Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Good morning! The team is in the throes of the fall ball season and anxiety levels are high. It seems that the fall season is a great indicator of who will play in the spring. Naturally, all of the players want to be starters, therefore the competition among the players soars. Ultimately, players who are living with the same position players are struggling to be civil to one another. Who does that remind you of?

On Sunday Buddy called to share his anxiety about Monday's scrimmage. He has had some confidence issues since the summer and lost part of his swagger. Swagger is so important to the players. One may think that this is a cockiness or a bad thing, but actually it is a defense mechanism to throw the competition off their games. A swagger indicates confidence in one's abilities to dominate. It sounds a bit like war and in a way, it is.

The players are at war with one another and with their competition. This is what competition is really about...a bloodless war...someone wins...someone loses...no blood, death or destruction of lives and property (in a literal sense). It is survival of the fittest and team competition pushes each player to rise to the competition or sit on the bench and watch the harder working, more fit players take the field in the spring. No player with an ego will want the bench activity. A guy with swagger wants the field and the ball. He wants to be a hero. He wants to dominate with his athletic prowess and demonstrate that he is the king.

How do you know this, BPM? I do not have enough swagger to suggest that I have the experience that my leftie has, but I do know a few things about competing and wanting to win. Otherwise, I never would have put myself out in college playing tennis. During my four years on the team, I had to compete each season for a starting spot. There is no way that I was going to go to practices each day and not play...no way. Someone would have to literally take me down before I allowed it. So, we competed and naturally my team mates were my enemies for a while until the roster was completed, then we started to like each other again....sort of. Yet, swagger on the women's tennis team was different than baseball. Once I was pulled aside by one of the captains suggesting that my attire of a Springsteen shirt, tennis shorts, and ripped tennis sneakers was not acceptable on the team for practice. After all, the men's tennis team was playing next to us and what was I thinking? Oh right...I was looking for a guy rather than trying to perfect my un-perfectable overhead shot...gotcha (by the way, this is a different type of competition).

Back to Buddy, I just received a text from him as he finishes morning practice. Apparently, he is vomiting after the work out. I think that this is a good thing as well as a bad thing. Are the athletes supposed to puke after a strenuous work out? What about the loss of electrolytes and fluids? Isn't this physical entity contraindicated when you have a supervised work out? Something tells me that the big leftie continues to work past his physical capabilities to prove his worthiness. I texted back to him to drink Gatorade....good BPM advice, yes?

All of the aforementioned leads to the question: "What happened yesterday at the scrimmage???" OK, here goes....the scrimmage was at 3 pm. Buddy called on his way to the field. I reminded him about Coach T's advice...'don't think...throw the ball as hard as you can...' I like those words. As a minor league player, he knows what he is talking about...And so, I waited and waited for a call after the scrimmage. He generally calls dad first to go over the pitches, then if he is in a good mood will call me next. Sadly and forlornly, I waited and waited and waited....it was 7 pm before I had gotten an update. It seemed that from the lack of communication that he was shelled during the competition, but I was wrong....

Here is the ESPN replay offered during my interview with the starting pitcher: "I started the game and immediately loaded the bases with no outs (OY!!!!!), then I struck out the best player on the team, got the next player to hit a shallow ball to outfield, and the third player grounded out. No one scored." I took a deep breath...whew...well done, kiddo, you got yourself out of a jam. The story continues: "I had two men on base and no one scored in the second inning. The coaches were glad that I was able to get out of two jams but suggested that I try to stay out of trouble..." Good advice, I was thinking the same thing myself...I am on the same wave length as the coaches. Can I have some chewing tobacco now? "We lost the game 2-0 when N. gave up two runs..." Ouch....fun times in the apartment tonight, right boys?

And so, the competition continues during practices and scrimmages. We will be traveling to campus this weekend for the baseball parent's weekends activities which are two weeks after the actual university parent's weekend, but who cares? He was not going to take us to meet the dean or his adviser anyway, since he has no idea who the dean is and has yet to select a major...one milestone at a time. I am happy that his fall ERA is 0.0.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Life lessons learned on the court

Greetings! I know that there are times when I joke about my son as he grows and develops into the man that he is destined to become. All of the humor is just that…humor. I try to look at life as a series of events that construct the complicated 1000 piece puzzle of our lives. If I didn’t laugh, then I would probably be sitting in a padded room allowed out for medication and therapy. Humor is generally the way I cope and look at life.

Therefore, when I joke about the big kid and his lack of spelling prowess (how do you spell my middle name?) or inability to follow through on simple directions (you place the empty can into the recycling container), I am actually sending our messages of how unique and wonderful the guy is and how blessed I am that he and his sister are in my life.

OK, enough of that mush…. last night, Buddy called while we were cleaning the kitchen after dinner. With the dishwasher churning, football game blaring, and the vacuum roaring, I tried to hear what he was telling me from outside of the study hall. Apparently he and a few other pitchers were asked to play wheelchair basketball with a group of wounded Iraq warriors (the team sponsors this group and raises funds for them). Buddy and 6 other guys had the opportunity to work out with these athletes. From what he shares with me, they were in terrific shape as the warriors crushed the pitchers in a game of hoops. He explained the game to me and mentioned his hands, shoulders, and arms ached from moving the chair up and down the court. His legs were cramping and muscles were uncomfortable. He also joked that he was asked to guard a girl in a chair who had been paralyzed in a Humvee accident. He refused to block her shot but she aggressively ran her chair broadside into his showing some feminine domination...you go girl!

Then he mentioned that he could get up out of the chair, but the others could not. He was humbled by the experience and plans to join the group when they play again. After posing for pictures with the hoop warriors, he invited the players to the home games as he would take care of their tickets. The guys made lots of new friends.
I am not going to joke about this one at all. I was impressed by the players’ humility and experiences and grateful that he was given yet another opportunity to learn about life without having to listen to me pontificate. The experience was worth 100 sermons at the 7:30 am mass.

And so, life goes on and another week begins. It’s time to go back to work....have a good day.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

To dip or not to dip...that is the question

Good Morning! It is Sunday and sunny in the south. Dad, Tink and I are visiting the in-laws, Pop and the Southern Belle for the weekend. We caught a glimpse of Blue Devil as she punched in and out on Friday. It's good to reconnect with family. Buddy cannot believe that we made the trip without him. Guess what pal? We have a life outside of the bullpen ;-)

I have been thinking about what to post over the past few days. I did not have the computer, but I did have access to my convoluted mind and came up with a quick discussion on bad habits....Bad habits, BP mom? What do you mean by bad habits?

