Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Figuring it out on your own

Good morning! Tink has another job interview....fingers, toes, and eyes are crossed...go Tink go!
How are things in the world of pitching? Wellllll....the big kid spoke with his summer coach and shared that he would be in Texas for a month of season. When pressed as to the reason, he shared that he does not get any help on campus and has to help himself, therefore, he has the trip to the uber-coach planned. Then the summer coach said: "Gee, one of your team mates was on the team last year and he said the same thing...." Hmmm, it's not all in the big kid's mind, is it?

The next question  to ponder is...whether he did the right thing by signing on to this college and team. After all, the accoutrements are amazing.....the stadium, scoreboard, facilities, and so on are impressive. If I was a leftie, 6'4, and 18, it would have been a no-brainer...But did dad and I get caught up by the glitz and rather than asking the probing questions, we let the atmosphere and extras such as the big uniform and sunglasses contracts cloud our ability to see through inept coaching and poor behavior? I don't know. This was the big kid's decision, but I had the final approval and said


Is this something that we will regret in the long term? I recall another coach from a local college found out where the big kid was headed, he just rolled his eyes and said that a spot would always be on his roster when he was ready to transfer. I thought at the time that it was sour grapes, but now I think that there is some reputation around the country regarding the strength of the program. Why didn't my radar go up with that statement? I guess that I was sucked into the glamor of this university.  Yes, glamor.....think about it...the uniforms, locker room, assistants, free gloves, clothing, stadium, meal allotments, air travel, and so on.....I wanted this for my kid. Now, do I regret it? Perhaps.....Perhaps not.....

It's true that this has been an uphill battle for him, but he has been learning so many things that the professors are not teaching him. He is learning problem solving, stress management, self advocacy, conflict resolution, and perseverance. He has changed from the shy, introverted kid to a more self confident person. True, he is still an introvert, but that is part of his genetic make up. He has to work against it to stand on the mound in a big situation and throw the ball over a tiny plate. I think that this has helped to create an individual who has the tools to conquer anything.

In fact, he is the person who found out about the coach in Texas. He has made the contact, will set the appointment and will interview the coach to see what he can offer him. He goes against his personal inclinations to have a one on one conversation with a coach who does not like him, thinks that he is self-entitled and arrogant, and has  to convince the guy to do his job and help him. In a way, he had to grovel. Any person with an ego would despise this and walk away. But he went against type and "owned" his behavior and personality. Even with the conversations with the coach, the coach remains distant and childish (not child-like...childish).

So, what do you do when you have exhausted all of your options on campus? You either quit or keep going and find your own answer...and he has.....I am impressed and proud of the big guy. He has really grown, evolved, and morphed into an impressive young man who will make an amazing Attorney General....that's right....he has his goals.....remember to vote and vote often....

Time for work....caio!

Monday, April 29, 2013

From good to great...maybe

Rain! Blech!

As you know this was a tumultuous week for the big kid. Being left behind is more than the name of a book and movie but the reality of the leftie's life. Yeah, he was left behind to hang out with the guys, drink beer, and study for the final exam that he has on Tuesday. Fun, eh?

So what else is new? Well, the kid threw a bullpen yesterday and could not find the strike zone and had a meltdown....is the pitching coach right? A head case? Or wrong....mechanics?

Well, here is my take on it. I finished reading the book written by Tiger Wood's coach, Hank Haney. Haney was approached by Woods to help him to tinker with his game/mechanics. They worked together for a number of years and had a consistent pattern of activities. A regimented player, Woods responded to the coaching and won countless tournaments. Now, if Tiger Woods needs someone to work with him daily then why wouldn't a team need a coach to work with them too? I really do not see much of a difference.

If left on his own, Woods would have been a good golfer but not great. Likewise, the college and high school players need someone who understands the mechanics and mind of the game so that they too can be champions. A player at a higher level has a great deal going for themselves such as athleticism and body, but the rest has to be developed and honed. In other words, a good player can be great with good coaching.

With Buddy, he is a head case because he knows what he can do and what he is capable of given the necessary support. There lies the frustration. He knows that with assistance, he can make it because he has the drive, athleticism, and ambition. Without the proper setting and structure, he is left on his own and cannot figure out what he is doing wrong or even right.

I was once told to not think when playing tennis. Go with muscle memory and instincts. If these pitchers are not properly coached, then they cannot develop good habits and be able to self-correct.

And now, I am off my soap box and have to run errands. Have a great day!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

More competitive...

A great day in the northeast and I am headed out in a few minutes to hit one or two tennis balls with the girls. Yep....this is a perfect day for gardening or sports-related activities, hence I chose to let the mulch and weeds take care of themselves for a few more days......


