come to terms that I have raised children who can handle most problems on their own. Buddy did not panic when he lost his glove and was able to adapt. Tink, albeit culpable for her accident, owned up to her issue and will take care of the damage. Over the past few years, I have been backing away from their daily lives. They are now living on consequences for their actions and decisions. Some of their choices have been very good...others have been 'not so good', but they are learning. These are life's lessons...not mine and are much more powerful. My new role is to continue to pray, listen, support, and reflect with them as they review some of the daily events of their lives with me. I am so happy that we have close communication and relationships. It's all a Bullpen mom needs as her children leave me...text me...send me an e-mail....miss you.....

Friday, April 15, 2011

Weekend Plans

Good morning! It's a beautiful day here as we wait for more rain. Speaking of rain, I have been watching the forecast an amateur meteorologist, I am scrutinizing weather maps, fronts, Midwest tornado locations, and barometric pressure. It is my non-expert opinion that it will rain for tomorrow's game...not just will pour up to 1.7 inches on the field. Temperatures will feel like it is 34 the rain.

Yesterday, I professed my great and undying love for my baseball player who sits in the bullpen. I would brave any elements, walk through a field of stink bugs, fish in an alligator infested swamp, clean a few toilets, and empty my wallet of all of its contents for him. Yet, I have now drawn a line in that walking or sitting in a frigid rain storm waiting for a game to be postponed. I will send my love to him in a metaphysical way....or just chat with him on the phone. That's it.

Tink and I have now made plans to attend Sunday's game. Sadly, little A, my niece and Dr G, my brother were going to come to Saturday's game with us. They will have to wait until the weather is more conducive to travel and enjoy watching Buddy sit in the bullpen. However, I have lots of photos of this phenomenon, so they will have to be content with the hundreds of pictures that I currently have....Buddy sitting on the bench...Buddy leaning on the fence...Buddy spitting seeds out of his mouth...Buddy's back and left ear....riveting photos depicting a guy waiting for his time....and waiting...and waiting some more....

Speaking of bullpen, I have been watching the little kids stand by the bullpen talking to the players. According to Buddy, they are pretty funny. One of the players asked a kid to buy a hot dog for him (yes, he gave him cash). The kid complied and brought a hot dog for the player. There is a great deal of banter that goes on there as they wait out the game and for their opportunity to play. Once the game is over, the kids wait by the exit door to obtain an autograph. This is funny autograph...although I sent Buddy to a Catholic school, he did not pick up the Palmer Method of cursive writing. His signature looks like seismographic scribble on graph paper used for measuring the strength of earth quakes.

Although he is a very nice person, I reminded him of the days when he would wait for players to throw a ball into the stands for kids to catch. In their younger years, Tink and Buddy would work their way to the front of the stadium and yell at the players to give them a ball...please....On a rare occasion, the player would comply and their day, week, month and year would be made.....Buddy shares with me that the kids do not care whether he played in the game or not. The kids are still excited for a moment with a player even if he sits on the bench. He wears the uniform...a sign of great coolness in their eyes...he made, team don't forget where you come many ways, you are still little kids who dreamed of the day when you would be called into a tight game by the coach to finish off and win it for the team....never forget the days in which you dreamed of what you have accomplished....stay kind to others....enjoy the ride...and give the kids a ball....

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Finally, the sun is out. I have been feeling like I live in England with the mist and cold weather.

Last night the team played their cross state rival and won the game. The starting pitcher went deep into 6 innings, so there was no need for a big bullpen presence. Although Buddy was "warming" up for entrance in the 9th....he never got into the game. It was raining anyway, so it is probably better that he was not in there.

He called home after the game and had a conversation with his dad. Apparently, he finds it critical that he adds speed to his fast ball this summer. Interesting will he accomplish it? What does a player do to make his fast ball faster and still be accurate? I see lots of kids "throwing heat" but they can't locate the plate. So, what do you do?

As I listened to the conversation, it seems that while he in in Ohio this summer, we will find a new coach and trainer to help him to maximize his potential. All this means...more coaching, working, money, training, money, stretching, money, and money.....Did I mention that this will cost something?

