Days 2017

Days 2017

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Jackie's First Attempt at Sportswriting.

Growing up with two athletic brothers and a dad who loved sports, you'd think some of the joy might have rubbed off on me at some point.  It didn't.  I snuck books into their basketball games.  (Particularly the J. V. games.  BORING.)  All those state championships didn't really change my mind, although going to tournaments was fun, I suppose, but I probably spent most of my time there eating candy and checking out the guys on the opposing side.

Then I married a man who is ambidextrous, extremely coordinated and good at every sport he ever tried, who also likes to watch sports.  Lucky for me he's not a viewing fanatic and we've kept most TV viewing of sports to SportsCenter,  the BYU football season (which I do sort of enjoy, mostly only if I get to go to the game--with friends--and listen to the big band--and do lots of yelling--which I also enjoy) and the occasional checking-of-the-score.  Maybe if the Jazz had done better over the last 15 years we've been married this would have been a bigger part of his life?  Or if there were a local pro-baseball team?  Anyway, I consider myself lucky not having to share my marriage with such an all-consuming hobby.  I plain do not like watching sports.  Also can't stand the drone of the crowd and the announcers being piped into my house over the air--totally sets my teeth on edge.  And am guilty of sometimes vocally comparing watching sports to watching paint dry.  (So, if any of Mark's friends are reading this, and you have two free tickets to something, invite Mark and one Other friend.  I will happily decline.)
Mark taking it easy with the kids and my new coffee table garage sale find.  Probably checking a score on his laptop.

But, as they say, motherhood will change your life.

"Welcome to the new age, to the new age...."

I knew this was coming and that it would probably be a Big Deal since Mark pitched in high school, but I had no idea I'd like it so much.  (We skipped last year because of Luke's and Cooper's surgeries.)  Boss and Coop started baseball at the end of May and I haven't missed a game.  Maybe it helps that I bring my best friend and do lots of yelling, er, cheering.  (Do kinda miss the band.)  Cooper's last game was today and I am seriously sad his season is done.  Boston only has one game a week so his season is a few weeks longer.
Boston and Cooper on Game Day
Will they be teammates someday?  Boston insists on wearing shorts "because it's too hot" and Cooper likes to wear holey pants "so it doesn't matter if I slide".  Guess next year we need to pick up some baseball pants.

Besides the fact that watching second graders and third graders play baseball is super cute and hilarious, it has been fascinating to compare and contrast my two magnificent sons and their very distinct personalities as they try their hand at the Greatest Game on Earth.  (It has also probably been a good thing that they are in different leagues.)

Boston plays Machine-Pitch for the Orioles.  He wears a bright orange shirt and a black cap.  I'm loving the bright colors because then we can find his team mingling in the huge local sports park clear from the van.  He plays on a real field with the red dirt, dugout, and bleachers.  They don't post score but they do count outs, etc.  He also has a teammate from our ward, so it has been fun for Mark to share a running commentary with his buddy Jimmy, who he also associates with professionally, anyway.  I just yell.  I wish there wasn't a fence and a dugout--it feels so separated and far away.  Also, with such a big diamond and so many strike outs and inning changes, his games are quite a bit slower than Cooper's league's.  (Just today he told me that he was yelling in the outfield, "Let's get some action out here!")  So, even by the end of the season he probably won't have had nearly as much active playing time as Cooper got.  Too bad.  But, you have to transition sometime.

Boston is Mr. Big Stuff and likes to be the catcher.  I think he mostly likes getting to wear the gear--maybe a status thing?  It might also be an action thing since the games are kind of slow.  At least the catcher always has something to do.  Today he played 2nd base and also liked that--seemed very alert.  He also likes hitting and trying to get home runs.  Home runs are actually pretty common because everyone is still trying to figure the whole fielding thing
Boston as catcher.  I find the basketball shorts in the catcher's gear amusing.
out--you don't have to hit it over the fence.  There is also not much help at this point from base coaches, so being on base is kind of confusing, too.  My favorite play of the year thus far was so very true to the Essence of All that is Boston.  He was up to bat with a runner on base and hit a pretty good one.  He ran to first and stopped.  The ball was still elusive, so he looked around, then darted to second.  The kid on second figured it out...when Boston was almost to second.  The poor kid ran, kind of reluctantly.  Boston stopped on base.  Looked around.  Made a decision.  Ran again.  His predecessor (do sports writers ever use words like, "predecessor?") was firmly parked on third.  The ball was getting closer and the basemen were starting to catch on and wave to whoever finally had the ball close enough to throw.  Lots of yelling, by the crowd, the coaches, both teams, and pretty sure Boston, who was making pushing motions, trying to convince the kid to get off his base and run home.  (Because Boston is Always In CHARGE!)  He stopped on third, looked around for a few seconds, and decided home was looking pretty good.  He could have easily been out but I'm sure several people dropped the ball on the way, and of course he was safe.  It was a great play, mostly made hilarious by the delay of stopping at each base and then deciding to run just when the timid kid in front of him thought he could take a load off. 

