Now that spring has sprung, it’s time for the return of my favorite sport, baseball.
It used to be Major League Baseball.
Then it was Fantasy Baseball.
But now it’s 11-year old Baseball, as in my 11-year old son’s little league team.
This will be the fourth straight year that he has been with the same team and my son really feels at home.
I guess home is the right way to put it, since he is the catcher.
With three very active kids, we are pretty much involved with sports year round, but baseball seems to hold my greatest interest.
Don’t get me wrong, I love watching my older daughter dance, but no matter how hard I try, I really can’t relate.
If I attempt half of what she is able to do, I will need hamstring replacement surgery.
In both legs.
I also love watching my youngest daughter play soccer, but if I hear one more “that was great” by a parent after their child kicks the ball into their own goal, I will scream.
International soccer players get killed, literally, when they put it in their own net. There is nothing great about that.
Baseball seems to be the perfect fit.
My son loves playing. We love watching.
My son loves talking baseball. I love talking.
We both love the stats and the highlights. My wife loves the nachos.
Pretty much my son and I are addicted to every aspect of our national pastime.
We love watching the games on TV.
We love playing catch in the front yard.
We love the unbelievably realistic video games.
We love the baseball posters in his bedroom.
We also love the history.
When my son was asked four years ago, as a seven-year old, what number he wanted to be, he said 42.
As in 42 for Jackie Robinson.
As one dad on our team told me then (and several times since), his kids don’t even know who Jackie was, no less what he meant to the game.
My son still wears 42.
Ok, now that I’ve made my presentation for the Ozzie Nelson Father of the Year Award, here’s the rest of the story.
I grew up playing baseball. Made the High School team. With somebody pushing me to take more grounders, instead of eating more burgers, I probably could’ve played college ball, somewhere.
I don’t know that I would’ve made it beyond that, but we’ll never know.
I really try my best to NOT live my dreams through my kids, but I definitely know that behind every major leaguer is a boot in their rear end.
It could be the boot of a brother, a father, a mother or a coach, but the bottom line is somebody at some point figured out the right buttons to push to help them get to the next level.
From the time he was five, my son said that he was going to be a major leaguer.
(Of course, we all said that.)
At six he wrote a note, on his own, saying that he needed to go to school so that he could learn how to sign his first baseball contract.
When it comes to school, my wife is very hard on the kids. Why not, she is a teacher.
When it comes to sports, I am very hard on the kids. Why not, I am an athlete at heart who didn’t fulfill his dreams.
I’m by no means abusive hard, by any stretch, but I definitely push.
As much as I try to be supportive, that’s not always the end result.
After a game last year when my son didn't “keep his head in” or “his hands back” or “his knees bent” or whatever it was, I didn't talk to him for the entire car ride home.
All 45 minutes.
Definitely not my proudest moment.
That sound you heard was me being voted off the island.
As a former manager of 50+ people, not related to me, I learned to present constructive criticism with a cherry on top.
As a dad of an 11-year old, related to me, I still haven’t.
But I'm still trying.
I have been very consistent in my feedback -- it's not about the results, but it's about the effort.
My kids don't really know who John Wooden is, but they do know that he said, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”
They’ve heard that one about as many times as “Like A Rolling Stone”, but I’m not sure either one has registered yet.
Like every new year, I am entering this baseball season with renewed optimism.
Optimism that mother nature won’t destroy our schedule.
Optimism that my son will keep his hands back.
But most of all, I am optimistic that this will be the year that I find that perfect balance between dad and coach.
Wish me luck.
P.S. I got an incredibly thoughtful note this morning from a loyal reader who just wanted to make sure that I was ok after Tuesday’s blog, especially since I hadn’t posted a new one since.
Yes I am ok, but yesterday my six-year old daughter wasn’t.
She was home sick from school and she got all of my attention. Good thing I wasn’t at work, huh?
Thankfully it was just a cold and she is much better today and back at school.
As for Tuesday's blog, when I woke up that morning, I wanted to express exactly how I was feeling.
I am far from depressed, but at that moment, I was sad.
I wanted to be as honest as possible and properly represent the miserable feelings that I and perhaps many others like me are having.
This morning’s note was the latest reminder to me of how wonderful people in this world can be.
Getting that email from someone I never met and probably will never meet, was a great way to start my day.
I thank you (singular) and thank you (plural) for all of the support.