What I mean by bad habits are the things that the ball players do (including Buddy) that are not good for the body, mind or spirit AND are not what I taught him as a child.

Bad Habit number one: Have you ever seen a players spit on command? I have...a good spitter can send a thick, round, wad of sputum ten feet and land on a dime. Also, a decent spitter has great accuracy and a tremendous amount of sputum to release onto the earth and upon command. I find it disgusting and could not believe my son had so much liquid in his mouth. At first, I thought that he was spitting out dirt or bugs that he would inhale on the ball field. Then I began to suspect that this was more than a ball field cultural phenomenon, that perhaps he is spitting some substance out that he could not swallow. Are you following me here...'cause this took me a number of months to figure out and now I am much more aware of what is going on....

The substance that these knuckleheads are spitting onto the mound and field (and on my garage floor) is chewing tobacco! Yeah...you are reading this correctly...chewing tobacco...fondly known as 'dip' to the savvy consumer. Never in a million years did I think that my kid would conform to the craziness of the bull pen and dugout by doing something so disgusting and harmful as to use and hide it for as long as he did....at least six months. Chewing tobacco is as addictive as cigarettes without the smoke. It can discolor and erode the teeth and mouth as well as cause cancer (I googled it).

I found the contraband on his desk at home. Yep, on his desk...lying there...the round can screaming: "look at me....your son dips..." As I found it, I could feel a scream coming on but stopping in my mouth. "Uh, son..." "Yes mom?"...."Is this your can of chewing tobacco?"...."What can of chewing tobacco?" ..."This one lying next to you on your desk with your fingerprints on it...." "Mine! HECK NO! It's Dewey's and Meat's, I am holding it for them..."

Oh yes, the 'I am holding this for my friends excuse....' never used in America or throughout the world...not mine, but my best friends. He all but threw them under the bus but was wise enough to know that I would not approach their parents. So, you are telling me that this is not yours, you have never used it, and I am not to worry....correct? And, you are telling me that you tried it once and found it vulgar, yet Dewey and Meat continue to use it? Correct.

Yep, he claims to have tried it once and never did it again. In fact, he has been trying to get his friends off the stuff. Hmmmm...OK for now, but I will be watching and if I see any sign of this again, you're gonna be a very sorry pitcher. I was not sure what I was going to do, after all he was finishing high school and my influence was linked to the car and money. He no longer had to listen to any of my advice because I needed to trust him...right?

And so, high school graduation came and went with the usual fan fare...summer baseball....pack for college...fall ball....the holidays. My son had moved out and was basically on his own. I had to trust that he learned our "system" and subscribed to it. I exhaled for a few minutes until a friend asked for socks for the homeless. She was collecting unpaired socks (which we have zillions) for a city shelter. According to my friend the homeless do not care if their socks match, they are happy to be warm in a pair of red and green socks that cover their feet. Since Buddy had a whole drawer of unmatched socks, I looked at it as an opportunity to get rid of what he does not use (they were in excellent shape, but did not have partners) and give them to someone who could use them and feel warm. His baseball socks were colorful, thick, and warm and perfect for someone who needed more layers of clothes. As I pulled sock after sock out of the top drawer, I came upon one long blue sock that was filled with something other than a foot. Upon further inspection, I found...you guessed it....14 empty cans of chewing tobacco. I also found that I have a great physical constitution because I did not keel over from a stroke or heart attack. I was actually having a stress test in his room and I passed it...no treadmill or monitoring devices needed....the stress test was designed by one of my children and I lived through it.

So, what did BP mom do? The answer is very simple....I searched for a way to make a major league point on a huge issue....the kid is addicted and I had to figure out in a calm, rational way how to help him. Screaming and belittling were ruled out. Locking him in the dungeon was scratched off the list, too. Taking away his cell phone was not practical. I was left with either moving without giving him the new address or having a conversation about chewing tobacco and the harmful effects. I had to be strategic and could not give him a "time out." With that said, I set the stage for parental intervention....I did what any contemporary mom would do...I took a photo with my cell phone and sent it to him with a message.."Want to tell me something?....." The kid was busted and he knew it. How was he going to get out of this one? He was going to have to use his head on this one...a nicotine-free head....

And so, our hero came home to join us over the holidays. I was going to take the little round cans and place them on the Christmas tree as ornaments. I actually like the shape and as they would add interest to our celebration. Yet, I opted for leaving them in dad's office with the sock surrounding the evidence. In a way, it was like the evidence room in CSI. He was being prepared for an interrogation by the arresting officer and the DA.

After an hour discussion which seemed to him like five hours ('cause he had to go out and see his high school posse), he came to the conclusion as I showed him a PowerPoint presentation of the deleterious effects of smokeless tobacco that he would never ever do it again...ever...I mean ever...

I made an appointment for him to visit the dentist to see if there was any enamel damage. Fortunately, he was 'clean.' He promised never to try it again but also found that he was going through withdrawal effects while he was home. I bought thick bubble gum for him to place in his cheek as a replacement and this seemed to work. However, the withdrawal effects were not only physiological but psychological. Fortunately, he is now clean and nicotine-free. I do believe that he is 'off the stuff' as he now chews sunflower seeds and gum at the stadium. The team knows that he has broken the habit and do not offer him any as they had the previous year. Is all of this over? I hope so, if not....I will have to move in with him and watch every move. Come on, BPM, would you really do that? .........What do you think?

More about habits to come....

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thursday news

Good morning! I can only post a short note today since I have meetings and classes. The caffeine has taken effect, so here goes...

As you know, Buddy continues the quest to balance his social and baseball life with school work and courses. The big kid has so many distractions, he is not sure what to do next. His mentor has fizzled out as she focuses on the all-important sorority rush and parties, and he is floating without direction. You may ask: "BP mom, can't he do this himself? Can't he figure out what is important and prioritize?" The answer is the obvious....'no.'

He has so much on his plate, that he cannot figure out what is critical and what can wait. He has started to cram again, which is never a good idea and make mistakes such as write down (or not write down) the wrong dates for tests and papers. This is a kid who needs a mentor who is dedicated to seeing him succeed.

