It’s a beautiful Saturday morning on the deck. The birds are singing, there is a gentle breeze rustling through the trees, and the sun is shining brightly. AND, I’ve decided to stay home and not fly to Seattle.
I love baseball. I played baseball as a kid, but I didn’t have much talent for baseball or any other sport, but I still played and dreamed. I stopped playing when I was 15, the summer of ’77, but I never lost the love for the game. As a kid, the season began with tryouts in March and games twice a week or maybe, three times a week through early June. It’s a long season for a kid but short in comparison to the season the professionals who play 162 regular season games and maybe get three days off in a month.
My son, W, played before switching to lacrosse, and my daughter played one year of T-ball (baseball without pitching) with boys before she made the transition to softball.
I’ve rooted for several teams over the years, but my home team is the Astros, the Houston Astros. When I was a kid, the Astros weren’t very good they lost more than they won, but when I was a high school they seemed to turn things around and won the division in 1980 with a one game playoff win against the LA Dodgers and they won the division six years later in 1986. Both times they played well in the LCS (League Championship Series) but not well enough to make to the World Series. They wouldn’t make it to the World Series until 2005 and I was living in Chicagoland. They played the Chicago White Sox and lost in four close games. I’ve always been an Astros baseball fan.
I am grateful for late mother-in-law who helped me regain my love for the game. We were Up North in July 2013 and she wanted to listen to her team, the Reds, the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds don’t broadcast Up North, that’s Detroit Tiger country so I ended up resorting to technology and got a subscription to the MLB app and unlimited audio streaming. The first game we listened to was a no-hitter. The following summer, in 2014, I upgraded to the video version of the app and we were able to watch a couple of games when she made her last visit Up North. She passed away in November 2015 and one of my lasting memories with her was talking with her about baseball and football, but especially about her Reds.
Every year since I’ve renewed my subscription for the MLB app and I always think of her when watch the Reds, I root for the Reds when they aren’t playing the Astros and it helps they are in separate leagues.
This spring I made an impulsive purchase and purchased two monthly passes to see all of April’s games for the Chicago White Sox. I don’t follow the Sox, but they are in the American League and the Astros will play them later in the year, and I prefer the Sox to the Cubs – any day of the week. Of the 11 games, I had a pass to see, I was able to make it to two games – one with my son and another with a friend. It was time well spent.
At the end of April, I went to visit my mom and my brothers, but mostly my mom. The Astros were at home and I coaxed my brother to take in a game with me before I left. We were able to see the first four innings before I had to leave and drive to the airport, but it was worth it. We had a good time. The Astros lost the game to the Oakland A’s 2-1.
I love my kids.
We have two: a boy, really a young man, and girl. They are W and O, respectively. Both are determined and focused, when it’s their time. Both play sports and both are good students, but more importantly good, solid people.
It’s summer and school’s out – for both me, and the kids. It’s also softball playoff season. O plays softball and has talent, pure raw talent. I’ve watched her grow as an athlete, and as a softball player. This year, she has really developed as a hitter and fielder, as well as positive leader on the field and in the dugout.
I was young, very young when Cassius Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali. And, I remember kids calling me Cassius, but I didn’t understand until later that it should have been taken as a compliment, even if that wasn’t the intent. Kids.
I began using the quote, “Don’t count the days, make the days count” long before I began blogging and even longer before I knew it is attributed to Muhammad Ali. It is likely that Ali is not the origin of the saying either, but Muhammad Ali is the one gets the credit. It doesn’t matter who, or when, or how, he was the Greatest.
