Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mid Summer Update

Hard to believe that June is almost over and July is about to begin.  We've been having so much fun this summer.  This week has been no exception.  With Aunt S and cousins B and M in town, we've done a lot of family activities.  Friday we went on a dolphin watch cruise, which was really neat.  We cruised around the river fro about two and a half hours, spotting many dolphins and manatees along the way.  The weekend was of course spent cheering TP on as they won their first championship. Monday we hit the beach, where it was surprisingly breezy and cool.  This evening we're heading to the Medieval Times Dinner Show and tomorrow we're hitting Disney Quest.  We're staying over in Orlando for the night as an added treat for the kids.  My brother, D, and Aunt K, both have birthdays this weekend, so we'll be celebrating those on Saturday with another river cruise to watch some early fireworks.  Then Aunt S, B, and M fly home on Sunday.  Monday I'll spend cleaning and packing, getting ready to depart for Auburn, Alabama on Tuesday morning for TP's next tournament.  That will be a big one and I'll be sure to post updates from the road.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Tournament Weekend Four, CFL Championship

What a weekend!  Team TP played in their fourth tournament of the summer.  In my last post, I told you about their first game of the tourney and how well they played.  I could keep you in suspense until the end of this post to tell you whether or not they won, but I'm too excited.  TP won their first tournament of the summer!  Way to go guys! 

Friday night's fire was still burning Saturday morning, and TP once again owned the field.  They won that game 7-3.  J played on first base the entire game and made a couple of outstanding plays.  Once again, their bats were on fire and their defense was rock solid.  Late Saturday night we found out they were the 1 seed going into Sunday.  We arrived for what we thought was a semi final to determine who advanced to the championship.  However, due to a couple games being rained out the day before, two teams had withdrawn from the tournament, leaving only four 16U teams.  So this game was it.  TP was playing the same team they had played on Saturday morning.  From the start the game was a nail biter.  Both teams had solid defense and the game was scoreless for three innings.  The opposing pitcher was excellent and TP was having a hard time getting their bats going.  Then in the top of the fourth, they allowed a run to score.  Not good!  By the bottom of the fifth, things were getting tense in TP's dug out.  They were down by a run and were in danger of giving up their championship.  finally, in the bottom of the sixth, we got a hit and put a runner on base.  A pop fly followed, giving TP their first out.  Coach C had the third batter sacrifice bunt and advanced the runner waiting on first.  And after that, TP lit up like the fourth of July.  With two outs, their bats came alive and they scored four runs.  In the top of the seventh, it took four batters to get three outs and end the game.  They were the champs! 

TP went undefeated the entire weekend, with a total of 26 runs scored.  This brings their record for tournament play to 11-6-1.  I've included the team picture I took following the game.  J is on the far right, with Coach C to his left.  Note how the little siblings managed to get in the picture, too.  That's A in front of J in the pink shirt.  You can click on the picture to make it larger.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Bonus Tournament

Team TP was originally scheduled to play a double header at home this weekend.  However, last weekend, the other team backed out and Coach C found them a tournament to play in instead.  This one is the Torneo DE Estrellas & CFL Championship in Apopka, Florida.  Apopka is only an hour and a half from home and ordinarily we'd have just driven back and forth.  But TP played an evening game tonight and has an early morning game tomorrow.  So we booked into a nearby hotel for the night.  Hubby and I, along with my parents, N, A , and J, cousins M and B, and neighbor R are all here. 

TP completely owned the field in their first game.  We had one three run homer hit and two grand slams.  Their bats were on fire and their defense was solid.  They won the game 15-6.  They are scheduled to play in the morning at 9:00.  Sunday will bring the semi finals, followed hopefully by the championship.  I don't want to jinx them, but if they keep playing like they played tonight, this could be their weekend. 

