The Challenge of High School Sports

I’m not a runner. I never have been. One day… I almost lost to an offensive lineman. Running isn’t my forte. Now I have a child who wants to spend his time after school running. This is someone who lacks hustle when getting ready to leave the house, but who am I to step on one’s dreams?

Seasons come and go, especially in sports. When I was a child, seasons were divided into sports, school, and summer vacation. The sports seasons and their beginnings and ending remained when I moved from being a high school student to a newspaper reporter. I didn’t mind it, of course. I’ve enjoyed playing and watching sports my entire life.

I’ve taken that experience in sports and used it to teach my own children and those who have played under my tutelage during the baseball and football seasons. As a coach, I have served as a teacher, a motivator, and sometimes a therapist for those who watched someone step on their base or didn’t get the ball thrown to them on a certain play regardless of how many people were covering them. These are challenging times for me. Sometimes I have to explain to someone why they got pushed out of bounds. It’s because they had the ball and were running near the sidelines. Sorry, Champ. That’s how the game is played.

It’s not always easy, but then again, I’ve been watching sports long enough to figure a solution to the problem. That’s what I do. I fix things: game situations, strategies, bruised arms and egos. I find a solution and help the promising athlete back on their feet in on the field.

A runner completing a race.
Sports can be challenging… for the kids, too. Photo by RUN 4 FFWPU on Pexels.com

And then one of the Gaggle tells me they want to run cross-country. This threw me for a loop, especially when they originally wanted to play football. At least with football, I could offer a little advice. Cross-country? I get excited when I break the eight-minute mile. I’m not a runner. I never had been. One day at football practice in high school, I almost lost to an offensive lineman in the 40-yard dash. I had a baseball coach who told me to get the refrigerator out of my back pocket when I ran. I wasn’t fast. I’m still not fast. Running isn’t my forte.

A child's messy bedroom.
My organized children

Now I have a child who wants to spend his time after school running. This is someone who lacks hustle when getting ready to leave the house, but who am I to step on one’s dreams? Lucky for me, a friend of mine happens to be a runner. He was captain of the high school cross-country team. He beat me in every race and game we had. I’m not going to say if I let him win. We’re friends. No need to get into the past like that. Anyway, I sought his advice for running since I had none to give. He gave me some pointers that I passed along to the Gaggle. It should be interesting. This child will be running about three miles every day. He’s been excited about it. I haven’t dealt with high school sports in a while. I’m still getting back into it and figuring out captains’ practices (if any) and what the child needs in order to practice with the team (doctor’s forms, permission slips, CYA paperwork). There’s also the issue of making sure the child knows their schedule, when practice starts and ends. When and where the meets are. What they need for said practice and meets. I’m not worried. I’m sure they’ll be fine. They’re a teenager. What could possibly go wrong?

Basketball (and a Mix of Hockey) in the Summer

Boys playing basketball on the court.
A nice day with the family.

One of the Gaggle has taken a liking to sports, especially basketball. This is most welcome news to me. When I was a teenager, sports was a focal point of my life. Even if my favorite teams weren’t in the World Series, Super Bowl, NBA, or Stanley Cup Finals, it was an obligation for me to follow the playoffs and watch or listen to the final round or game. This particular child has taken a particular interest in basketball and has signed up to play in an organized team this season.

This new activity means going to games. This is nothing new to me or The Boy, as we have spent many Saturdays going to games and bonding. My favorite part is when we talk about the game and whatever else is going on in his life over chicken fingers and french fries after the game. For the record, when I ask, he does “nothing” at school, with his friends, and “nothing” is happening with his life.

Back to the Gaggle. This child has games that stretch over the weekend. It’s usually one game on one day and two on another. That’s fine with me. It means a chance to get something to eat and catch up with the other children who are at the game with me. It’s a nice little bonus for me. I get to watch sports, eat with my kids, and talk with them and find out how their life is.

Speaking of bonuses, there was one nice little surprise that happened for us, or me, on one day we were enjoying a day of basketball. The Gaggle had a game at a prep school one weekend. This school just happened to have a hockey rink across from the basketball gymnasium. This hockey rink just happened to have a hockey game during the time between the two basketball games. It was too good to be true. I recruited The Boy to go with me to the rink to check out the game. He lasted about 30 seconds before he decided it was too cold and he couldn’t stay there. The Oppressed, on the other hand, didn’t seem to mind the ice and cold and watched the game with me. She seemed to like hockey, especially the hitting.

