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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My 6th Son, A Major League Baseball Player

Ok. So you all know that I am a Sox fan by now. I also mentioned Adam Dunn. I really can't say why I took a liking to this guy. He certainly is not helping our team with his batting average. We know he can hit the leather off the ball, but isn't, right now. I happen to think he is a good 1st baseman, and enjoy watching him at that position, although my stomach gets in knots when I know the play is gonna be at 1st. I just want the guy to do good.

That being said, I think the mother lion came out in me that Thursday night against the Yankees. After hearing all those BOOOs I was thinking why in the hell would any one want to play for a team whose own fans are booing him? The next thing I thought was how Adam must feel, really feel, deep down inside. I half expected to see a little ginger boy walk off the field pouting and near tears. Tim laughed and said said "He's an athlete, he doesn't give a crap!" Not meaning he doesn't care about his job, or team, or even the fans, it's just that athletes are prepared for things like this. It's not just about your physical abilities, it's also a mental game. You think those guys can throw 97mph fastballs and strike guys out with a bunch of breaking balls if their head isn't in the game? No way! A pitcher lets up a run or 2 and gives up a couple walks in an inning, you think he thinks everything is hunky dory? Uh uh, they know. They gotta let those mistakes go and focus on the next strike, or the next swing, or the next play. Boys are tought this as soon as they start learning the game in little leagues across America.
Maybe for me it's mental. When Adam goes up to the plate, I don't see a 32 year old man who makes millions, a husband or a father who is playing the greatest game ever played or a guy lucky enough to live a dream that so many little boys dream of. My problem is, is that I see a little boy who just wants to hit the snot out of the ball ( 1. because he knows he can, and 2. because, it's what everybody expects) and not be ridiculed if he strikes out. At this point in my life, after watching 8 seasons of BYB, the last 6 of which my husband coached, I am realizing that I am very invested in this game, it is extremely personal for me, I am emoting as if Adam were one of my own, my 6th son. When Adam goes up to bat I want him to do good so bad, that I can hardly stand it.
How am I going to do this next spring when 3 of my boys are playing at once? I can do this! Wrestling season will prepare me, my 3 youngest are going to tough it out on the mat for the Belvidere Bandits this year. No longer rookies, I have a feeling this might be as tough for me as baseball is! Oh, yeah, it's going to be tough for them too!

That one little word has so much power. Expect. Expectations can cause the undoing of many a baseball players. I am not talking about the majors though, that is different. They are hired and paid ( MLB is the top paid sport, tied with boxing, according to ESPN) to perform, and they are expected to do their job.

But are the expectations that we put on our child athletes too much? No one can really answer that question, too many variables. How capable is the child? How do they deal with losses and not performing well? How demanding are the coaches? How psycho are the parents? Too many factors play a part.

Tim and I walk that fine line pretty much all year around. We don't have an off season any more. We go from baseball ending in October, just in time for wrestling which starts in October and carries us through April, when baseball starts up again. My kids also want to play football and basketball, they can't do it all, they have to pick and choose.
We all want our kids to succeed no matter what they do. Some of them want to be doctors, some want to be MLB players, and some want to be semi-truck drivers, ( my 6 yr. old thinks its cool to have a microwave and bed in your truck). No matter what they do then, or what they are doing now, it is our job to teach them about hard work, passion, perseverance, and integrity - on and off the field. I am sure Pat Dunn has gone through the emotional roller coaster of watching her middle son become an outstanding athlete in both football and baseball, and I can't imagine that it is any easier now. Mom's, hang in there, we got this!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

My Journey to Adam Dunn and the White Sox

I don't know what it is, but I always seem to root for the underdog. I also always seem to root for the guy that a lot of fans don't like, maybe I like to go against the grain, maybe I like controversy, maybe I like to swim upstream, whatever my rational is, I am doing it yet again.

Case in point... Adam Dunn. Bite your tongue! I don't want to hear it.

Now I really don't feel like getting a lot of backlash, either from Cubs fans who think I should be a northside fan or from Sox fans, who think I'm an idiot.

Let me explain.