J played first base tonight and did really well.  I think having his cousins here cheering him on is really energizing his game.  B and M are enjoying the games more than they thought they would I think.  They are not usually baseball fans, but I think they may just be converts after this weekend.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Since I seem to have a baseball theme going, at least for the summer, I figured it was a good time to share this little tidbit.  Baseball players are of course identified by their numbers.  A number becomes a very personal thing, and J is somewhat superstitious about his.  He is number 27, at least as often as possible.  There have been a few times, like during his school season, that 27 was not available.  If that is the case, he'll try and pick the number of a Yankee player, past or present.  So how did J end up choosing the number 27?  It's a neat story actually.  At least I think so.  When my dad was growing up, his favorite player was Mickey Mantle, number 7 for the Yankees.  So when J started playing, my dad usually requested 7 for his Little League number.  Derek Jeter is J's favorite player, and he of course, is number 2.  In Little League, number 2 was usually in hot demand, so J stuck with 7.  Then he ended up on a team where neither number was available.  His solution was to combine the numbers of he and his grandpa's favorite players, and from then on, he's been number 27.    

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Time With Family

The summer is speeding along and tomorrow is a day we've all been looking forward to.  Aunt S arrives, along with cousins B and M, for a week and a half visit.  We haven't seen them since our trip to Hawaii last summer.  The kids love spending time with their cousins, and we have some fun things planned.  Aunt K has been busily making plans for a dolphin watch eco cruise, a dinner show at Medieval Times, and a visit to Disney Quest.  In between, we'll spend a lot of time hanging out around the pool, and probably hit the beach at least once.  And of course, since we can't go for more than a two day stretch without baseball around here, we'll go to a few games.  Team TP plays locally Thursday night and J is stoked because Aunt S, Cousin B, and Cousin M have never gotten to see him play.  The whole family is planning on attending.  We should fill the bleachers and give TP a good cheering section.  There's also the tournament on the weekend, though I'm not sure who all will go to that. 

We get together every year for an extended family vacation.  This is one of the "off" years, when we stick closer to home and do more low key things.  No matter where we are or what we do though, we always manage to have a great time.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Tournament Weekend Three, FAU Showdown

Okay, here's the rundown on Team TP's third tournament.  On Saturday they played two games.  The first ended in a 2-2 tie and the second they won, 7-4.  They were scheduled to play at 3:00 Sunday afternoon.  Around 1:45, Coach C received word that we were on a lightening delay until 4:30.  Then about an hour later, he received word that the team we were supposed to play had decided to forfeit.  He called a team meeting in the hotel lobby.  At that time, he explained that the other team forfeited because they were already in the semi finals.  TP was the 1 seed and we were scheduled to play at 8:00 this morning.  The team was left with unexpected downtime, so Coach C organized a game of wiffle ball out behind the hotel.  He also imposed a 10:00 curfew on the team and asked that they all be asleep no later than 11:00.  Players had to report to the field at 7:00, which meant leaving the hotel around 6:45.  Coach C was in need of a ride to the field, so I offered to take him and J while my dad stayed at the hotel to allow N and A to sleep a bit longer.  After dropping them off, I went back for the rest of the family and we arrived just as the game began.  TP started out rough, making some costly errors.  They managed to tie the game up, 3-3 in the third inning, and it appeared for a while that they were going to pull it off.   But they started making errors again and by the time they started to rally in the bottom of the sixth, it was too late.  They lost 12-7 and took third overall in the tournament. 

They have a game Thursday night against a local high school summer team.  J is excited about that one because his aunt and cousins will be here visiting.  They have never gotten to see him play and Coach C has told him he 'll play first base the entire game.  They were going to have a double header on Sunday, but the opposing team backed out.  Not wanting them to go two weeks without playing, Coach C has found a tournament in Orlando for them to play in Saturday and Sunday.  We're at the halfway point in our summer season and so far, J is loving every minute.  They'll take Fourth of July weekend off, then we head to Auburn University for a week long tournament.  So far their record in tournament play is 8 wins - 6 losses - 1 tie.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mid Tourney Update

