Monday, October 31, 2005

the lost Sunday

Sunday I played in a golf tournament benefitting one of the youngster's coaches. The one who once played A ball in the Dodger organization. The guy plays on a baseball team that plays in in tournaments around the southeast, and they were trying to make some money to help be able to do that. After all the help he's been to the youngster, I figured that was the least I could do.

They didn't make it easy though. The tournament was a good hour drive at a course that isn't much to speak of. I played with two other guys who's kids have benefitted from the coach. Our fourth bowed out due to unforseen things coming up. We played OK...nothing special, but we had fun. The thing was, it took up the entire day. I left around 10:30 in the morning and it was after 8:00 when I got home. That meant all I saw/heard of the Jaguars game, or any football at all, was that my boys lost. This morning on sports talk, I got some idea of why, but still I got it all second hand, so I'm not sure. Yes, I realize that even if I had seen it, I wouldn't be sure, but I'd have more of an opinion.

One of the guys I played with was the youngster's coach in the spring, who has moved up to the next age group. I had given some thought to calling him Saturday and asking for some help coaching the youngster's team in the Phillies debacle, but decided to try to let us struggle through. Therefore I had yesterday and the drive to the golf course to recount the events of the prior evening. He just sat there with his mouth hung open. He had coached the 12 year old rules expert before, and knew about his dad. He had a guy who coached with him who spoke to the father of the 12 year old rules expert before every game and reminded him to keep his comments to himself. His support was appreciated, but he can't be making comments about the other team. Apparently the Phillies aren't giving him the same lecture. Also, it was mentioned that you could smell the alochol on his breath when said lecture took place before each game, so I'm sure that's a factor now too. Ya know, it's just a shame that kids' baseball gets to this base level. It hasn't happened with any other team we played, but it's a shame that sort of ugliness is out there and allowed to fester, and I blame their coaches. I was reminded in the car yesterday, that the youngster's old coach always sat everyone down at the beginning of the season and told the parents and kids what kind of behavior was and wasn't acceptable, and a big reason we were there was to learn to be good sports, and verbal abuse (or any other kind) wouldn't be tolerated from either group, or you and your kid could leave. I don't know how much of a factor that was, but I know we didn't have obnoxious jeering parents in our stands, so I guess it was a part of it. It just a shame other coaches don't have that conversation.

One thing I forgot to mention about the game...a first for the youngster. He got hit by a pitch...fastball, probably in the 60 mph range. It was in the small of his back. The kid's got next to no meat on him and this morning, it's still painful if anyone touches it. Another thing I forgot to mention was we played the game immediately after the Florida/Georgia football game ended, and I have a suspicion that the alcohol was flowing at the homes of some of our opposition. While not excusing the behavior, it might explain some of it. That still doesn't explain the obnoxious kids though. We play the same team this Saturday at 8:30 in the morning. Hopefully it's early enough that the parents won't have put away too much alocohol. Yeah, I'm being snarky and I shouldn't. I could stand to be a little more civil, too.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

the saga of the coaching debut

It wasn't pretty, but not for the reasons you might think.

By the end of the first inning we were down 1-0. After two innings it was knotted at 1, but after that it was slipping away. For the next few innings the players and parents of the Phillies got exceedingly more and more obnoxious. At one point one of the players called time to tell the umpire we weren't allowed to have an on deck batter (and he was in fact right. They had stopped letting kids on deck because of safety concerns, but that's not the point. If someone needed to address the umpire, it's not the 12 year old second baseman. It's a coach, but we got it straightened out. Hey, we shrugged and pleaded ignorance. We were rent-a-coaches.) They were loud and in a few cases abusive, to the point that the umpire gave their coaches a warning about the parents, saying if they don't setle down they'll be forfeiting the game. We went into the top of the 6th behind 9-4, listening to jeers and catcalls. The father of the 12 year old rules expert made a habit of standing beind the fence behind the plate, yelling "C-YA!" with each Met strike out. A forty-something year old dad yelling, "C-YA!", to twelve year olds! It was the worst display of sportsmanship I have seen.

Then came the 6th inning, in which our Mets batted through the order and scored 8 runs. We went into the bottom up 12 to 9. The Phillies scored one with the final out a kid in a pickle between 3rd and home who got hit with the ball and went down. Someone grabbed the ball and tagged him while he was kneeling in pain. I can't say I was pleased that a kid got hurt for the final out, but it just made their parents all the madder, and I didn't mind that. The fact that his mom was one of the worst (along with the father of the 12 year old rules expert), and she was screaming after it was over..."They hit him! You can't call him out! He should get to go home safe for that!" made it all the sweeter. I'm sorry that kid had to pay for his mother's ugly karma, but someone had to. The Mets pull it out, 12-10. What a coaching debut.

Friday, October 28, 2005

so much for getting my way in little league

Oh it's going to be a tough couple of days.

First there was last night. We weren't at our best, but we weren't bad. The other team had a good pitcher (the youngster's best friend) who we jumped on early and got out to a 7-2 lead, before he settled down. The youngster - 1 for 3 with an rbi. Then the pitcher settled in and shut us down. After 4 innings it was 7-6 and we still were holding on until....our coach decided to give in to a kid who really wanted to pitch, but can't. The kid's parents even begged him, "Please don't let him pitch. He did once last year and it was disasterous. The other kids will hate him." The coach's answer, "but he wants to sooo bad." And maybe he's right. Maybe it isn't whether you win or lose, but still, our kids outplayed the other team and they were disappointed.

The writing was on the wall. The kid can throw hard, but has no control. When he throws hard, he's all over the place. After two hit batters and 4 walks (with many wild pitches that scored runs, some that went behind batters), they mercifully pulled him, and it was 12-7 at the end of 5. We got nothing in the top of the 6th, so that was that.

Our coach rotataed a lot of the kids who never play infield through those positions, so the youngster played one inning at second and centerfield the rest of the game. I have no issue with that. A big part of fall ball is to move kids around and let them learn to play. The problem is you have to teach them something before you do that. You don't stick a kid at second or third and leave him clueless. These guys had no idea where they are supposed to be when. They knew where to throw the ball if it came to them, which is good, but the other part was completely missing...the part that goes...where are you supposed to be when the ball doesn't come to you.