With that said, he called on his way home from practice yesterday after he tried to reach me all day. The big leftie wanted to share the dream that he had the night before....it went something like this: "I was at a stadium and there was a clipboard with two columns on it. My name was at the top. On the left side, there were remarks from my college coach: lacks focus and discipline, hard worker, good potential, low 80's fastball. On the right side of the column it said: focused, starter, low 90s fastball, disciplined, great prospect. The right side of the column was written by a scout from the California Angels."

Such a dream...is it a dream? My question to him was: "Do your dreams come true?" He replied: "This one will...I am going to play for the Angels."

With that, he vowed to correct the issues that his college coach sees in order to achieve this dream. Is it a real dream or a life dream? Do dreams really come true or are they your subconscious telling you to fix something in your life? Are dreams reality or fake? Is it wishful thinking or prognostic? I am perplex as the next person. Then he said something very interesting (or at least I think so). "I think that the dream was sent by God and He is telling me to fix the problems and be more focused." Hmmmm....I am going to have to thank God for this message. I send it all the time, but only God, the Creator of all, could get it through that thick, yet oh so lovely head of his.

Whatever the dream may mean, which could be nothing, it has served to light a fire in him as he can see all possibilities. I pray that he can achieve his goals and dreams, have his entourage, and finish his degree....and perhaps...just maybe...play for the Angels ;-)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Lessons and plans

Steve Prefontaine - "To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift." This quote was on my gmail today as I answered my messages. It is a great quote and relevant in all walks of life, not just sports.

So, it is time to review the last 48 hours of life in an objective manner. As the steady reader knows, Buddy had a major meltdown on Sunday night as he figuratively saw his life flash before him. You see, he gave up an earned run in front of major league scouts and he felt that they would not be interested in a left handed pitcher who could not find home plate. In a way, he is right. On the other hand, he is wrong. How is that for analysis?

He is right because he sort of 'choked'. He did not have his "stuff" and could not bring it...therefore the batters took aim and whacked the ball around the field. It happens to all pitchers. There is no flawless pitcher. Even the good ones lose...such as Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels. They lost this week and they are paid a fortune to win.

He is wrong for a number of reasons. First, his potential is limitless. he has the physique and ability to throw great pitches and dominate on the mound. The scouts can see how big he is and how much muscle he can put on. He is still 25+ pounds shy of the ideal pitching weight. Therefore, he still has time to fill out and be a forceful presence.

As he melted down on Sunday night, he hyperventilated and started to feel dizzy. Once he returned home, he went to bed and his breathing returned to normal. Is this kid crazy? My answer is going to be vague...yes and no. Yes, he is crazy for putting himself out when he is on the mound. He is crazy because he wants something that he can attain but only through hard work. And he is crazy because when he fails, it is national news. The rest of us are secure in knowing that only a few people know when we screw up. When he messes up, it is posted on a website and written about in the paper as well as verbalized by the announcers on the radio. So, if you look at it that way, he is nuts!

On the other hand, he is not crazy, just an intense kid who is working hard and wants something that only a handful of men achieve in this world. He wants to pitch in the major leagues. It is his dream and could be a reality with the proper mindset and physical and emotional preparation. He has to take care of his mind, body, and spirit. The three go hand in hand and compose the entire person. When his head is not right, his body and pitching struggles. Right now, his confidence has taken a major league hit after the summer fiasco. He was to play in Ohio to build his confidence not destroy it and it had the opposite effect.

So, where does he go from this emotional state? I am glad that you asked, because I can offer a ton of advice such as the Prefontaine quote, Bible quotes, mother platitudes, and the always helpful "you have a great smile", but he has to figure it out.

Therefore, when I received the call while purchasing lemons at the farmer's market yesterday, I was prepared to sit in the middle of the market and listen to his tales of woe. Yet, I was pleasantly surprised. First, he still feels bad about N's foot, but X-rays are back and it is only bruised. Crisis number 1 averted.

Crisis two: Lack of organization. He is going to stop at the Athlete's center and speak to his adviser. He needs another mentor who will be on top of him like his previous mentor. His current mentor is wrapped up in sorority issues. They also have too many philosophical differences for this relationship to work, so she is about to be fired. The old mentor had written daily instructions for him to follow. She even told him when to eat, sleep and have a snack. OK, I know what you are thinking....eating and sleeping? Yes, this kid needs someone to direct him through this process. It can be overwhelming and having a routine offers comfort and sameness.

Crisis three: The meltdown. Today, he plans on making an appointment with the sports psychologist. This may be a year late, but the guy was hired to guide these kids through the convoluted craziness of their brains and thought processes. There is more pressure on these players to perform than on the average student. We all have pressures but not national pressures like the athletes have. The sports psychologist will put on his boots and wade through Buddy's mind..good luck with that one. I have been doing it for years. it is quite a journey. Actually, all he needs is to find a philosophy and reasonable perspective. he does not have to have a crisis every time he gives up a run or makes an error, but the perfectionist in him does not allow for deviation, therefore, this guy may be able to bring an objectivity to it.

Crisis four: This crisis does not have a name but I like Buddy's solution. "Mom, I am no longer going to drink." Pause...OK, this is a good thing, however, did you have a problem in which you have to swear off the stuff OR did you figure out that underage drinking is illegal OR has the 'demon rum' affected your mental and physical capabilities? The answer was pretty simple. He doesn't like the way it makes him feel and prefers to be in command of his mind at all times (scar-ee!). I was thrilled with this one. Two other pitchers have also sworn off the alcohol because they too have a great deal to lose. Buddy calls them his sobriety buddies. He also asked his room mates not to offer him any beer and to not tempt him. On Friday night, instead of going to a party, he and his sober friends are going to dinner and a movie. Dad is paying for this one since he is really proud of the changes Buddy is making with his life.
Buddy also mentioned that going to parties and being part of the drunkenness is stupid and he will sit there and meet people in a sober fashion. I could cry...this is a major paradigm shift. It is also my Christmas and Hanukkah gift wrapped up in a pretty package.

This leads to my final thought...will he follow through on all of his plans to organize and analyze his life? Will this newly and forever sober kid have the strength to continue on his chosen path and make it to the ultimate and greatest job ever? I think so...I know so...but stay tuned...the road is narrow, bumpy, and filled with lots of surprises....

Monday, September 19, 2011

All in his head....

Yesterday was quite a big day for the big leftie. With scouts in the stands, he was preparing to dazzle them with his athleticism and sizzling slider. That was the plan. Is that what happened? Actually, I am still not sure, so I will recount the events that occurred while I flipped through the Emmy's, Phillies, Eagles, and news on television. The real show was not on cable but taking place in the mountains in the north with one lanky kid thinking that his life as an athlete in a quest to become a professional player was over. Sigh....here goes....