I think it's funny that I caught a shot of him telling someone what to do.

After a great hit.

Boston warming up to hit.

Boston in the dugout.
I caught this fun play on camera today.  Boston hit a good one (I don't think the ball shows on the film) but the first baseman got it right away.  Behind the camera, I thought he was running back to home because it was a foul, actually, it was fair and he just didn't want to get he thought he'd be "safe" back on home, hahaha.   I'm looking forward to the rest of his season.

Cooper, Coach Pitch Season
At one point this year I overheard him tell one of his friends that Gary Cooper was the greatest baseball player.  Grin.  I don't think he's even seen any of his movies, not even the baseball one.
Cooper plays for the generic yellow team, named Golden Ninjas.  He seems to have gotten a lot more actual playing time than Boston (therefore, I have more to say...) because in Coach Pitch, all the kids have an at-bat every inning, so there is less transition time and more running around for both sides.  (It helps that most of his team hits pretty well.)  Cooper's games are played on the lawn fields, which I like much better because then he comes and talks to us after his plays and I can stretch out on blankets, etc., and chat it up with the other mamas. 
Leslie and Luke as spectators.
PS. It has also been a huge help that Leslie has stayed home with Luke for most of the games, so not only have they been fun to watch, they've been a break from my toddler.  The times we've tried to bring him to Cooper's games he screams because we won't let him have the bats to play with, and he just wants to toodle around, usually right into the line of play, so we have to take turns walking him up and down the sidewalk.  We've only attempted to bring him to one of Boston's games and he screamed for about half of it.  I held him in front of the chain link fence the other half.  Toddlers and bleachers do not mix.

Cooper truly loves sports and is very focused.  Boston also loves sports but Boston likes the whole thing--the team, the event, the playing time, the competitiveness.  Cooper probably wouldn't care if it were in the middle of the night and he was the only one there as long as his body got to make contact with the ball. I guess I could say that he loves athleticism.   And what an athlete he is.  Sheer poetry, my friends.  At least I don't think I cried when at his first hit the way I did when he finally made his first basket (the basket was hard fought, the hit was easy).  Maybe because I just know there are going to be many, many where that came from.  And yes, he likes hitting and home runs (had a GREAT one today) but he LOVES the chase, and it's his fielding skills that are so fun to watch.  I asked him after the last game, "Cooper, what do you like best, hitting home runs or getting people out?"  I know Boston would say hitting.  Cooper didn't have to think long, with a big smile he declared, "Getting people out!"  If I would have known how many outs he would have, I would have kept track.  Seriously.  Tons and tons.  (It helps that the outs don't actually count, so then you get a ton every inning if you want.  Probably even the same kid the same inning, on different bases.)  He loves playing short stop and probably gets the ball two out of three times.
Cooper's focused face often involves a Michael Jordan tongue.  His coach is behind him, straight off work.

Cooper waiting with his team to hit.
Cooper goes for the ball.

