Now for Baseball

We spent over 5 hours and 56 minutes watching the Minnesota Twins and the Washington Nationals spare on Sunday. In what Dusty Baker called the absolute weirdest game ever he ever managed, the Nationals managed to come out on top. Both teams were running low on players. The ninth inning save goes to Bryce Harper who said he’d hit a homer and tie the game, which he did. The first seven innings go to Steven Strasberg, for incredible pitching. Then Petit came into the game and held on for more pitches than he had pitched for many years. The out fielding was outstanding. Werth, denDecker, Heisey, Taylor all made significant catches. Add a glorious actor named Perez and and his acting and dancing ability, two catchers named Ramos and Lobaton, speed demon and shortstop Espinosa, Murphy, Drew, Papalbon, Rendon, Zimmerman, and a partridge in a pear tree and you have us sitting on the sofa. Yup, me the eternal optimist and my husband, king of gloom and doom. It’s good to believe in a team when they win. It’s good to believe in a team even if they lose. But it is priceless to have such a good competition between two tough teams and yours wins by a squeak. I was exhausted at the end.

There was some savvy decision making. I am pretty sure that Dusty didn’t know that Perez hadn’t hit a ball since 2010. I’m pretty sure he was afraid that he would have to use Trienen who had played two days before. He was wise to switch out the catchers. How do those guys keep from having knee cramps all night long after a game? Dusty picked and chose who did what carefully, and having put our all on the table, created a memory that will be on MASN TV all next winter. I won’t forget the game.

May I add that Dusty Baker’s philosophy of life is making baseball “fun again.”  His way of enthusiastically pumping up the players, of believing in them, and of keeping his word are new to Washington. I hope he stays for many years. We need someone like him. Oh, the keeping the word, in case you hadn’t heard, was telling Bryce that he could since hit, but because he had the day off, that was ALL he would be allowed to do. Barry Bond had gone into a game with 16 innings in the ninth, and he played until the win was secured. So much for his day off. Funny he had mentioned that to Bryce. I hope he buys a lottery ticket. His words, “If man can move a mountain, surely man can move a baseball.”

Oh, we saw you Ben Revere and your gnome outfit. You keep coming. You are our lucky gnome of the year. I can hardly wait to see you as a bobble head. The hat, the hoodie, the scarf, the hope that you kept going with your being willing to be silly and support your team even when injured. Nice going. Effort noted and best wishes to getting 100% well.

I was glad the Twins won their game by a squeak in the ninth last night. They deserved a good win too.

Fifty-eight years old, and somehow over the last four years, I changed my spots. I love baseball and I understand why we need it. We need something to believe in. We need the normalcy of a tradition that started somewhere around 1890. As long as we can step away from our problems and be part of a great effort, things have to get better.

Sports reporter, Ann White, heading back into the real world.

On the Occasion of Things

I was thrilled to see the blossoms of Spring trees over the last month. It brings a lot of random chatter to mind. Chatter that outweighs the squirrels who now bring the feeders to the back door and bang until I fill them. They’ll hang them up themselves soon. I think they have the right idea. If we want something in life badly enough, we should look to be actively working towards that goal. My goals? I want to continue reading everyday. I have two books waiting for my attention. Carl Hiassen’s Bad Monkey and Jonas Jonasson’s The One Hundred Year Old Man, who climbed out the window and disappeared, these sounded so good from the titles alone. It made me scurry to the bookstore clerk and buy them, with all the enthusiasm I learned from the backyard squirrel gang.

My husband has been following Spring training for the Nationals for the first time. He’s an Eeyore who feels like Chicken Little. But the Nats seem to be having fun. I was hesitant to show enthusiasm because if things go wrong, I get to hear about it. I don’t like drama unless it’s on the stage or in a book, so I’ve kept mum. But as the first game of the season came along, I decided to take the plunge and become a number one fan. I failed at being a cheerleader, as I cheered for all of the players from both teams. The Braves vs. the Nationals, and the pitching was fantastic. Both teams were very well coached and gave off that special aura of teams that cared. I’m supposed to stick to one side or the other, but the sportsmanship and the game intensity left me breathless and exhausted at the same time. Life can be like that. It has its showers, and thunder storms, but in the end, I want to be that person that has overcome the storms and played the game to the absolute best I can.