I waited until he called late in the afternoon to ask him about the showcase. As I paraphrase the following dialogue between mother and son, I think that you will understand where his head was during the conversation. Warning...this is not pretty....If you have a heart ailment or asthma, the following narrative is not for your sensitive eyes....

Buddy called just before the dinner hour searching for his father (naturally) to discuss the day's events. I inquired about the afternoon and he said that he choked and his career was over (it has yet to really begin so that is quite a stretch). Anyway, as I gave him the mom pep talk, he clicked his cell phone off. I guess that he did not want to hear: "This is only one event. There will be others. Look at the positives. Learn from the errors." I did not add that I thought that he had great hair and was cute. It was not time in the discussion. As it was, our conversation was cut short but some 'anomaly' in his phone or his reluctance to hear my lame platitudes.

He finally found his dad and Tink in the grocery store shopping for dinner and he did not hear what he wanted to hear from his dad. he wanted to hear: "yes, you have been robbed...you are right...life is over..." Rather, dad said: "What did the coach say? What really happened? Why are you so emotional? There will be many more chances." Dad kept him on the phone longer than I did...a whole 5 minutes. Then Buddy took a shower and went to dinner.

While we were eating dinner, we received five more calls from the depressed kid. It seems that the pitching coach did not attend, so how important was it? Dad mentioned that Buddy had been lifting and training all week and that his muscles were tired. There were so many reasons for the discomfort on the mound. Further, the big kid's head continued to make him crazy. He let his nerves and emotions take over and dominate his thoughts. A good shrink could have helped here.

As the evening progressed and the Phils were down while Michael Vick fumbled in the red zone, I received several more calls. He was on his way to the 9 pm mass on campus and stopped to tell me that he could not breathe. He was having trouble catching his breath and he was dizzy. OK...enough already! I talked to him as I demanded that he walk to the student health center for treatment (at this point electro shock was needed by both of us). He struggled to catch his breath and found the health center which was 'closed'. Nice. I am glad that no one gets sick on Sunday nights. There was an emergency number to call and I had him call it. When the nurse called back, she told him: "Do not drink any alcohol tonight." Hmmmm, don't drink any beer tonight...the kid just finished playing baseball and is walking to church on a Sunday night...don't drink beer....So, if you have dizziness with shortness of breath, please do not take the generally prescribed teaspoon of beer. I truly wanted to take my fist and shove it through the phone and grab the emergency nurse by the throat and ask where she earned her degree...Budweiser University perhaps? This is emergency advice???

As the evening and shortness of breath continued, so did the phone calls. Tink and I prepared to leave to find him and take him to the ER...forget the student health center...they prescribed beer for bunions, sore muscles, coughs and colds. Finally, he was able to breathlessly walk back to his apartment. I made sure that the guys were home and able to take him to the hospital if his breath did not return. Fortunately they were there. Big Red has a car and could transport him if needed. Nemesis would probably do it, but he would whack Buddy's credit card for the gas money first.

The last that I heard from the kid was that he was feeling a bit better, still dizzy, and despondent, and depressed. What is BP mom's diagnosis? Well, as I consider the facts of the week and synthesize the data that I currently have, I would say....that boy has a case of advanced nerves allowing catastrophic thoughts to enter his brain and take over his body. The dizziness was probably caused by the stress or perhaps some type of virus. The shortness of breath was either a pulmonary ailment or nerves. Dad says that he allowed himself to hyperventilate...lovely, don't you think?

Now you may ask, if you do not treat this entity with beer, how do you treat it? I recommend the following:
1. continue to work out with the coaches
2. have a dialogue with the coaches and focus on tinkering with mechanics
3. find another tutor/mentor to structure the academic week so that he maximizes his time and does not leave anything for the last minute causing undue pressure.
4. get enough food and rest
5. check out the sports psychologist that they have on campus to talk through the anxiety.
6. continue to check in with family and friends to talk through the fears.
7. realize that this is not the end of your life but the beginning. I watched Cliff Lee with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the 9th with a 1 run lead give up a home run. It can happen to anyone, the scouts know it and so does Buddy if he would let himself relax for a bit.

Addendum: I just heard from Buddy as he walked back to his apartment after weight lifting today. He was in a state not because of yesterday BUT because he was training with Nemesis and added 45 pounds to the bar when the weight fell off and landed on his training partner's foot. He thinks that the foot may be broken and is now waiting on him hand and foot (so to say...). According to Buddy, N. does not blame him for the malfunction, but once again, the big guy feels guilty. An X-ray will determine the extent of damage. So, while Buddy turns into an indentured servant, he now is a captured audience as he listens to N's raps and runs to the market to purchase milk and oreos. Never a dull moment...ever...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Scouting time

Good morning! It's Parent's Weekend and we are not attending the festivities on campus. There are no baseball activities so we will skip it until the real scrimmages begin. Grandmom, Grandpop, Tink, Big Sis, Runner, Sparky and I are headed to a family reunion in New Jersey. The last time I went to one of these reunions, I did not have a driver's license...you can do the math...

Although there are no real scrimmages yet, the major league scouts are on campus this weekend to assess the players. Last night they watched the kids who are eligible for the draft this year (the juniors and seniors). As a sophomore, Buddy was relegated to the radar gun behind home plate and clocked the pitches. Some exceeded 90 mph, others were in the 70's. Only a few pitchers stood out while the scouts watched. Tomorrow, the freshman and sophomores play before the scouts. Buddy is praying for pitches in the mid to high 80's and maybe one or two hitting 90 mph. I wish him well.....

This part of his journey can be overly stressful. He knows that the scouts are there. They know that the boys are stressed out and trying to put on a great (not good) show, therefore, the tension that he feels needs to be channeled into pure concentration and excellent fundamentals. The one thing about Buddy is that he has yet to fully reach his potential as a 19 year old. He is still lanky and needs to build more muscle. The scouts assess their physiques, weight, and technique. They can tell who has potential and who does not. Therefore, I will keep my fingers, toes, and eyes crossed as he throws his pitches in front of this very important audience.

Off to New Jersey....have a great (not good) day!

