My goal is to add perspective to subjects other than the regular headlines.
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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Coach in the Stands

I'm usually at a baseball every single day, whether its a Cubs game, Sox game, the collegiate summer team I keep score and stats for, one of my little cousins games, or a friends game (collegiate, summer, and minor league). Either way, I am completely surrounded by every level of the game, and my favorite part is going from a 12 year old league tournament to a collegiate game then to come home and sit back and watch the Cubs. I find each level of the game to be fascinating, especially when the 12 year olds try to emulate the pro's. My little cousin once did the Soriano hop while catching a pop up at second base. Never would I condone that showboating like behavior, but it was interesting to see how much these kids do absorb from what they see the Major Leaguers do. Of course, he's never done it since- it didn't go over too well with his dad, the coach. I'm fortunate to have family members who know the limits to the game though. They push their kids the fair amount in order to succeed in the sport, and to learn life lessons. They keep their kids active and entertained while not devaluing their involvement in the game with their own hopes of what could of been.

The only part of these games I hate are when the parents take it too seriously. I've been to games where the kids have cried, where they look downright miserable because their parents are the ones in the stands trying to be the 4th coach and scolding them for striking out, or making an error. I've also been to games where the kids looks at their parents in the stands more than they do down the third base line to see the signs from their real coach. It starts young, in t-ball, and it only gets worse as the kid gets older. These parents need to relax and stop punishing their kids who are trying. If there's one thing I have learned about baseball is that it is a game of failure. Success is measured in numbers, and a great hitter still fails 7 out of 10 times. Parents need to remember that games are suppose to be fun, especially at the younger levels. Sometimes the parents get so caught up that it ruins the experience for the kid. It's really sad that I have seen this, not just once but dozens upon dozens of times. There was one parent who would even ground their kid if he made an error at short. He was 15 years old...

Rick Reilly is a write that I look up to. He writes beyond the game and into the souls of the people who play the game. He wrote an article that characterized the type of parents I am talking about, and he did it in such a humorous way that I have to share it with you guys. The following is an excerpt from his book, Hate Mail from Cheerleaders, and shows how ridiculous these parents are.
Parental Discretion Advised
April 2, 2001

Two fathers stand watching their kids. "Well, the wife and I have finally come to a decision," says the one with the Reebok headband. "Yeah?" says the one in the Nike cap. "Amber's gonna concentrate 100 percent on tennis from now on. Her coach says she's gotta pick one sport right now, or she'll get left behind the other girls."
"She looks like she's got good quickness," says the cap.
"Her kinesiologist says she's quicker than Venus at this age," says the headband, beaming.
"We've decided the same thing about Ike and golf," says the cap. "If he's going to stay ahead of the other kids, he's got to specialize now."
"His hand-eye looks good," says the headband.
"His physiologist says his muscle fibers twitch faster than Tiger's!"
"Golf's fine, I guess," says the headband, "but our financial planner says for girls, tennis it is. With Venus and Serena pushing the global marketing envelope, our yearly income should be seven figures!"
"You mean her income."
"Right. Her income."
"Ike's psychologist has told us he's gifted in lots of other sports besides golf, but there's no time," says the cap. "You don't want to be spinning your wheels."
"Course not!" says the headband. "You don't want to be shut outta the best camps-"
"And the best leagues-"
"And the national teams."
"I mean, yeah," says the cap, "it looks like my wife will have to quit her job just to drive Ike to all his golf tournaments, but there's no Tiger without Earl, right?"
"Tell me about it!" says the headband. "I'm working three jobs just to pay for all this stuff- Amber's pilates are killin' me! -but it's all about the kids, man."
"I hear that. Like, Ike's media tutor won't be cheap, but it'll free up his afternoons for his bunker workshops."
"Hey, you're gonna have expenses," says the headband. "We ripped out the bedrooms upstairs and put an indoor tennis cage, but whaddya gonna do? The little girl across the street has a live-in volleying partner!"
"God! That's just plain overparenting!"
"The wife and I feel that if we put in the hours and the money now, Ike will be good enough to go straight to the PGA Tour out of high school and not waste time going to college. Not that college is a bad thing."
"Nah, not really bad," says the headband. "But Amber's career strategist thinks she can do Wimbledon by 14. That's what's important. Did you see the MLS kid whose parents let him miss a game the other day because of his prom?"
"Sounds like somebody's got their priorities mixed up," says the cap. "I mean, I'm sure Ike will be a little disappointed he'll have to leave home and move in with the Leadbetters soon, but some decisions a father has to make for his son."
"I know, I know," says the headband. "I'm a little bummed that Amber won't get to play lacrosse or basketball or, even, I don't know, piano, but how can she do that and put in the 13 hours a day that will get us to the level we need?"
"She needs."
"She needs, right."
"Hey, I only wish my dad had done this for me," says the cap.
"Hell, yeah!" says the headband. "I know this dad who's renting a house on a lake this summer. Says he and the family are just gonna fish and skip stones!"
"What a waste of time!"
"I mean, what are you gonna do with your kid for two weeks on a lake? I wouldn't know what to say to Amber for two weeks!"
"Most summers from now on, Ike will be playing the mini Asian tours, to build up his tolerance for travel and foreign foods. He'll need it when he gets his Gulfstream IV,"
There's a pause.
"Which one's yours, anyway?" says the cap.
"The little one in the pink diaper near the incubator," says the headband.
"Beautiful. Mine's in blue. With the nurse and the bottle."
"Got creatine?"
"Hey, it's never too early to start, am I right?"


