Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Catching Up

Baseball is like weddings -- it brings out the best, or the worst, in people. Or is it like taxes -- they both bring out the best, or the worst, in people? Or maybe it's like a crowded bus -- they both bring out the best, or the worst, in people.

In any event, when you play 7 games in five days, you are bound to feel your best, or your worst, at any given moment! We spent the Memorial Day weekend in Bend at the Chuck Bafaro High Desert Classic, a baseball tournament with over 200 teams from all over the northwest. We had a blast. Jack had a blast. And we had fun playing baseball, too.

(I will finish tomorrow night. I'm sorry -- it is 10:51. We beat the Red Sox tonight at Sunset Park and the game finished at 9:30pm) Goodnight!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Boys and girls, playing nicely together...

Last Monday night, we didn't have a scheduled game! It was the hottest day last week, and a free night, and I had to get my Little League fix, so I was finally able to head out to Nancy Ryles School and watch my niece play in her T-Ball game. Her team is made up of boys and girls, 5-6 years old, just starting their baseball careers.

My niece, Molly, is not hard to spot. The long-ish blonde hair sticking straight down from her Giants cap gives her away. Plus, she is not picking the grass, talking to the opposing team, or looking for her mommy.

Molly is the softball player in the family, with little sister Jane about to start her sports career this fall with kick-and-chase soccer. Molly takes her Murrayhill LL T-Ball very seriously, and I appreciate this. One time when she was visiting one of Jack's game, as she was leaving, Jack looked up from the team huddle and waved to her. Molly told her mom, "he should be listening to his coach, not looking at us."

Jack missed the T-Ball stage. He really wasn't interested in baseball during kindergarten-first grade. We jumped straight into coach-pitch when he started in third grade. Unfortunately, most kids started two years earlier, so he was head and shoulders above the other first and second-graders, literally, but the same level skill-wise. But, he caught the fire, played summer and fall ball, and has not looked back since then.

Molly has a good coach (my bro-in-law) and they seem to be having fun. They have moved into the second half of the season, meaning the coaches pitch four balls and if they don't hit, they pull out the old tee. Molly never needed the tee. That's my girl! She also never over-ran second or third base. And quite often she would look to throw out the lead runner when she was playing defense. That's my girl! She hustled on and off the field, and knew when she was up to bat. That's my girl!

I wonder if it is too soon to take a U-8 traveling softball team out on the tournament circuit...wait, maybe she should stick to baseball. When was the last time there was a girl in the LL World Series?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Sunburned Feet

So here is the deal that you sign up for when you give birth:

1) feed, clothe, bathe, and keep an eye on this new individual (NI)

2) make sure NI has enriching/positive experience with school, teachers, classmates, principals, neighbors, siblings, grandparents, cousins, coaches and every waiter/ress and checkout clerk encountered

3) plan for birthdays, First Communions, Halloweens, Christmases, First Day of School, Last Day of School, Spring Breaks, Valentine's Days, St. Patrick's Day (even if NI is not of Irish descent), and of course, educational AND fun summer vacations

4) sign up for, pay for, and attend the following: sports teams, music lessons, after-school activities, etc.

5) drive to places where (1), (2), (3), and (4) happen

(to be continued)

(OK, I'm back from Benihana...where was I going with this? oh yeah...)

Yesterday, I spent the day at Alpenrose watching my son play baseball and other sons play baseball and some daughters play softball. We had the opportunity to not run from field to home to Next Activity on the Calendar. All the while, the lawn needs mowing and there were cereal bowls in the sink. Horror!!!! How did I ever sleep last night with such guilt? Answer: like a baby. I was tired and sunburned, right down to the tops of my feet through my cool Nike Air Rifts.

So, you can think of your family activities in terms of the price of gasoline and the loss of your "me time" or you can thank God that you have a child playing in the sunshine. Or that your child has a mom or dad watching them play in the sunshine. Or a grandparent watching them. Because many don't...watch, or have the opportunity to watch,...or play.

Happy Mother's Day to the moms and grandmoms and godmothers and stepmoms. Thanks for going the extra mile.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

We won!

Woo hoo, we needed that: a crisp(er) game versus the Giants and a 10-3 win at Bethany School Field #1. Jack caught the entire game, with Michael E, Cam and Nick pitching.

Go Diamondbacks! (I'm pooped; next game Saturday, Alpenrose Main, 9:30am, versus a team from Rose City LL)

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Lack of Sleep

I had a hard time falling asleep last night. My mind was racing, like little spaceships darting all over, like rush hour on the Jetsons. My spaceships were images relating to baseball, and kids who play baseball, and their parents.