It was a great day for me. I got to see one child play in one game and got to see another game with another child. There have been other games that I have watched the child play in. I look forward to all of them. I like to watch the games and then talk to them about the game and what they thought about how they did. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, there will be another game for me and someone else to watch.

Boys playing ice hockey.
A nice little bonus between basketball games.

Family Fun at Fenway Park

There was another recent milestone for The Gaggle. They saw their first game at Fenway Park. This was a special moment for everyone because their first game was against the New York Yankees.

Wife wanted me to pick the seats. I knew this would be a special moment so I knew the seats had to be just right. I picked bleacher seats behind the bullpen. I knew this would give the children, all children a special experience and it did… But more on that later.

We drove into Boston that night and parking wasn’t as bad as you would expect. We made it to Fenway Park with time to spare. We got food. I got a score book because I like to keep score when I go to a Red Sox game. There wasn’t a lot of time to get to our seats and we wanted to get our food and get settled. I grabbed a pre-made Italian sausage. Don’t buy the pre-made Italian sausage.

A few innings in and The Boy already had to use the bathroom. It was the first of multiple trips to the bathroom during the game. I stopped keeping score. I was missing too much to keep up.

It also rained. Usually, when sitting in right field, I am under the porch where the retired numbers are. I picked seats that were directly behind the bullpens with no shelter. I was so occupied with finding good seats, I didn’t think about the weather. This was a lack of foresight and I assume full responsibility for this. My family got wet because I did not plan. Luckily for my family, my wife planned and provided ponchos for us.

Fenway Park

Another trip to the bathroom for The Boy. Another episode of standing up, making other people stand up so we can get out. Finding our way through the crowds getting food, finding their seats, standing in line. Fenway Park is small and I would like to see the Red Sox play in a bigger park with room for people to move around without walking into each other or having to walk through a line of people waiting for their food. Yes, I said it. I would like to see Fenway Park replaced.

The game went on. The Boy and I returned to our seats. I got a refill on my drink while I was up. Just Coca-Cola tonight. The boy and I returned to our seats. We were in the middle innings. Things were getting a little tense between the Red Sox fans and the Yankees fans. People started chanting their standard slogans. I thought the Red Sox winning World Series lately would put an end to razzing the Yankees and their fans. I guess it’s been a while since I’ve been to a Red Sox-Yankees game.

More rain. This time it was enough to cause a delay. Rain ceases. Play resumes. More chanting. More razzing. Yankees fans yelling. Red Sox fans yelling. Things escalate. Security comes. Police come. Fans are escorted out of the park. Fans cheer and now I feel like Wife and I have truly given our children a real Fenway experience.

Some of the children aren’t feeling well so Wife leaves with them. I offer to go and suggest we should all go. Wife disagrees. Children have been looking forward to this and it’s their first time there. I remain with the other children. The Red Sox win, 5-4 in 10 innings.

The Red Sox celebrate a win. My kids were there.
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My new book “Down on the Farm” is now available on Apple Books.

Car Trouble and New Neighbors

Me, Wife, five kids, a dog, and a cat. Between all of us there are two schools, four jobs, and countless extra-curricular activities. We, like you, have a busy family and life throws us plenty of curve balls and we deal with those curve balls the best way we can.

A look at the parts under the hood of a car.
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Sometimes the curve balls lead us to new things. That’s what happened to me recently when I was running around trying to get things done one particular day. I ran into a little trouble with the car. Luckily for me, everything was still under warranty. I just needed to wait things out a bit for a courtesy vehicle to come. The weather here in Massachusetts has been oppressively hot or rain and more rain. On this particular day, it was oppressively hot. I wasn’t far from home; just a few blocks away. I took this opportunity to answer emails from work and words of praise from adoring readers and social media followers. I’m good like that. I was standing outside the car since I was told it wouldn’t be long before the courtesy vehicle would arrive. I kept a keen eye up and down the street looking for the nice person who would come to my aid. While I was standing outside, a nice lady came out to check on me. She had noticed my car parked on the street for a while. In our neighborhood, no one parks on the street and if they do, it’s only for a minute or two before continuing on their way. I explained to her what was going on and she invited me into her family’s house with central air for a bottle of water while I waited things out.

I appreciated the invite. I went in and we started talking. I explained I lived a few blocks away. She immediately knew which house I was talking about. She and her husband liked what our house looked like and they were considering putting an addition on their house. I told them the work we had done on our house. They loved the lending library we had outside. I told them that was the brain child of my daughter, The Oppressed. We both had dogs. Our dogs run around a fenced-in yard. We talked about our children and the unique challenges they present.

