Fatherhood and Little League Baseball

A little over a week ago, I received an email stating that Manchild made his Little League’s All-Star team. It was an exciting moment, and I couldn’t have been more proud of or excited for him. He loves playing baseball, and receiving this honor easily rates as one of his biggest childhood achievements. Amazingly, as great as the honor was in of itself, at the All-Star Game on Saturday he had one of the best days of his season: he went 3-for-3 with a double, two runs scored, & an RBI. Furthermore, he made a great play in the field that I will detail soon.

I too had a role in the game (aside from being a proud, supportive parent): I volunteered to keep score and count pitches for his team and thought little of it. It was an extension of a role I filled all season; ideally, I would’ve have volunteered to help coach his team, but the fact he played in Montgomery County, where his mom lives, meant I would miss at least half his practices. Luckily, my work schedule allowed me to attend all his games, where I frequently volunteered to assist in any way possible. When the All-Star coaches started looking for someone to maintain the team’s scorebook, I readily accepted the role. It meant I couldn’t simply enjoy watching the game and take pictures, but I truly wanted to help if possible.

I did get a few pictures, but IMG_1018I needed to rely on Manchild’s mom to perform the yeoman’s work of getting as many as possible. She didn’t disappoint (nor was there any concern that she would), and a large number of those photos, as well as videos of his at bats, ended up on Facebook. Next time I see her, I plan on providing her with a thumb drive that she can then place all the videos and pictures on it.

As much as I would have enjoyed taking my own pictures, my involvement in the game meant I was closer to the field than most of the other parents, and it allowed me to interact with Manchild at various times during the game. This most notably occurred while he was catching. He doesn’t particularly enjoy it, but he’s a consummate team player and will play any position the coaches tell him to field. During his first inning of work while behind the plate, there were a couple pop-ups that he couldn’t locate quickly enough to make a play on. On both of them, I very good-naturedly gave him guff, telling him, “Carlos Ruiz would have made that play.”

He persevered, and I received my comeuppance on his last play at that position. The bases were loaded with one out when the batter hit a routine grounder to second that resulted in an out at first. The runner on third scored, and then the runner originally on second attempted to score as well. Manchild took part in well-executed rundown and while running the runner back to the third, he noticed the runner who was originally on first scampering back to second from third. He made a perfect throw to second, and the fielder covering the base was able to apply the tag for the inning’s third out. As he returned from the field, Manchild emphatically pointed to second base and exclaimed to me, “And, Carlos Ruiz would’ve done that!” Once again, I swelled with pride, while simultaneously guffawing.

After the game, his mother and I took the time to speak with the coach of his regular team to thank him for all his hard work this season. Then, to my surprise, he thanked me for everything I did during the season, and pointedly stated that my volunteering to keep score during the All-Star Game was an example of the type of things most parents don’t do. Although not officially a coach for the team, my contributions were just as valuable, and he wished there were more parents like me. It always amazes me to hear things like that. Yes, I know that many parents are happy to simply show up and watch the game — those that actually do stay and watch, rather than just drop off and pick up — but I just cannot fathom how a parent wouldn’t volunteer if there was something they could do to help.

Anyway, Manchild has two more remaining games this spring before the season ends. No matter how he performs in them, I will view his All-Star game as the fitting end to his season. I’m looking forward to see how he’ll handle himself when he moves up to the next age division during the fall season, and I’ll continue to help his team in whatever capacity I can.

Irresponsibility

Let’s be honest with ourselves; being irresponsible on a work night when you’re 21 and being irresponsible on a work night when you’re 45 are two very different things. At 21, you typically don’t have a mortgage, career, and car payments, nor are you saving for retirement and/or college for your child(ren). Your body is in its prime, and you can stay up to the wee hours of the morning, having far too many drinks and eating copious amounts of tasty, salty, fried food. After a few hours sleep, a decent breakfast, and a nice, steamy shower, you’re usually good to go.

That just doesn’t play when you’re 45, and you’ve already learned it the hard way.

I bring this up as a prelude to the following thoughts, statements, and chain of events that began around 10:30 last night – when Sally and I were in the middle of a second drink in an hour, while rewatching the sixth season of Game of Thrones:

  • “I want to be irresponsible and have another drink. Damn it, I think I will! I’ll just skip the gym in the morning.”
  • Resignedly uttered the word, “fuck,” pulled myself back together, and then happily went to the kitchen, drank a tall glass of water, and then got a third alcoholic beverage for each of us.
  • Split a bag of chips (the lower fat variety, of course) while consuming drinks and finishing episode of Game of Thrones.
  • Grumble to myself, “I’m going to need to somehow make up for not going to the gym in the morning. Maybe I’ll just walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes during my lunch break tomorrow.”
  • Consumed another tall glass of water while considering a fourth drink — a process interrupted by a glance at the the candy jar containing various “Fun Size” candy bars. Said to myself, sotto voce, “That size is anything but fun, even when you aren’t fretting about eating too much.”
  • Caved and grabbed the fourth drink, with full knowledge there would be a mild hangover. The fact it would be a mild one, at worst, did nothing to stop me from thinking I was truly being irresponsible. Inner 21-year-old mocks me.
  • Rejoined Sally in the living room, and watched portions of a couple Golden Girls reruns. That’s when I had the uttered the sentence that started this post. Posted that thought to Facebook, and looked at the clock, which now read 11:45.
  • “I hope I don’t pay too much for this in the morning” went through my head as I had yet another full glass of water. We cleaned up our slight mess, went about our bedtime routines, and turned off the light at approximately 12:15.

And that is how my being irresponsible on a work night at the age of 45 usually plays out these days. As much as my 21-year-old self would’ve mocked “irresponsible” 45-year-old me, there’s one element he would’ve been jealous over: last night I spent the entire evening with an amazing woman whom I had a great time with and then shared a bed with her.

I’ll take 45-year-old irresponsible over 21-year-old irresponsible every single time.

On Good, Evil, and Victim-Blaming

The Psychology of Victim-Blaming” in The Atlantic is a few months old, but I had more than a few different thoughts and reactions, not limited to the original scope of the article:

Essentially good and just people are capable of, and have more often than not, committed horrible acts, words, and deeds against other human beings. Furthermore, they will conjure an array rationalizations that will allow them to downplay or ignore the pain, indignities, and suffering they have caused. However, that’s not always the case; I’m certain that everyone harbors a couple shameful memories of horrible things they’ve done that they refuse to reveal to discuss with anyone…

The absolute worst thing you can tell anyone who is suffering through a trying period is that everything will work out for the better in the end. This is often expressed in some form of “everything happens for a reason.” It’s the worst type of sympathy you can show someone, because it’s not sympathetic or empathetic at all, and the person saying it thinks they are expressing some kind of kind condolence. Essentially good people often spew this kind of crap – I’ve experienced it first hand…

The world is not a just place. You can do everything right, and still come out on the losing end of things. Horrible people will get away with and profit from their actions against others, and frequently they will suffer no ill consequences or be punished for them. Hell, sometimes they’ll succeed so wildly that no one will ever discover what they did. I know a lot of people find comfort in the idea that these people will face some form of divine or karmic retribution, but I’ve learned enough about religion to know that there’s no guarantee of that either…

Finally, while I appreciate religion’s many positive benefits, it’s very possible that this is an area where religion hurts more than it helps. It enables the human weakness, one exhibited by both the religious and non-religious, of wanting “someone else” to properly engage with and assist another person who has been victimized. It’s a far easier path to tread.