We got ten-runned by the Padres yesterday morning -- I missed the top of the first inning because I was picking up the "Box of Coffee" from Starbucks. I ordered it a half hour ahead of game-time, but they got busy and it wasn't ready when I arrived to pick it up. Plus, I got caught in some bicycle race taking place on the streets near Intel, Shute Road, and out to West Union. So...I ran up to the field with my coffee and fixin's and we had already sent our first three batters up and quickly they returned to the dugout: three up, three down.

Jack was catching and it was misting/light rain. It had been beautiful all week, sunshiney, a little wind, but here it was Saturday, and of course, it was cold and cloudy, and wet. But we had good coffee.

The Diamondbacks had two come-from-behind wins this week, only to look sluggish and field poorly against Evergreen LL's top team. The Padres and the Red Sox are teams from nearby Evergreen LL, who play an interlocking schedule with our Suncreek LL teams. Evergreen is the biggest league in District 4 size-wise, but can only field two majors teams, so they play with our teams. Most of the kids out there play Junior Baseball.

All I could think about last night was baseball. Was Jack having fun? Can you lose and still have fun? He seems so tired -- he plays baseball every night except Wednesday and Sunday. Last Tuesday and Thursday we didn't get home until after 10pm. And he still has homework -- he gets off the bus and walks through the front door at 4:15, and must be at a practice or game by 5pm. But the Diamondback way is to be there 15 minutes before the scheduled time in order to begin right on the mark. And, his allergies are raging right now, so his nose his runny and he has that blank look from too much decongestant. Plus, he is part of the Bloody Nose Brigade--there are about 4 boys on his team that get them almost everyday during this time of year.

So, all this suburban whining is making me crazy...why can't we just enjoy his final season? With John coaching, we are really into talking and thinking about baseball. Is it too much? All I keep thinking is that next year, well, there is no next year as far as Little League goes. This will all be a distant memory. I need to get a grip. Or take a nap.

John needs a nap, too: he has spent every waking moment working on the Suncreek LL rosters that must be sent to Williamsport. As Player Agent, he is responsible for the names and addresses of all the kids in the league. And it has been nothing but a nightmare. Coaches who don't answer emails, rosters that don't exist, manual entry of addresses into an Excel spreadsheet. Yuck. Aren't volunteer organizations fun?

Still, there are millions of parents and volunteers all over the country doing the same thing: coaching and umpiring, keeping score, mowing and chalking the fields, working in the "Treat Trailor," driving to games and practices, washing uniforms, and losing sleep over baseball...

Friday, May 05, 2006

Two Wins in a Row!

When you come from behind to win a baseball game, is it pure joy or pure relief? The D-Backs shook off their Saturday afternoon debacle against the Red Sox to post wins on Tuesday and Thursday, against the Giants and the Pirates, at Sunset Park under the lights.

Both games began at 7:30pm, which is not so bad in the summer, but is tough to recover from on school nights. Not quite enough time to down some dinner and power through some homework, and with getting home after 10pm, the night is a blur... But it sure makes it easier to get home and do math homework after a big win.

Jack slugged a double to right-center on Tuesday night to bring home the winning run against our good friends, the Giants. One of Jack's best buddies is a Giant, and several kids in his classes at Stoller are Giants. It didn't seem fair that they had to lose, but someone had to win, and I'm glad the D-Backs pulled it out.

Last night's game was not much of a thriller: 12-11. The winning run crossed home plate after 10pm, and I think everyone was glad to be finished!

Tomorrow, we take on the Padres for the first time at 9:30am at West Union. I will bring the Starbucks...

Monday, May 01, 2006

Birthdays and Baseball

a perfect combination!

On Thursday, April 27, Jack celebrated his 12th birthday with a field trip during the school day, and a game that night at Sunset Park vs. the Yankees. Both events took place on a beautiful, sunny Portland afternoon, but the D-Backs couldn't pull out the win, even on his Birthday.

If you are a Little League person, you are thinking to yourself: man, Jack missed the new cut-off date by three days! Yes, had I held that little boy in me until May 1, Jack would have a "playing age" of 11, and thus would have TWO more years to play LL ball. Nevermind that he was due April 20, 2004, so I even let him stay in there an extra week!

Because it was a special day/game, Jack's cousins and grandparents attended the games. Auntie only had so much time to "assist" the umpire with her comments due to making snack-shack runs for snowcones, popcorn and "pesi."(Pepsi without the S)

Those damn Yankees :) They beat us for the second time. This week: the Giants and the Padres, both games under the lights at Sunset Park!