I am a Chicago White Sox Fan.
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I haven't always been, as a matter of fact I really didn't even watch baseball all that much.
That being said, Nearly my entire family, and I mean, parents, brother, brother's in-laws, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins... are all Cubs fans.
I couldn't resist. Tommy this is for you!
All except my Grandpa Fritz. He was a Sox fan. I remember the year after I graduated high school, then living with him and Grandma Shirley, sitting in the TV room, he, in his recliner, one leg hanging over the side arm, constantly fidgeting with his nails, Tim and I, then dating, on the couch, watching the Chicago White Sox. He was probably yelling obscenities all the while wishing for a win and Grandma sitting in her chair happy if they were losing. Shirl is a Cubs fan. Grandpa Fritz has been gone now for 15 years, but the memory of watching baseball with him is more vivid now that I have inherited his team.
I believe he is a big part of the reason that on Thursday July 7, 2011 I became a White Sox Fan. I had planned a family outing to Chicago over the previous weeks, and our last stop of that day, after doing Navy Pier, Michigan Ave, Chinatown, and Billy Goat's on lower Wacker, was The Cell. I had been to Wrigley but I had never been to Comiskey or US Cellular Field. I had never seen the White Sox play a game live.
Kev, Tim, Jack, Patrick, Cavan, Mack @Navy Pier

It was a great day, which is not that easily achieved when you are bringing five boys anywhere.
We hit a 7:10 game vs. the Twins, and I'm not sure what exactly happened, it was like someone had flipped a switch. From the time we sat down in our seats in the upper deck on the 3rd base side, and the game began, I knew right then and there, this was my team. I really don't understand the strong feeling that came over me, but I truly felt like a hardcore White Sox fan. I thought of Grandpa Fritz often that night as I was watching the game and even got teary eyed, wondering, and not knowing, if my Grandpa had ever seen them play live.

Anyway... The sights, the sounds, the music, the field, the players and the fans all contributed to my... shall we say homecoming?
The Cell

The players and the fans, Tim had prepared me with info about the team. He told me who the good players were, who they had played with before, some stats, etc...

Tim told me about Adam Dunn, and said that maybe we would get to see him hit a homer. Cool. Honestly, I really can't say that I knew who Adam Dunn was, but his name did sound familiar.

FYI Adam was signed in the off season in 2010 after playing with
the Nationals, Diamondbacks, and the Reds, to a tune of 56 MILLION US DOLLARS for the next four years. He is a southpaw slugger who throws right and can knock them out of the park. Up until this season he homered something like 1 out of every 14 at bats. Only 4 other MLB players are ahead of him in that respect, McGuire, Ruth, Bonds and Thome. Not bad company. Oh, players behind him, a good handful of them are in the Hall of Fame. In 2001, his rookie year, Adam set a National League rookie record of hitting 12 home runs in the month of August. In 2002 he had a .400 OBP and was selected for the National League All Star Team. In 2004 Dunn hit 46 home runs and had 105 runs. In 2008 he was traded to the Diamondbacks for 3 players. During that season his walk percentage was the highest in the MLB. In February of 2009 he signed with the Nationals and in his first game hit a home run and had 4 RBI's. On July 4th of 2009 Adam hit his 300th home run and it was during this season that he moved from LF to 1st base.
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All 7 of us were having a great time at the ball park. It was Adam's 1st at bat and I heard murmurs from the crowd. I looked at Tim my eyes asking him "what the hell is that all about?" Like I said I didn't even know who Dunn was but Tim informed me that Adam was in a bad slump and lots of fans were not happy. Ya think? After Adam struck out the ferocious crowd booed so loud that I was actually shocked. I am accustomed to obnoxious parents at my boys sporting events and have even heard booing, but apparently professional sports is in a different league. The fans were pissed. I was mortified. I felt so bad for him. I know many of you are thinking too bad, he is gonna make like over 80 million in his career. Listen, I know what my kid looks like when he throws ONE bad pitch, and all I want to do is tell him it's OK and hide the fact that I very well could throw up watching him pitch the rest of the game. I will tell you one thing... NO ONE is more pissed off than the boy is.

The Sox lost that night. That fact, may have deterred prospective fans, but not so. I was in,

The few weeks that followed I watched, I recorded, I watched again, I improved my stat taking abilities by scoring games, basically, I was quite obsessed with the Sox. Getting to know the players, their positions, their stats, the line up, only furthered my love for the team. Ask me what a player's jersey number and batting average is, and I can probably tell you. I have been studying this team and enjoying every minute of it. If I didn't have MAJOR short term memory loss, I would be on my way to being a walking Wikipedia of White Sox knowledge!
Well, gotta get back to White Sox Boot Camp. Read My 6th Son, A Major League Baseball Player to find out what happened when Tim and I went to see the Sox play the Yankee's less than 3 weeks later!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

1st Day of School + 5 Boys + Morning = Near Meltdown

I had every intention of holding it together this morning. I really thought I would. Yeah...not so much...