And so, how was the weekend of baseball? Well, as you know, the big kid did not travel 'cause he has a "mental issue" with finding the plate. Ok...nice...so, what will the coaches do about it if the athleticism and talent is there? Oh, I know....let him stay on campus and party with his friends. Perhaps he can also ace the final exam that he has on Monday.....

On to the games in O-hioooo.....yeah.....the ERA for the entire team (starters and bullpen) was 7.0. In other words, the team gave up 21 runs in three games. The opposition's ERA was 2.0. Guess who won all three games?

For entertainment value, I listened to game two on the computer....the broadcasters were talking about the bullpen and even said: "The big leftie did not make the trip this weekend, so the bullpen will be more competitive....."

Cough....Gasp....Scream....Huh? More competitive? Dude, you have been watching these games all season and my son is not the reason why the bullpen cannot hold on to the game. (His ERA and low opposing batting average are in the top tier.) In fact, the bullpen pitchers are called in when the starters go down and that is often early in the game. Yep, competitive all right...let me give you a competitive sandwich!

While giving up 21 runs without my son's presence, there were also multiple errors and once again, the team has not just been de-railed but they also have casualties.... For example, yesterday's starter has been diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff. His career is over. Three other players have issues and are sidelined....there have been 9 pitcher surgeries in the last three years. Is any athletic director looking at these statistics? For such a large, prestigious division I school, there is a problem here.
Perhaps there needs to be a better arm care program....perhaps the training is not appropriate for a pitcher....did anyone notice that the injuries have been piling up? Oh, by the way, when a kid comes back from an injury, the coaches do not know nor want to know how to work with them to regain their form. Buddy gave the coach his prescribed regimen and the coach never opened it and is probably being used as a place mat on his desk to catch the ketchup when it drips off his Burger King Whopper.....I kid you not.....

Now here is where I stand...I worry that once he is in the game again, the coach will tinker with the mechanics and he will strain or tear something. This is a legitimate worry given their track record. I do believe that his shoulder injury was due to the coaching. In other words, there seems to be more to baseball than throwing and catching a ball. There is some instruction and proper mechanics.

How do I know? Well...watching all these years has made me somewhat of an expert.....I am also in the health care field and understand anatomy and physiology....and lastly, I have had an injury or two in my lifetime. I also know when my golf stroke or tennis serve is out of whack...it's mechanics!

I am now reading the Tiger Woods book written by his former coach. After one chapter, the same philosophy rings true....preparation....proper repetition.....mental toughness....coaching....yeah, even Tiger Woods has a coach who travels with him. A professional athlete....top golfer in the world....let's consider when the coach walked out to the mound last week and told Buddy that he was a junior, so he should be able to fix his mechanics....did coach Haney say that to Tiger...."Hey, uh Tiger....you are the biggest money winner on tour....I think that you know what to do, so I'll stay back with the crowd and have a pulled pork sandwich and a cold beer..."

Yep, mechanics, coaching, repetition, preparation with body and physique....if developed properly, you have a winning pitcher, golfer, and perhaps team....I am off to put my sunscreen on and take my Aleeve.....Have a great day!

Friday, April 26, 2013

No fun: All business

Good morning! I am able to write this entry early since I am out of bed and waiting for the dentist to call me. It seems in my haste last night, I was eating some of Tink's popcorn and lost a filling. I learned four things....1. A person should with fillings should NOT eat caramel popcorn....2. A person needs their fillings....3. It's nice having access to a dentist who will return the aforesaid fillings....4. Caramel popcorn is NOT on Weight Watchers....just sayin'...that's the last of my popcorn eating days

for a long long time....

On to the big kid who was 'supposed' to come home this weekend and fly to Texas. It seems that the uber-pitching coach does not work on weekends (I want his job), so dad and the kid will fly out this week if he can get out of going to practice one day. They will fly in the morning and return in the evening....fun...look out for the peanuts on the flight.  Dad wanted me to make the trip but here is the reply: "Uh, dad, no offense to mom...." who didn't see this one coming?....."But I would rather go with you....."

Sure, I'm handy for some baked ziti, french toast, trips to the mall and happy hour, but when it comes to pitching and mechanics....fuh-get-about-it....yeah, that's right. So, pop is headed to Houston to ask the manly questions about release and leg and core strength since I just don't get it.....Which is fine. Tink, Diva, and I will do something else, like watch the NFL Draft on television....more about that one in a future post.