OK....I deviate from the topic...not really. Here is how it goes....players continue to need coaching to refine their skills. Tiger Woods has a coach. The top tennis players have coaches. It is the nature of the game. To be the best, you continue to work hard and train. So it goes with the college athletes. If my son did not take it seriously, then I would keep my money locked in a vault or hang on to my wallet. However, the big kid takes this like it is life and death. One year for Christmas, he asked me for a 50 pound bag of rice (not to feed the poor but to use as a method to strengthen his arm). So, I pulled a huge bag off the shelf at at Sam's Club, dragged it to my car, and wrapped it. The big kid loved it. I have a photo of a big grin as he saw that Santa had come through with the rice. No more Fisher Price plastic toys for this he wants whole grains...I was skeptical that he would actually use it and had plans to donate it to a soup kitchen. However, he dumped it into a big plastic container. Everyday during his senior year and the summer before college, his arm would be in that bucket of rice. Note to's cheap and they use it....As he left for college, the rice bucket was left in the garage next to the trash cans. I wanted him to take the rice with him to college, but apparently they have better techniques for conditioning and strength training. So the rice sits and waits....

This weekend, the team is playing a conference rival. The university is holding a huge spring celebration. Tink and I are going to attend some of the activities and the game on Saturday. Forecast for the day? Rain....not showers...rain...This is how I know that I love my son....really love him....I am ready and willing to travel, park two miles away from the stadium (because of the festival, they are closing roads and parking), walk in the rain, sit on a wet seat, wait for the game to begin, the game will be delayed, two hours later after sitting in the rain, it will be cancelled. Because the festival is so big, restaurants will be packed, so we will probably not eat until we return home. No problems, I have some instant rice that will cook up in a few minutes...enjoy the sunshine!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Rain and Bad Decision Making

It's early in the day and I have already made a poor decision that will affect me for the rest of day. As I ate the last piece of Grandmom's birthday cake for breakfast, I had "eater's remorse". The diet that I started yesterday has been temporarily placed on the back burner. Was it worth it? Sort of...wish I could have enjoyed breaking my 23 hour diet it goes....Speaking of back burner, we were startled this morning with the smoke detectors ringing at 4:30 am. Initially, you want it to go away and stay in bed, however, the decision to get up and find the source of the alarm eventually took over. Fortunately, there was no fire. However, I am still puzzled as to why the detectors continued to go off intermittently for an hour. I even got the manual out to read. Yes, women do read directions. Dad returned to bed unfazed. As always, it was up to me to save everyone including Diva Dog's lives....the story of a dedicated mother, plunging through the manuals in the early twilight hours, desperate to find the source of an electrical malfunction....No luck. I hope that this does not happen again tonight.

As far as rain goes, the team's game last night was postponed. No game. I actually made a very good decision as I decided not to attend because of the weather forecast. I saved myself from a 6 hour trip and forgoing a soggy seat in the stadium and a wet hot dog (yes, I would have broken the diet last night rather than this morning). Love accu-weather...always accu-rate.

Last night's game was to be an all time, epic grudge match. Buddy has given me permission to write about some of the less than happy details of the recruiting process. So, here all began with a letter of interest from a school in the mid-Atlantic region. The letter, written by the head coach, asked Buddy to attend a program on campus, meet the team, tour the campus, see the stadium, and attend a basketball game. This was the first of the letters, and he jumped at it. So, on a cold, windy February morning during his junior year, we journeyed 3 hours to the school. The coach gave a terrific presentation to 20 invited athletes. The tour was nice yet the school was in an isolated area. I got moderate positive vibes from it. After that day, he received more correspondence from the coach, a request to attend their baseball camps, and high school transcripts. It looked very favorable that this could be a match. Yet......

If you have read this blog on a semi regular basis, all is never well....if something can go wrong, it does. Between junior and senior years, Buddy contracted Lyme Disease. He lost weight and power on his fast ball and was not the same player that he had been before he was sick. He was asked to attend "another" camp ($250.00 plus hotel) and finalize a try out for this school. The players on the team who were on the field were amazed and asked Buddy if he was going to come to the school while the coach stood at a diagonal line in the press box and using the radar gun on Buddy as he pitched. The radar gun read mid-70's. He was no longer interested and he dropped communication with Buddy altogether. This was quite a blow for him because he had invested a great deal of emotional and physical energy trying out for a team that he thought wanted him. He was sad and miffed and angry. But, as you know, all was well when he was recruited for his current team.

With that said, last night's game was against the coach who rejected him last year. Buddy has a big chip on his shoulder (actually, not a chip...a bit of a boulder) and was slated to pitch against the team. His texts to me included phrases "I will dominate....I will own them...." As fate and weather would have it, the domination will have to wait until a sunny day.