Friday, September 16, 2011

An Entourage

Good Morning!
As always, I look outside and see the weather. Today is a spectacular day with low humidity and blue skies....just perfect! I want to send a shout out to a very good friend "The Traveler" who is celebrating her birthday today. The Traveler and I have been great friends since college and when I think back on those days, the fun began and ended with our good times together. Have a wonderful day, kiddo!

Also, kudos to Tink who brought home a 91 on her first math test. You go girl.....

Oh yes, college was a wonderful time for me. Granted, I studied like no one else, 'cause I was not as intelligent as the rest of the gang. I had to work harder for what I earned. But it was worth it. Between studying, working, playing tennis, and attending class there were fun times and a lot of laughs. My friends would tease me because I never cut class. I was not comfortable doing that since I was afraid that I would miss something very important and often my grade teetered on the lower side of the scale. Like Buddy, we had class in a large lecture hall and some of the girls planned on cutting out after the first break. Once again, I told them that I was staying and would give them the notes. Three of them tried to sneak out behind the stage and exit through a back door. As the first door locked behind them, the exit door was also locked and they could not escape without setting off the alarm and alerting the professor of their 'misdeed.'. They also could not bang on the first door to open it since the class was continuing with the professor teaching by the door. So, they sat in the enclosed hallway stuck there until they were sure that they could escape hours later without the instructor noticing. As it turned out, they were locked in for 5 hours. Boy, am I glad that I did not cut that day.

I did try to cut out on a graduate class early as a storm moved in....just I was to cross the field, lightening struck a tree at the other end of the opening. Was this God telling me to go back to leadership class? Perhaps...I never really questioned that one but walked back into class soaking wet. This was a learning lesson for me and I never tried to skip class again.

Consequently, college was one time that I will never forget. Likewise, I am hoping that my son is also enjoying his college days as he balances work outs, scrimmages (which begin this weekend), studying, and having a good time with friends. As one song lyric suggests: "These are the days to remember..."

And remember, he will as he can look back on the four (or five) years of university life. Yesterday he called me excited and shared with me that his friend "Dewey" begged him to make the majors. Please man, you gotta do it....says Dewey. Isn't that nice that his friends give him so much support? "No, mom....he just wants to be in my entourage." Huh? Your entourage? "Yeah, like the television show. Dewey wants to be my 'Turtle'" For those of you who do not know who Turtle is....here goes....

Entourage is on HBO and Buddy and his crew love the show. it is about a movie star and his three friends who leave New Year for LA. The protagonist is a movie star and his brother and friends come to live with him. He also pays them to keep them around. In a way, they keep him grounded and 'real.' Turtle in the show is the chauffeur, goof-ball, and butt of most jokes. So, Dewey wants Buddy to make it so that he can work for him as well as drive him around. In the old days, this role and job was taken by me. Now I have been replaced by Dewey or Turtle as one may see it.

I am happy that the guys are supporting the big leftie even if it is to hop along for the ride. With this kind of encouragement, he has more of a goal. He wants to bring his friends along for the journey. This is a good thing as they know him from the neighborhood. As big as his head becomes, they will be there to deflate it and remind him of where he began...in the back yard with a plastic Fisher Price tee swinging away at a plastic ball. When he looks back and reflects on how his friends and family have been there cheering him on over the years, I hope that he has the same type of wonderful memories that I had from those days. They were unique, fun, and unforgettable. Hopefully, he can take a few steps back, look around, and take a lasting picture in his mind.....

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Math and Texts

Good morning. It seems that during the off-season, I am probably going to try blogging every other day rather than every day unless something happens that requires documentation. Thanks again to all of you who read my writing and probably wonder if it is all true. Well, guess what? I don't have much of an imagination and cannot possibly create these scenarios. Therefore to answer that question....it's all true...no fabrications...none whatsoever. Now, however, I have to rely on Buddy to call in and share with me what is happening in the world of Division I baseball, college life, apartment life, and the drive to play in the major leagues. First, kudos to the Phils for wrapping up a play off spot. No agonizing late into the season for this one...way to go!

The past few days have been filled with ups and downs. It seems Nemesis is always the topic of conversation as I try to turn a deaf ear to the complaints. Besides not sharing his food or oreos with Buddy, it seems that he is a pretty bad Caucasian rapper who wakes the guys up in the middle of the night to share his newest lyrics. Buddy, The Angel, and Big Red have begun to place hard items by their beds to throw at him when he makes his 2 am wake up calls. As a guy, doesn't he know that he should never 'poke the bear' when he is sleeping? I guess not.

Every other day I receive a text or two while Buddy is in math class. Granted, math was not my best subject either, but I tried to listen to the professor and pray for some divine inspiration to pass each test. Unfortunately Buddy's mind wanders incessantly and he texts people, including his mother. As much as I love the communication, I am concerned about his lack of attention in class. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed this week's texts: "God, I'm bored. Math is dumb." ...."What do you think about me dropping out of school, moving to Columbia and becoming a baseball player/drug dealer?"..."Girl in math did not shave legs..."...."Twenty more minutes until freedom"...."Words cannot express my hatred for the greek system. I want to shut them down how could I go about doing this."

Deciphering the texts are not always easy, but I will give it a try. "God, I'm bored. Math is dumb." ...."What do you think about me dropping out of school, moving to Columbia and becoming a baseball player/drug dealer?"..."Girl in math did not shave legs..."...."Twenty more minutes until freedom"...These texts come to me during class as he struggles to even care about the course. Picture a tall, lanky, bored kid in a large lecture hall with 400 students looking at a few powerpoint presentations and trying his best to unlock the mystery of trigonometry. Knowing the big guy, he would rather look around and pray that soon there would be time travel where he can push a button and be finished with class before it even starts...but that is not the point. Is the professor unable to capture his attention? Why or why not? As a teacher, I look into my students eyes to see if they are following me. I do not allow texting, but how would I know with 399 other students in class? There is no way...therefore, how could this be a good learning experience for any of the students? Am I inferring that I am an intuitive professor? Nope...in fact, I have discovered while walking around in class, that some of my students order shoes while I am speaking, update their facebook status, sleep with their eyes open, doodle, answer email, and pray that the class ends very very soon. Am I insulted? Naw, I actually pray that class is over soon too. I am human too, ya know....