Yesterday, the big kid approached the pitching coach and asked for a meeting about his name being left off the travel list. He was calm and rational, which is more than I can say about the coach. Anyway, I will paraphrase since I get information second and third hand...."Coach, can you tell me why I am not traveling?"

"Well, it seems that you have some of the best stuff on the team...." OK, that sounds accurate....

"But, you are having trouble locating the ball....." True.....he needs more active competition to work out the cobwebs since he missed fall and some of the winter ball.....

"It's all in you head...." Huh? Are you calling my kid mental? Like crazy? Huh? You, the guy who apparently is the great role model, bent over and expelled flatus in his face, and called him out saying that you were now number 2 on his hit list. Yeah, you're number two all right.....again, just sayin'.....

"Also, you have to loosen up. You are no fun in the locker room. The guys like to mess with you, but you don't know how to take it...." Loosen up....no fun.....Oh, I see...you have a kid returning from surgery, who worked his butt off all year....who is trying to relax and find the plate....who wants to pitch, shower, study, eat, and sleep....but he is not relaxed enough in the locker room to enjoy noxious gas in his face. I am sorry but this one is #$&##&. (And no, the kid did not learn salty language from me..it was his Catholic grade school football coach who taught him to curse in sentences.)

Let's analyze this meeting....the more mature player approaches a coach who is stunted in his emotional development....let's say that he is more of an adolescent....the bigger man of the two asks for coaching advice and help. The coach turns around and says that he cannot help because it is all in his player's head....a mind game, if you ask me.

Also, since he is no fun because he sees baseball for what it is, he is considered a pariah by of all people, the pitching coach. Ok, on to my coaching days in the elementary school....you know...basketball and volleyball....first of all, I liked the kids who would arrive early, smile easily, focus on practice, and return home with their juice boxes and pretzel gold fish. These kids were a joy to coach. Second, let's call it for what it is...the coach has no idea how to help him.

This leads me to consider writing a post about college coaches in general soon.....

But back to the musings about yesterday's conversation.....I said to the leftie, this is sophomore year in high school all over again. It is the ebb and flow of your life....it is the time to use your own critical thinking skills to figure out how to resolve the command and coaching issues. The ball is in the coach's hands, Buddy wants it...he has to use his physical, mental, and emotional powers to overcome this problem.

Situations like this are pervasive in our lives. We learn how to deal with conflict and difficult people to achieve our goals. it seems that my son has a head start in the problem solving and negotiation process. These skills will make him a better employee and man.

Ok, enough bloviating...time to go to the dentist...no more caramel popcorn.....or cheese popcorn...butter is bad too.....

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Only Opportunities

Sigh.....Life is so unpredictable as most people know, which makes it so.....lively, perhaps?

Once again, we all know the purpose of this blog is to tell it like it is...good and bad...highs and lows....the rocky and smooth....the startling and the predictable....shall I get to the point?

Here goes.....

Yesterday at 6 pm (interrupting happy hour, mind you....), Tink and I were relaxing and chatting about life. The evening game was cancelled early in the afternoon due to storms. The plan had been to drive to campus and watch the game and perhaps stay overnight....But the notice came an hour before we were to leave and therefore, we were home.

The call comes in from the big kid...."I'm not on the list to travel to Ohio...." Huh? What? Really? It seems that even with the limited appearances on the mound, he has one of the best ERAs and lowest opponent batting average percentages on the team. OK, he has struggled to regain his complete command, but that requires opportunity and coaching and he has had neither. Therefore, with his stats shining, we were all completely caught off guard on this one. In fact, over the weekend, if he did not come into the game when he did to shut down the opposition, they would not have been able to come from behind to win their first conference game. Also, keep in mind the coach walking to the mound and rather than telling him where he was failing in his delivery, he berated him and told him to figure it out....leading me to believe that the coach has no idea what he is doing, 'cause I could see that it was his release point.....and I ain't no coach...just sayin'.......

As the call came in, I had no time to develop a proper commentary such as "What do they know?" "Crazy..." and so on....but I was silent and just let him speak. And he did....speak....calmly...no cussin'...expletives and so on....very calm, rational....hmmmm...is my big boy growing up?

Here is what he had to say....."I needed to calm myself when I saw the list so I went into the film room and watched myself pitch for 45 minutes....then I came out..." What? They have film and never have the coaches had the players in there to review their swings and throws.....isn't this Coaching 101? When you have resources such as these, you use them...anyway.....

"I was going to blow, but then I remembered my hero, Chris Coaste (the 33 year old rookie). He had more #$^#** thrown at him, but he kept his head and plugged away. I am going to be the same way....."

Nice....baby is maturing.....now what....