As a mom, I wanted to tell him to let his anger go....everything works out for good...the best thing that happened was that the team did not want him....I tried to tell him, yet I understand his grudge. We spent a great deal of time, money, and emotional energy traveling to the school and attending their functions and camps. Here is where recruiting is big money. The showcases and camps are by invitation (inviting anyone with some money and a pulse). It seems a bit like a scam. None of the interested coaches ever saw Buddy play in a game. All interest was through showcases. The coaches are paid to attend and they charge a fee to the kids. I know a few talented players whose parents cannot afford to travel and attend the camps and showcases. How are they discovered? These are the kids who need the scholarships. I can pay for my son, but what about the others? The amount of money that we paid on the camps, showcases, websites, tournament teams, lessons and so on are equivalent to the national debt. The way I look at it is, if he wanted to become a chef, I would send him to Paris or Tuscany to study. If he was interested in art, trips oversees would be necessary. He wanted to be a division 1 athlete, so we send him to train with the best coaches in the region. It's what a bullpen mom would do....right? I gave him the opportunity, yet he took it to the next level. As a family, we are like a team...helping each other achieve their maximum potential. And so it goes...tonight, the team plays a cross state rival...more tomorrow....time to exercise.....

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bench Chaos

Today the team has a home game. The forecast is rain. Tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday's forecast is rain too. Enough already! So much damp weather and its cool too....wet and cold....yuk!

I wanted to give an update about the player who was hit in the face on Sunday. He is out of the hospital and has had his teeth re-positioned. If that sounds painful to you....I find it excruciating to think about it. Word has it, that he is back on campus. Way to go they say when a batter is hit...."it's OK...we have ice...."

I spoke with Buddy last night. He talked about the players in the dugout "calling each other out" with some shoving and yelling. They were getting into each others' faces and it was a bit chaotic. When I asked him what the coaches did, he said..."nothing...they liked it...." So, let's reflect on this new phenomenon that I have discovered....players punching each other when the other does not make a play....yelling at each other...calling each other out and to task on errors....oy! Let me think about it.....

Ok....Here are my BP Mom thoughts.....the kids (yes, they are still kids and are not being paid) are playing at a high level. There is a great deal at stake as they want to win the conference title and go on to the College World Series...they dream about it (in color...not black and white). The coaches want/demand accountability for the players' action and lack of action. They cannot nor do not want to police the team. They want the team to be accountable to each other. This is how they build a team and team unity. When team mates scream at each other for a missed opportunity, the coaches smile...their job is done. No need for them to say a word..the players have already done it.

I asked my son if the team got into his face. His response was "yeah...they called me out and told me that I looked scared and was not aggressive enough..." For an introverted freshman, that must have been quite intimidating as it came from the upper class men. So, what was the result? Well, the big kid has only one earned run hit against him this season and that was due to a Chicago fog and the outfielders' inability to see the incoming ball to field it. He is proof that this "in your face" coaching and mentality can and does work.

Would it work for me? Nope...I would cower in fear and hide in a corner so that I would not be picked on....I would be praying....don't put me in...I don't want the ball...can I sell some hot dogs instead? These players are big...I mean big....I am sure that their mom's food bills are sky high. Therefore, having someone that big and intimidating coming at me would result in me losing my lunch rather than the fear in my eyes.

Yet, the coaches philosophy is working for this team. The players embrace it....good for them. I coached college tennis for a few years. I never raised my voice..never called anyone out. The way that I looked at it, they were trying. No one wants to lose....except this one girl. I don't remember her name, but she was winning a match handily. During a coaching break, I told her that her opponent had twisted her ankles. This was code for "finish her off...time to go home..." An hour and half later, the match was over. I asked the player what the scores my amazement, she lost! What happened? The response was...after the player was told that her opponent had sore ankles, she hit the ball right to her so that she did not have to run.....To this day, I still scratch my head in disbelief. Why do I share this odd and unbelievable story? Well, coaches have their own style that leads them to success. You have to tinker with it over the years to find out what works. It seems that chaos and street fighting between innings is effective. My only advice is to hide the out for projectile objects such as balls and gloves and keep your head down when you make a mistake on the field....

Monday, April 11, 2011

Hi's and lows....

Today is Grandmom's birthday...Happy Birthday Mom! We celebrated yesterday with the sibs and some grandchildren. Lots of food...lots of you Mom!

