posts tagged with 'baseball'

spectator sport

Zion is interested in baseball. Not enough to want to join a team—or rather, his interest in baseball is outweighed by his lack of interest in participating in organized activities—but he and I have had lots of fun playing catch since he got his new mitt for his birthday. We're throwing that hardball hard! So when I let him know that the Lexington Blue Sox season was starting up June 1 he was thrilled to hear that we could go to a game. How about opening day?! Unfortunately, the opening day yesterday was rained out (I don't know how the players felt about it, but two boys at my house were very disappointed!). But that just meant that tonight was opening day instead, so at 7:30—when we'd usually be doing bedtime!—Zion, Elijah and I headed to Lexington to be sports fans.

Zion and Elijah sleepily watching baseball from aluminium bleachers

night game

We aren't usually, you know. I don't think any of the boys have been to more than two sporting events where they don't know anyone playing. So we were excited to see that Lexington on a Thursday evening plays host to a wide variety of sporting contests and practices. In the few minutes before the baseball started we were able to take in some soccer, softball, and even cricket! Unfortunately there wasn't anyone on the skate park. Not many people in the stands for the Blue Sox either; I kind of expected a crowd, but never mind, we had our pick of seats in the tiny bleachers. Not that the boys stayed there long: after an inning of attention they left to watch the game in between bouts of active play. Which makes sense! How can you watch those skilled athletes at work without wanting to get in there with some athletics yourself?

And they sure were good. My favorite was watching the throws all the way across the diamond from third to first, like laser beams. Way harder than me and Zion throw! Zion liked that the catcher could throw to second from his knees. This hitting was fun too, starting with a solo home run in the first inning. That fence is far away! The Blue Sox dominated, scoring 11 in the first four innings; we had to leave then since it was way past my bedtime, but no worries because that was all the scoring they did so we didn't miss anything exciting. The Bulldogs got one run in the eighth, but that was it. The Blue Sox have been the league champions the last two or three years, and it looks like they might be on the road to another title. And we were there at the start!


celebrating Zion

On Saturday we hosted Zion's birthday party for his friends, which, as tradition dictates, was a pretty big affair with some friends for the rest of us too. In birthday season Zion's fancy turns to thoughts of baseball, so once again his party had a baseball theme. Which in this case meant we played an hour or two of whiffleball. Never mind that it was the hottest day of the year so far: kids and adults alike were committed!

Zion up at bat in our yard with a crowd of kids on deck behind him

hey, batta batta

The kids started up with batting practice as folks began to arrive, and then chose captains for a game with real sides. Then after a break for drinks and chips—despite my concerns, Leah put the chips out before dinner thinking that kids needed to keep their electrolyte levels up—we reorganized into kids vs adults. Not everyone played, but it was still a good-sized game, and fiercely fought. There were home runs, aggressive—not to say foolhardy—base-running and a triple play that was called back because of a general lack of understanding of the rules of "tagging up". I had to bow out before the end to start to get supper ready, but not before I hit a towering home run into the woods over the shed. Very satisfying! Still, the adult side ended up losing something like 24-12. Those kids were just too good.

For supper we had hamburgers and hot dogs on the fire (plus garden asparagus), along with salad, veggies, and lots and lots of chips (electrolytes!). Adults ate under a tent that Leah bought in the morning, thinking we'd die otherwise under the baking sun. It's the best thing ever, and even though the day cooled slightly as the party got going it was delightful to be gathered under its shade.

As the party entered its fourth hour the kids abandoned organize sports for a more typical game of battling and domination—and, apparently, courtroom trials? I'm not quite sure. The adults were having civilized conversation elsewhere. There was also some bike riding and rollerblading, and Zion built some of his new legos (most of his presents from his friends were legos, which is good because he didn't get any from his family; only sports equipment). The party started at three, and I think everyone was gone by 7:30, but I'm not sure... it was kind of hazy by that point. A good party!

kids and adults around the table under the tent as Zion waits to blow out his candles

pure delight


weather whiplash

It's been a strange winter, and never stranger than the last few days: from bitter cold to rain to sudden spring. That on top of the icy snow that let us sled and skate on the same field at the same time in not one but two different places! So as you can see I don't mean to complain—we've had tons of fun. And the fun continued today, despite the fact that just as we needed to spend an afternoon outside the mild spring weather of the past two days turned suddenly cold and extremely windy. I wasn't dressed for it! Even in the cold, though, the kids were happy to turn to some activities they haven't done in a while, like wading in the brook and playing baseball. I know that winter still has lots in store for us—and I don't even want it to end yet!—but the sound of running water and the mud under my feet wakened my spring senses enough that I finally put in my seed order. Let's have some more snow and some more delightful thaws and some more wild wind threatening to blow the house down (that's what we've got right now), and then lets have those seeds ready for spring! It's all my favorite.