I can't complain there..because he volunteered to do this coaching thing and I didn't, so I'll abide by whatever he decides to do. Since I can't bitch there though, you get to read it here.

Oh, the better part - neither of our coaches will be there for this Saturday's game. I think they're both going to the Outdoor Cocktail Party. In their absence, they have asked me and one other dad (who's about as knowledgeable as I am, but at least he knows how to keep score in the book) to step in. Please pray for us.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

be careful what you ask for

The guy who's in charge of all the computer hardware at my work establishment is retiring. I have no shot at his job cuz I don't do hardware. I write the stuff that uses it to make things happen. In other words, I design and write software. Even if that weren't the case though, I wouldn't be asking for the job. I've seen that guy. He's here when I get here in the morning and he's here when I leave at night. He's here weekends and holidays. He has a real corner office with some space in it, but I swear he's hiding a cot, shower and kitchen in part of it, and I could have sworn I saw his dry cleaning being delivered there. What on earth would anyone want with that? I work to live, not the other way round, and I spend too much time here.

So now his replacement has been named. They promoted from within and I will grant you, the choice might be the best available within, but it still isn't that impressive. The whiners are having a field day. I didn't know this, but apparently one of the perqs at that level is a membership at a beach club, and they're all saying....why does he deserve that? Maybe he does and maybe he doesn't but it comes with the job. In any case people...think about it. He may be a member, but that poor guy is never going to see that place. His wife and kids may get to tell him how nice it is, but his opportunities to find out will be slim to none. He just signed up to be at work for the vast majority of his life. I don't know if he realizes it, but he's been around long enough to see what his predecessor had to endure. I know he's caught up in the 'promotion' aspect of it and the status that comes with it, but once the honeymoon ends and reality hits, I think he's going to be up to his eyeballs in work....and maybe that's what he wants. If it is, more power to him.

From my perspective though....I've seen that job and so has he, and just the act of applying for it, when you know the enormity of what you're asking for, should disqualify you on level of intelligence alone. Ambition is one thing. Selling your soul to the company is something else altogether.

it was a beautiful clear night

Venus was big and bright in the west and Mars in the east with a pretty crescent moon, but where the hell were the stars? They didn't show up, or maybe they did, but they forgot their bats. The Astros get swept in a 1-0 pitchers duel, and the Series is over. I guess it's fitting in a way. If the Astros had an achilles heel this year, it was timely hitting. Just ask the Rocket. Still, it feels like it's over before it got a chance to get revved up.

Tonight the youngster's Mets go up against the advance ball coach's Giants for the second and final time. I know the kids got a confindence buster on Saturday, but I still have the same hopes I had for the last game. Neighbor boy plays great in a losing battle against the Mets, with the game turning on sharp play by the second baseman who also has the game winning RBI. We shall see.

I do know that my ability to get my way still doesn't manifest itself in the lottery. I don't play all that often, but it was up to $40 million last night, and the way things have been going I thought...why not? The better question seems to be, why?

It's Florida/Georgia or Georgia/Florida (depending on your perspective) week in J'ville and the worlds largest outdoor cocktail party is even now in full swing. This is one of the things I never really saw when I lived up north and while it's interesting and fun, I still have trouble really getting into it. The devotion attributed to college football in the south is an amazing thing to watch. The games are good. No doubt about it. I love watching them, but much like the world series, I watch them from a detached point of view. People here look at me incredulously when they ask if I'm a "Gator" or a "Nole" and I say neither. Then they rattle off a few others..."Dawg"? "Cane"? When I explain that I went to Villanova, they look at me like, "and that matters...why?" I'm still supposed to be a die hard supporter of some college team within about a 500 mile radius of my current home, and I'm not quite there. I was watching a UF/FSU game once with supporters of both teams, and one looked at me and said, "John, you have to pick one!" and I said..."No, I really don't." and the look on his face was priceless.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

put the damn brooms away

Let's talk World Series, and yes, it is the World Series. I'm sorry all you people in other parts of the world are not given a chance to compete, but the facts are the facts. In the words of George Steinbrenner, "We buy up all your best players." It's an ugly American thing. So France and Japan, now you know how the Kansas City Royals feel. Perennially, they have no shot at the World Series either. But anyway....

I'm finding myself pulling for Houston, or I did last night anyway, just because I want to see this thing last a little longer. The game last night (for as long as I watched it on a school night) was a great battle. It was just that the wrong team won, and I only say that because if they win again, they sweep and all that battling is forgotten.

I don't mind the White Sox winning the whole thing. I don't have a favorite among the teams. I just don't want it going down in history as a sweep, and that's all anyone remembers. "Yeah, the White Sox took the Astros in 4 that year. Astros must've sucked!" The games are pretty close and fun to watch. The White Sox just keep coming out on top...and maybe it's just me. Maybe the Astros really aren't good enough to keep up. I just want them to be, so it makes the Series better.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Who opened the door to Canada?

Why am I surprised by this every year?

One day I'm in shorts and a t-shirt and sweating, and the next day I'm in jeans and a sweatshirt and shivering. There never seems to be an in-between. All of a sudden we hit winter.

I'm not complaining, mind you. My body's just in shock. I can't possibly complain, because the same cold front that has me shivering a bit steered Wilma far away from me and sent it flying across Florida at a speed that while it didn't negate the damage, minimized it. So I'll shiver a bit rather than deal with power outages and storm damage.

I'm also fully aware that my idea of winter is drastically different from other people's idea of winter. At one time when I was very young, I lived in the upper peninsula of Michigan, learned to ski and walked the snow drift onto our second floor roof. In Pennsylvania, my parents live 15 minutes from a ski hill. I, however, haven't lived in that weather for 20+ years, and now when it hits the 40's, it's cold! I'm John, and I am a weather wimp. (Hi, John!) If I'm putting on a sweatshirt and jacket, that means winter. I'm not a huge fan of cold. If I was, I wouldn't have moved my weather wimp ass from Pennsylvania to Florida. Well, that's not entirely true. The Navy made that move a necessity, but it was I who made the decision to give it more permanency. It was I who decided I'd never own a shovel with a flat bottom. It was I who decided if I want to see snow and feel cold, I can venture north over the holidays and get my fill and every time I do, the decision to move south gets more validation. True, with every hurricane it gets less, but everyone picks their poison.

