Centerfield

Catcher
Catcher
Yesterday was Opening Day for America’s Favorite Pastime. I have always been a sports fan, so I figured I would write something about baseball. As I started formulating in my mind what I would write, it suddenly dawned on me that I had not seen my eldest granddaughter in about a week and a half.

Why? Probably because one of her recent birthday presents was a cell phone.

She has had a cell phone for at least a year, but it was her Mom’s old phone. The phone portion was deactivated, but she could connect to the internet via the home Wi-Fi connection.

Now, she can call her Mom whenever needed, or call her friends. She can also access the internet anywhere she happens to be.

She can also call me anytime she feels the need, or send me multiple text messages, filled entirely with emojis. She has only done that once. So far.

Having a real working cell phone of her very own is all fun and games for her right now. At least until her Mom gets her next cell phone bill.

But literally seconds before I was about to start typing this blog post, guess who came downstairs?

There were three reasons she came downstairs to see me. First was to show off her new hair. She had dyed the lower half of her hair blond. I asked her why she killed off her hair. She looked at me funny, so I started to explain that if her hair had dyed…

At that point, she gave me that look. You know the one, with the rolling eyes and the shaking head. Yes, she is starting to get my attempt at humor.

The second reason was to tell me that she had decided to try out for Little League Softball. Her Mom, who had also come downstairs but for a completely different reason, confirmed that she had decided this just the night before.

I’m familiar with the Little League Softball program in town, as my youngest daughter had decided to play one season with them.

My first question was if she was going to play in the infield, or the outfield. Her response? She said she was a really good hitter.

I then attempted to let her know that she also had to play a position, either in the outfield or the infield.

Yeah, that part hadn’t crossed her mind, or if it did, it didn’t stay around long enough for her to actually give any thought to it.

Way back when I was a kid about her age, I did play on the school soccer team. For a year. I really wasn’t very good at it, but then at that age, neither were most of the rest of us. The reason my school career was only for a year was my parents had just purchased a summer home in another state, so the team was already chosen and playing before I returned home for school in September.

I also wanted to play both baseball and basketball, but except for the very occasional flash of brilliance during P.E Class, I really wasn’t good at either of them. But, in Elementary school, I did get very good at keeping the score books for both, and in High School, I latched onto the brand new video camera and recorder that the vocational department had just purchased, and my path was set for going into broadcasting, while becoming a valued part of most of the school sports teams.

My best sports memory from school was playing softball in P.E. Class. I had the annoying habit of never striking out, and always hitting the softball into right field.

The kids in P.E. who knew anything about softball knew to put everyone in center or left field, because everybody pulled the ball when they hit it. Because I always had a late swing, I always punched the ball into right field.

My best memory of high school P.E. softball? The day they got smart and put the everyone into right field. Now, maybe coach, who always did the pitching (probably just to make sure nobody got hurt with an errant pitch), saw the same opportunity I did and tossed me a slower than normal pitch.

Which I promptly sent into left field.

During P.E. class, nobody wanted to be the catcher, so I ended up taking that position, which was much better than embarrassing myself anywhere else in the outfield or on the diamond.

Oh, the third reason my Granddaughter had come downstairs? Seems that her Mom was tired and wanted her to go to bed early, so she had followed her mother downstairs to talk with me and temporarily postpone her banishment to her bedroom for the rest of the evening. But her Mom was very insistent.

So, I mentioned to her that maybe she should try out to be a catcher as she left the living room, heading toward the hall to go back upstairs. I didn’t see what she did next, but her Mom did and told me.

My granddaughter promptly turned around and got down into a perfect catchers squat position.

Put her in, coach. She’s ready to play.

Respect

Football
Football
I have a story for your reading pleasure today. It is a fairy tale. And, of course, all fairy tales start out the same way.

Once upon a time, there was a world. A world where there were people. People who went to work, did their job, and returned home to their families. Families who sat down for dinner and caught up with everything that happened in everyone’s day.

Then the kids would go and finish up their homework, and then the family could gather around their TV and watch their favorite programs, knowing that it was good and appropriate and Mom and Dad would not have to try and explain to Junior and Sis what someone just said or did.

Now, this world was far from perfect. The adults of this world all knew that. Bad stuff would happen, but the adults would try and protect the children from as much of the bad as possible.

This world also had this thing that they called politics. It was necessary, and it had its place in this world. But it also had a dark side.

Power.

Many good people worked very hard to try and keep politics separate from the rest of life in this world.

But the dark side was very, very powerful. It was very, very enticing. Power was very intoxicating, and it would work constantly to turn as many of the good people of this world as it could toward the bad.

This world also had something it called sports. Sports took on many different shapes and sizes. Sometimes it would be individual participants who would work very, very hard to become the very best at their particular sport. Sometimes a group of people would get together and form this thing that they called a team, and the team would work together to try and become the very best team in their sport.

The people of this world loved their sports. Sports was a place where the people could come together in their unabashed love for their favorite player or team, even if the person next to them had a different player or team that they loved.

But how could that be?

In this world, there was another power. And this power, they called it respect.

Respect got its power from the people. When there was respect, many bad things could be kept in check.

Oh, sometimes there would still be problems, but for the most part, there would be much more respect in sports than in other parts of life. Because power was very relentless in taking over politics and many other parts of life in this world.

But not so much in the world of sports.

Sports became a place where the people of this world could just sit back and enjoy themselves for a couple of hours and not think about the bad stuff that was slowly overtaking their world.

Unfortunately, eventually, even sports was taken over by politics. Power had taken over too many of the good people of this world.

As politics took over sports, fewer and fewer of the good people of this world watched sports.

The people infected with power, the dark side of politics, became frozen with fear. Fear was a cousin of the dark side. Fear would work relentlessly to make as many of the people of this world as it could unable to work against the dark side.

There were still people who made their voices known that they were unhappy with politics taking over sports, and even more who silently showed their displeasure by not watching sports as much as they used to.

Now usually, a fairy tale has a happy ending. This story, unfortunately, does not have one. At least, not yet. Because this story still does not have an ending.

Today, here on this world, one of the largest sporting events on the planet will be played. The Super Bowl. American Football. Two teams that have played through their regular season and then their playoffs to go up against each other for all the marbles.

But American Football, especially this year, has been hurt by power and politics forcing respect out of the picture.

Respect is what sports is all about.

Without respect, sports is nothing.

Without respect, life is nothing.

Other sports have had their problems in the past with a lack of respect. Respect of their fans, respect of their history, respect of people.

Usually, after enough people directly involved with their sport realize they need to do something to get their sport back on track, work to return the missing respect. And eventually, many of those who have gone away from the sport will slowly return.

Today, American Football is at that same crossroads that other sports have had to deal with, but this time it is also a different crossroad. To many people, it appears that the sport disrespects their country and their flag, and the people running the sport are unable, or worse unwilling, to bring respect back to the sport.

Because politics has a hand in this, the issues have become very cloudy and very murky. Which is too bad, because politics has no place in sports.

Sports is where you should be able to totally check out on the trials and tribulations of life, at least for a couple of hours, and just enjoy yourself.

I will be watching tonight. My New England Patriots are playing. They have always been my New England Patriots. Even back when they weren’t any good.

I am well aware that there are two types of people. People who like Tom Brady and Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. And those who just simply don’t.

But that is OK. I still respect those of you who happen to reside in that second category.

Enjoy the game, if football is your thing.