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Gordon Wittenmyer's thoughts today

I normally hate everything written by Chicago Sun Times writer, Gordon Wittenmyer. His pessimistic and general intolerance for the Cubs is apparent in almost all his articles concerning the team. But, in today's Sun Times, Wittenmyer writes a rather good article recapping the events that unfolded at The Cell yesterday, when Lou Piniella sent the struggling outfielder, Milton Bradley home after his infant like tantrum in the dugout. For now, I will leave you with the link to the article, as I am in the car driving down to Illinois Wesleyan College for a game. I'll be spending the day on my phone getting reactions from people in the Cubs organization and fans that I see today. CLICK HERE to read the article.

Enjoy the sun today Chicago!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Joliet Catholic Baseball

Joliet Catholic 4, Grayslake Central 1

The semifinals game yesterday was phenomenal and my cousin, Kendall Paluch, pitched an incredible game! It was a complete team effort as the Hillmen defeated the Rams to advance to the State Finals. Joliet came came ready to play as they scored two runs in the top of the first. Shortstop Dave Cladis started it off by drawing a walk, then Nick Ratajczak (second baseman) followed it up with a double putting runners at 2nd and 3rd with no outs. Andrew Cecchi, the 3 hitter, laid down a perfect squeeze bunt to score Cladis and advance Ratajczak to third. The pitcher then balked scoring Ratajczak and just like that, the Hillmen had a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Joliet added another run in the top of the second off a solo home run down the right field line by senior outfielder, Steve Cservenyak, his 12th of the season. Paluch shut down the Ram's offense through 4 + innings, until finally yielding the Ram's only run of the day in the 5th. Joliet responded in the top of the 7th by adding on an insurance run to make the score 4-1. Paluch had a stellar outing pitching a complete game, allowing only 1 run on 5 hits while striking out 7 and walking 3. And his defense was there to back him up, turning 4 double plays. Must be true what they say- pitching and defense does wins championships.

But, the offense must be credited too. Let's go back to that first inning when the third hitter in the lineup laid down a squeeze bunt to score the games first run. That's one reason why high school ball is so great. The lineup is pretty much balanced throughout, and even though the best hitters still sit in the 3-5 holes, they aren't above small ball. It was all about manufacturing runs and doing whatever possible to give their starter a cushion. Joliet did everything right yesterday. They put down solid bunts in the right situations, advanced runners on base, and even stole when the opportunity presented itself. The team had it all, small ball, and even power with the home run from Cservenyak. Congrats Hillmen!

(Paluch being mobbed by teammates after he recorded the last out to win the game)

(The Hilltopper fans came out to support their team)

(* Pictures provided by the Sun Times)

Friday, June 12, 2009

3A Highschool Semi-Finals Today!

Come out to Silver Cross Field in Joliet, IL TODAY to see Joliet Catholic (30-5) take on Grayslake Central (25-14) for the class 3A semi-finals. My cousin will be the starting pitcher for JCA at 1pm today. He's been great on the mound this year and has a 10-2 record with a 2.88 era. I'll be at the game so come on out if you want to see a great high school matchup! Grayslake's ace, Aaron Snyder, is 10-2 with a 1.40 era, but even more impressive ... 85 K's in 65 IP. E-mail me at with any questions or comments. A post game will be featured later today! Good luck Hilltoppers!

(This is the Joliet Jackhammers stadium, so come check it out!!!)