Friday, January 31, 2014

Baseball 2014

I know practice hasn’t started yet for major league teams, but it has for the younger crowd.

With my 12-year old starting his first season of travel ball, baseball practice is already a reality. His team has weekly get-togethers at a batting cage for strength and agility training and batting practice. They’ve had two field practices this month, sandwiching them between the snow flurries and freezing temperatures that have dotted this January. The fact that the team has gotten any field time is good, with an early March game to start the schedule. The current schedule is 18 league games, with a league tournament and at least five non-league tournaments, for a season minimum of 35 games. It’s a time for my son to push himself.

It’s also a time for my younger son to discover how much he really likes baseball.

My older son enjoys baseball and plays rec ball every spring. He used to play in the fall as well, until marching band forced him to make a decision. Despite his love of the sport, he knows he doesn’t have the talent for it. He tends to be one of the weakest players on his team and plays rec ball for one reason: he’s able to get on the field.

However, my younger son, who loves pitching and playing third base, wants to prove himself against other kids who want to prove themselves.

We’ve told our son that if he wants to do well, he needs to practice and hustle. We’ve told him we can’t do it for him. We will be at every game. We will take him to every practice. We will take him for extra cage practice. We will support him with pitching lessons. (We will also support him by selling tickets for the team raffle.) Still, if he desires to get better, he needs to want it. It has to be his desire not ours.

That may be the hardest lesson to learn for him…and us.

His first practice game is this Saturday. We hope he’s ready.

And before the ice melts, he and his brother will play hockey in the driveway. :-)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Call Me a Name

Last December, I was asked to join a group blog called Petit Fours and Hot Tamales (PF&HT).

After thinking about it for several days, I decided to join. I’ll still be posting here, but I’ll be posting there once a month well.

There were a lot of plusses to joining with a group of writers on a blog. However, I have to admit there was a minus as well.

Please click here to learn about the one minus. It can be summed up that I need a nickname.

And I need your help to get that nickname.

One lucky commenter at PF&HT will win a $15 Amazon gift card.

Hope to see you there.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Season to Remember

“Yes, I wish my Auburn Tigers would have won.”

With the go-ahead TD pass by FSU with 13 seconds to go, my heart fell. But something inside me hadn’t given up to yet. I’d seen too much this season to think it was over. After watching Auburn’s amazing comeback over Georgia and the last second win over Alabama, giving up wasn’t in my thought process.

In the end, they gave me some reason for that belief. On the last play, Auburn tried a hook-and-lateral that was then thrown across the field, finding Tre Mason wide open on the other side. I don’t remember how far he got, but it felt he ran another 20 yards. Twenty yards of hope, joy, and celebration with my kids yelling “GO! GO! GO!” in unison.

Then it was done.

My younger son took it particularly hard and went into a funk. It required a lesson on the dignity of losing with grace. He moped for a couple of days. Then it was his birthday. One big steak later, he started looking at recruiting again and who Auburn was getting next year.

There’s always tomorrow. There’s always next year.

War Eagle!

Picture from

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Like Mother, Like Son

After graduate school, I accepted a job teaching English in Japan under a Japanese government program that hires thousands of foreign nationals each year. The Japanese government also arranges the trip over. I flew to Japan with the group that left from the Atlanta area. The night before our trip, we stayed at the same hotel. The idea of the hotel was that, since our hosts wanted to make sure that no one missed the plane, we would be bussed to the airport together.

Like all of those flying out the next day, I spent one last evening with my family. Most of those going over said their goodbyes that evening.

Like I said, most said it. A few of the parents showed up again at the hotel the next morning to have breakfast with the people leaving that day. My mother was one of them. I gave her one last hug, said goodbye, and then heard what I didn’t expect. My mother said she was driving to the airport.

I looked at her and told her she wasn’t. I knew from the limited number of family that showed up at breakfast that no one was going to the airport. I hated to hurt my mother’s feelings, but I knew I needed to move on.

I thought about this recently as my older son went to Europe on a trip with his high school marching band. (They would perform in Italy and then perform in the London New Year’s Day Parade.) We drove to the airport, made sure he got checked in, and took him to his chaperone. Then we hung out, providing him last minute advice. When it was time to head for the security checkpoint, we went with them and watched him go through.

At some point, it hit my wife and me that we were the only parents watching at the security checkpoint.

My wife, who had heard before the story of my first flight to Japan, turned to me and confirmed what I was thinking. We had done to our son what my mother had done to me.

The joys or parenthood.

Have you ever done anything to your kids and then realized your parents did the same thing to you?

The program I went to Japan with is called the JET program. The JET program brings thousands of foreign nationals to Japan each year, setting them up as language teachers in the school system. I highly recommend this program.