Now, as far as his comment about Columbia and drug dealing...it's his crazy idea of scaring his mom. The part about playing baseball is true...the part about dealing drugs is not. He is anti-drug and anti-doping....whew! Now, as far as the Greek system goes, I have not seen it at the level that he has. Last week, he saw a girl in a dress crying because she was not "pretty enough" to gain entrance into a sorority. He saw the devastation of the selection process on the students especially the girls and is fuming. The team (not me...) call the sorority system...soro-stitutes....ouch! He refuses to have anything to do with it. There are parties and drinking every night of the week and he feels that this is quite pathetic. As far as fraternities are concerned, he is incensed by them. There is quite a bit of drinking and lots of drugs. Some of partiers use "ruffies" to 'score' with the girls. One of his friends woke up at a party with her underwear in her pocket. She had no idea what happened and never reported it. I can understand his disdain for the system. What makes this process worse is that his math tutor is one of the girls who is on the sorority selection committee...a system that he loathes. They have not hit it off at all and I have encouraged him to ask for another tutor. They have such a divide in their philosophies, that this cannot possibly be a good relationship unless they are able to talk about their personal differences and get by them. Otherwise, I have no confidence in his ability to get through this class with this tutor. Yet, I have to leave it to him to work it out. He needs to be eligible for the season and therefore has to make this work. Again, what a tremendous learning experience. Not only will he learn math, but he will learn how to get along with a person who is his polar opposite.

Stay tuned for more....

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Competition begins

Sorry gang...I have not posted in a few days for a number of reasons. The first reason is that I had to work...you know...do something that pays me and the bills. Second, I have not had a decent conversation with our hero until last night. So, here goes....

On Friday night, Buddy attended the 'best party' of his life. Yes, that is what he said...the best of his life. This aforementioned party was even better than the party that he had when the fire truck and fire men showed up on his 5th birthday. The kids were allowed to climb on the truck, pretend to drive, put on the firemen's gear and had the opportunity to talk to a real fireman. As far as I am concerned, this had to have been the BEST party. But, as a kid grows, his taste changes and therefore so does the definition of the best party ever.

What made this party on Friday night the best party ever? Well, when he arrived after being called by California, there was dancing in the kitchen, living and dining rooms, in the backyard and on the porch. The music blared, the gang boogied and all was well on the night before the big game.

While at the best party ever, Nemesis had his ego crushed by a member of the woman's tennis team who refused to give him her phone number yet she gave it to another player on the team. Nemesis could not believe it and had a hissy-fit. No matter how much this guy bothers Buddy, he was loyal to him and tried to help him through his disappointment. Looking back on my life in college, did I ever disappoint a guy like that? Disappointed as far as not giving the number and having him throw a tantrum on the way home? nope...probably not...my dating was sparse at best. Casual dating was not 'my thing.'

And so the best party ever ended with one of the players getting into a heated argument with his girl friend. The guys are loyal only to a point, yet when the fireworks start with the girl friend, they disburse like roaches on a kitchen counter as the light is turned on. They all but ran out of there. Off to the apartment and up in a few hours to prepare for tailgating.

All the partying, football, and lack of sleep caught up with the guys and Sunday was 'catch up on sleep' day. If you ever want to walk through a college town when there are very few people around, try going on a Sunday morning after a big game. Believe me, you will get a table at the diner and a parking space across the street without any problems.

So, back to Buddy....he had trouble sleeping on Sunday night for a number of reasons. First, he slept 16 hours from Saturday evening until Sunday afternoon. The other reason was that fall ball began yesterday. He is a bit worried about the competition and whether he will be playing this year. There is competition from California, Nemesis and a freshman. Also, two other injured pitchers return to the roster and will also be considered his main competition. Justifiably, he is a bit nervous and beginning to over-think and catastrophize his predicament.

What he has to be reminded about is that baseball is all about competition (he would say "duh" to that statement). The competition is not only against other schools but within the team itself. The survival of the fittest...the best athletes will play. So what is he going to do? I will tell you the answer....he has to 'man-up'.

He has to be in the best shape, best mental state, aggressive, animal-like, and focused. Further, he has to push himself beyond his comfort level. He cannot be satisfied with good. He must strive for excellent.

Last year, he was one of the last guys out of the bullpen at the beginning of the season. He pitched to one batter in the preseason and was removed from the game. However, as he worked, he became number one and two left hander to relieve. The starting pitchers confided in him that when they saw him warming up, they would leave the game because they knew that the game was in good hands. If they saw Nemesis warming up they would tell the coach that they could keep going because Nemesis would give up too many runs and their ERAs would climb as a result. On the other hand, Buddy would save the game for them and they felt confident.

So, that is a vote of confidence. Yet, as dad says, "you are only as good as your last pitch." Therefore, he has to push to become better than last year. He must dominate. Does that seem harsh? Probably a bit...yet, this may not be the big leagues, but it can lead to them. He needs to play well to be noticed by any scout. Starting this year, they will be watching him and the rest of the team. One of the players was drafted last year and turned down the offer. His plan is to train and have an even better season and be drafted in a higher round this year. Consequently, the training and quest for excellence is not only with the pitchers but every player on the team wants to play in the MLB and not just Buddy.

I shared with him an anecdote that I had heard about a major league pitcher who before his training, he does 200 pull-ups. "Two hundred???" he asked. Yes, 200 hundred pull ups. So, Buddy tried to do pull ups. "Mom, I did 10 with no trouble...then I was able to do 9....at the end of practice, I did 10 more...."
The kid gets it and knows that he is in for some intense training. Do I have any doubts about his abilities? No, although there may be a time in the near future when he meets someone and decides that he would rather focus on academics and a future in the corporate world. I cannot be sure, but I will be there to agonize with his worries and listen to his fears. My mantra is 'if you want something bad enough...work toward your goal, but enjoy the ride while you are doing it, 'cause life is too short.' Is anyone dying here? Naw...just have fun while you are at the top of your game. He has been given such a gift, it would be a shame not to have some fun while working toward the big prize.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Summer already?

The rain in the northeast has been crazy as homes are flooded and evacuated. Neighbors have had to bail out and families had to leave their homes. The heat and moisture might lead to lots of mosquitoes, right? In addition, the road to Buddy's school has been closed due to flooding, so he has to stay put and the opposing football team has had to make alternative travel plans. Messy...very messy...

While focusing on the rainy weather and trying to find an alternate way to work, I received a text from Buddy about his summer league team for 2012. He tried to call me while I was in class, but once again, he tends to forget when I am busy at scheduled times and does not adjust his calls accordingly. It seems that he and The Angel have been asked to play in the Maryland league next summer. I could not be happier! The Angel can be his room mate. They can share expenses and he has someone with a bit of common sense to live with in Maryland.

