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Sandbox List Adventure 27: Take Me Out to The Ball Game …

10 Mar

I’d never been. He’d never been . She’d never been.

It was a trifecta.

I can’t believe that in all my sports-loving years I’ve never been to an Opening Day of any kind and neither had my little Guats. As a sports enthusiast that sucks. In fact I shouldn’t even be admitting it, let alone writing it for all to see. I might get kicked out of the tomboy club for that. But I do mention it because that situation has been remedied.

I had the California sunshine, the national anthem, the popcorn, the cotton candy, the hot dogs, the Easton and Louisville Slugger bats swinging, the baseballs going into deep left, and then my son rounding the bases, helping his team with a 15-8 victory. It was only three innings, but he was 3 for 3 with 6 RBI.

Yeah … I gotta say … Little League Opening Day was pretty awesome. Even without the Cracker Jacks, I’m glad we all experienced this American tradition together. It prepared me for what to expect when we head off to watch the Dodgers in the spring.

Baseball … you gotta love it.

 

My son and his teammates taking the field as they announce the teams.

My son and his teammates taking the field as they announce the teams.

 

The teams cheering after the first pitch was thrown.

The teams cheering after the first pitch was thrown.

 

Something tasty for the kids.

Getting something tasty for the kids after Opening Ceremonies.

 

Something you absolutely have to have when you go to a ball game. You have to ... it's a rule. Sometimes you can even have two.

Then getting something for yourself, because you absolutely have to get a hot dog when you’re at the ball game. You have to … it’s a rule. Sometimes you can even have two.

 

But if you're a serious carnivore there was something for you too.

But if you’re a serious carnivore there was something for you too.

 

After all that food we definitely needed to work out, so we tested a few new bats.

After all that food we definitely needed to work out, so we tested a few new bats before the Homerun Derby.

 

But of all the things this Opening Day weekend this was probably my favorite ... my son, hitting one over third base.

But of all the things this Opening Day weekend, this was probably my favorite … my son, hitting one over third base and my daughter and I cheering him on. I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that my son tagged someone out at second, but I loved this moment even more.

 

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Sandbox Adventure List 22: Feeling Like Rudy

5 Dec

I felt like Charles S. Dutton watching Rudy sack the quarterback at the end of the movie.

Sports will do that to you … make you feel great because your kid worked hard, made a contribution to the team, and considers himself proud of his accomplishment. I mean you had nothing to do with it, but you still feel good nonetheless. He’s your kid. He’s related to you. You’re proud by association. You feel those weekly batting sessions at the park worked. However, sports will also make you a little too intense, like The Hulk, if you’re one of those crazy parents. It’s a fine line.

But if you’re on the normal side like me, sports brings out good moments and provides Sandbox Adventure List opportunities.

And this … was a big one.

I knew his expression would be priceless. But I think what he was feeling at the moment was even better.

When you enroll your kids in sports, you just hope he picks up some skills, meets new friends, has fun playing the sport, gets exercise, and learns about sportsmanship. You want him to learn all that, you do, but being acknowledged for you effort is also pretty awesome.

It’s something that reinforces all those you-can-do-it speeches I had with him.

And I know that the effort itself and seeing progress is its own reward, but a trophy seemed to personify that better.

He’d seen them in movies or at friends’ houses, but he never had one. He said one day he’d get one too. I mentioned his golfing championships and his TinMan Triathlon Medal, but apparently a trophy was different. A trophy is a trophy.  And on the last day of baseball, at the end of the last game, during our baseball celebration shindig, and before the smashing of the baseball pinata … he saw it.

It was only about five inches tall, but it was the best baseball he’d seen.  It was the best trophy he’d seen. It had his name on it and he had earned it.

 

His mini-trophy with his game ball.

His mini-trophy with his game ball.

 

And I think right then and there he felt like Rudy himself, although no one but me carried him off the field. And even though we had cake and pinata candy, it was a chocolate-worthy kind of moment. But not just any kind of chocolate … Rocky-Road-Ice-Cream kind of chocolate.

 

Sandbox Adventure List 21: The Power of The Game Ball

15 Oct

I don’t know how you can be so small, worn-out, and dirty and have so much power.

You’re used, and bustin’ at the seams.  At first glance you don’t even look like you’re worthy of a glance. But in the hands of a little leaguer you are the most important thing ever … on Earth … in the universe. You deserve glances … many of them.

Game Ball.

Throughout all the Bad News Bears and Sandlot moments two players emerge holding you in their hands.

The power of the game ball.

The power of the game ball.