I want the comfy weather in between the extremes. The 72° days with shorts and t-shirts that aren't too hot and not too cool, and I know they're coming. We'll get some of those now. This was just a rude awakening to cold. It can go away now and not show up again till January.

Monday, October 24, 2005


Just in case my welfare was keeping anyone up nights, or they were just mildly curious, the effect on us from Wilma was minimal. We got a little rain, but nothing serious at all. I haven't seen what it did to South Florida yet. I know it was pretty powerful, but went through quickly, so while I wouldn't trivialize what it did (and don't know yet), I'm hoping the speed at which it cruised through will show that it wasn't too bad.

baseball bubble bursts - big time

At least on the little league front it did. We played (if you want to call it that) Mr. Little League's team Saturday morning, and pretty much got blown out, but it was our own fault. We had no pitching. The pitching hasn't been bad at all up to this point, but Saturday morning, none of our guys could throw strikes, and we put 5 different kids in there. In the top of the first, we walked most of their lineup, and they countered by taking us three up, three down. 8 - 0 going into the second, and it went downhill from there. Our kids pretty much gave up, which only made it worse. The pitching got no better. I think three of their kids actually got hits, but we walked everybody, and then watched them steal their way around the bases and get home on the first wild pitch thrown after they got to third. The defense was getting bored and when someone actually did hit the ball, caught them by surprise. Bottom line, it was painful waiting for the fourth inning to end, so the 10 run rule could take effect and we could slink out of there. It was very ugly.

Next there's this whole advanced ball thing which is getting to me, and I have a feeling I need to dial my attitude back a bit. They had a double header on Sunday, and Friday I get a call from the coach. The gist was, we have this double header Sunday and we're playing a really really good team (played them before, they won Nationals as 10 year olds and they are pretty much still all together - they killed us last time) and two of our pitchers won't be there. So I asked a few boys who have played advanced in the past to play with us so we don't get creamed. Therefore, they will be in the games and the youngster will be able to play in one game of the double header. Don't know which one yet.

In other words, I'm bringing in ringers, so the youngster needs to be squeezed out.

I was...well, livid would be a good word. I've been good about all this, and kept my place, but this just seemed a bit over the top, and still does. I know they think the youngster isn't quite there, and maybe he's not. If that's the case, we never should have been here in the first place. I know I have a bit of 'dad' bias. But the deal was if someone wasn't there, he gets to play. Period. Not, "I'm afraid we'll get smoked so I'm bringing in the cavalry and your kid suffers." As it was, he brought in about 5 kids...and they still got smoked. The youngster got one at bat and played 3 innings in the outfield in the second game....and he was happy. We got there at 11:00 for pregame practice, and he sat through the first game (playing some catch behind the dugout most of the time), and we were there till 4:30....for one at bat and three innings in the outfield, but he was happy. I need to get over the fact that we blew an entire Sunday (five and a half hours out of the middle of the day) for one at bat and some outfield time.

And that's the bottom line, and why I feel I need to let go and let him play. The situation pissed me off, but he was just happy to play, and I want him to be happy to play. If I don't get over it, I could ruin the whole thing for him, and I don't want that. Just because I feel like we're being taken for a ride, and maybe we are, he's enjoying what he's doing...and I need to let him do that, before I turn into one of those dads I can't stand.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

let the games begin

I was 2 when the Chicago White Sox last played in a World Series. The Houston Astros never have, until now. Yeah, I'm surprised by the matchup, but I like it. One of my friends is a St. Louis transplant, so he and his family are a bit crushed, so I won't say anything to him, but I do like Houston finally getting to step up to that plate after years of frustration. I like two teams that haven't been there in forever getting their shot. Should be fun to watch.

This weekend our Mets play the team to beat. The team to beat is coached by...I'll call him Mr. Little League. Mr. Little League spends just about every waking hour at those ball fields. His kid is good, but for whatever reason isn't playing advanced ball this fall. (I think Mr. Little League is afraid he was burning the kid out on baseball.) That doesn't stop Mr. Little League from being at every one of their practices and games (even the ones across town) with his notebook. He's also at every game every team in our league plays, writing in his little notebook. I assume he's taking copious notes on every kid who plays. Gets all their strengths and weaknesses. What their hitting tendencies are. Who's weak in the outfield. Who can really pitch, and what do they throw. What catchers can throw someone out at second. That sort of thing. That's what I assume he's doing. I don't know him well enough to ask. If he's not doing that, I can't imagine what he's doing in that notebook. He goes into the draft every year fair and square just like any other coach, but he's armed with his notebook and comes out with the team that is the perennial favorite, and usually results in the league champion. The last two seasons, the youngster has been on teams that came in second Mr. Little League.

I talk to people who say Mr. Little League needs to get a life, and I tell them, no he doesn't. He has one. He doesn't have time for another. It's just that the priorities in his life are drastically different that mine. Once his kids grows out of little league...he might need a trip to the life store, but for now, the one he has is pretty full. It might be a bit hard to watch Saturday, but I remain hopeful.

Speaking of watching, Wilma's churning up the southern gulf and while no track currently brings it anywhere near me, just having it out there makes me nervous.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

heard on sports talk radio this morning

The PGA and LPGA Tour commissioners have joined the board at the NCAA. Acting on an anonymous tip from a viewer in South Bend, Indiana, the NCAA then reviewed the tape of the recent Notre Dame - University of Southern California football game. The study of the game tape, which clearly shows Reggie Bush illegally pushing Matt Leinhart over the goal line, has resulted in Southern Cal being disqualified from the football game they appeared to have won over Notre Dame. The win has been awarded to Notre Dame and the Trojans (still the only school with a condom for a mascot) have been dropped to #12 in the BCS poll.

On the same topic, you know someone's trying to justify stupidity when you go to Sports Illustrated's website and there are not one, but two articles backing the actions of one Michael Bamberger. Of course, neither are written by him because then it would look like he's trying to find an excuse for being an ass. This way, there are two other guys defending his ass-holiness, and that's supposed to make it OK. On a completely different topic, I wonder how they'll justify another piece of stupidity I saw while jumping around the S.I. site. Some guy called Dr. Z does NFL power rankings and has the Jaguars at #3. I like my boys, but #3? Someone got ahold of the really cheap drugs. They'd better make sure he's OK.

pinch me

This morning I got to hold the emmy. I guess it wasn't all just a dream.