"I am going to come home after my last class this weekend and dad says we are flying to Houston to meet with the pitching coaches at the baseball academy..." Oh, that's nice...a round trip ticket to Houston to meet a guy who can change the big kid's life....I'll fund that....

"Then I will work all summer and when I get back in the fall, I will throw 92 mph and shove it in the coach's face....." Not sure what he will shove in the coach's face, whether it is the ball or his fist (in a figurative manner, naturally).  "Then I will destroy them..." Ahhh, here is my boy speaking...yes, destruction and mayhem (in a figurative sense, naturally). He is plotting his return in the fall to be quite memorable...."Then when I am drafted, I will make it known that they had absolutely no assistance in helping my game....." OK, revenge....in a figurative sense, naturally.....

Now what? Well, he is coming home tomorrow and he will fly to Houston if he can make an appointment to meet this uber-coach. I will stay home with Tink and Diva dog and make some of the kid's favorite meals. He gets the full "mama treatment" this weekend, complete with me actually offering to do his laundry.  Yes, I will absolutely fluff and fold...anything to help the cause...Project Fastball on its way....

Just one note that I learned when I was the chair of my academic department (hating it every day...in a figurative sense, naturally...) from my dean....he said: "You don't have problems...only opportunities....." Yes, he is right and that is keeping it positive. If the kid had traveled to Ohio, he would have pitched one or two innings and returned to campus. This way, he can set up the summer in Texas and be prepared to leave home when he finishes the semester and baseball season. In a way, this opportunity is a gift from the coaches. If he had gone to Ohio, he never would have made it to Houston before June. Now he is ready to go. Stay positive, like Chris Coaste....watch what happens....

By the way, I will watch the games this weekend. Without Buddy on the mound, the bullpen has a big hole in it. Yesterday, the college ran an article about the return of the bullpen and he was mentioned as one of the stars of the weekend.....OK, the newspaper reporter gets it, perhaps we should send the paper to the coach to read and not use to line the bird cage.....Not angry here...just reporting the facts and seeing the silver lining in this cloud.
Enjoy the day!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

On the job training

Good Morning! Have you ever noticed on the morning shows, the weather is always on? Here in the northeast, it's always unpredictable. Sometimes the weather broadcasters call for a big snow and then we get flakes. Then we run to the food store to make sure that we have enough Skittles to make it through the next 24 hours. It's crazy.

Although, I have found that Skittles are more than a candy. They can be the sugar high that a person needs driving a long distance late at night. On our way home from the games on Saturday night, dad started to fade. Naturally, he was "fine" and did not need to change drivers. But there was a point when Tink scrambled to get the M&Ms out to give him a chocolate and sugar lift to get us home safely. We made it...whew...but there was a scary moment...that's all I am going to say.
On to the big kid....yes! He is close to scoring academic honors for the first time in his 21 years of life. Naturally, we are blown away.....I think that he is finding that earning good grades is as exciting as striking out a batter....almost....OK, not really...but it is pretty cool!

There are two week night games this week and a three game weekend conference series in Ohiooooo. They will be on the bus for that trip. I actually considered going to the weekend series but have to give a faculty workshop on Saturday. Otherwise, I would definitely go and cheer the team on.

As a team, they have not had a day off in months. A NCAA violation? You tell me......

Not much else going on.....I'll be listening to the game tonight. I believe the big kid should make it in to the game. No word from the coaches as to what the schedule will be....in fact, the coaches do not speak to the guys except to berate them. Poor Gopher has not been spoken to in over a month. He no longer travels with the team and rather than working with him to improve his hitting, he is ignored. Do all coaches act this way? Perhaps. The film of the Rutgers basketball coach was compelling and seemingly indicative of how coaches behave behind the scenes. Naturally, it is not all of the coaches, but they can be construed as big bullies rather than teachers. They intimidate rather than nurture. I wish that I knew of this phenomenon a few years ago, because things would be different now. But a person learns on the job and we have a boat load of information to share with high school kids and their parents. If anyone asks, I will give them the facts....just the facts...no editorial or commentary. If they want that, they can read this blog.

Keep the fingers, toes, and eyes crossed. Tink has a job interview today and hopefully, this is it. Her last job ended a few weeks ago as she was a companion for an elderly woman. Sadly, this wonderful lady passed away. Now Tink is working the job circuit looking for anything from a pharmacy tech to an assistant in an extended care facility. She has a good heart and would make an excellent companion.....anyone hiring?