At the end of every game, I tell him he did great, I tell him he blasted it, I tell him he ran fast, I tell him I’m proud of him, and I mean it. I don’t mess around with those fake, empty compliments that adults lavish on kids. If he didn’t live up to his potential that game, I chalk it up to a bad day and tell him to do better next time. I give him truth and encouragement. I give him love and acceptance. I give him the good-job-pat-on-the-back booster. But the mighty Rawlings says everything better. The smile is evidence of it all.

It makes him feel vindicated. It produces pride and a sense of accomplishment in my little leaguer. It creates that awesome-moment feeling all day. It’s something he’s been wanting all season long. It’s something I as parent strive to do, but for some reason that honor was not mine. It was an Adventure List item he had to earn all by himself.

That day, the power of the mighty Rawlings dominated. That day, the power of the game ball brought a smile to his face all day and in truth it made me smile too. That day the green oversized No. 11 jersey, that seemed to drape over him on most days appeared to fit him just right.

And then that moment got me thinking … as a parent, as a mom, as a woman I need a game ball for life because sometimes those roles are giant-sized and you need to be reminded that you’re big enough to fit in those shoes — that you’re badass.

Game Ball … you’re pretty powerful stuff.

 

 

Sandbox Adventure List 20: The Diamond

2 Oct

He’d seen it a couple of times before. He’d seen the field, the chalk lines, the bases, the uniforms, and the players.

But he never played, not until now.

He’d played golf, soccer, and tennis. He’d been excited about all of them, but baseball was a different kind of excitement. It was The Sandlot kind and it was contagious. And even though I had been unknowingly drafted into being the Team Mom, I was still excited about the whole experience. I was excited to see him in uniform and to witness his first at bat.

Little League … it brings all kinds of excitement.

But I can tell you, I wasn’t excited about the parents. I don’t think most people are excited about the parents. It’s something very common, that peopled don’t talk about. We tend to keep it to ourselves, but it still exists.  In fact I’m one of those parents that doesn’t really like other parents. I mean just because you have a kid the same age as mine doesn’t mean we’re friends, and in truth I’m not into the fake talk. I’m not much for exchanging birthing stories with random people. You kind of have to grow on me. If you give me a good vibe, we’ll chat it up. If you seem like the Mommy-Me-Mafia type camouflaged in baseball clothing I’ll probably keep my distance. Surprisingly there weren’t too many unlikable parents on my son’s team, which was a relief. Don’t get me wrong there were plenty out there, luckily none belonged to my son’s team.

But all that didn’t matter, because when my son stood out on that baseball diamond, I forgot about everyone else and cheered him on. I was proud of his hustle. He makes for a good shortstop, although he’s not too fond of the pop fly. Nobody on his team seems to be, but that’s O.K. I love those Bad News Bears moments, that’s how they seemed to bond. And he seemed to enjoy playing on the team. So we’ll be sticking around for the rest of the season, making our weekly visits to the diamond. Parents beware.

 

Waiting in the dugout, waiting to hit their first homerun.

Waiting in the dugout, waiting to hit their first home run.

 

It was a little overcast in the beginning, but as the hits kept coming the sun came out. I was happy that my son was able to connect, even if the pitches were way up there. Kids often have a determination to smack that ball even if it's not in the strike zone.

It was a little overcast in the beginning, but as the hits kept coming the sun came out. I was happy that my son was able to connect, even if the pitches were way up there. Kids often have a determination to smack that ball even if it’s not in the strike zone.

 

The sun came out as they took the field ... Baseball ready.

The sun came out as they took the field … Baseball ready.

 

One of the Bad News Bears moments, where everyone felt the need to help, but in the end my son was able to get the ball and make the play to first.

One of the Bad News Bears moments, where everyone felt the need to help, but in the end my son was able to get the ball and make the play to first.

 

Heading toward third and making his way home. He was pretty ecstatic that they didn't tag him. High-fives all around when he reached home plate.

Heading toward third and making his way home. He was pretty ecstatic that they didn’t tag him. High-fives all around when he reached home plate.

 

In the end it was a good Bucket List Adventure.

In the end it was a good bucket list adventure for both of us..

 

 

 

Being Drafted and How Ray Barone Helped Me Out

19 Sep

I looked at the empty field and then at the piles of bases and baseballs next to the bench.

“So you need any help,” I asked pointing to the equipment.

“Um … Yeah you wanna be the Team Mom?”

Do I look like a team mom?

Me?

I’m more of an assistant coach.

Team Mom? I didn’t even have a fancy outfit or anything. I’ve seen some Team Moms before, I’m don’t fit into that crazed-PTA-I’m-going-to-send-you-an-email-every-five-seconds category. I’m an athlete. I can help you with batting practice or taking stats. I looked at my son, he smiled.