Well, so much for what kids know.

We went to the fields for the league designated here as league-B last night. First thing I noticed is...we are spoiled. The batting cages could use a bit of work. Throwing to the kids in those things, you're taking your life in your hands. The netting between the two sections needs a bit of work and yeah, you could get hit if your head isn't on a swivel the entire time, even if you aren't physically in the cage.

Next came the game, which was actually pretty good. Their field is slightly larger than ours with the pitcher's mound back 5 more feet. We had a few kids pitching for the first time and a few kids playing new positions, and it was very competitive. The good guys won 5-4. Talking to one of the coaches from the other team, it seems they were very short of coaches for the fall, and they asked one guy if he'd step up. He said yes, only if he could cherry pick his players. Right there I'd go looking for someone else, but they said OK! Now his team is running roughshod over their league. They were not the team we played, however. The team we played wasn't all that bad and managed to stay right with us, and my eyes aren't a radar gun, but their pitchers were throwing a tad faster than the reported 20 m.p.h. We won it in the top of the 6th, and almost lost it in the bottom. I don't know what that says about them, or us.

It was cool, because at the end of the game, one guy from their bleachers actually came up to us and thanked us for going up to their place and filling out their schedule, and complimented our guys on a real good game. Sportsmanship, what a concept.

The youngster was all pleased because he got slid up to second in the batting order. What did he do with it though? He walked...then walked...then walked...and then he walked. I might be wrong, but I'm pretty sure each time he took the count to 3 and 2 before taking his base, and almost took out the opposing coaches on one foul ball, causing one to fall off his stool in front of the dugout (still almost - no points this round), but it was a walk filled evening for him. Not as satisfying as hitting, but still better than striking out. I think in all cases he stole 2nd and 3rd during the next batter's at bat. In two he scored. As I predicted, the game ended at 10:00, with him in bed by 11:00. This morning none of us are exactly awake.

So again, I guess I need to be careful about what I write, because things seem to be going my way (if you count me hedging my bets by presenting more than one scenario). Our guys did get surprised, but not overwhelmed. So now, about those lotto tickets....

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

brimming with overconfidence

I think fall baseball (as in little league) is a distinctly southern phenomenon. I don't think there's much call for it in Pennsylvania, because by the end of the season they'd be needing snowshoes instead of cleats. Even here, it's not that big a thing. Soccer is the more popular fall sport for kids, and if it weren't for the youngster's baseball preference, he might be there too.

So it is there is another baseball league (I'll call them league-B), not far from ours that has teams playing fall ball, but they don't have many. They have so few that they came to our league asking to play our teams. Since we're short of fields I guess, we are playing teams from league-B, but always on their field, which kind-of blows, only because the drive is even farther than the one we have now, but I'm waxing tangental.

Tonight we travel to these fields for the first time, for an 8:00 game. The youngster's best friend already made this trek, and the Giants ten-run-ruled the team from league-B. The word was, all the teams from league-B suck. Their pitchers throw about 20 miles an hour and it's just a matter of going there, kicking their butts and getting out. This observation was reinforced by another boy in the youngster's class at school. League-B teams are just bad. First of all, what a horrible existance if you happen to play in league-B. If this is true, I feel for those kids. Someone needs to pull them out of the bottom of the barrel. Second, who's to say all the teams in league-B suck? I mean, kids are kids and who says we cornered the market on decent ball players? I seriously doubt that's the case. (Just ask the boys that beat the snot out of our advanced ball team.) Maybe we'll get a better team and find ourselves in a battle, or worse, getting blown out ourselves. The youngster thinks he's in for a cakewalk, and it'd be good for him to get surprised. Not killed, but surprised.

Having said that, I hope we go in, ten-run rule them in 4 innings and get out, but for my own selfish reason. The game starts at 8:00. If it goes the full time, we won't finish until about 10:00, which means with our drive and a shower, the youngster won't be in bed till 11:00 on a school night. If we can get out in 4 innings, maybe I have him in bed by 10:30.

S.I. reporter needs a life

I think I've ranted about this before.

People on the sidelines at a golf event need to mind their place and find another way to get their 15 minutes of fame than calling penalties on golfers.

Michelle Wie got disqualified in her professional debut on the LPGA because a day after the drop occurred, some reporter from Sports Illustrated (Michael Bamberger) went up to a tournament official and said he thought her drop on such-and-such a hole was illegal (closer to the hole than it should be). They went back and looked at tape and lo and behold, he was right, so they DQ'd her.

I'm sorry, but that's just wrong. First off, I don't know but I doubt the kid did it on purpose, and it may have been, what, a foot closer to the hole? from probably over 100 yards away? I didn't see it, but I seriously doubt it made any difference whatsoever. Yes it was wrong, and she should know better, but that's not the point. People like to think golf is this pristine sport where people call all the appropriate penalties on themselves all the time, but that's bullshit. People cheat all the time, from foot wedges to not knowing the rules on what the penalty is for being out of bounds. It happens on purpose (and that part pisses me off...a lot) and it happens out of ignorance, but it happens. The pros are just supposed to be better at making sure it doesn't happen than the rest of us, and even at tournaments, there are rules officials available for rulings if a golfer isn't sure. Yes, she should have consulted one of them. Yes, if she's going to be a professional golfer, she needs a better grasp of the rules, but we're human, and mistakes happen. In any event, it's either her place, her caddy's place, her playing partners place or a rules official's place to call her on it. Not a reporter's. The reporter claims he's protecting the integrity of the game. I say he's butting his ass in places it doesn't belong. He says, "To stand in silence when you see an infraction is an infraction itself." I say, to commit an infraction, you have to be involved in the competition. Don't delude yourself into thinking you are. You're a reporter and a spectator. Nothing more.

Some magazine reporter doesn't need to inject himself into the competition any more than Joe Fan in his lazyboy at home needs to pick up a phone and do the same. Nobody goes calling Paul Taglibue when watching the Colts play the Rams complaining about a blatant holding call the officials missed. Golf set a bad precedent when they let the first person outside the ropes make that sort of call, and it's time that shit got squelched. Thank those people for their attention and point them toward the life store, so they can purchase one.