We made it to Boca safely and are all settled in at the hotel.  Team TP tied their first game 2-2 and won their second,7-4.  Coach C says they are looking good.  Today they only play one game, at 3:00.  If they lose, they will play one game tomorrow.  If they win, they are automatically in the semi finals.  So tomorrow could turn into a very long day of games!  I hope it does.  It would be fantastic for them to go all way this time.  We have a while til game time, so we're heading to the hotel pool.  I'll update after this afternoon's game.  Go TP!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Boca Bound

Hard to believe Team TP is headed for their third tournament of the summer already, but here we are.  Tomorrow we travel south to Boca Raton for the FAU Showdown.  Due to the fact that Boca is about a three hour drive, we'll be staying over for a few nights for this one.  TP has their first game at 10:20, and the second at 3:00.  Due to a family event, we will actually miss the games tomorrow and head down tomorrow evening.  They'll have two games Sunday, with the possibility of playing in the playoffs Monday. J is super excited about this one.  I think the idea of traveling a bit further and having to stay over makes it seem exciting to him.  My dad and I, along with N and A will be going with him.  Hubby and my mom have to work.  J has Coach C's cell number, so I'm sure he'll be texting for game updates throughout the day.  I'll try to pop on and update on their progress over the weekend.  And look for a full recap by Tuesday.  Go TP! 

Brotherly Support

Like many siblings, J and N don't always get along.   They are very different in personality, temperament, and interests.  If they go a whole day without arguing or complaining about each other, I mark it down on the calendar as the day a miracle occurred.  But every so often, they make my heart smile when they have each other's backs.  This time it's N trying to show support for his brother.

N is not into baseball.  At all.  In fact, he usually complains about all the time he has to spend at J's games.  Loudly.  To anyone who will listen.  At the start of the summer there was a lot of whining about all the tournaments we'd have to attend.  But something has changed in the past week.  After last weekend's exciting tournament, N has changed his view on those "boring" tournaments.  He suddenly can't wait to get down to Boca this weekend.  Now, some of this may be due to the fact that he found the craziness of that last game a little too exciting.  I've told him not to expect a repeat.  (Hopefully!)  But he still insists he wants to go, even after I gave him the option of staying behind with his grandmother.  He needs to be there to cheer on Team TP he says.  He's spent the week trying to get involved in all the baseball talk that goes on in our house, and asking J questions about his team.  He's actually acting proud of his brother, instead of telling him baseball is dumb.  I like to think that deep down he really is proud of his big brother, even if he doesn't always show it. 

I'm not sure how long this cooperative attitude will last.  I'll just enjoy it while it does and when the complaining starts again, I'll have the sweet memory of N cheering on his brother to help me keep my sanity.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Stop the Madness

This post has been cooking at the back of my mind since the tournament Sunday.  The behavior I witnessed there has me stewing over a problem that we will all come up against if our children play any kind of competitive sports.  There is an appalling lack of good sportsmanship and common sense present in youth sports.  This is something that I've been aware of for a while now and it really bugs me.  When did it become okay for a coach to curse out an umpire?  When did it become okay for players to deliberately try to injure a player from an opposing team?  When did it become okay for a parent to throw things from the stands?   When did winning become so important that it becomes okay to do whatever it takes to win a game, even if it means cheating?  The answer to all of these questions is it becomes okay when we allow it to be okay.  When parents sit by and allow their children to be coached by a less than stellar coach, they are silently giving their permission for their child to be taught that cheating and playing dirty are more important than playing with class and good sportsmanship.  When a coach or parent does not model good sportsmanship and a positive attitude toward competition, kids will follow suit because they are not being taught any better.  On the flip side, I firmly believe that if a parents and coaches do model these traits, kids will, too.  It's a classic case of kids learning by example.   It start with parents.  We need to model these trait ourselves, and we need to make sure that the people coaching our children are doing the same.  Perhaps if parents started removing their kids from teams with bad coaches, the message would start to seep in.  I know there are great coaches are out there.  J plays for a great coach now.  Sadly, there are just as many not so great coaches out there.  So be aware the next time you sign your child up for a sport.  Don't accept anything less than the best.  After all, this person will be a role model for your child.  Make sure they're a positive one.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Tournament Weekend Two, Kissimmee Summer Slam

Team TP played in their second tournament this weekend and it was a doozy!  I'll warn in advance that this post may be on the long side.  But I promise it will be interesting reading.