Fatherhood has been on the horizon. The concept of the father who works full time and the son who wants to play ball is about the economic sphere you are in. Look at LaRoche, who left the Nats, and took his golden first base mitt with him. It was in the news for several days because he retired, turned down millions of dollars to be with his son. His family is a baseball family. His father brought LaRoche to watch him practice and play. LaRoche started bringing his son when he was old enough to understand that this occupation was his father’s passion. The son was there, in the dugout and sometimes practicing, with the Nationals and never caused a disturbance of any kind. If fact, he was our good luck intern so that we took the National Baseball East award (is it called something like that?) The year he left, we didn’t win our pennant. But he was told his son wasn’t welcome at his new team. The NEW team’s management thought that his son would be a distraction. So LaRoche quit. Literally, he took his ball and went home. Six months of intensive baseball moments, and they wanted to take that father son balance and remove it from LaRoche’s life. He made the right decision. Boys need their dads. They need to toss a ball around or go biking or have a special moment together. Our society had moved from male to female to mocking males to not understanding why the male image was so hard to maintain. Or sure, being a doctor is nice, but if you have a son, shouldn’t you teach him how to be a man? Shouldn’t Fatherhood and being a man have positive ramifications? My husband worked 60 hours a week, he couldn’t be there for playing ball with my son. It’s one of his deepest regrets. It took my son a while to see what a father is. Hardworking, worried, kind, intelligent, non-apologetic and still involved as much as possible. He sees that the times he thought his dad was ignoring his needs was only part of what his dad did. Both of my children took martial arts and ballet. It was easier for me to involve them in activities that took place at the same time. When it was time for a performance or level exam, the kids would look up and there in the very back was their Dad still dressed for work, grinning his support and never missing a moment. His dad was there. He taught my son patience, even though patience was hard for him. He taught my son to respect women. He taught my son commitment. I know he would have spent more time at home if he could, but like LaRoche, he put his family first and kept us safe and loved. Mr. LaRoche is lucky to have such a wonderful opportunity.

April Fool’s Day is such a silly day. I have trouble thinking of pranks these days. My favorite Fool’s Day was when I came into the family room to tell my kids TV OFF. They had put suction cups on their heads and string tied to the TV and had their tongues hanging out of their mouths sideways moaning like zombies. Heehee, they had been listening.

I loved being a mother of two intelligent kids. They came up with the wildest ideas. A cardboard box was a castle, another was a horse (a great steed), and a big dog became a Princess protecting the dragon while the knight on his steed tried to invade. They could make up anything with whatever items were on hand. Police training was in the front, with bicycle traffic having to follow the officer’s hand signals. If you ran the light, you served five minutes in their jail. Even mothers had to comply. Dinner was slightly delayed as we waited for the traffic of the neighborhood to pass by. Sand was marvelous. We had big trucks and little trucks, Matchbox cars and generic cars, blocks for roadways and buildings, and the kids drove their vehicles around and around. I gave them a sheet and we colored a neighborhood onto it. Now they had a new map,  and it was time for The Phantom Tollbooth, a lovely way to teach words and puns, to be read at bedtime. Bedtime followed bath time which had the kids learning to take showers with an umbrella until confidence was gained and they could shower without it. We sang dinosaur songs at bedtime. There was always a book at bedtime.

There wasn’t any data on the impact of language, although my parents had done the same thing for my brothers, sister and I. I grew up reading, my children did also. Now they say a child must hear 150,000 words before they turn 5. I’m sure I gave my children twice that. The future of the world will rest with children who have heard words and have hope, and children who have been ignored because the family was too poor, too tired, and had too few resources. Poverty clones itself. I watched that happen when I taught. Parents who didn’t have the education or opportunities that I had, who had to work two or three jobs to make things work, are facing an uphill battle. Their parents didn’t have time, the freedom from prejudice, or resources. Poverty weighs on your soul. There are strong community leaders out there. People who sit on their porches or in churches or school who help change hopelessness.  Families like my parents who believed in the power of books and knowledge. We could change our situation. My mother went to college when we arrived in high school. She worked hard and got her BS, MS and PHD in six years. That was my role model. My children had their father and me. I went back to school when my daughter was in kindergarten. I worked hard and took my children to class if I couldn’t find a babysitter. I earned my Masters. Now both of my children have Masters. Intelligent kids. They’ve outdone me in their aspirations.

Baseball, flowers, kids and random thoughts today. Men empowered. Women empowered. You have to put your best foot forward in life.  I like jumping in puddles and hopping. Does that count?

At Bat

Just let it come. It’s looking for you.
Stand still, head steady.
Breathe. Inhale.
Focus on the pitcher,
The ball will come.

Don’t worry over balls.
They weren’t for you.
Focus your eyes.
Open your eyes, larger, larger.
The mound moves.

The pitcher moves.
Slow motion, hand curving.
Eye on the ball.
One third of a second and
You swing.

You can do this.