For now, I do not know the name of the team, but I checked out the website and the competition looks formidable. Another bonus is that we can travel from home to see the games when he pitches and not have to pay for a hotel. This is getting better and better.

As plans are made for a season next year, I am going to reflect on what we learned this past summer and what we are going to do differently as a result. First, he will contact the coach in December and go and meet him over the Christmas break. Next, he will share that he wants to be a starting pitcher up front and not leave it to the coach to figure out. He is also going to interview the coach and check out his philosophy and qualifications. Third, he and The Angel are going to find a cheap, safe place to live that is furnished. All plans will be made and ready by mid spring. No more frantic trips to find an apartment. No more buying furniture to use for three months then hauling it somewhere to relocate it. We are smarter this year than last year. No more wasted trips or money. The key is preparation. Right?

Right. So, that is the plan. It is important to stay on task. Focus on what needs to be done. Delegating to the men of my family may be tenuous since they dropped the ball last year, but I am not giving up. This is his life. He has to step up and be a man. No relying on momma to make things work after things have been botched or ignored. These are the directions. All they have to do is read them.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Raising a boy

Soggy day in the northeast. The ducks are loving it!

I was definitely not going to post today since I have so much work to do, but my recent phone call from the big kid has led me to type away my frustration....here goes....

I am so happy that my son is able to enjoy his college experience while he works hard to secure a starting position on the team. Whether he starts or sits and plays out of the bullpen, I really don't care. He is living the dream of many boys and men. This is a one in a million opportunity. Therefore he must be grateful and thankful for all of his blessings. As such, besides baseball, he has been bestowed with good looks, a killer grin, great hair, intelligence, athleticism, and a good sense of humor. With the talents that he received while standing in line in heaven before he was born, he stepped out for a snack when God handed out common sense.

On to the phone call...."Mom, I did not do this on purpose..." Whenever a call begins with this phrase, I know that this is big...really big. With what seemed like a frightened voice, he continues: "OK, here is what I think happened...." Then he proceeds to tell me that he thinks that he either lost or someone stole his Visa card. The adjective and noun 'Visa card' stopped me cold and I started to perspire heavily. Not stopping to towel off, I patiently and calmly uttered: "Whaaaaaaat?!!!" Yeah...the Visa card, his card....technically my card is missing from his wallet. Gone...lost...stolen...MIA...

Never one to overreact, I asked him when was the last time that he saw the card. The answer was on Friday....Friday, three days ago...enough time to buy a yacht, fill it with gasoline and sail away to the Greek Islands and maybe buy one with (technically) my card. OY!

He continued to breathe heavily on the phone as I offered some quick wisdom...call your dad (yikes)..tell him what happened and to check online to see if someone is using it...then he can cancel the card. OK? "Yes, but I am going back to the field to look for it." Oh come on man....think about it....someone sees a credit card on the ground or in the locker room, are they going to pick it up and turn it in to the lost and found OR use it to buy their books for the semester? Use your head for more than grow hair! Dude!

I have lost many things in my life from earrings to rings to papers and books. But I have never lost a credit card. The biggest of my losses has been my mind since these kids turned into teenagers. Women with young kids think that they are crazy now...just wait, girls...the fun begins at age 13 and older....Just when you think that you are done raising them, something memorable like a lost Visa card or melted-in-the-dryer debit card emerge. And who can forget the new drivers and the trips to the repair shop? How about running out of gas after your teenager has used all of the gas in the tank? Here's another one....how about your teenager who thinks that he can handle an apartment at the age of 19 losing his credit card on the day he is supposed to pay the rent and will now pay a $50.00 late fee?

And so, these are the experiences that not only offer us lessons on what to do in life but also give parents gray hair. Sadly, the extra $50 will have to be used for the penalty as opposed to covering up the 12 new gray hairs sprung this morning...and so life goes on for BP mom and her crew....gotta love them....I know that I do...

Monday, September 5, 2011

Happy Labor Day!

Yes, it is Labor Day and I 'sort of' have the day off. Since I am currently teaching a course, my students e-mail me all times of the day and night for advice or clarification of the syllabus. It's not written in Greek (since the only Greek word that I know is ouzo), but sometimes they catch an error or poorly written sentence and want or need some advice. Other times, they don't read it at all and have to ask me to reiterate something that is already clear. In other words, during the academic year, I am always 'on.'

This week fall ball begins. Here is the breakdown as I understand it. There are three 'starters' for weekend series. Two of the jobs are wrapped up and 1 is tenuous and could be Buddy's if he has a spectacular fall (not a good one...must be spectacular). Also, during the week, the team can play two games against any east coast team. The starting pitchers are generally the ones who have proven themselves during the fall and continue to do so during the season. It is Buddy's goal to start on the weekend against conference foes and not during the week.

Therefore, he must overtake in the fall competition the following players (I hope that I can remember correctly):
1. 'California': California transferred last year from the west coast, is a leftie, throws 90 mph and is one of his biggest competitors.
2. Nemesis: Nemesis continues to be Buddy's nemesis on and off the field. If I hear one more negative, bad rapping, stuck up, selfish, condescending, and spoiled remark about him from my son, I will jump out my second floor office window. Once again, in case you have missed this one...we told him repeatedly last year...do not live with him...."Oh no, Mom, he has changed." Yeah, changed like a leopard and his spots change with the seasons to match the shoes....right...I hate always being right....Over the weekend, Nemesis spliced the common room television cable and ran a wire from his bedroom to the living room so that he could watch television while lying in bed. The guys are not amused as they have to jump over the wire that runs from the living room up the stairs, down the hallway and into the bedroom. "Mom, it looks 'ghetto'...." Too bad....deal with it, kiddo, 'cause the guy has changed, right?
3. Florida: Not an issue yet since he is a freshman, although he mentioned a few times that he was going to take buddy's job as mid relief. This will happen only if Buddy is named a starter.
4. A variety of other players who do not have the statistics that Buddy put up last year or were injured last season. He is not worried about them....just the first three guys.

So, friends, let's watch this fall as he works diligently to be named a starter. His goal is to pitch against teams that passed on him while they were recruiting. Last year, he crossed one of the teams off the list, when he closed the winning game, walked up to the coach, and asked if he remembered him. The coach was gracious and congratulated him. Perhaps our hero still has a chip on his shoulder when it comes to two teams that are on the schedule in the spring. If he does, so be it. My advice is to once again, channel the inner anger and let them have it with your fast ball, curve, and slider....BP mom will be watching....