Saturday, Team TP started out the day with an 8:00 am game.  They poured it on and emerged victorious with a final score of 7-0.  J was the designated hitter in that game and unfortunately appeared to be experiencing a slight batting slump.  Coach C gave him a pep talk, telling him to keep his head up and he'd be fine.  The talk must have worked, because in the second game, he hit a rocket over the center fielder's head.   The other team managed to recover and tag him out at second just as he slid into the bag.  He did get an RBI though.  The second game was progressing along nicely(J was on first base for this one), and Team TP was up 16-4 going into the 6th inning.  At that point, I'm not sure if they ran out of gas, got lazy, or what.  But things got dicey as they appeared to fall apart defensively and let 6 runs score.  Fortunately Coach C got them refocused and they won, with a final score of 16-10.  That was it for Saturday games.  Late in the day we received word that they were the 1 seed going into today. 

Our game time today was not until 3:45, and as the top seeded team we had our choice of being home or visitor.  Coach C chose home and the game began.  J was again the designated hitter and got another beautiful hit to center field.  The game was progressing nicely and Team TP was up 9-1.  Again, they started dinking around, making some dumb errors, and allowed four runs in.  Still, not so bad.  Until a kid hit a grand slam at the top of the 6th and tied the game up.  After the completion of the 6th inning, due to approaching darkness and no lights on the field we were on, the umps decided to do something called a Texas tie breaker.  The last runner to be thrown out was sent to second base and the defensive team had to try to get three outs.  Team TP managed this and then it was our turn.  The other coach decided to intentionally walk our first two batters, loading the bases.  The third batter got up and slammed the ball deep into the outfield, breaking the tie and giving Team TP the win.  Then the fun began.  We moved to a lighted field for the championship game.  We were again home team.  From the start of the game, the coach of the other team behaved badly.  Protested every call the ump made regarding balls and strikes, and just generally kept flapping his mouth.  One of his players bull rushed our catcher in the third inning and was ejected from the game.  He protested that.  But it gets better.  Our kids were hitting like mad and he didn't like it.  Got into a screaming match with the ump, claiming a fair ball was foul and got himself ejected.  Took his team off the field.  He kept up a steady dialogue of screaming and cursing as he was escorted from the complex.  Along the way he screamed in the face of a mother who asked that he kindly refrain from cursing in front of the younger children who were present.  about this time, the team came back on the field and play resumed.  Our kids were still hitting well.  A man from the other team took issue with this and proceeded to heave a full water bottle over the fence.  I'm not sure if he was trying to hit our player, the ump, or our coach.  He was ejected.  The game continued and Team TP was up 5-0.  Our hitting was rock solid and our defense as excellent.  That's when the tide turned for the worse.  The other team apparently decided the only way to get on base was to get walked.  And what's a surefire way to get a walk.  To get hit.  The first batter hit was an "okay, it happens."  Second one in a row was a little weird.  Coach C changed pitchers.  And oddly enough, he hit a batter.  Hmm, could that be because they were leaning into the strike zone?  Coach C changes pitchers again, and two more batters are hit.  They have now managed to walk in 6  runs.  From there, our boys were so discouraged.  The ump allowed this to continue, made several questionable calls and in the end  they lost 9-6.  It was a tough one to swallow.  I honestly feel like they were cheated out of first place.  To rub salt in the wound, the ejected coach was allowed back in to hand out trophies to his team. 

