Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Respect Returns to the Diamond

Despite the contention that shrouded my son's previous Little League baseball games, last night's Championship game was relatively calm. No one was ejected from the game, shouting at the umpire was at an all-time minimum, and little advice was being offered from the crowd that gathered to watch. All the players—coaches, the umpire, parents, and kids—displayed the one thing that was missing from the last few baseball games. Respect.

Perhaps the parents and coaches drilled it into the boys. Maybe those respect lectures stuck with both the parents and kids. Screaming at the umpire, ridiculing the coaches and yelling at the players just makes you look out of control. It's embarrassing to watch, and just think of how the boys must feel. It can't be easy to pitch or bat after the chaos created by out-of-control parents.

My son's team lost the championship game 9-4 but hopefully learned a valuable life lesson about how to treat others. Yelling, ranting, and generally throwing a fit won't really get you anywhere, even if you are an adult. Thank you boys for showing some solid respect.

For another viewpoint on youth baseball take a look at this blog post:

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

And You're Outta Here!

Last night's Little League baseball playoff game was as one coach described "EPIC!" That may even be an understatement for 10- and 11-year old baseball. Not only did the game last into the 11th inning, running over four hours, it was played on two separate baseball fields in two different towns. As dusk settled in at 9:30 pm with the score tied 12-12, this battle was moved over to another field that had lights.

But the longevity of this particular baseball game was only part of the story.

I had never seen a Team Mom ejected from a Little League baseball game until last night. But not only the Team Mom, one of my son's coaches and another Mom were kicked out of the game. The umpire may have been a bit agitated from the start of this duel. A controversial call at first base resulted in words being exchanged and perhaps a bit of "mama bear defending her cub instinct" that did not sit well with this ump. Not only did he kick them out but walked out to second base to yell at them again when he saw the Moms lingering near their cars along the road.

In the end my son's team did end up winning, 16-15.

Extreme baseball, and not in a good way. It all boils down to respect. Respect for the umpires, the coaches, the parents, and the kids. That seems lost and who knows what will happen at tonight's championship game.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Little League Parents Out of Control

I always find it sad (and somewhat amusing in a deviant sort of way) when parents get so involved in the game that they resort to screaming at each other. Picture this. A late afternoon Little League baseball game that starts 30-minutes late on a Saturday afternoon. Not a cloud in the sky or a hint of a breeze. It is hot with the temperature hoovering around 85°. Shade is at a premium. I'm in my lawn chair enjoying the spot of minivan shade with a view up the third base line to home plate. To my left is the big, heavy-set, obnoxious guy.

I am not being mean. If you picture a large, obnoxious guy you would think of someone like him. His neck is red from hours in the sun probably watching Little League baseball games. He is tossing out barbs at the 16-year old umpire, dropping the occasional cutting remark to hitters on the opposing team, and vocally questioning the coaching skills on both teams. All while constantly spitting. You know the type.

The game moves slowly. The players are hot. The parents are more than ready to leave. The game enters its third, oppressive hour. Score 17-12. My son's team leads, and the opposing team has last at bat. Two outs. The coach decides to put in a new pitcher who happened to have thrown a few pitches in the first inning. A potential breakage of Little League rules. All hell breaks loose.

The large guy erupts. All of a sudden he is the leading expert on replacement pitchers in 11-year old Little League baseball. Then all four of my son's coaches start yelling at the obnoxious fat guy who will not stop his rant. The losing team coaches are now yelling at the winning team's coaches. Remember that these coaches and the big guy in the left field stands are all parents of these players. The Little League players now join in and start taunting one another and mocking the big fat guy who is still yelling.

But the Moms in the stands and those with babies and toddlers seeking shade under the trees join the fray, defending their boys from the coaches and the big, fat expert on pitcher replacement. A momentary lull in the cacophony lets a lone Mom cry out, "It's just a game! They're just kids. This is supposed to be fun! Just let it go." Thank you sane Mom in the bleachers.

The heavy-set guy gives a last shout and finally shuts up when he realizes no one really cares about his opinions. The coaches on both benches calm down. The coach leaves in the pitcher to deliver three strikes, and the last out. Game over at last. An amused smile on my face, I am just glad to leave this place.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Rethinking "Senior"

While on my way to the gym for a morning workout, I drove past a neighborhood of bungalows nestled around an inviting pond. Nailed to the side of one of the buildings was a huge sign: "Senior Living Community 50+." Reality slammed me. That magical number of 50 is only a few years off. But I'm too young to be categorized as a "Senior!"

I was actually offended. Why 50? 50 is not old. The US life expectancy here in Minnesota ranks second in the US behind Hawaii at 80.5 years. I will agree that 80 does classify as getting up there. But to label people in their 50s as "Seniors" is just wrong!

Most people I know in their 50s, 60s, 70s, and even 80s are certainly not the stereotypical "senior." They are not feeble or destined to spend their days reclined in a Lazy-Boy watching infomercials and the Weather Channel. The Seniors in my life are incredibly active and most are not retired. If they are retired, they are volunteering like crazy or traveling the world.

As for qualifying for "Senior" living at age 50, I have to wonder, do they take teens? Most people in their 50s probably have at least one teenager still at home. Would teens fall into the category of dogs over 50 pounds and just are not allowed?

I can wait until I'm 80.5 for my senior meal deal at Perkins thank you. Until then I will continue to recycle my Prevention magazine and send back the ashes of my torched AARP card all while remaining as active as possible for as long as possible. Old age is a state of mind, not a number.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Most Handy Dad

Father's Day 2014

Marriage and fatherhood heighten the disillusion that we all think we are born handy. We confidently believe that we can fix things around the house, as if it's part of the collective brain that was further enhanced by eighth-grade shop class.
BOB NEWHART, I Shouldn't Even Be Doing This

Do you have one of those Dads who can fix just about anything, or one who thinks he is handy (and he's not) but the family keeps humoring him year in and year out? I'm lucky enough to have one of those Dads who is handy or at least will give it a good try. On his visits to my house he always finds some sort of repair job, an improvement to the basement, or something to paint. He actually is very handy.

This weekend's visit found him at Fleet Farm buying "Snake Away" and all weather caulking to eliminate the snake family living under my front porch steps. As much as I love seeing a snake slithering out into the garden right beneath my feet while I'm having my morning coffee, visitors to the house may not appreciate being greeted by a snake. Hopefully Dad (and Mom who also knows a thing or two about snakes) ridded the front steps of my garden snakes.

Happy Father's Day to my handy Dad who loves Bob Newhart and hates snakes.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Croquet Anyone?

All of the excitement has dissipated since Steve Perry—lead singer of Journey—made a surprise appearance on stage at the Eels concert in St. Paul a few weeks ago. However the Steve Perry question on everyone's mind has not been answered. Why St. Paul?

But also, why Eels? Why now? In a recent interview Eels front man, who now goes by "E", viewed it as a "why not" moment for Perry that began with croquet. Seems that Perry and Eels meet up for a weekly croquet game in LA each Sunday. Apparently Perry talked for years about singing with Eels since he is a huge fan of their music.

Eels invited Steve Perry to a few recent rehearsals in LA, and one day Perry showed up with his own microphone—an interesting twist. Again over a game of croquet, Eels invited Perry to sing live with them on their current tour, Perry accepted, and the rest is now musical history.

St. Paul just must have felt right because even E doesn't know why Perry chose the Fitzgerald Theater on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. Why doesn't really matter though because—thanks to croquet— it actually happened. Steve Perry, my daughter and me, and a couple hundred Eels fans briefly made it to the center of the musical universe. If croquet can unite the Eels and Steve Perry, what could a round do for your life?