A black minivan sitting in the driveway.
Back on its feet (wheels) and ready for more.

The courtesy vehicle arrived and it was nice of the couple to invite me in because the vehicle arrived over an hour after they said it would. It was hot that day and I’m delicate. The most random things can happen and that day was an example of that. We made preliminary plans to meet up on night for beers and a fire pit. On that night, Wife can meet the nice people who saved me from oppressive heat and gave me another story to tell on what otherwise would have been a routine day, even though “routine days” with this family can be exciting ones in their own right.

Later that day I saw a post on social media. Someone who was my age was wondering how they can meet people. They were lamenting about how no one talks to anyone anymore. I explained to them I met someone through virtue of some car trouble. Totally random and unexpected. With me and my family, that’s just another day in life.

My new book, “Down on the Farm” is now available on Apple Books.

Family Time and Road Trips

Ahhh, vacation. A time for leaving the hustle and bustle of work and everyday life. A time to replace work with fun. A time to check out someplace new and maybe try new things. Try new food, or maybe indulge in a little extra of your favorites.

Whether we’re on vacation or just trying to live our daily lives, nothing is normal or routine with our family. And even if we’re just trying to live a low-key life at home or away on vacation, action and excitement finds a way to find us.

Booking the trip

Wife and I were looking for a place to take our children on vacation this summer. Sadly, our options were limited as to where. (Check the state’s rules for foster parents if you want to know how.) After looking, consulting, and careful planning, we thought a few days at Six Flags would be just the thing. We found a nearby hotel that included passes to Six Flags. Breakfast was included with your stay. I showed this to my wife as the heavens opened up and a choir of angels began to sing. Brave Daddy had come through for his family!

I got the confirmation email shortly after booking. There was no mention of the included passes, so I called the hotel to find out if that would be in a separate email. Turns out they, “don’t do that anymore.” They stopped doing that during Coronapalooza. I tell the nice lady it would have been nice to know that when the website was saying passes were included. She was sorry.

I consult with my wife. We still want to go to Six Flags so we decide to keep the reservation since the hotel is so close to the park. Lucky for us we live in the 21st century and things can be done with the click of the mouse or tapping your phone. Loving parents that we are, we go online and look to secure tickets for our family. I find a package that fits our family and includes free soft drinks for the entire day of our visit. Brave Daddy has come through again! I check the terms and conditions to confirm this isn’t something too good to be true. I click “buy”. Rides. Food. Free drinks. Parking close to the park. I’d prepare my “Father of the Year” acceptance speech but I need to take care of things for work. I need to cook dinner and there’s a trip I need to pack for. The speech will need to wait.

The confirmation email from Six Flags arrives. The amount paid looks a little (a lot) different from what was listed at the checkout screen. Apparently I missed some things in the finer fine print. I explain to the nice person on the phone the price at checkout did not match the price charged to my card. The nice person explained the reason for the price. I asked for a refund. They don’t do that. They were sorry.

“If you actually get somebody on the phone, nobody can help but everybody understands… And they’re always sorry.”

Bill Burr

Getting There

The glorious day of leaving on vacation finally arrives. Doggie goes to the kennel. The car is packed. Everyone has their screens and headphones, ready for the ride through the fair commonwealth of Massachusetts. I love travelling and I love driving. Living in eastern Massachusetts, we don’t normally see western Massachusetts. I’m travelling to a different place. We’re going on vacation. We’re going to an amusement park. Life is good.

After our excursion (including a stop or two for food and bathroom breaks), we finally arrive at our lodging. A quaint place of business strategically located off the highway for travelers such as us. I go to the front desk to check in and get our keys. After getting the necessary information, I look over and see a “restaurant” with tables pushed to the side and chairs stacked on the tables. I ask the nice person behind the desk if that’s where the breakfast is served in the morning. The nice person gives me a look indicating they have no idea what I’m talking about. I don’t need them to say anything. I know this is going to be good. There’s no breakfast. They don’t serve breakfast. It would have been nice to know that when their website touted a free breakfast with your stay. They were sorry.

Donut Dip. Our source for breakfast.
Go there. You’re welcome.