kids playing baseball on some grass with snow in the foreground

as soon as there's grass

practice makes progress

Despite many moments feeling really busy lately, when I reflect on it we've also had more time to work on some things than we do in our regular life. We're all practicing music. Last week Harvey put in all sorts of work on cycling no-handed, and now can do it quite casually. Zion doesn't want to be left behind, so he's practicing too: he can now turn no-handed, though he's not solid on pedaling. Today Lijah also joined the bike work, though his hands were firmly on the handlebars as he practiced coasting on a bike with no training wheels. We're also doing ball sports. Several days of intensive run-the-bases games improved Harvey and Zion's throwing and catching quite a bit (in that case the competitive aspect led to lots more improvement than many hours of casual catch). The last couple days the lawn was too wet to run on, so we played in the street with the playground ball and practiced basketball passes and dribbling, and volleyball serves and passes (we have a long way to go on volleyball!). It's all very exciting!

birthday report

Zion's party was this past Saturday. For the second year in a row it was a baseball party, per his request and the invitation.

The kids didn't feel like they had to rush into playing baseball. They mostly all knew each other already, and our yard offers plenty of opportunity for free play.

kids climbing on the shed etc

this is how we party in our yard

When they started forming opposing gangs, though, I figured it was time to formalize the violence as sport and we had a pretty fair game: birthday guests vs siblings and parents. We didn't keep score, I don't think, but there were some fine hits and even a little fielding.

Then we had dinner—hot dogs and hamburgers cooked on the fire, plus chips and lemonade (and salad and unsweetened ice tea for the grown-ups). After dinner Zion wanted to go right to presents, so that happened before cake.

Zion opening presents surrounded by friends

present time

The cake of course is the most important part of the party. This year Zion wanted a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Chocolate of course limits the range of decorating possibilities, but I think I did ok.

Zion's chocolate baseball cake

the cake

In the end Zion didn't care for it and limited himself to ice cream, but everyone else seemed to approve. There's none left now, that's for sure!

The day was a fine end to a full birthday week for our middle child. Harvey is now planning his own party, for late June. The fun never stops!


Sunday baseball special

I haven't listened to more than a couple hours of Red Sox baseball so far this season, so it took a (re)tweet from Luke to alert me to the current poor state of the team:

If Rodan swooped from the skies and devoured every #RedSox player on the field right now it wouldn't surprise me. Might even salvage the day[.]

(The sentiments originally belonged to @SurvivingGrady, clearly a long suffering fan still pining for the glory days of Butch Hobson. This is Rodan.)

Clearly things were bad last night, and indeed, checking up on the news I found on the Google News front page an editorial entitled "Enough Is Enough: Boston Red Sox Do Not Deserve Your Support". The piece quotes another blogger as complaining, "are there any teams that have made such an art of hurting their fans [like the Red Sox have]?"

Guess what: that was stupid before the Sox won their first championship, and it's even stupider now. How many other clubs have won two World Series in the last ten years!? To quote Wikipedia, "[s]ince 2003, the Red Sox have been perennial playoff contenders and have won two World Series, emerging as one of the most successful MLB teams of the last decade." The problem isn't that the team is bad, it's that the fans are whiners. No, even worse: it's that the fans have winning—winning all the time—as the only metric for an enjoyable baseball season.

"Who is to blame?" the article asks. To even talk about "blame" is to assume that someone is deliberately sabotaging the team's efforts, or at least acting with complete incompetence, but that's probably not the case; I think everyone in the organization is doing their best to win games but without much luck. We do have to remember that the other teams are trying to win, too. And it's questions of blame and responsibility that lead to things like manager changes, because clearly a manager who's never won a championship is going to do better than one who's won a pair of them, and has a better lifetime win-loss record to boot.

I think maybe the secret is that these folks enjoy being miserable. After talking about the absolutely disgusting extent of last night's collapse, the author moans, "All of this, and they still played 'Sweet Caroline' in the eighth inning. And people sang along." Good heavens. Can you believe that folks—watching a baseball game on a beautiful evening in April, a game which they paid a fair amount of money to attend—had the nerve to enjoy themselves while the home team was losing? How dare they.

Sure, I can understand not wanting to watch a team that never wins. How about the Cleveland Indians and the 30-year slump? But that's not hatred, then, it's just indifference. No one is going to stop supporting the Sox, per the article, because they, I don't know, don't try hard enough or something.

Bottom line: until this team shows that it's serious about righting the ship, you shouldn't give them your money. Whether it's buying tickets or merchandise, or even watching a game on television, this baseball team isn't worth a minute of your time. Right now, it's all about the money. As long as fans keep piling into the ballpark, buying commemorative bricks and singing "Sweet Caroline" in the eighth, everything is still fine in their eyes. Take away the money, and things will change.

Yeah, sure: if people stop coming to games, the players will realize they're supposed to be winning and totally turn the season around!

