Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

Thank you to all the brave men and women who are serving or have served in our nation's armed forces.
The boys always think of their grandfather whenever we talk about the military. It is a good reference point. They know he was in the Marines. They are still learning about the divisions in the military. They still don't get the difference between the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. But they do know that the Marines are the best. That certainly makes my Dad happy.
The boys are also starting understand sacrifice. And more importantly the sacrifice specific to those that fought and died for this country. It is a fine line, having this conversation. Obviously, I don't want to scare them or give them nightmares. But I do want them to understand that holidays like these are about more than just a day off from school.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A No No - Baseball and Bonding

Jon Lester throws the first no hitter for a Red Sox lefty in more than half a century. The fourth Sox no hitter of this century. It would seem to be getting routine but you really do have to step back, take it all into perspective, and appreciate the enormity of it. I tried to impress that upon my sons. And I think get it to a degree.
Coco immediately brought up Bucholz and last years no hitter. This sparked a good conversation about how hard it is to throw a no no. Coco also remembered that Dustin Pedrioa made a circus catch at the end of the game to prevent a hit up the middle. I told the boys about Ellsbury highlight reel catch in 4th. While the no no is an impressive feat for a pitcher, it really does take a whole team effort to accomplish it. Varitek, now the only catch to have caught 4 no hitters.
While all these facts are great. The no hitters are impressive accomplishments. What I most enjoy is the conversations that follow with my sons. It is the bonding that is important. My now seven year old son can whip off the events of a no hitter from last year. I imagine in the years to come, when the boys are little older, maybe around the holidays, when we gather as a family, we will rehash these talks. And I am sure I will be smiling the whole time.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Does Anyone Win in a Tie?

AA baseball doesn't keep score of the game for Coco's team. The kids of course do. Or at least they think they do. AA is the next step up from T-ball. The kids are learning the finer point of the game. There is no need to keep score and throw winning or losing into the mix. It is just a distraction at that age. When Caz played AA, according to him, they won every game. Which again is the point. All the kids should feel like winners. They should have fun playing the game, while they are learning. The older kids in AA are getting to the age where it's appropriate to keep score but they too still benefit from the learning first mentality. This is where they are learning the fundamentals of the game, throwing, catching, hitting, base running, game strategy, and making plays. I really like that they start the season with practices and just don't leap right into games. The only thing I think the league could do better is to provide the coaches some guidance about how to run practices. A guy like me that grew up playing one year of organized baseball, would be complete lost on how to teach the game. However, the league does put on a free clinic on Saturdays for that age group, once the games do begin, to reinforce the basics. The league president is very enthusiastic and really connects with the kids. So to answer the title question.....yes.....they all win.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Winter Ball

I honestly think the season is going in revers and heading back into winter. It's down right cold. We should be in shorts and t-shirts but instead we are in winter fleeces and I have honestly thought about putting on a hat and gloves during a few of these late innings ball games. To the boys (and that's all the boys, on both baseball teams). I thought snow was going to fall during Coco's last practice. The Mudcats (actual team name) were all running around in their short sleeve shirts and baseball pants. The parents were shivering on the sidelines. It is baseball, so how much running around are they really doing?

The collective consciousness of the crowd is an amazing thing. You see it in evidence at sporting events, knowing when to sit and stand as a crowd. One, efficient unit, working in unison. The crowd will discipline it's own. You get one or two knuckleheads standing for no reason. The crowd will course correct and take action. The knuckleheads get the point. At Coco's last practice, they finished with a scrimmage. They started a few minutes later that normal but no big deal. They played one innings that ended at 7:25. Practice is supposed to end at 7:30. So we figured, things would wrap up and we would start heading home. No such luck. The other team started taking the field. At that point you could hear and feel the collection groan and sigh of the disappoint of the crowd. Apparently the crowd did not feel corporal punishment was in order, so we played two.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day - 2008

I hope all the Mom's out there have a great day. Happy Mother's Day Demi!

Not quite the Mother's Day that I am sure Demi had in mind. Overcast, misty Saturday, which we did some yard work to compensate for Sunday's schedule. At least she had high tea at the Boston Harbor Hotel with my mother and sister-in law. The boys got to see Iron Man. Everybody won in the afternoon. Caz had a baseball game at 5. Demi had arranged for a couple of the families we played against, who live in the neighborhood, to meet for pizza and beer (soda for the kids of course) at a local joint, after the game. We all could have used hot chocolate after another chilly night game. But is was fun. Sunday, we were able to have a nice breakfast before trudging off to the salt mines. Coco had soccer at 1 and Caz had a make-up baseball game scheduled for 3 PM. Of course, the first game went into extra innings, forcing ours to start late. But Demi did get to see her old son pitch for the first time ever. Isn't that what Mother's Day is really all about?