On to work.....have a great day. GO team!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Tink Weekend

Hi! I'm back! It's Sunday and we are in the throes of a "Tink Weekend". Yep, it's her birthday and we are celebrating all weekend..not just a day...she gets three.....
So, what does a family do on Tink Weekend? Generally, it has been sports related and our Tink is happy just to be with family and friends. So, it began with a trip to see the Phillies on Friday night to watch the game and eat her favorite ballpark sandwich. It was so big that it took her four innings to finish it. And yes, she is a very slow eater....I would have had it gobbled before the first pitch, but that's our Tink...enjoying each bite.....

Yesterday was her actual birthday and we were headed to the mountains to watch a double header and spend time together as a family. Starting off at a diner for breakfast, we got to the park 15 minutes early only to find out that the game did not start at noon but at 2 pm. It was stormy and there was a football game too. Yes, there was a football game, an inner squad scrimmage that is played every spring to generate excitement. Sadly, due to the times, there was a state police helicopter circling over the stadiums. Further, we were not allowed to bring pocketbooks or bags into the ball park. No Kashi bars or Skittles....



With all of the traffic and the fact that it took us an hour to get to our parking space, we were not going to abandon it to leave for two hours, so we sat there in the rain....waiting....waiting...waiting....

On to the game....the first game began on time. Yes, Buddy remembered to order tickets for us and we were behind home plate. As the game proceeded, the starter had troubles and had to be yanked. It was obvious that he was struggling. He had given up 5 runs in the second inning, and finally he was removed. The next pitcher came in and gave up two more runs before the 5th inning was over. The team was way down and we figured that we would see the big leftie since they had 'nothing to lose' and were on their way to a loss. And yes...the big kid warmed up and was soon on the mound...and no, I did not have to wait until the 9th inning of the second game to see him pitch.

As he ran to the mound, it began to snow...again, he is the Rodney Dangerfield of baseball...no respect, even from Mother nature...looking at the big scoreboard, his photo, age, and home town were broadcasted next to his name that is still misspelled...no respect...He thinks it is funny. As his mom, I don't find the humor but am looking for it....

I took photo after photo since it was Wounded Warriors day in the conference; all of the teams were wearing camouflage jerseys. Then the jerseys are auctioned off with the funds going to the Wounded Warriors Foundation. It's nice...but the team's jerseys were bright blue, black and white and looked like they were derived from a cow's spots. They looked like blue, black and white cattle. Will I buy the jersey again as I did freshman year. Is the Pope Catholic? Does a bear live in the woods? Do I have a Visa card? You betcha...that jersey will be purchased, framed and in the house before the azaleas bloom.

Back to the mound....some struggles, but he got his men out. As I looked at the bullpen, no one was warming up which meant that he was staying in for the next inning. He threw 5 pitches and had three outs. I knew that he was staying in until the next inning when he threw 6 balls in a row and his day was done. Before then, however, the pitching coach visited the mound during his first inning, grumbled and said: "You're a junior, you should know how to fix your mechanics. Thanks for wasting a walk to the mound for me." The rule is that the pitching coach can come to the mound for each pitcher twice before he was to take him out. The coach basically was saying that he is on his own out there, so 'man up.' Uh huh...that's the difference between a guy who is engaged with his players and one who is not. What do I have to say about it...to the coach..."Hey, dude, you man up...yeah, that's right...you are being paid handsomely to coach and mentor these kids...do your job...stop the whining...man up...dude...man up...."

And so, after being told that he was on his own, somehow he was able to not give up any runs but did hit a player...oh well. The kid moved into the pitch when it was obvious that that was the only way that he would get on base. There was a silver lining to the stormy and cold day...the team came back in the bottom of the 9th after a 7 run deficit and won the game. Lots of excitement....yahoo!

On to game two...all I can say is the following..."Cold...hand warmers....blankets...shivering..." That's it...game over at 7:30 pm after sitting in the cold conditions for hours after hours. With that, we were rewarded with a good outing by the big kid and lots of photos of a team that had the fashionable cow-attire. Did anyone who had selected the shirt consider that this was a major fashion faux pas?

As we waited in the parking lot for him to emerge from the locker room, I had the demented idea to move his car to another area. We had a key and wanted to play a practical joke....would he be receptive or want to kill us? Only time would tell....Out he comes and he does not see the car...thinking that it was towed, he has a meltdown until he sees it at the other end of the parking lot....good one, dad...I thought that I was towed and would need to borrow money to get it out of the impound lot. All is well, let's go to dinner....

We selected an Italian restaurant for the birthday girl and much to our surprise, our server went to pre school with Buddy....I remember the guy as a cute four year old with eye glasses bigger than his face. He still had the glasses but his face was obviously bigger. Buddy was clueless and said "Sure, we were friends, right?" (Not...but anyway). The kid lived down the street from us and attends college with the big leftie and works as a waiter in an amazing restaurant.