I can imagine how he said it, though. It was days before a big fight, could’ve been Frazier, or Foreman, or a lesser known fighter and Ali was asked by a reporter if he was ready for the fight with only days away. His response was classic Ali,
“Only a fool counts days. I am the Greatest, I don’t count the days, I make the days count. And when I step into the ring the only countin’ that’s gonna be goin’ on is the referee counting to ten when I knock that sucker on his back. I am the Greatest.” Muhammad Ali
That’s how I’d like to believe that Muhammad Ali said that he made the days count. Continue reading The Greatest
Saturday was a beautiful sunny day, cold, but it is February, after all. This morning was gray and cloudy and for February, relatively warm – 37 degrees F or 3 degrees C. Warm for February. But, it’s all relative. I didn’t get to spend much time outside yesterday. I spent the day catching up on grading – grading Civil War tests – timelines and essays. And it’s not likely I’ll get much time today, either.
I had promised time to B, my wife, but grading the tests took longer than I expected. I went to school to grade – the tests needed to be scanned and the only scanner I can use is at school. I was sort of married to school. The school was open Saturday, the local youth athletic league had rented the gym for the basketball season and yesterday was picture day.
I donned my lanyard with my school ID and keys and ambled in. I found the library open – a bonus of sorts. The library is being transformed to a modern library use – space to sit and read, use laptops, and other devices and maintenance workers were in on the weekend finishing work on a charging station and a printing station they had started the day before. The library still has books, but times are changing and our school will be issuing all students a Google Chrome laptop for use next fall and the librarian is trying to get ahead of the curve. We, meaning teachers, are, too. Continue reading Time – Weekly Photo Challenge
It Sunday morning. It’s a typical Midwestern January morning – cold and overcast. Yesterday was the same and tomorrow will likely be the same. It’s all right, cold and overcast January days are the rent we pay for the rest of the year.
Jonas bypassed us. We’ve had storms come through and shut us down, but nothing as severe as Jonas. Since, I’ve been blogging we’ve had several snow days, one in January 2011 that brought 21 inches of snow and shut schools for two days. We’ve had bitter cold and severe wind chills and we’ve had torrential rains that closed our schools, too. In all that time, we stayed inside and waited. When it was over, we went outside shoveled snow and cleared our drive and our neighbor’s, too. It’s the rent we pay.
Saturday was a bittersweet day, it was sunny in the morning, then overcast, then the clouds disappeared in the evening to reveal a full moon.
It was bittersweet for more than the weather; it was W’s last wrestling match. W is my son, my favorite son, and he turns 18 Wednesday.
W was born late in the evening Tuesday, January 27, so late it was close to January 28. Like all parents, especially dads, I remember the moment I held him for the first time, I remember the moment well. I can close my eyes and picture myself holding him and feel the tears well in my eyes and roll down my cheeks. They still do, the tears that is. I remember his first of many things, I remember his first day of pre-school – 9/11. I remember his first wrestling match, a loss in less than 15 seconds and I remember his first win – in overtime. He was our first, and only, for almost five years, then O came along and I had another favorite – a favorite daughter. Continue reading Bittersweet Sunday
Last Saturday, I was at the French Market. It was a beautiful morning, the skies were clear and there was a chill in the air – it’s fall and the temperatures are slowly dropping. The week before had been chilly, too. I was waiting for B, my wife, to meet me and I wandered upon a vendor’s stall – a bookseller, even better a used bookseller. I skimmed the shelves looking for titles I knew, I recognized several from my youth and young adulthood, but my eyes stumbled across I am Third by Gale Sayers and my eyes locked. I picked it from the shelf, leafed through the pages, and read the side notes and endnotes. I remembered reading it when I was a freshman or sophomore in high school though I forget which year, at the time, I believed I had a future as an athlete – a football player.
The book was the basis for the television movie, Brian’s Song. I remember watching it with my dad and I remember crying at the end, I still cry when I think of it.
I read the book several years after the movie appeared on television. The book is better, much better, the book usually is.
verb ad·mire \əd-ˈmī(-ə)r\
: to feel respect or approval for (someone or something)
: to look at (something or someone) with enjoyment
Origin of ADMIRE
Middle French admirer, to marvel at, from Latin admirari, from ad- + mirari to wonder, from mirus astonishing from Merriam-Webster Dictionary @ http://m-w.com
Our family reached a milestone this past Friday, actually two.