Monday, October 17, 2005

ah the colorful language of the NFL

On the way home today I heard the lack of noise at Heinz field yesterday after the interception described by one of our defensive linemen this way:

"Yeah, you could hear a rat piss on cotton out there."

Can't say I've ever heard the sound of silence put quite like that before.

the old role is suffering

I thought it would go unnoticed.

It has been somewhat documented here that my participation in little league has taken on a more integeral role, meaning, I'm in the dugout doing stuff. This weekend that even got pushed to bullpen duty when there really was no one else, but it wasn't a kid who had never pitched before so he wasn't looking for instruction. He just needed to warm up and someone to catch for him. Hell, even I can do that.

The problem is, I used to take pictures at little league games. At first it was just the youngster, but I quickly realized that I'm there with digital photography device in tow. Why stick to just the youngster? I'm sure other parents would appreciate pictures and since I'm there, I might as well take them of all the kids. I'd send out the whole set after each game via e-mail. The pictures were a hit among the parents. I didn't think anyone would notice this fall, because we only had one kid from any of the youngster's previous teams, that I wasn't snapping pics because I was busy. Well, Saturday, the wife came to the dugout with the camera, handed it to me and said, "I want a picture of my son. How do I work this thing?" Well, he happened to be leading off of second at the time so I snapped one and tried to give her a quick lesson. Apparently it didn't take, because when I got home and took the card out, there was only one picture on it....the leadoff. (I'll admit the instructions were rushed/incomplete because I was trying to pay attention to other things and the camera is a little more involved than point and click. Maybe we should do camera lessons before things get hectic.) Next day game I guess I'll have to beg off dugout duty, so I can once again be team photographer. One day game shouldn't be too much to ask.

the leadoff

Déja Vu all over again

The Steelers game - everyone wants to say, "Yeah, but Roethlisberger and Ward didn't play." and that's true. They didn't and we benefitted...immensely. Fred Taylor didn't play either and they benefitted to a lesser extent. In my best singsong-y voice "Our backups outplayed your backups..nyeh nyeh nyeh nyeh nyeh." Beyond that, it looked just sooo much like the Jets game earlier this year. We coulda shoulda woulda put that game away long before the end of regulation, but there were so many stupid mistakes and penalties that kept it close. There never should have been an overtime, but we let it happen. Thank God for Rashean Mathis, local boy done good and hero of the game. I'll stick by what I said last week though. It was a win but what does it say about the Jaguars...not a whole lot. I'm willing to face the fact that we are an offensively challenged football team. Byron needs an overhaul if he's going to make it in the NFL. That windup is going to be the death of him if he doesn't get rid of it. Receivers...all of them...need to hold onto the ball and stupid penalties in the defensive backfield have to stop (hello Kenny Wright). Special teams looked....anything but special. We have problems that need to be addressed, no doubt about it, but we are 4-2 after the nastiest 6 games on our schedule, so there's still hope.

On a side note, my hockey playing car pool kid (and his siblings and parents who are Ohio transplants) is a huge Steeler fan who has been telling me all last week how the Jaguars stink and don't have a chance, even if Roethlisberger doesn't play. I saw him last night in the neighborhood, and yeah it's not fair. The kid's only in the 6th grade. I should have just let it die...I should have been the adult, but I couldn't resist. I asked him where his Rashean Mathis jersey was.

Saturday, the Mets did beat the Giants, 9-7, and the youngster was clutch at second (no errors and two "sports center" plays, one of which ended the game), so I pretty much got my wish. They were the home team, winning 9-4 going into the top of the 6th and held off a rally. His best friend struck out twice with a called third strike both times. After the first one of those, he was toast, because his dad was noticably unhappy and that just made him more nervous. Sometimes you just gotta back off and let them figure it out. The youngster was frustrated at the plate because his coach kept giving him the bunt sign and he wanted to hit. He walked once, sacrifice bunted once and struck out once (after two bunts attempts went foul). He came to the dugout saying, "Dad, I don't want to bunt." but I explained, that's baseball and you do what you're asked to do to help the team. If the coach says bunt, that's what you do. I will say that the last time he did it, when he struck out, the infield was almost shaking hands with him by the time each pitch got to the plate. We had a guy on third and the coach was going for the squeeze, but the only way it was going to be successful is if someone dropped the ball. They were running in long before he even showed bunt. It wasn't going to be a surprise and if the coach had let him hit, and he was successful, there were gaping holes to take advantage of. We play them again. Maybe next time. Sunday he had advanced ball practice from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and he took his hitting frustration out there, so he's OK for now...and so am I.

Looking back, the little league game went my way pretty much textbook. The Jaguars game went my way ugly. Coulda shoulda woulda bought a lotto ticket. Maybe there's still time.

Friday, October 14, 2005

this just in

Bill Romanowski admits to using steriods!

Break out some space on page 1! Maybe I'm a little surprised....that he admitted it. Apparently also in his soon-to-be-released book, he admits to purposely breaking Dave Megget's finger in the middle of a pile once to get him taken out of a game. If you look up 'scum of the earth' in the dictionary, I believe you'll find Romo's picture there.

a weekend of...hell, I really don't know

Well part of it I do. The youngster's regular (as opposed to advanced baseball) team plays Saturday. The team they play, the Giants, is coached by his advanced ball coach. The second baseman (as well as the shortstop and first baseman) on the advanced ball team plays for the Giants. Personally, I think the youngster is better at second, but I'll admit just a touch of 'dad' bias. I'm hoping tomorrow proves it's not 'dad' bias. I want his performance to say "in your face" to the guy who has him on his advanced ball team as an alternate where he gets to play occasional outfield. I want the youngster to have a kick-ass game at second, because he can...and I want him running the bases, because he can...and I want the Mets to ten-run-rule the Giants, because they can. BUT, and yeah, there is a but...on the other hand, his best friend (the above mentioned first baseman) plays for the Giants, which isn't his fault. He didn't ask to be on that team and listen to even more of, "look-a-me, look-a-me, look-a-me!" He is there, though, and I like the kid and his folks, so from that angle, I don't want them to get ten-run-ruled. Still the youngster's team should win, if I have my way. That said, I don't always get my way, but I can hope. Let's face it, reality rarely cooperates with the scenarios in my perfect world. All I need to do is buy a lotto ticket to be reminded.