After the world's greatest dish of chicken Marsala, it was time to hit the turnpike. Today is day 3 of Tink Weekend, so there is more celebration ahead.

Enjoy the sunshine!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Throwing 101

Good morning! It's a bit overcast today. The weeds are starting to take hold of the garden, so it is time to get out there and start pulling...Tink! Put the garden gloves on and get going!

What's up in the mountains? Well....two nights ago, someone jumped out of an apartment building to his death. Why would a young man with a great future ahead of him do such a deed? Why, indeed. I said to Buddy that this is a permanent solution to a short term problem. However, not knowing what is going on in this young man's head, I cannot comment any further BUT....

I finished reading the Book "Trouble is a Gift" by Jim Cusack who founded Villa Veritas in New York. It is a rehab center that he founded with his wife Sue. The book depicts the 84 year old's life as a life long alcoholic and hell raiser. He writes about his disease, black outs, his fights, his lack of maturity, and his long road to sobriety. It gave me unique insight into the mind of an alcoholic and now I look at the population from a different perspective....so back to the student jumper...perhaps he was so inebriated that he 'blacked out'. In that case, it is a double tragedy.

On to baseball, two more pitchers have injuries....why? I'll tell you why...their training and protocols are crazy. Their fundamentals are screwed up and the guys are ruining their arms. If I remember correctly from my coaching days......

A coach is a person who teaches fundamentals and places his or her players in the best situations to maximize their effectiveness for the good of the team. My thought here is that someone does not know the basics and is hurting rather than helping these players. If we look back on the three years Buddy has been there, there has been a trail of broken arms, elbows, shoulders, and hearts as the guys cannot even toss a softball anymore.

Fortunately, the big kid has become his own advocate and knows enough about his body that he will not sell his soul for a chance on the mound. He has to do it on his terms and the coach does not like it. He is called a prima donna, yet he has battled back to mound. The coach also thought that he had elbow surgery. This is the coach....he was told a number of times that he had shoulder surgery. The kid even gave to him his rehab schedule and exercises for the shoulder. He never opened the file and never contacted the kid while he was in the hospital  rehabbing. Actually, Buddy did it. He texted him about the surgery, post op, physical therapy, throwing and so on. The coach never responded to any of the texts. And so, he was quite surprised to find out that he had the shoulder surgery. When Buddy was admitted the hospital for epiglotitis, the coach did not respond to that text either. What's the deal?

I dunno, but I will tell you this...with the arms and the season's record as dismal as it is, I am sure that the coach is already aware that a division 1 school is not going to have the reputation that it is running a bad program. In fact, they want national champions. I will tell you...I will be surprised if they have a total of ten wins this season. It seems to me that many of the kids have given up.

On to work....

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Thoughts and prayers.....

Hello. I am going to keep this post short and offer my thoughts and prayers to the people of Boston and those affected by the bombings. Don't let evil steal your joy......

Monday, April 15, 2013

Looking back: Lots of similiarities

Good morning! It's tax day...are my taxes done? Nope!

This is going to be a quickie...too much to do and too little time today. Got to squeeze too much into the day.

Yesterday's game was broadcasted on television. Tink and I had the video and regular cameras ready and focused on the screen. And we waited.....first LW started the game. He did not have his best stuff and was giving up hit after hit. I said to Tink:

"Your brother would have pulled out after that walk....."

"Your brother would have been pulled out after that hit batter...."

"Your brother would have been pulled out after that single...."

"Your brother would never have been left in the game this long....."

Needless to say, Tink asked me to refrain from any more commentaries......

And so, the score was 5-1 after 5 innings and LW was finally removed from the mound. But before he was yanked, he started to limp....that's right...an injury....that's what pulled him out of the game...not the five earned and unearned runs that were scored while he was there.

Sorry about the sarcasm....but it gets better.....

Four pitchers were added to the game as the score was rung up. Each pitcher was allowed to give up at least two runs and worked out of their troubles. The big kid never got in....he sat in the dugout with his heavy coat and hat on. After all, it was snowing in Michigan as the game progressed. Something tells me that he was not upset about not seeing any action.

And so, I watched the entire game since I never know whether he will get in or not....and we watched and watched....another train wreck of a game. The announcers were trying to be nice, but let's face it. There is only so much that you can say about a team that is 6-23.