One grandchild who was unavailable for the party was Buddy. He was relegated to his bullpen as he sat and watched his team fold in the final game of the series. Like last week, the team lost in the final inning and could not complete a series sweep. A very scary moment occurred when one of the players was hit in the mouth by a fast ball. Unlike our very lucky Buddy who sustained a near miss two weeks ago, this guy was not as fortunate. He went down and to the hospital. He has a broken jaw and wired mouth. His teeth have been altered and in layman's terms...he's a mess. He stayed in the hospital as the team traveled home. The trainer (who lent Buddy his hat) stayed with him until his parents could fly into town. Talk about frightening.....He is absolutely in my thoughts and prayers....

As the kids grow older, the competition is much more fierce. The fast balls are really fast...the hits are home runs and if the players are not gifted with athleticism...they will be the player above and Buddy when he was hit by a line drive. We are no longer playing stick ball in the street..this is big business.

This thought leads me to think about kids who desire to become major league players. I love the dreams and ambitions. Don't all kids want to pitch in the World Series or catch the winning ball in a crucial series? Sure...that's one of the American dreams. However, as they creep toward this elusive goal, the stakes are amplified. They have to be in top athletes...constantly working to improve their skills. As the kids aged, some of them could no longer keep up with the rest of the team. I guess that this is like the survival of the fittest. If they leave these kids in games, they can be injured. Even the best athletes can be injured.

So where does this leave some of the kids who want to play professional sports and do not have the athleticism to do it? Well, their lives are going to be just fine. They already have a work ethic and, I envision them as brain surgeons, engineers, chefs, physical therapists, authors, teachers, nurses, lawyers, and so on. They will be able to care for these crazy athletes when they come to the hospital or need rehabilitation. We all have our own's how we use the talents that we are given. It is no surprise that I will never play at be it...but I was once there.... as a tourist...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunday News

It's baseball season AND Masters' golf tournament...something for everyone.

Buddy's team took two out of three this weekend. They fell a part at the end of today's game and lost it by a run. I am sure that the coaches and players are not a happy bunch as they board the plane home.

Yesterday, Buddy entered the game in the 6th inning. As always, when he is in a game, it is never boring. For one thing, the fog rolled in off Lake Michigan. The outfielders could not see the balls when they were hit into the air. It sounded comical when I listened to the broadcast. I would have laughed if my son was not in the game.

With that said, he had to wear someone else's cap. He was not happy about it, but it was his fault as he left his in his locker at school. So, with a tight hat, fog, and a bad cold, I was pretty sure that this would not be the greatest outing for the big leftie. He struck the first batter out...second batter hit a triple...the third batter hit a double as the opposing team scored. This was the first earned run scored against him this year. He settled down and almost finished the game. He left with the bases loaded and two outs at the bottom of the 9th. I found myself talking to the radio...."Come know how to throw a strike....what's this?"....It was definitely a merlot moment. The team won and I heard from Buddy about an hour later.

"Mom," he says...."they were calling you names...." "Huh?" I asked...."They were heckling me and telling me that you were a 'lady of the night'(my version...not the hecklers). I had to laugh at this one....a lady of the night for me consists of the hours of 6p through 10p. Not much going on then...I asked him if he was bothered by it. "Naw, I just laughed."....I am thinking that he should have been deep in concentration rather than listening to the fans in the stands. All in all, he kept the team in the game as they pulled out a victory.

I forgot to consider the magnitude of today's game. It was a conference game and the coaches let him play. This is huge as he has earned their confidence. All of the games that Tink and I attended where we saw the back of his head only and drove the long car ride home...and he has made it....however, he is are only as good as your last time to relax...keep working on it....
I wonder when he can sit back and enjoy it....if he is stressed all of the time and worried that he will lose his spot, won't that make a guy (or girl) a bit crazy? As a mom, I hope that this is what he he has been achieving his goals, what is next? I will sit back and wonder....this is what a lady does at night...wonders.....

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Weekend News

It's been a very busy end of week. This is the first time that I have had time to catch up on BPM postings. If you follow this blog, you know that Buddy, a freshman left handed college pitcher traveled to Chicago on Thursday for a weekend conference series. Two of the players on the team were left behind since conference games have a set number of players on the roster. It must have been tough for these kids to have to stay on campus while the others traveled. And travel, they did. First, they left campus on a bus and traveled to an airport almost 4 hours away, then they flew to Chicago, and took another bus to a local suburb. The travel itself can be very tough. I think that the players spend more time on a bus than they do on the field.