He is quite the strategist (as has been pointed out to me by other amused parents) and seems to calculate whether or not the baseman is paying attention/willing and able to catch the ball, before he will actually throw it to them--his favorite and most efficient move is to just tag the runner.  Kind of a ball hog that way I suppose but he tries not to be--so obedient to the coach--who before the third game had mentioned that he wanted the kids to try to throw the ball to the basemen.  I wish I had it on camera.  The kid on the team that seems to struggle the most was on second base, and Cooper, as shortstop, had the ball.  The runner was getting closer and I saw Cooper stop in his tracks, almost grimace to himself, call out the daydreaming baseman's name...and then proceeded to drop the ball and ROLL the ball all four feet to the base.  Of course the baseman didn't pick it up and the runner was safe.  I'm sure everyone was thinking, what the heck is that kid doing?  As his mama, I am sure he wasn't trying to be silly or mean, he was just mentally filing that poor kid into the same athletic category as his baby brother and acted accordingly.  Another mama has told me multiple times that she loves to watch Cooper play because his face is so focused on every single play--ready to react to where the ball is going to go.  Although, in all modesty, those comments usually came when her son was lying down in the grass at right field. (Today the same kid told his mom he likes being the catcher so he can take a break.)  Like I said. So. Fun. 
Cooper got his participation medal today.  I don't think the medal meant as much as the coach's pronouncement.  He gave it to him and declared, "To Cooper--the best hustler on the entire team---BY FAR!!!"

It has also been hilarious (and perhaps a bit embarrassing) to watch Cooper's athleticism at war with his Jim Carrey side.  Some of the faces he makes!  Most of the time he is pretty good, but I've had to get after him for throwing the ball back to the pitcher when he was the catcher--while standing backwards and through his legs--mostly because he was bored and to wanted show off. Or for when his shenanigans are delaying the game.  Is grandstander the word I'm looking for here?  Lucky for him, sliding into base whenever humanly possible is okay by everyone.  Helps that they play on grass, in that department.  (I guess I should have expected that...remember his slide into "home" last year at the O.R. for the anesthesiologist when he was supposed to be totally sterilized in his hospital gown?)

Cooper is also totally going to miss Coach Pitch because his favorite part of every inning is the last hit where every kid on base gets to run home whether they are out or not, and so he just gets the ball and tags every one while they have to run past him.  There is a lot of running around--not on the line--to avoid Cooper and the ball and his triple plays.  Pretty funny.  I also consider our entire family EXTREMELY fortunate that he does not seem to have a super-competitive streak.  There have been no tears, (well, maybe from a few of the kids he tagged...) no temper, no arguments, encouragement for his teammates.  He just has a great time and I hope he'll be like his Dad that way, especially when they start keeping score.  Boston has also done really great in that regard, although he does seem to be more interested in what the score might be and who might have won.  Both boys have seemed happy to watch each others' games when they aren't practicing with their own teams.

Cooper's favorite spot to watch Boston's game.  He likes to park my camp chair right behind Boston's dugout.

At this point I would describe Boston as powerful, decisive, competitive. Cooper as focused, fast, strategic.

Did I mention that I truly have loved going to these games?  Where else would Cooper be told to "rock-paper-scissor it" for the tie on third base--and then actually do it?  Where else would I sit down long enough to feel the sun on my back and the wind on my hair and smell the, well, scratch that last bit, the park is downwind from a mink farm.  Where else would I hear lines from Cooper's cute teammates like, "MOM!  I CAUGHT THE BALL!!!" as the excited baseman waved his mitt at his mom (he'd caught it from his own fielder)--while the runners rounded all the bases.  Or how 'bout my favorite at the last game (same loud kid), "Are YOU all RIGHT, GRANPAAAAW??" to the old man and camera that got nearly beaned.  Or watching Boston's startled face when he got tagged for not standing on second base.  (Mark laughed and said, "he'll only do that once.")

Did I mention that I am also taking after my Grandma LaVonne in my metamorphosis to SuperFan?
I got yelled at (well, not exactly yelled at.  Sharply chastised is probably more accurate) by the opposing team's coach.  Grandma'd be so proud.  She was probably right there next to me, come to think of it.  I was only exuberantly cheering (it was only Cooper's second game for Pete's sake) when he had a really good "tag".  The problem was, I was yelling something about him having a great "out".  Apparently "outs" are a no-no.  The lady coach marched over to me, "Actually, he's not out.  It only confuses the kids, so THERE ARE NO OUTS.  They need to learn to field the ball!"  (This same coach was making the kids throw the ball to first even if the runner was already on third, so all the parents were bugged at her and she was pretty frazzled.)

Good thing we only play each team once I guess.  I have a steep learning curve ahead of me and  I wouldn't want a "Yeerrrr outtta there!" or whatever they call technicals in baseball, when I'm only on 2nd and 3rd grade! 

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