As the game ended, I had this flashback....sophomore year in high school....a new coach....he hated/loathed/did not get the big leftie.....any time that he was on the mound, he would pull him after one incident. He could be heard screaming..."Get him the %@&@% out of there...." Yeah....it happened all too frequently.....he never knew how good he had it until college coaches called him to share the good news that he had a stud sitting on his bench cursing him out every opportunity that he had....cra-zeee....

Those were the days when he would be so afraid to make a mistake that he threw tentatively ad therefore did not have great stuff. It's the same thing in college.....the pitching coach would rather throw anyone into a game including his mother who has a 35 mile an hour fast ball.....and again, I hear, "I don't have time to warm up...I can't make one mistake....I can't get myself out of a problem"....it's confidence...as I said to Einstein's parents this weekend....he lost his swagger.....
Once the game was over, the team boarded the bus for the 8 hour trip home. On the way, he texted me with a number of salty thoughts and one interesting one....I gave him the book "Thirty three year old rookie" for his birthday and he had been reading it in his spare time. A text came through: "Chris Coaste is my favorite player...." You know why? Well, CC never gave up. He was bounced from program to program....the best player in the minors...overlooked for the majors.....brought up to the majors for a day...sent back again....up...down...side ways....backwards....forward....the guy could have and should have thrown in the towel, but did not. He was eventually rewarded for his perseverance. Now Buddy shares a kinship with the guy. Makes me smile....first, he is reading books (wink!). Second, he selects heroes who are heroes...never giving up. This story plays out not only in

baseball but in life....

When we look back on this sorry season, we will see multiple positives. These include finding out more about ourselves....how hard life can be.....life is not fair....no one takes away a person's spirit unless you hand it to them....there are many more lessons, but I have to run....work awaits.....

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Ball 4!

Good morning! Special kudos to nephew M, another leftie, who is finishing his senior year in college. He was honored yesterday at the ballpark and given his jersey. It was a neat moment, although Big Sis and Big M had a bit of trouble keeping their composure. It was a touching ceremony to watch.

It was a beautiful day and Tink and I arrived at the ceremony in our usual baseball watching attire....heavy parka, gloves, hat, hand warmers, heavy socks, and boots. People were wearing sweatshirts and jeans....Huh? Aren't you guys underdressed for this one? Nope....they obviously never watched a baseball game in the mountains.

Oye! I started to feel warm for the first time in a long time at a game. And yes, we were prepared for the snow and a blizzard....It never came....I guess we have begun to take the bad weather for granted. Although, this past week, the temperature went up to the high 80's. I was not going to break down and turn on the air conditioner until my concealer and make up melted in the bathroom. I knew that I was in trouble. The air conditioning went on even for a few hours.

On to the big kid....the team traveled to Michigan this weekend by bus (eww) and  Tink and I performed our usual pre-game ritual.....open the laptop....get out the speakers.....sit on the sofa and listen intently to the computer.....and we listened and listened....it was the bottom of the 8th inning and the score was tied...the starting pitcher was pulled and a new pitcher was placed on the mound. He proceeded to get the first two outs....then he walked the next two batters. With 1 minute to warm up and no pitching in 2 weeks, the coach called Buddy in to get the third out....sadly, with a count of 3-2, he walked the next batter and was yanked out of the game. The closer came in....the batter hit the ball to shortstop....easy out! Nope...throwing error....two runs score.....then three runs....then the inning was finally over. I turned off the game and stared at the computer knowing that this one really smarted.

When he called home after yesterday's game, I heard him say for the first time in his life: "I don't care if I am in. I want the season to end." Huh! What? Not my kid....not the kid who during a lightening storm would look up in the sky and shout: "Why Lord! Why are you letting it rain!?" Yeah...that kid....who saw a rain out as a personal failure...there he was on the phone from Michigan saying that all he wants is to do well in school. Huh? Again....huh?

That one did not go past me and I called him out on it. "That's a lie...."

"no, I want to get better grades...."

"Don't throw this kind of bull at me. I know you better and if you can get into a game and throw a ball passed a batter while he misses it, then you would trade an A+ on an English paper for an out in a big game....."

I got him on that one. 'Cause deep down inside, he hurts. He expected more from himself, the coaches, and the team. He now has to figure out what to do on his own, since the coach is unable or unwilling to help him.

Crazy...it's crazy....if the coach would give the kid time on the mound without the pressure of getting one guy out perhaps he can regain his former form. But the coach continues to place him in to these situations that he cannot overcome. His mind, his mechanics,  and his confidence have been at risk. This is not the way to coach my son. Yet, the coach is doing this to all of the pitchers and not just Buddy. After calling home, he mentioned that his elbow was sore. This injury occurs with poor mechanics. It's time for him to start over with Coach T. Although dad is going to send him to Texas for a prolonged series of tutoring to increase his speed. Hopefully, the Texas coaches will tinker with his mechanics.