With that said, Friday's game was canceled due to rain. Today, they will play a double header. I am not sure if Buddy will play, but I will be listening on the radio.

He called late Thursday night when the team arrived at the hotel. "Guess what?" he says...."I left my hats in my locker...." Two thoughts come to mind....First, tough luck, pal....and the second is "are you asking me to do something about it?"
I am sure that Buddy is NOT the first player to forget something on campus. The hat can he forget his hats? Thankfully, his head is attached to his body via his neck, so that is there...but really...the hats? This is a kid who the night before any game would carefully pack his clothes and equipment. He never forgot anything. Once in 5th grade, he left his bag open in the locker room. One of the players on his team forgot their pants and stole his. When he returned to his bag, the pants were missing. Freaked out, he called me and tearfully told me what had happened. Naturally, the coach felt that he left the pants at home. However, I knew better because I saw them packed in his bag the night before and let out a sigh of relief that he was so organized (when it came to baseball). Anyway, he was not allowed to play without the pants. I called the coach and asked him to give him another pair, but he refused. He felt that Buddy had to pay the price for "forgetting" the pants. I ran to the store and paid for another pair of gray pants and was furious with the coach. Needless to say, the "perp" who stole the pants dropped them in the lost and found the next day. The coach never apologized and gave the pants back to Buddy. By the way, the pants had been worn and were dirty. On the bright side, he had two pairs of gray pants that lasted two seasons.

Back to the forgotten hats. Dad offered to let one of his room mates use the FedEx account number to overnight the hats to Chicago. However, Buddy did not take him up on it. He went to the team manager and spoke to him. The trainer (bless his little head) offered to let him use his hats. Unfortunately, the trainer's head is smaller than Buddy's so this should be interesting as Buddy squeezes his big head into the little trainer's hat. I wonder if it will affect his pitching OR if the trainer will want his hats back after Buddy sweats through them?

So, there you have is never smooth or easy. Despite trying to be organized and prepared, something is bound to go awry. I guess the best piece of advice is to suggest that one should be prepared for the unpredictable. Life has a tendency to humble us as we trudge through it. Something as seemingly insignificant as a forgotten hat can add misery to a ball player's day. They have a routine that they follow before each game. Using another hat may alter this comforting routine and can mess with their minds. As relieved as he is to have a hat to wear, it does not have the same crack in the brim or sweat stains. I used to tell the kids not to ever use another kid's comb, brush or never know if they have lice.

Well, I am sure that the trainer does not have lice, but is Buddy thinking of that in the back of his mind when he should be focusing on his fast ball? Probably not, 'cause I don't think that he has listened to anything that I have said since he was eight years old. As a college professor, I can see in my students' eyes when they have "checked out" and are not listening to my riveting rhetoric. It's the same with my own kids. They get a glaze in their eyes that the elderly call 'cataracts'. The 'cataract-look' emerges during educational moments such as "Don't put the car into park until you have come to a complete stop" or "Stop signs are not optional" or "do not use hand soap in the dishwasher, the suds will squeeze through the sides of the dishwasher" or "use a paper towel to clean up a broken egg and not the vacuum cleaner" or (my favorite) "the toilet paper roll does not have magical powers and change itself..."

And so, I will be listening to the radio as the double header is played between the two teams. When Buddy enters the game, I wonder how it will go...will the hat interfere with his performance? A person can laugh now, but if you are or have been an athlete, something as minor as wearing another hat can interfere with your 'mojo'....let's see what happens....more tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Change in plan

Guess what? A game was held last night. The weather was frigid....21 degrees...snow squalls...wind....a perfect night for baseball under the lights.

At first, I was a bit upset that I did not make the planned trip since Buddy told me that the game was all but canceled. However, once I heard the conditions on the radio, I was really happy to sit in my chair and listen contently in the warmth of my home.

With that said, the starting pitcher had some troubles in the first few innings. Errors abound and the team was down early. Around the 5th inning, my favorite left handed pitcher was put into the game. The announcers did not know how to pronounce his name at first. This was a reflection of what little playing time he has had during the season. The first thing that they said about him was that he was the only player in the stadium not wearing long sleeves under his uniform. Then the broadcaster commented that it could be a function of being left-handed and that lefties were "not all there in the head". hmmmmm......not all there in the head, eh? Perhaps....