Next, the Jaguars go into Pittsville to play the Steelers, where Big Bill is playing a shell game with Big Ben. Will he play? Won't he play? Will Hines Ward play? Will Fred Taylor play? So many questions and in the end, will any of the bigger questions be answered? If any of the above mentioned players aren't in the game, what will the outcome mean, if anything? OK, if the Steelers win with Charlie Batch at quarterback and no Hines Ward, it answers all the important questions. It says the Steelers are very much for real and the Jaguars need to go shopping for a drawing board. It means John needs to start saying "Wait'll next year." Any scenario in which the Jagaurs win though says...what? Anything? I don't think so. All the talking heads will say sure, you went into Pittsville and beat the Steelers, but it wasn't the real Steelers. Roethlisberger wasn't 100%, or didn't play, or whatever the case may be. Ward isn't 100%. You caught them on a short week. The excuses are laid out waiting to be used, and some of them have merit. If the Jaguars win, all you can really say is they are 4 and 2 (which beats saying they are 3 and 3) going into the bye week. Other than that, I really don't know that it says a thing. What it will do it keep my friends who are Steeler fans from making snide remarks, and I'll take that any day over starting Monday morning saying, 'Wait'll next year."

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Lewd party with Vikings investigated

That's a headline in Yahoo news (in the sports section) and it kinda struck me..

This is news?
Isn't this the kind of behavior Vikings are famous for?


Many years ago, there was a sitcom on T.V. called the Bob Newhart Show, coincidentally enough starring Bob Newhart. Everybody on the show, every time they met Bob said, "Hi, Bob!" The line was so prevalent that there was a popular drinking game based on the line, called Hi Bob. You started the program with shot glasses and a bottle of something and every time someone said, "Hi, Bob" everyone did a shot of whatever you had. By the end of the show, everyone was fairly plastered.

Fast forward to today and little league advanced baseball. The coach for the youngster's team isn't all that knowledgeable, but I'll admit he knows more than I do and is willing to put in the hours to coach the team, which is saying something. Really, it's saying a lot, and even while I'm running him down, I have to give him credit for that much. The problem is, knowing more than I do about teaching baseball is setting the bar pretty low. I think we've already established that. We've already also established that he's not one of my favorite people. Of the coaches the youngster has had so far though, he's the bottom rung in knowledge, and contradicts the things the boy has learned from other coaches, one of whom played professionally, and one who coached a college team.

The next problem is the accent and how it comes across. My apologies to any of you New Yorkers out there, but this guy has the most obnoxious New York accent I've heard in a long time (and he's a Yankees fan, which may be another issue in my dislike). Maybe it's not the accent itself that gets to me, but the way it's used...repetitively.

"Guys, guys, guys....look-a-me, look-a-me, look-a-me."

"Listen-a-me, listen-a-me, listen-a-me."

Almost always in threes.

"Antony, Antony, Antony" (kinda like Tony Soprano says it, though his voice is more Ralphie)

By far the most prevalent is "look-a-me" though. It just grates. The other night at practice, I started counting the "look-a-me"s. I stopped at 39 in less than 10 minutes.

I swear, if we played Hi Bob with look-a-me's, I'd be passed out in the dirt a half hour into practice. No, I take that back. I'd be dead.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

a break in the action

Yes, we did baseball last night and I think it did us all some good, just to get out and breathe a bit. The youngster studied until game time, ate Burger King burgers on the way to the game for dinner, played well and studied a bit more this morning. I'm hoping that'll be enough.

I'm little by little turning into a Little League coach, by default. I'll be the first to say I'm seriously underqualified. I love watching the game, but I don't know near enough to teach it. The thing is, we have two coaches, but one is on the road a lot or something, because he's rarely at the game (or, we've had two and his mug was at neither of them, but he was at most practices last month). Therefore the other guy needs help. There's one other dad that's more qualified than me (and willing to jump in and help), and he has been taking the first base coach responsibilities while the 'real' coach takes third. I've been keeping the dugout managable, making sure the on deck/in the hole guys know they're coming up, and keeping the substitution schedule happening, so guys know when they're playing and where. I can organize and manage a process with the best of them. Last night I was forced into a bigger role. We have a kid who wants to pitch and never had before, so he was going to pitch last night and they needed someone to warm him up and give him a few pointers....while our guys were batting, so we needed a first and third base coach as well. All eyes turned to me and I just said, honestly, "You really don't want me teaching him how to pitch. I can handle first base coach maybe, but you don't need me trying to tell him what he's doing wrong...or right." The result, my first inning as first base coach. Even there I felt like I was way out of my league, even if it is...little.

A side note...for that kid, it was a night of firsts. He did pitch the last two inings, so it was the first time he ever pitched, and he had never hit a home run before, but last night, he had two. No, it wasn't the youngster, but it was a big night for that guy. One he'll probably remember the rest of his life. The youngster, one for three with 2 RBI's and one mental mistake at second (not covering first on a bunt, which is a good example of the kind of stuff I love watch when it's done right, but wouldn't think to teach until I saw it not happening) but over all pretty good there, and the good guys won.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

the outlook for Sunday

I don't like the idea of anybody getting hurt, but if Ben Roethlisberger has to be out for a week, I'm not too upset that it might be this one as the Jaguars head into Kerry Field to play the Steelers. We need all the help we can get.

the over there LCS's, little league and cumulative tests

Lets start with the LCS thing. The NLCS and ALCS all involve teams in time zones other than mine, which I think means the games will go till well after midnight during the week on the east coast. Yeah, I'll be keeping up with that...maybe.

Little league - the Mets have their second game tonight after losing a heartbreaker Saturday, up 7-2 after 4 innings and falling apart to lose 12-9. But hey, they played some solid ball between the ugliness, so we'll see.