“Um … sure.”

And that’s how it happened. That’s how I got volunteered into the special position of communicating with other little league parents. I don’t really like parents. I know all the parents I need to know. But this little endeavor is going to open the gates of Guat and the acquaintances will begin.

Practice emails. Parents Code of Conduct signatures. Players Code of Conduct signatures (although I don’t think they can sign anything yet). League Office emails. Game schedule emails. Parent contact information emails. Post-game snack emails. Shutterfly Team Page announcement emails. Advice emails from last season’s Team Mom, who made it a point to mention several times that she was the team mom before and that she’d done it dozens of times. Dozens.

Welcome to the World of Little League Baseball.

Well, to be fair the coaches all seem to be nice. Nothing too intense or crazy from what I’ve seen. Just genuine trying to help the kids out kind of deal. So that was a relief. But we haven’t had our first game, so we’ll see how that goes.

And who do I owe my thanks to for all these new relationships? My son.

He decided that in addition to his golfing skills, he wanted to try his hand at baseball this season. So here I am … drafted in the first round as Team Mom and now getting things ready for his first baseball game on Saturday.  One of my duties was to create a “Hi-I’m-the-new-Team-Mom-you-can-contact-me-at-anytime email, which I dreaded because it was like introducing yourself at one of those new meetings where you say your name and three interesting things about you that may not really be that interesting. This was then followed by the oh-so-important snack schedule.

Apparently this is a big thing in Little League and so I made sure not to mess it up. But you know me I couldn’t send a regular schedule. I had to put  a little bit of Guat into it, some personality so they wouldn’t be so annoyed with future emails. So I mentioned that there would be no Ray Barone Little League Approved Snack Meltdowns. Bring what you want, just remember to bring it so the kids don’t pass out after the games.

 

 

When I went to practice today, everybody seemed to be pleased with my non-meltdown policy. Everyone seemed to enjoy the humor. They were nice. I hope it lasts the entire season.

The Most Awesome Panamanian

4 May

He has the ability to change your day. He can affect your outcome. So you either love him or you hate him.

You’re eating a meal, drinking a cold beer, and enjoying the night with a couple of friends.  And then he comes out and you smile. You know the night just went from good to great.

But for some it doesn’t turn out that way. You’re having an awesome day, the sun is shining. It’s a nice 70 degrees, no clouds in sight and everything is going your way, until he walks out.  You shake your head, slump your shoulders, and sigh. You don’t even want to eat your hot dog any more. There’s nothing you can do. It’s over. You need two drinks now.

You love him or you hate him. Most people from Boston hate. Me, I live in California so I don’t share the same hostility.

New York Yankee closer Mariano Rivera before a...

New York Yankee closer Mariano Rivera. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He walks out.  Six-foot-two and 185 pounds of Panamanian Awesomeness. Mariano Rivera. You love him or you hate him. I’m not a die-hard Yankee fan but I’m a Mariano fan. I follow the player wherever he goes. So when I heard of his torn ACL injury ohhhhhhh I was bumbed out.

He’s 42. In baseball years that’s not a good thing. It’s like being a model, not that I would know anything about that, seeing how I don’t wear heels, and I do wear Chapstick. But I imagine you don’t have too many 42 year-old models out there when teens and 20-somethings are doing the weird model-horse walk down the runway.

So a 42 year-old baseball player with a torn ACL, not cool. He’s in hazard zone, in danger of being sent home permanently.

But he is badass. He’s a closer. He’s the closer. He comes in to finish the job. He’s got over 600 career saves. I can’t tell you how many times I was watching a ball game at a bar and as soon as he came out to close the game you see haters looking at the waitress saying check, please. You see fans ordering another round in celebration of what was to come. He hadn’t even thrown the first pitch, but they knew. They knew.

Mariano Rivera

Mariano Rivera (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now unfortunately he’s out for the season.

But he’s a Yankee, so you never know. Perhaps back in time for the playoffs.

This organization has massive amounts of cash. I’m sure they can find the best doctors out there to help out my man. If it can be done it will.

But for now my man is down for the count.  Even though he makes about $14 million a year, I still feel for him. I know what it’s like to tear an ACL in the prime of your season. Believe it or not, in my high school days I was a baller. I lettered in three sports for four years. Captain of two varsity teams and athlete of the year twice. I was badass, until I tore my ACL.

Like Mariano … I was out. Unfortunately for me it happened during my senior year and I did not have $14 million.

I felt bad for my man, but now in retrospect, I’m sure he’ll bounce back. It’s not like he’s a Guatemalan in his senior year of high school. He Mariano Rivera … one of the most awesome Panamanians.