Sending 5 boys back to school after 3 months of broken bones, busted up eyes, shins, knees, not to mention the fighting or the CONSTANT MESS inside and out, does bring me to tears,

Tim and I have the same convo every year right before school starts. We list off the things we will do to make the school year go smoothly so that our kids can thrive in their academic learning process. Hear are just a few examples of the goals we set every year.
Wake up extra early, before the boys

Wake the boys up gently, no yelling from the bottom of the stairs

COOK the boys a hearty breakfast

Have lunches prepared the night before, healthy lunches

Send them off to school with a smile, hug & kiss, and warm wishes for the day.

Great Plan right?
Yeah, right.

This is how it actually went.

I admit, I was a bit of a bear this morning. Insomnia was in full swing last night and I was up 'til 3am. I also had the pleasure of cleaning up dog crap in the middle of the night. I then woke up to 2 more steaming piles and of course it was Lilly the Am. Staff. not the tiny yorkie. Then a certain son (I will not mention a name for fear of retaliation) decided to get up at 7:02 to get his ride at 7:05 telling me all along it is not his fault, then used precious bathroom time that is slotted for his younger brothers, went without lunch because he refused to make one last night at my excessive prompting - said he would do it in the AM. He did catch his ride and commandeered a measly lunch of juice bottle, nutty bar, and applesauce. Bye son, have a good day!

Then the guilt set in. I did not want the morning to go this way. I wanted to be happy and smiling and helpful. I think the tone set in the morning is so important for a successful day.

All is not lost, I can redeem myself. That was just one son, I have 4 more to go.
The three youngest are up and dressed. # 3 was up and ready before anyone else and was a big help with #'s 4 &5! One minor snafoo of spilled cereal, and a wandering boy who should be doing something productive is re-directed to his task of eating oatmeal. Dressed, fed, lunches made, shoes tied, backpacks packed, and its off we go!

We make it to school, on time, I might add. (a huge accomplishment for me).
Then my six year old advises me that he will carry his own backpack cause his back is really strong and that I shouldn't come in with him, he will find his room on his own.

So, I just sneakily followed him.
I deposited # 4 in his room and check to make sure # 3 hasn't snuck out the back door. No, not really, but I did make sure he was where he was supposed to be. He was very excited to have class on the third floor.

With a big sigh of relief, I exit the school and head home where I have #2 preparing for the day. No problems here. He is dressed, and eating. I have a nice little chat "...be kind, make new friends..." blah blah blah. He leaves with time to spare to catch the bus.

They are gone, all gone, all 5 of them...gone.

I survived the morning, a little battered, a little deflated, but I made it through the 1st day of school, yet again.

Please God, Let there be an extraordinary amount of peace in my heart come 2:00pm! Amen.

So to all you Mom's out there, no matter how your morning went, you can hopefully read this and relate a little bit, knowing that we don't always hit home runs, but all those singles will get the job done!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Only one minor injury, miracles never cease!

Rock Cut State Park was the scene of our shenanagans a couple of weekends ago.
Since Tim was travelling, I enlisted the help of my mom, and my friend Kathy who has two boys. I am sure the odds of injuries must greatly increase with each boy you add to the mix.
We had that covered though, it doesn't hurt that my mom is a nurse and a former paramedic.
On this particular outing we had seven boys. Four of my five were there,
with the addition of Sam, Kyle and Tim, Mack's friends.
Trying to make boys from the ages of 6 to 16 happy wasn't that difficult on this outing.

Peddle Boats

Oh, did I mention the spiders? Ummm, yeah, kinda big and creepy!

Plenty of stuff to entertain every single one of them.


Peddle Boats... complete pain in the ass. Promptly traded in for a tandem Kayak
God Bless Kathy for not letting that stupid thing kick her ass! She peddled my kids all over the place!

I know she will be pissed but it was a little funny seeing my mom, Barb dump the kayak.

Highlight of kayaking... burning a crap load of calories.

Lunch... almost all of the boys chose egg salad, who would have figured?

Hiking... scared the piss out of me! Those boys had to get to the top of that boulder! Visions of heads cracking open were running rampant in my mind!

We soon persuaded all the boys to get off the rocks and go hiking. We wound our way through the woods and even tried to find a geocache. No success. We were being eaten alive and the bush off the trail was really thick.

Rhino did fall somewhere along the trail at some point in time. Rhino was hangin' with Kathy and I was ahead of them. No scream, no whining, no crying. I didn't even realize he had been hurt until I saw the blood running from his knee. He is one tough kid! But, not too tough to accept piggyback rides from Sam and Tim. Suckers!

We had an awesome day shared with people we care about. It completely furthered my belief that God gave me 5 sons for a reason! What his reason is, well, I'm not sure, but I am glad He knows what He is doing, cause half the time I don't!

Cheers to all you boys out there!