Friday, May 9, 2008

May Flies

The spring season for May flies is here. As if the cold, rainy weather isn't enough. The little annoying gnat-like black flies, swarming around your head. Flying in your ears, in your nose, or in your mouth. Extra protein, sure. But I could do without.
Caz is still growing his hair out. He's been on a mission to get his hair down to his shoulder. There is definitely a style, trendy thing happening. But I think it also, Caz asserting himself to. I think he knows Demi and I aren't wild about. So he is testing the waters. But we definitely haven't been fighting him on it, or talking in anyway to discourage it. Or at least anymore. I told him one or twice early on, when he was still mulling it over, that he didn't want to be mistaken for a girl. But since then, I probably have been going over board in support. All right, you got my. Reverse logic there. If the old man likes it, then why do it? Caz has been soldiering on. He's got the old man's hair, so the natural curl is thwarting him a bit is his attempt to reach the shoulders. And I am going to say go with Caz is just really wants longer hair, rather than him seeing through my attempts at using child psychology. I dare you to say otherwise.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Making Your Pitches

Good pitchers make good pitches. In that way, I need to make like Josh Beckett. This year Caz moved up to what is called AAA ball, where the kids pitch to each other, rather than the Dads/Coaches pitching. I believe I touched upon it in an old post during last summer's team. Caz has the ability to pitch and to pitch fairly well (always keep in mind that I have a typical Dad's perspective, even though in my mind, I try to be fairly objective). He rated very well in pitching during Leveling Day. But up until now, he had been hesitant to pitch in a game and actually avoided it like the plague. He had a latent fear about hitting a batter. I tried to not make a big deal about and put even more pressure on him, while internally it was eating me up a bit because I didn't want him not to try something because he feared it. That is a pretty common Fatherly Fear, I would imagine. After a few discussions with RJ, I started feeling Caz out about pitching. He seemed more open about it in the past, but I didn't want to rush it. So I waited until the third game before having RJ ask him to pitch. We told him that we had three games coming up, very close together and had used a lot of pitchers in the previous game. I told that RJ needed help and Caz responded. He said, "sure thing coach." Demi was very nervous with anticipation. In the fifth inning, Caz got his chance. He warmed up and then started firing them in. And he ended up striking out the first batter he faced. Statistically, you would call it a mixed bag, he gave up two runs, walked one, one hit, but he struck out the side. As you probably know, not all success can be measured in numbers. And this was definitely a win for Caz. Not only did he perform well, but he asked RJ if he could pitch in the next game. Mission accomplished.

Jerk Chicken

Coco's new favorite meal, fresh off the family vacation cruise. Coco has still is fixated on Throwdown with Bobby Flay, Iron Chef, and Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. He constantly issues challenges for Throwdowns. Caz gets into it too. I have to say, I really thought Coco would take one bite of the Jerk Chicken and spit it out. "Too spicy." But Coco lapped it up. He did say it was spicy, but he said he liked it. He actually said, "it has a spicy finish. It gets hot at the end." Verbatim, a Bobby Flay phrase. I love that the kids are excited about food and cooking. I was amazed in my bachelor days by the amount of my friends that had trouble boiling water. It is a great life skill to have.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Spring Fever

It's May. The April showers are still going. Ready for the May flowers now. The time warp that sucks up your time, right in front of your face, has begun. I didn't know how good I had it last year when Coco was in T-ball. That was once a week, every Saturday. Even with soccer on Sunday, my week was relatively calm. Caz would have a couple of games a week. Now with Coco playing AA? They both play during the week. Last week we had baseball Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday during the week. Each game got us home at 8 or later. By the time dinners and showers were done, the boys got to bed around 9. Then we had baseball clinics scheduled from 10:30-2, between the two kids with Caz having a game at 5 on Saturday. Sunday? Soccer at 1, baseball at 3. Honestly, when am I supposed to get things done? No wonder people lose their minds. Except for a planned pizza night after the Saturday night game with a couple other players and their families, at least we have not succumbed to the temptation of the fast food life. Demi works extra hard to cook solid meals. I think we deserve a medal. But do most parents.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

May Day

Happy May Day? Is that the correct exclamation? Everyone have their May Pole up in the yard? [Pause for Laughter] Seems like everyday is a holiday doesn't it. We just had Patriots Day, Earth Day, May Day. It was Green Month. We're pretty much just auctioning off days at this point. Who wants a holiday? It is just like ballparks and stadiums. Welcome to ABC Company Field at Web-based Flavor of the Day Stadium, Home of the New Trendy Mascot of Up and Coming big City in a mediocre state. The only thing worse are those two football teams in the Land of Evil that play their games in a neighboring state, in the same stadium. What a crock!
You know, while I was enjoying a Celtics playoff game on TV, watching the crowd go wild at The Garden (not the Boston Garden, but preceded by a brand name bank - but at least they included the Garden, unlike their predecessors), I started waxing nostalgic for the Gahden. 100 plus degree playoff games on the parquet with the dead spots. Can I get an amen?