Enjoy your day!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Labor Day Weekend and Football

And so, as we are in the throes of the Labor Day weekend, there are people to see, personal parties to attend, and places to go with family and friends. I had the opportunity to go shopping with Sparky who reads this blog. She knows that I did not get to interview for the Starbucks job in Ohio and did not seem too surprised. As we stood together in line waiting to order a few somewhat complicated drinks, the barrista taking the orders was alone and the line backed up. We actually waited a long time which did not please Sparky. Once we finally got to the cash register, the inept barrista proceeded to take the wrong order over and over while Sparky started to steam (like a mocha cappuccino). Finally, another barrista came in and made three wrong drinks (oops). Not pleased, Sparky eagerly requested that she remake them to our specifications. After a few more attempts, the drinks were ready for us. Why do I bring this event up? Well, don't you think that I am still a bit hurt that I could not get a job in Ohio at the Starbucks? I am not holding the entire chain responsible, but...I am still sad that I did not qualify for this position. Oh well, I will get over it some day...until then, I will keep my head up and silently drink my skinny decaf vanilla latte.

The first football game is over and in the books recorded as a win. No surprise since the opponent was basically a D-II school who was in the game for the money from television revenue. It was a humiliating loss for them but lucrative. The big check will ease the sting of the lopsided score as they stop in a Subway on the way home rather than McDonalds.....

Buddy called after the game and mentioned that he was going to go to bed at 8 pm. "Eight o'clock? Are you sick?" I inquired. "Nope, just tired...." For many readers who will take it at face value, go right ahead. However, having been a college student myself and now parenting two of them, this is the real story....

The night before any football game begins a weekend of intense partying for the students. Granted, there are students who begin to party in anticipation for a Saturday game on Monday afternoon and continue until the game is long over....but that is not the case with most of the athletes in training. As a matter of fact, the kids in the winter and spring sports are fighting for starting positions and have to be at the top of their game to be noticed by the coaches and considered viable members of the team, therefore, they do not party during the week since they have to lift, run, and train early in the morning and after classes. The coaches know when someone is not into it and this is a no-no in the sports world.

Back to Friday night...I knew that the kids were heading to the Fencing Team's party (the girls are from other countries you know)...this meant that there would be a long walk late at night to the party...pay to get in...stand there...have a drink or two (hopefully no more...hopefully less)....talk with the guys, notice the girls, perhaps chat with a few...make plans for some other time to get together...find an open sandwich shop for a late night snack...wander home...get into bed...wake up early to begin the tailgating process. From there, they walk to the game, scream, act crazy, boo and cheer....then the effects of the past 24 hours begin to hit them....they are less animated, stop clapping and cheering, feel a headache coming on...find that the game is pretty boring, leave after the third quarter, wander home (again) and find their beds. After a nap, they realize that they are exhausted and Saturday night becomes a non-event as they do not have the energy to keep it going....That my friends is why my son stayed in last night. Did he tell me this? Of course not, I did not raise a fool...I guessed it and know that I am 100% accurate. My son does not like to feel tired, it bothers him and he needs his sleep. However, since this is Labor Day weekend, they have one more chance to have fun before school starts, so there will be plans to get together with their posse. Yet, he's so transparent to his parent...I get it and warn him to watch it. As Dean Wormer said in Animal House "Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life." Knowing Buddy, he does not drink much at all since he has too much to lose. I do believe that he listens to his dad who advises: "No beer tastes that good..."

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Tailgating on the deck

The last posting, I left you with a very lame rap. I have to apologize. I am not a good rapper and will keep my day job, 'cause the music business will have nothing to do with me. LL Cool J has not returned my calls or texts.

It's Labor Day weekend and we have a few scheduled events. I just got a call from the college student. They started to grill burgers this morning for their tailgate party in preparation for the first football game of the year. The Angel is on the balcony of the apartment grilling the burgers on the George Foreman grill that I let him use for the semester. He is wearing a suit coat, no shirt and is in his boxers (from the description that Buddy gave me). I hope that the grease does not splatter on his legs. That would hurt. Can anyone spell "skin grafting?" And so, the team has the weekend off to rest for fall ball.

Buddy is very happy 'cause he and Nemesis made an article in Baseball America. They are part of a pitching staff that has one of the lowest ERAs in the country. They were at the top of their own conference and now legends on campus.

What does this do to a 19 year old's ego? What do you think? Whereas it is true, any pitcher needs to feel that he is the 'man'. He wants the ball during the toughest situations. He has to feel that he is the best person on the team. He needs an ego the size and diameter of the sun. Buddy's ego has been incrementally increasing...from a pebble...to a rock....a boulder....a mountain...he needs it. There are moments when he is called into a tight game and the blood stops perfusing through my body. I will sit there, say my prayers for him, and keep my eye on the pitcher without blinking. When he finishes, I finally exhale and feel like I have run a marathon. As the blood rushes back to my brain and extremities, I am thanking God that he finished unscathed. Who can forget the day that he took a line drive off the face during a ball game? I don't. The catcher was hit and his teeth were rearranged as he spent the night in a Chicago hospital. Buddy's marbles in his brain were scrambled and somehow, he lives to talk about it. I feel that it is the prayers that I say for him while he pitches and when he doesn't...miraculously, he was spared from something worse than a headache.

I still have post traumatic stress and there are times when I relive the frigid moment (it was 25 degrees during that game)in which he was hit and his head flew backwards, hat flying in the air, and he landed on his beloved pitcher's mound. Since I had three coats and 4 sweaters on I had to waddle toward the field to allegedly resuscitate him. Gratefully, he bounced up and threw two wacky balls at Big Red who was his catcher during that game. He was pulled from the game after insisting that he could finish it (something that he does not remember) and I took him for an emergency CAT scan (negative...something that I have always suspected...)

Back to the ego...yes, have one...I know that I do BUT keep it in check. If a girl wants to meet you because you can throw a ball...be suspicious rather than flattered. If you are invited to a party because of the team uniform...wonder about the intentions of the invitation. Keep your head screwed on straight...live your life the way that you are comfortable, which means the way that you were raised. You have been blessed, so be grateful for the opportunities that you have been given....Be humble and realize that all of this could be over tomorrow, so enjoy the ride and tell Angel to put a shirt on...