TWITTER: @sirbacon123

21 April 2010

More Than A Game

I’ve never claimed to be a journalist.
Yes, I’ve worked in the “media” for the last quarter century, but the more you learn about the media, the more you learn that there are very few journalists left.
The new goal of the new media is plain and simple, promote and make money.
If you happen to break some significant story along the way, good for you, as long as you get ratings or sell papers.
My training, to not-be-a-journalist, began all the way back in high school, when I worked for the school newspaper...
... at the same time I played on the school baseball team...
... while writing the articles for the school newspaper...
... on the school baseball team.
If that’s not journalism, then I don’t know what is.
I was the guy who wrote the article when the third baseman made seven errors in one game.
Of course that third baseman was me.
Shockingly, there was no mention of any of those errors in the article.
Not journalism.  Check.
The reason I bring this up, is that I’m about to not be a journalist when writing about my son’s latest baseball game.

I'm going to be a dad.  A very proud dad.
This was no ordinary baseball game.
This was our chance to face the undefeated first place team.
And in the 11-year old Triple-A league, EVERY game matters, especially for the coaches.
I am in my second season as an assistant coach for my son’s team, one of the real perks of unemployment.
It’s basically my job to chew sunflower seeds, sit on the bench and hope that my son can carry out my unfinished dreams.
Well tonight, he hit a home run.
Not literally, but just about.
With our team trailing 8-1, the real coach put my son into pitch.
Normally he is the catcher, but he’ll play anywhere, as long as he gets dirty.  
He pitched nearly three innings giving up just one run and a couple of hits.
Meanwhile, the other team brought in their ace reliever to close the game.   I didn’t get a good view of his face, but his arm moved like a fifth grade Nolan Ryan.
On most days, you could probably get the car keys ready.
But not today.
We enjoyed a stretch where eight of ten hitters reached base scoring six times to make it a real game.
Then in our next at bat, down two with two out and two on -- the great Vin Scully would say that the deuces were wild -- my son came up to the plate with a chance to be a hero.
And a hero he was.
On the first pitch, he hit a booming fly ball to deep left-center field, landing just out of the reach of the center fielder, scoring both runners to tie the game.
My son’s final inning of pitching was a quick one, recording three outs on six pitches.
That set up the dramatic conclusion to this come-from-behind victory when we scored the game-winning run with two outs in the bottom of the inning on a double that landed just inside fair territory.
To paraphrase Harry Caray -- Bears Win, Bears Win.
Since we joined this team four years ago, we have had plenty of wins and plenty of losses, but the experience has been incredible.
We play for a coach who is not trying to make the next eight or nine or ten year old Barry Bonds, but rather he is trying to give each and every player on our team the opportunity to play high school baseball.
He teaches them the game.   He teaches them the signs.   He teaches them how to be a baseball player.
And why not.  In his previous life he was a high school teacher AND a high school baseball coach.
At not just any high school, but Columbine High School, circa 1999.
As his luck would have it, he was off campus exactly 11 years ago, when Columbine became the most famous high school in the world, for ALL the wrong reasons.
Our coach is one of the most caring and pleasant gentle men you will ever meet.
We are so lucky to call him our coach, but I feel even more fortunate to call him a friend.
But even with our great relationship, I have only had the guts to bring up the events of April 20, 1999 just one time.
We talked briefly about how he was at a seminar that day, the day that high school changed forever.
Grease was no longer the word.  Help was.
He’s moved on from Columbine, but I doubt Columbine could ever move on from him.
How could it.
When my son returned to the dugout after his game-tying hit, I gave him a hug.
To him, it was a sign that he had done well on the baseball field.
To me, it was a hug.  With my son.
If we learned anything from that most tragic day, it was hopefully to hug our kids.
It’s amazing what the game of baseball can teach you.
Final score, 10-9.   Good guys.

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