We're new to tournament play, so this kind of drama was also somewhat new to us.  What saddens me is that people would go to these kinds of lengths to win a game, and the umps allowed it.  They had to see what was going on, based on the skill with which our boys played the entire game.  It also saddens me that there are young men out there being coached by people who do not truly have their best interests at heart.  They are being taught to cheat, throw fits, and bully their way to a win.  What saddens me even more is the parents who are apparently okay with this.  Had my son been on that team, I would have removed him and we would not be back after the behavior I witnessed tonight.   

I would like to commend Coach C for being the kind of coach our boys are lucky to have.  Throughout the entire debacle, he kept his cool, never raised his voice, or engaged in the bad behavior that was rampant on the other team.  As a result, our boys conducted themselves with class and sportsmanship.  Coach C is quite young.  Not much older than the players really.  He's just completed his first year of college.  Sadly, men twice his age could not conduct themselves with class and sportsmanship and be good role models for the young men on their team. 

So there you have it.  The long, sad story of the Summer Slam Tournament.  Team TP took 2nd officially, but unofficially, they are the true champs.  At least in this mama's score book.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Ten Things I've Learned As A Baseball Mom

I've been a baseball mom for a little over ten years.  J was not quite 5 the first time he stepped onto a Little League t-ball field.  In those years, I've learned several valuable lessons that I'll share with you now.  Just in case you or someone you know is or is planning to become a baseball mom. 

1.  Baseball pants are only pristine before the first use.  Once the red clay has touched the fabric, no amount of scrubbing and washing will ever get it all out again.  You learn to live with it.

2.  Taking your son to buy a cup and athletic supporter is only embarrassing the first time.  You get over  it. 

3.  Batting gloves have a life span of approximately half a season.  At least according to J, who has a weird obsession with having new batting gloves.

4.  Bats are expensive.  Think triple digits.  You will swear you are never going to pay such a ridiculous price for a stick to hit a ball with.  You will cave.

5.  Bats get outgrown, sometimes after only a season.  See the above lesson.  You learn to watch for sales.  Big sales.

6.  Don't worry if you don't understand the game or all the rules.  You will eventually learn, especially after yelling something like, "Hit a grand slam!" when the bases are not loaded.    

7.  Metal cleat spikes make an oddly pleasant crunching sound on concrete.

8.  If your son plays for any length of time, you will encounter many types of coaches.  Some great and some not so great.  Fortunately, it's usually the great ones who leave the biggest impression on young players.

9.  All gloves are not created equal.  J has three:  a first baseman's mitt, a catcher's mitt, and an infielder's glove.   Luckily, gloves are not as expensive as bats. 

10.  Nothing beats the thrill of watching your son get a great hit or make an amazing play.  His pride and excitement in succeeding at the game he loves make all the time, money, and effort more than worth it.     

Monday, June 6, 2011

Tournament Weekend One, Kissimmee

As promised, I will be sharing our experiences traveling to baseball tournaments this summer.  J's team competed in their first tournament of the summer this past weekend.  It was a learning experience in many ways. 

First things first.  How did team TP do?  Over two days, they played a total of six games, with 4 losses and two wins.  They played hard and ended up taking third place overall.  Not too shabby for a team that has only been playing together for a little over a month.  Coach C was pleased with their efforts and expects they will continue to do well as the summer progresses. 

Since this was our first time attending a weekend long tournament, I tried to be prepared.  And I was for the most part.  The first day, team TP played on the field of a high school located next to the main tournament site.  We had a cooler full of food and drinks, and pretty much stayed in one place for the whole day.  However, the second day they played at the main tournament site, which was the spring training complex for the Houston Astros.  Coolers were not allowed in.  There was a concession stand but it really didn't have anything beyond stale nachos and hot dogs.  And the prices made me feel like I was at a major theme park.  It's a large complex and we had to move to a different field for all three games.  Which meant collapsing the shade canopy, folding up chairs, and hiking to the next field.  Which was always at the opposite end of the complex.  We'll be at this same complex next weekend and I'm trying to come up with ways to make it easier.  First of all, I found out after the fact that players ARE allowed to bring in a small personal cooler.  So I plan to get one for J and pack it full of drinks, food, and frozen towels.  He can keep it with him and not have to be dependent on us to be able to get what he needs.  I will also pack my big cooler and leave it in the car.  I would rather walk out to the parking lot for a drink or snack than pay the ridiculous concession prices or be stuck with nothing more than chips or hot dogs to eat.  If there are less than three family members attending, the shade canopy is staying home.  Beach umbrellas attached to each folding chair with a small bungee cord will be much easier to put up and down several times in a day. 