Friday was O’s birthday. She turned 13 at 8:35 AM, but we began celebrating when she woke Friday morning.
Friday was also W’s last high school football game. It was Senior Night. He suited up and was introduced with all of the other seniors running on to the field through the tunnel after being the last senior introduced. Being last sometimes is one of the perks of having a ‘W’ for a last name. He didn’t play a single down, nor did four other seniors, which is disappointing, but in retrospect, W has made his mark in the football program in other ways.
It’s been a full day. I’ve been pushing my kids at school in history and science. In history, we’re covering the period immediately before the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution. In my science class, I tossed six pop cans in a bin of water and asked students to explain why some float and some sink. They’re vexed. I stayed late to work on grading and arrived home long enough to take the trash out before heading off to a scout meeting.
This past weekend heavy thunderstorms rolled through the area Friday afternoon. Friday night is football night, at least for the next five weeks. The rain wasn’t enough to stop W’s football game, but the lightning was and it pushed W’s game from Friday night to Saturday night.
W’s football team was playing a school from my school district and I knew, or had taught, several of the players, when they were in middle school.
I signed up to work the chain gang – the group of men who work the yard markers during the game. I worked the ‘chain gang’ the first home football game of the season – the game we won and it was fun. It’s an interesting perspective being on the sideline during a football game, especially on the visiting team’s side.
There are four of us on the chain gang. One person manages the down marker that also doubles as the line of scrimmage marker – from where the ball snapped and put into play. Two others manage the ‘chain’ two markers linked with a ten-yard chain – the distance needed for a first down. Then, there was me, I ran the clip, or the marker, that would be used if the game officials needed to measure for a first down. My job was to move the clip every time the chain was moved for a first down or change of possession. And, of course watch the game without with rooting for the Tigers. Continue reading Tuesday’s Tune: “Back on the Chain Gang”
The 2015 high school football season started this weekend. It’s W’s last season of high school football and perhaps ever as a player. Friday night the Wheaton Warrenville South Tigers began the season against their cross-town rival, Wheaton North. I watched from the North sidelines as part of the chain gang. I kept my mouth shut and my enthusiasm to myself. I kept my eye on the field and moved with the ball.
It was a good game and the Tigers came out on top, barely.
The game was scoreless at the half. 0-0.
The third quarter began and The Falcons quickly scored a touchdown to lead by seven. The Tigers answered with a touchdown of their own and the game was tied at seven all. It stayed tied until the end. Then, the game moved to overtime.
Overtime rules are different. Each team gets the ball on the ten yard line and gets four downs (plays\tries) to score. The team that scores the most points wins. Simple.
Both teams failed to score in the first overtime and the teams switched ends and started over. In the second overtime, the Tigers failed to score on three downs, then, kicked a field goal to lead for the first time in the game. Then it was the Falcons turn. They ran three plays and failed to score, then lined up for a field goal, too. Continue reading Failure is expected….
We live in a small world. 70 percent of Earth is water, the rest is land.
It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.
— Neil Armstrong Apollo 11 astronaut and first man to walk on the moon.
I grew up in Houston in the late 60s and early 70s. I remember the night Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon, but I was more interested in football, and other sports, than I was in space.
My parents moved to Sugar Land, a small growing suburb of Houston, in 1967. We moved in in early August and my mom still lives there. The same year, the Regners moved in next door. Tom Regner and his wife, Shirley, moved in next door. He was 21 and less than a year out of college with a baby on the way. I was six years old and my world was small, very small, little did I know how truly small the world was.
Mr. Regner played football for the Houston Oilers. He was drafted in the first round, the 23rd overall pick in the 1967 NFL draft. His NFL career lasted until 1972 when he was traded to the Baltimore Colts and he retired. He came out of retirement in 1974 to play for the Houston Texans of the World Football League. After the season, he retired for good and opened Venetian Village, an Italian restaurant.
Mr. Regner always seemed larger than life; Continue reading Six degrees: Friday’s Flashback