As the inning progressed, they got excited about Buddy's pitching. He was able to contain his opposition. He pitched two innings to 6 batters. Six up...six down...the game was tied. Buddy was taken out....the opposing team scored a run and the team lost. After the game, the broadcaster in review of the game said that our big kid was nothing short of brilliant....oy! Don't let this one go to your head.

When he called home after the game, I tried to focus on his big test this morning and whether he had dinner. I knew that he was happy and pumped up, but he still had to take a major exam and do well. It has to be are these players...they have two jobs....playing and preparing for games...traveling and still keeping up with their studies. Some of the kids have tough majors like engineering and pre med. Freshmen like Buddy are 'undeclared' and need to figure out what they would like to do with their lives besides play baseball. Sure, it would be fun to play in the majors, but chances are somewhat slim for even the most motivated kid. So, the studies are so important in this point of their lives. Keeping balance.....having fun....hanging out with friends...getting enough rest...they need harmony....However, since most of them do not have it, they have to enjoy the ride...have some fun while preparing and playing games...relax a bit. Here are where your college memories are.....don't forget to stand back, take it all in and enjoy the show....these are the days to remember....

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Rain Out

Today's game has been rained out. A big storm system is crossing the country and the coaches have postponed the game. This works for me. I have lots to do at home and in the office.

I spoke with Buddy yesterday. He is working hard to raise his grade point average. He sees some A's in future. This is terrific as he seems to be working as diligently on his studies as he is on his fast ball.

He is going to be play baseball in Ohio this summer. I looked on the team's website and his name and photo are already listed. The schedule is also posted. They have approximately 50 games in two months. Is there ever too much baseball? I am beginning to think this may be the case.

I was in Cleveland once for my dad's heart surgery at the Cleveland Clinic. This is really my only experience with the state. So, I will now have the opportunity to learn about a new region of the country as we look for short term housing in Ohio. This can be fun and expensive. We'll need a furnished home or apartment that is reasonably priced. Here is what I am looking for:
1. 2 bedrooms
2. clean, clean, clean, clean
3. safe area where we can walk to stores
4. furnished with clean furniture
4. did I mention clean?

Often when I think of rentals that are furnished, my vision goes to college days where furniture was broken, ants were daily guests for meals, mold and mildew were abundant and I was too grossed out to sit on the sofa but did anyway. I am sure that people who are renting places now have higher standards than the college scene.

Life keeps changing. I often think that Buddy is enjoying living his dream, yet he said to me yesterday that he would love to come home for a few days. It probably has something to do with his friends playing baseball locally. Could it possibly be that he misses his family? hmmmm.....nah....

With that said, he is off to Illinois for a weekend series. I can listen on the radio since I subscribed to the online package. The announcers are pretty good. And it is almost like being there....except, there is no wind, rain, chill and I am comfortable sitting in my chair, reading, or working and listening to the game. I also do not have to pay $3.00 for a tiny box of Swedish fish or $4.00 for bottled water. The money stays in my pocket as I stay home. All is well in bullpen mom's world....enjoy the day....

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sunday Sunday

Yesterday Tink and I drove to the game 3 hours from home. Actually, I let Tink take the wheel since she needs some experience on the turnpike. After a few harrowing lane changes that altered the growing ulcer in my stomach causing it to scream in pain, she got us there safely. I am proud of our girl. She gripped the steering wheel with such a force that I thought there were permanent hand indentations in it.

The sun tried to come out from behind the clouds, so the air was chilly. I thought somehow that Buddy would enter the game. I even wore my lucky sneakers. This was not the case. We watched the game in its entirety. The home team blew out the competition. The opposing coach was not only thrown out of the game but out of the stadium too. He must of had quite a 'potty mouth' to have to leave the stadium and sit in the bus.

Anyway, we had a glimpse of my son before we left for home. He never made it out of the locker room to speak to us. So, we decided to head home. I did get a few photos as he was moving from the dugout to bullpen. All in all...not much happening. The next game is Tuesday night at 6pm. I am debating whether I want to make a three hour drive again and get home at midnight. Not sure....Going to think long and hard about it.