All in all our first tournament experience went well.  I fully expect next weekend to be better.  We only have to travel an hour from home again and I aim to be even better prepared.  I'm not sure if  N and A will be going with me.  My dad is, but hubby has to work and my mom has things to do.  She's offered to keep the younger kids with her but I'm not sure yet what we'll do.  Whatever I decide, I'm sure we'll have fun and see some great games again.  

Friday, June 3, 2011

Prepping for the Games

J has his first baseball tournament starting tomorrow.  His team is scheduled for three back to back games about an hour away from where we live.  They will also play on Sunday.  In addition, A has her dance recital tomorrow evening.  Luckily for hubby and I, my brother, Uncle D is willing to miss the recital and stay at the tournament with J for all three games.  We'll get to go for the first game, then will head home with the grandparents to go to the recital. 

This is our first experience with tournament baseball and I'm not quite sure what to expect. Other than to plan on being outside all day and that it probably makes sense to go prepared with drinks, food, chairs, shade tents, and anything else that will make the day go smoothly.  We're in the process of getting the van packed.  So far, I've mixed up a gallon of Gatorade, packed a cooler with drinks, and cut up fruit for snacking.  Hubby has loaded chairs, shade tent, and afore mentioned cooler.  In a pile waiting to be loaded are my camera bag, a bag containing snacks, and A's recital paraphernalia.  All of that is in addition to J's two bags of baseball equipment.  At this rate, we'll need a u-haul trailer to get everything and ourselves to the field. 

My hope is that this weekend will give us a better understanding of how tournament weekends work.  We're not staying in a hotel since it's only an hour away.  I shudder to think how much more stuff we'll need when we do stay in a hotel for a few nights.  In spite of the mad rush of preparations, I'm looking forward to the start of the tournament weekends.  I'll post about the games at the end of the weekend and let you know how team TP did.  Yes, I said team TP.  It stands for Top Prospects, which is the baseball school that sponsors the team.  N laughs every time he hears it.  Go ahead and laugh, too.  You know you want to!     

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Swimming Family

In addition to baseball, J joined the high school swim team last school year and discovered a love for a new sport.  Over the summer, he'll be swimming on a club team run by the high school coach.  It's a fantastic program, offering team swimming and lessons to kids beginning at age 4.  I decided it would be good for N and A to swim as well.

N protested.  Long and loud.  He didn't want to go.  He'd have to get up too early.  He didn't like swimming.  Swimming was boring.  I forced the issue though and he started this week.  He's doing the team, and after the first day, decided he liked it so much he wants to swim year round.  No mention of his earlier protests.  As it turns out, several of his friends are also swimming in his group.  So he gets to hang out with friends daily, have fun, and get some physical activity.   

A is only 5, so I was unsure whether she needed to stick with lessons or try the team.  After seeing what she could do, the coach decided she was ready for the group called pre-team.  She'll be learning proper strokes, building her endurance, and will hopefully be able to swim the length of the pool unassisted by the end of the summer.  She can go about halfway now.  Today we bought her a bright purple swim camp to keep her hair out of her face.  She can't wait to try it out tomorrow.

So we'll be spending most weekday mornings at the pool.  J swims for two hours, followed by N and A for another hour.  During their hour, J assists with the group swim lessons.  I relax in my folding chair, reading and chatting with other moms.  All in all, it's not a bad way to start our summer days.