Now the fun part, cumulative tests. The youngster is in 7th grade and is seeing the concept of cumulative tests for the first time, and not really grasping the importance. This may have a bearing on whether or not, though the Mets have a game tonight, he is in attendance. If you've read here a long time, you know we're dealing with ADD, which means sitting still and studying is a super human effort. It takes the whole family. He would rather be doing just about anything (and I don't know that I can even rule out a sharp stick in the eye) than sitting and studying, especially rote memorization, and none of it can be done on his own. It takes the wife and me going over it with him tag team style, or it won't get done and even then, I'm not sure we're getting there. All I can say is we're giving it our best effort. Today is Science and Literature. Tomorrow is English and Math. We shall see where we are come game time. For now though, it's just real stressful...for all of us. On one hand, I'm thinking we need to skip the game and study, and on the other, I'm thinking if he jumps right into it when he gets home from school and gives it his best shot, by 7:00 we'll have gotten as far as we can and a few hours of stress relief might be what we all need. We'll just have to see.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Narnia, and the weekend

I've started reading the Chronicles of Narnia series of kids books. I know, some of you will be asking, "Didn't you read them when you were young?" and, well, no. I didn't. I didn't even know of their existence. I might not know of them now except for talking with people about the Harry Potter series and Lord of the Rings (which I did read when I was young), who make comparisons and so forth. Then when I took the youngster to The Greatest Game Ever Played, one of the previews was for The Chronicles of Narnia movie, and it looked pretty cool. I got the idea we'll probably be going to see it, so I figured I'd read up on the subject. Two books down, five to go, and still not tempted to pick up a wand and try to do magic stuff. Imagine that. The books are very good, by the way. If you, like me, never got there as a kid, you might want to give them a shot.

I read quite a bit of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (2nd in the series) while watching four hours of baseball practice yesterday. It was three hours of practice and an hour of scrimmage with another team...actually more like an hour and a half. At that point I grabbed the youngster and told the coach that was enough. The youngster had studying to do. We left and the scrimmage went on. I don't know for how long, but I'd be surprised if it went much longer. Other parents were complaining amongst themslves (the kids had been there since 10:00 a.m. and it was closing in on 2:30), but I was the first to tell them my kid had other things to do (like study for a Social Studies test today). I imagine once I broke the ice, others probably followed, but who knows. On the good side, the youngster's confidence with the bat is growing, and the effects are noticable. The kid's hitting, and well.

The Jaguars kept me up way too late last night, but it was worth it. The offense started to look like an offense, but rookie tackle Kalif Barnes needs to learn to stay away from the pile when a play ends. Two unnecessary roughness penalies that were...just stupid, and speaking of penalties, holding on Jimmy Smith and Reggie Williams? far away from the play where it made no difference? to kill a drive? Come on guys. I won't complain too loudly because they pulled out the win, but there's plenty of room for more improvement.

Baseball - so the Red Sox are out of it and so are the Braves. I'm not sure which way to go for the rest of the way. It'd be fun to see the Angels take out the Yankees, but at the same time, if they're successful, I have nobody to root against, and my interest level drops. If the Yankees can hold on a little longer, I'll pay more attention, but at the same time, I just can't see myself pulling for the evil empire just to keep my interest level higher. In the NL, I'd kinda like to see Houston hang in there, but I think the Cards might be too tough. I can hope though. It's the playoffs, and anything can happen.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Jason Giambi - A.L. Comeback Player of the Year?

Let me see, you suck because of 'roid withdrawl, and manage to salvage a decent season...and that can make you the league's comeback player of the year? Am I the only one who thinks something is seriously wrong with that?

the custom of "boo"ing

No, we're not talking about what was going on inside Alltel Stadium last Sunday. I don't approve of boo-ing your team no matter how bad they might be playing. I understand the argument that says, "I paid my money and have a right to express my displeasure if my team doesn't play up to my expectations." I also believe that just because you have a right to do something doesn't make it a good idea....but I'm waaayyyy off track.

This is something relatively new to me. Halloween is by no means a new thing, but this supplement to it is. We lived in our old neighborhood for 8 years before moving five years ago, and in other places before that, but I never encountered this before we rented in a neighborhood while our current house was being built. Since then, I've seen it every year in the neighborhood we now inhabit. Perhaps someone started it 5 years ago, and it was coincidence that we were moving at the same time.

We hear the doorbell ring, and go to answer. Nobody's there, but there is some sort of container of candy on the doorstep with two pieces of paper. One is a picture of a ghost. The other explains the process in some cute little rhyme. Usually it's a cute little rhyme. This year ours was more paragraphical, with little pictures thrown in for fun, so there are variations on the theme. The ghost goes in your front window, letting others know you've already been boo'd, so you are to now be left alone. The other instructs you in its rhyme (or whatever) to go and do likewise to three other houses. In about two weeks, the challenge will be to actually find a house that has yet to be boo'd to hit. For now, it's not that difficult. The youngster, of course, wants us to take our sweet time putting the ghost in the window so we might "accidentally" get hit twice, but I stuck it out there last night nonetheless. We, in turn, got some cute little containers and candy and hit 3 more houses...which again, is great fun for him, even in the rain. All in all a great feel-good piece of suburbia.

So my question is...does anyone else do this stuff and if so, did it start about five years ago...or is that just when and where it caught up with us?

Thursday, October 06, 2005

some sequels are just flat out bad

Rosemary's Baby II - the pregnancy of Katie Holmes

I'm guessin' Oprah's couch isn't the only thing Tommy Boy's been jumping up and down on.

Thought for the Day - in the sidebar

Consider it my public service announcement, and a tip from someone who apparently is a geek, for those of you staring at it and not getting it...

The one line Geek test:

In California, a Volkswagen Beetle was spotted with the license plate "FEATURE"

If you laugh in 5 seconds, you're a geek.

Wait 5 seconds before reading this or you might laugh and therefore wrongly be labeled a geek. Then again, even knowing the joke, you might not.
It stems from the famous computer programmer excuse when a program does something unintended..."It's not a bug, it's a feature!"

Michelle Wie and golf whiners

On the way to work this morning, I listened to a bit of sports talk on the radio. The subject was, Michelle Wie turning pro and playing on the PGA Tour using sponsors exemptions.

They were interviewing a professional golfer who said he can see the sponsor's point of view. They want people to watch their tournament so they want to invite the biggest draw, which in a lot of cases is Michelle Wie. Then came the "but". His reason for not liking it is that Michelle Wie is taking up a sponsor's exemption spot that could go to a card carrying tour professional who's trying to earn a living. That part sticks in my craw.