By the way, my name has been mentioned a number of times as a person who will accompany the kid to the Lone Star state. I am not sure if I can make it since I will be in the classroom this summer. But I would love to go. I like Texas....the people...the food....the weather....the food...the food.....I can leave my hand warmers at home but bring my Weight Watchers 360 database. I can also try to score a job at Starbucks...come on...give me a chance! Please! I'll practice: "Would you like room for cream in your coffee?" I can even say it in Espanol....

"cafĂ© con azĂșcar y crema."

The game is on television today, so I can watch the  kid stand in the bullpen and spit seeds out of his mouth.....It will be nice to see him. I am sure that he will not be put into the game since the coaches seem to have given up on him. Oh well, there are 24 games to go until Texas...yeee haw!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thrown out

I'm baack! I had to take a day off to catch up on life. Now that I have a repairman coming to the house to fix the freezer, I am immobile waiting for the guy to show up. Yes, the freezer does not freeze anything. I lost all of my frozen food. The only thing that really bothered me was that my Weight Watchers ice cream bars (open in case of an emergency) melted. Once my third set of the ice cream cones melted away, I called the guy and said that this is definitely an emergency. And so....I wait....wait...wait...wait....

On to baseball....on Tuesday night there was a home game that was broadcasted on television. There was no need for me to head to the mountains since it was on tv. Yes, I saw the big kid lots of time standing in the dugout and bullpen...spitting....laughing...smiling...He never made it into the game and was quite salty when he called home. Never asking for me....he went right to the top and complained vociferously to dad.....who once again advised him to speak to the coach.

Last night's game was at home and looking at the forecast, I did not want to sit nor drive in the rain, so I did not make the trip. I guess that I am becoming more choosy. There was a 30 minute rain delay postponing the start of the game. Once the game began, the announcer mentioned that the score board had been hit by lightening and it was not working....huh? The Jumbo-tron!     Whoa...that was a storm....feeling better about my decision, they played 5 innings with the home team crushing the competition. Then the game was called for severe weather. Rather than picking it up where is ended the coaches decided to replay the game next week. Ouch!

On to the phone call home....when the big kid called to chat after the game, he was in good spirits....guess where he was going? Hmmm...if you check Sunday's blog, I mentioned that the coaches told all of the players to go to the bars to relax....well, not happy about the endorsement of using liquor to alleviate stress, I let it be known that I disagreed.....go to a movie, restaurant, pizza parlor.....

Anyway, when I asked if he was going to the library to study, he said "I had a rough week. I am going to the bar with the guys." A rough week? What constitutes a rough week? True, your bedroom window and the car were egged yesterday, but aside from cleaning it, what was so stressful? Do you have a blister? Did you meal money run out? Does your pen have ink in it? Ran out of underwear? What? What was so bad?

Not knowing, I advised him as a mom would: "NO drinking and driving....Sparky will not bail you out. So you are on your own....."

"No, mom. I know that. I am walking to the main street....no driving...I can't afford it." Great...'cause I ain't gonna send him a dime.....although I did pay his speeding ticket a few years ago....

Flash forward to this morning....I received a text at 12:20 am when I was sound asleep....."Got kicked out of a bar for the first time. Some guy asked me to help him to find a girl to spend the night with and I told him to &^$(((. He offered me $100.00...I guess that I am not cut out for the bar scene".  There must have been more to the story to be kicked out a bar. Nevertheless, it is disturbing on a number of levels.

I am glad that he shared this text with me. I think....yeah, I am glad. This opens dialog about drinking, women, idiot guys, stupid girls and so on.I suppose getting thrown out of bar is a badge of honor for some people. But something tells me that heated words were exchanged and some people were more inebriated that they let on....

OK, it's college. They have to learn and this is why they are there. In a way, it is a safe environment (except for the egg tossing) for the kids to learn about life, rules, and standards. I am actually fine with the bar throwing these knucklehead kids. Go for it......toss them out on their bottoms.....humiliate them....let them know in no uncertain terms that this is not the way decent people behave.
Once they have these experiences, they will either continue to embrace them or look for other ways to gather with their friends and blow off steam. What ever happened to a Frisbee game in the backyard....toasting marshmallows? Eating ice cream sundaes? How about tutoring a kid? Volunteer at a soup kitchen? Hey, that will show you what real stress is....just sayin'.....

Still waiting for the repairman.....Later!