To turn from this obviously ridiculous rant to a more general observation, life isn't all about winning. I'm as competitive as the next guy (more, probably—you should watch me and Leah at the mini-golf!) but I'm also able to recognize that baseball is the nation's past-time, not it's desperate life-or-death cage-match. Mostly baseball is nice for whiling away summer afternoons and evenings, caught up in the exciting moments and ignoring the boring ones, admiring the skill displayed, and relaxing. Beer may be involved.

So if you're rich or like to stay up late, follow the Red Sox and know that they're probably a fairly good team despite the early-season missteps; and even if they lose 100 games you'll still be watching baseball. Or for variety, check out the Lexington Blue Sox of the Intercity League. Free amateur ball starting at reasonable hours! And if you like the winning, the Blue Sox have won the league title in each of the last five years...


late games

Spring is very much in the air around here, so for the first time in a while the weather was actually tolerable for the Red Sox opener. Weather for that reason or another, I'm feeling the baseball love—a change from the last year or so, when various things conspired to put me firmly in "meh" territory. The last thing Major League Baseball wanted to do to if they were trying keep me as a fan, then, was schedule the first game for after 8:00 on a school night. Sure, I was excited, but I was also in bed by 8:30! (Ignore the timing on this particular blog post: it's an aberration caused by an over-ambitious attempt at cleaning.)

Still, the Sox won in what I am led to believe was exciting fashion, so my enthusiasm is not yet entirely dampened. It is, however, further moistened by a perusal of the season's schedule, kindly forwarded to us by the good people at Suzanne & Company—maybe even by Suzanne herself! I can't help but note that there are only four Saturday day games this year and, of those, only one has a proper 1:00 start. Shameful, I call it!

At least tomorrow's game is at the seven o'clock hour (though even there, MLB or their television allies seem to have moved actual start times back a further five minutes to ten past the hour). So, whether or not I can make it to the end of the game, I'll be there by the radio ready for the first pitch! As long as I don't forget, of course.

[I must also note that I seem to have said all these same things, more concisely and with more humor, five years ago. Oh well. In this postmodern world, we can do no more than to endlessly recreate that which has gone before.]


the end of a (short) era

I am now back to being a humble IA; my reign as the classroom teacher is over after only seven short weeks, with the return of the real teacher from her maternity leave. Less work for me now, yes, but less fun too! It was strange walking out of the building this afternoon right after the kids left. "But... people are still here doing things! What about the faculty meeting?!" I'm sure I'll get used to it in time.

At least leaving early meant that I could catch more of the Red Sox opener, but even that pleasure was denied me thanks to the torrential downpour we had all afternoon. Is April 6th too soon for baseball in New England? All signs point to yes. It is not, however, too soon for seed starting indoors, something which has still not begun yet. And peas outside soon! Better get going!


endless hours of entertainment

I don't know if I'm just getting old or what, but I can't stay up for the baseball games like I used to. Some years ago, I seem to recall, I listened to nearly every game right to the end, but this year last night—the 15th game of the season—was the first night game I stuck with til its conclusion. Why? Post-7:00 start times and three-and-a-half hour games I think have something to do with it. Take today: it's past 9:00 and we're still in the top of the fifth! It's an exciting game, bank-and-forth Sox vs. Yanks, and still my eyelids are drooping.

What should MLB do about this deplorable situation? Make me drink coffee, I suppose. I am afraid I am no longer the target audience for professional sports, or indeed prime-time entertainment in general (including this political debate entertainment that I hear is taking place this evening), nor is anyone who hopes to go to bed at a reasonable hour. And folks have to go to work! Is all of America chronically sleep-deprived? Or at least, all of the East Coast? Clearly one option is to move back to California.

Or the pitchers could just, you know, throw the ball without holding it for a minute and a half between pitches. It does build tension, though!


opening what?

For the first time in many years—at least two—I missed hearing the Red Sox opening day game. I was all set, too, to be a loyal fan of Major League Baseball again, even after all they've put me through; set, that is, until they exported the start of the season to the inscrutable Orient. Actually, I don't mind that they're playing this series over there in Japan. It's a pretty good idea, and would be better only if the games against the Yomiuri Giants and Hanshin Tigers counted for anything beyond exhibition dollars. An international baseball league? Awesome! No, the problem is that I discovered only at noon that the game had, in fact, started at 6:00 in the morning civilized human time. Why didn't anyone tell me! I guess there was a ticking countdown on, but did they expect me to do the math to determine the game time before I went to bed last night?! The countdown sure didn't help me when I was asleep.

At least I have some chance of catching tomorrow's game, or the end of it at any rate. The A's are the opponent: poor Californians had to wake up at three AM to catch the first pitch of their team's season. Or maybe they just stayed up late. Hey: at least it means that, for once, the opening day game wasn't during work hours!