In football, if you get down to the end of the game and it's very close but you're are losing, you can probably point to a few questionable calls made by the ref and say that the ref lost the game for you. Believe me, I know the feeling. It's not true though. If you played to where the game is that close, and can turn on a questionable call or two, you didn't win the game. If you would have really defeated your opponent, the game would not be close enough to give the ref a chance to affect the outcome. You would have dominated the game and been ahead by enough points that even a bad call won't lose the game for you. You failed to do that. You left the outcome in the hands of the ref. You take what you get.

Same thing happens in golf. A sponsor gets a certain amount of spots to fill in a tournament field and can, within reason, pick whoever they want. The person has to be able to play very good golf, but other than that, the choices for these spots are pretty wide open, but the number of spots is something like 4 or 6. It's not like they control half the field. There are plenty of other spots in the field, which are earned. If you win tournaments, your spot in the field is yours. If you win the Masters (or any other major tournament), your spot in any tournament field is guaranteed for the next five years. If you finish in the top ten at a tournament, your spot in the field at the next tournament is guaranteed. In other words, if you play really well, you get in tournaments. Phil Mickelson isn't staying up nights worrying about Michelle Wie taking his spot at a tournament. If you don't play really well, you beg sponsors to pick you with their exemptions. If that's where your game is, don't get all ticked off when they pick Michelle Wie because she draws more interest. You have choices. You can get better and win a tournament, or do one of the other things that solidifies your spot in tournament fields, or you can continue to let your fate rest in the hands of a tournament sponsor who can pick whoever they want to play, or you can dig ditches, but don't whine because the sponsor gets to pick whoever he (or she) wants to play in the tournament, and it ain't you.

Either get better at putting or get better at saying, "Would you like fries with that?"

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

find a happy place! find a happy place! find a happy place!

My sports world is in a temporary (I hope) toilet.

In the battle of the sox, the white ones pasted the red ones and the Angels, who you would think would be the good guys based on name alone, aren't holding up their end of the bargain. The Cardinals are rolling as expected...yawn.

Then there's football, or the lack thereof. You know something's way out of whack when the Bungles are coming to town and the Jaguars faithful are concerned. In hell, Satan must be trying out his new flat bottomed shovel on the white stuff covering his driveway.

In the words of Marty Feldman in Young Frankenstein, "It could be worse. It could be raining."

Little League Baseball...was cancelled last night due to the swamp that has overtaken the ball fields. It's been raining here off and on (but far more on than off) since Sunday, and with tropical depression something or other off the coast, the outlook isn't favorable for the next few days.

Then there's hockey, which rumor has it starts today. My car pool hockey player brought a CD with him today, with The Hockey Song by The Arrogant Worms on it. Pretty funny once, but by the third listening I was far more tired of it than the rest of the vehicle population. You really have to wonder when the bright spot in my sports outlook is the return of hockey, but there you have it.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005 has come to this

The company I work for has season tickets to Jaguar games. They have a skybox and several seats around the 40 yard line, and they get used for marketing...schmoozing with clients and people we'd like very much to become clients. When the box and seats aren't being used for that purpose, they are given to employees whose names are drawn in something akin to a hat. Today, the company boss's assistant sent this via e-mail...

I don't have the heart to draw names for this weekend's game. Surprisingly, no one has requested the tickets this week to entertain clients. (Key word here would be entertainment, or lack thereof) . Or perhaps they saw this weekend's game. But perhaps this weekend was an aberration. Perhaps the Jaguars really aren't THAT bad.
If you want to be in the drawing for tickets to this Sunday's game, e-mail me. I'll collect your names today, and will draw from them tomorrow.
Consider the following before you reply:
1. The game is an 8:30 p.m. kickoff.
2. The game will probably be televised on ESPN (so far, no blackout)
3. Desperate Housewives starts at 9:00 p.m.
4. They stop selling beer at the end of the half
5. The Ponte Vedra Mighty Midgets rushed for more yards on Saturday than the Jaguars did on Sunday.
6. The Mighty Midgets are in Elementary School.

E-mail me if you would like to enter for tickets. If you have already won this year, however, you won't be drawn again.
Ready, set.....

Monday, October 03, 2005

what was THAT

Yes I'm hoarse this morning, but not as hoarse as I would be if the Jaguars would have mounted any kind of effort yesterday. I stopped abusing my throat by the beginning of the fourth quarter, because it wasn't getting us anywhere with half the stadium filing out. I'm still not sure what I saw, but I know it wasn't football. We had no line. We had no quarterback. Well, we did, but it felt like he completed more passes and handed the ball off to more guys in those blue and orange clown suits than guys in real football uniforms. (Yes, I know it's been a few years, but those things the Broncos wear are still ugly, and look more like the paint job on a '72 Dodge than a football uniform.) Fred Taylor ran for a total of 14 yards...for the game! 14 Yards! I think every one of our wide receivers was called for a false start penalty at some point in the game. The Jaguars had a chance to show everyone that they have arrivied, and while they did that, the destination wasn't what I expected. I know every team has bad games, but after the game in Indy, where the defense showed up but the offense took the day off, then last week's showing in New Jersey, where we pulled one out of our collective asses against a team that shouldn't have been able to keep it close, and this week's performance (or lack thereof), my expectations have been significantly lowered. Bad games are supposed to come in ones, not bunches.

So this week Cincinnati comes to town for a Sunday night game, and they haven't lost yet. I'm thinking, they haven't played anyone tough yet. They're ripe for the picking. Yes, that's the homer talking, because anyone with an ounce of objectivity who has watched the Jaguars over the last few weeks would counter with, yes, and they aren't playing anyone tough this week either. Still, if we buckle down and play football, we can do this. it gets interesting. The Red Sox hit the wild card jackpot to keep the nastiest rivalry still intact. The Yankees and Red Sox aren't playing each other though...yet. As much as I'd like to see the Angels take the Yankees out, I think I'd rather see the Red Sox do it. The National League has less drama (but I do like the NL game better, just because the pitchers have to be real baseball players and swing a bat on occasion, and conversely, nobody gets to be just a bat all the time). Someone will come out of the "bridesmaid but never a bride" matchup of the Braves and Astros, and get stomped upon by the Cardinals...or that's how it looks like it'll play out to me. Then again....that's why they play the games.

The Mets start their season tomorrow night, against a team that played Saturday, and won..16-0. There is a ten run rule in Little League, but you have to get through four innings for it to take effect, if that gives you any indication how that game went. Wish us luck.