So, the life of a bullpen mom means that you make the trips, sit in a cold or very hot stadium for long periods of time and wait and wait, then wait some more. Perhaps I will see my son pitch an inning or two...then again...maybe not. What's the purpose of taking time and expense to travel to the games? I guess the answer is that I love my son no matter what...whether he is the star of the team or the star of the bullpen. Either way, he's my number one pitcher, and I will continue to watch him shine even if he is sitting on the bench.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Weekend Series

Life is so interesting. The only thing that is constant is change. Got to embrace it or one will be unhappy. Speaking of happiness, I once had a cup of Salada tea as a kid. The tea bags have a quirky quotes on them. Each one is different and mostly unmemorable except one that I will never forget. The tea bag suggested..." Happiness is not doing what you like, but liking what you do." What a profound saying from a little tea bag that I read during the 1970's. It changed my life in a flash. I was stuck in a really crummy minimum wage job, no car, saving money for school,and no funds for some of the basics like a Bic pen (19 cents at the time). Once I read the tea bag, I thought that we are responsible for our happiness and it has nothing to do with what we do not have or seek. It means being content in the moment and enjoy the ride. Such a powerful message from a cup of hot tea.

With that said, yesterday's baseball game was a bit of a pitching disaster. The team blew a 6-run lead and lost. Yikes! No, Buddy did not pitch, but he did say that he could have shut the opponents this confidence or arrogance? I am voting for the former. You have to believe that you can do it. If not, sit down in the bullpen and wait to play against a high school team, 'cause you don't belong on a D-1 baseball team.

I once read an article about Michael Jordan. He said that he wanted the ball especially when they were down or needed points. He was positive that he could make the difference in any game. Yes, he was the go-to guy on the Bulls. Similarly, Buddy wants to be the go-to guy. In fact, he has been working all of his life for the opportunity. One of these days, he will get it. This will then be the time to see how tough he is. Until then, I will listen to the game today on the Internet and hope that he gets his chance. But as the insightful tea bag happy with the role that you have today. One day, you will get your got me through some tough times...go team!

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fools!

April Fools! It is snowing! Yes, there is snow outside. Thanks Mother Nature for the joke. We get it...very funny...ha ha...let's move on to nicer weather, please!

This weekend begins conference competition. Therefore the team will stop at nothing to defeat their foes. This also means that the bench warmers will remain on the bench. Starters and most reliable players will enter the game. So, this is a pivotal weekend for Buddy. As a freshman, he will not start a game, yet, will he appear? I am not sure.

Anyone playing sports will share that they are on the team to play and not sit on the bench. Yet, everyone has to pay their dues and earn a coach's trust. The coach does not want to send a player out on a field because he likes them. The players have to prove that they are ready, prepared, and able to make a positive impact on the field. It is not something that happens immediately. In Buddy's case, his high school coach did not believe that he had any talent, despite Buddy's work ethic and abilities. In fact, the coach was shocked when college coaches approached him about Buddy's ability to pitch and play first base.

Even in elementary school, two coaches were interested in him attending their high schools. One coach spoke with his 8th grade teacher. Another called me and asked me to consider sending him to a high school 45 minutes from our home. Not wanting to hurt the guy's feelings, I told him that it was too far, no busing, etc. He all but promised to pick him up and drive Buddy to school every day. It was then time to "just say no" (thanks Nancy Reagan). The coach hung up and I never heard from him again.

While playing legion at the end of sophomore year, a college coach wrongly approached his team coach (they are not supposed to do that). He gave the coach his business card and said that he would be "watching" and to consider his school. Buddy had lots of options for Divisions 2 and 3, yet all he wanted was division 1. Letters arrived at the house asking him to complete a data base of his skills and interests and return them to the school. During his high school junior year, a coach with a radar gun suddenly appeared in front of the screen behind the catcher as Buddy threw a ball. Startled, the ball went into the dirt.

Coaches sent hand written notes which meant they were really really interested. As senior year approached, a school in Maryland called on July 1. July 1 is the first time that a coach could contact a player for the following year. Buddy was thrilled to have the attention as he waited for more calls to come. Sadly, no one of interest to him called until January of his senior year. In the mean time, he continued to play and showcase his talents as he regained his strength after a bout with Lyme disease.

With that said, the team of his dreams recruited him and he felt "at home". This was it. This is what he worked for and wanted. Now, as the season progresses, he is relegated to the bullpen. Only time will tell if he plays or wins the "Golden Splinter Award" for being a bench warmer. With the snow outside, I think that bench 'warmer' can be change to bench 'chiller' or bench 'cooler' or bench 'freezer'...something that indicates that he is there...sitting...watching....desperately wanting to play....has to stay calm...wait for the chance...put me in coach..please!