There was a silver lining to this story. Not having breakfast at the hotel meant we needed to find a place to feed our starving children. Parents know what a tedious, thankless job this can be. I did a search of the area and found “Donut Dip”, a quaint shop near the hotel that would, could, and did solve our breakfast conundrum. The Boy and I left and returned with donuts, coffee, and juice for all of us to fill up and prepare for our excursion in western Massachusetts.

Fun at Six Flags

We arrived at Six Flags. The temperature was hot. Thankfully, we had access to the water park. After going on a couple of rides and trying to find cold drinks to cool off, we decided to splash around the water park. From the water park we were back on the rides. The Boy was the most adventurous. He went on every ride he could. He was ecstatic every time he found out he was tall enough. He and one of The Gaggle went on the SkyScreamer. It’s a ride that climbs 400 feet and goes in circles. He loved it. I think he’s still excited about going on. This was just one example of the joy he felt going on the rides.

Our daredevils on the Skyscreamer.

Like I said, it was hot when we went. Luckily, our membership allowed for free soft drinks all day, everyday. There was a small problem: Half of the concession stands were closed when we were there. The concession stands that were open didn’t have functioning fountain machines. We were looking for rides and looking for drinks. Sometimes the lines for the drinks (and the food) were longer than the rides. If you’ve been to Six Flags or any amusement park for that matter, you know how long the lines can be.

I was in line at one concession stand and thought I was going to get a little added entertainment when someone tried to jump the line and fill their cup ahead of the people who were patiently waiting in line. Despite multiple reminders that there was a line and you couldn’t cut, this person continued to attempt to fill their cups. People got louder. I thought there was going to be a brawl. I had my cell phone ready to record whatever was going to go down. Would I be YouTube famous? Who knows? It didn’t happen. The person left the line. No additional drama.

We went home with more gear that when we got to the park. Children loaded up on hats, toys and souvenirs. People won prizes for winning games. My children don’t have enough stuff in their bedrooms, so naturally they got more. We stopped at a diner for breakfast before the trek home. We unloaded the car, picked up Doggie, and crashed for the night. In the morning, we packed up again for a couple of nights down Cape Cod. There we regaled Wife’s parents with glorious tales of Six Flags, the hotel, food, and a near-brawl over soft drinks.

Cape Cod presented its own challenges but challenges go with the territory when it comes to my family. I had daily shopping excursions with one of Wife’s aunt. Every time we got back we found out something was needed. We added it to the list and set out the next day. There was lively conversation at mealtimes that focused on the vacation and the fun we had food shopping. The days on Cape Cod were a lot cooler than the sweltering days in Western Massachusetts. We went to the lake one day. The kids went swimming. I stayed on the sand with Wife until The Oppressed came to me and begged me to go into the water with her. I did and I’m still recovering from the shock of the cold water. My kids would swim in a blizzard if we’d let them. Cold doesn’t faze them at all, unless of course we’re walking to or from school, taking a hike, or playing a game outside.

Doggie tried to play with my in-law’s dog, who was totally disinterested in that. Both dogs spent their time competing for table scraps that might fall from the table. They played the percentages and hung out near the Boy, who was the smallest of the family and the least careful with his plate of food. Both dogs also hung out near the grill. Their dog suddenly decided he needed to mark his territory at the grill. That was never a problem before. Now it needed to be official.

The dogs co-existed. Our dog was excited to have a playmate. Their dog tolerated our dog and made it clear on many occasions that there would be minimal playing. There were campfires at night where we had drinks and made s’mores. Walks downtown resulted in ice cream and candy. None of the kids wanted to share despite numerous requests. I reminded them I would have shared with them. They told me that’s nice.

Now we’re back home. Wife and I are back to work. We share glorious tales of our trip and learning experiences with friends and family. Camp will be starting soon. Kitty was excited to see us. Doggie was excited to have someone to (sort of) play with. It was an exciting time. I spent three hours at the grocery store to restock the refrigerator and pantry. The Boy is back at his friend’s house. The Gaggle are still sleeping until noon or later. Everyone is adjusting to life back home.

My new book, “Down in the Farm” is now available on Apple Books.

Well-behaved Adults and Grocery Shopping

(Language in this post has been watered down for the purposes of proper decorum.)

Being a parent means being responsible. Not all the time, just when the kids are around. It means eating healthy instead of eating junk or sweets to set a good example for your children. It means Continuing on your way when someone is making a scene in public because it’s not polite to stare at people.

There are some people who don’t watch when something is happening in public, regardless of whether they’re alone or their children are with them. I’m not one of those people. If something is happening, chances are I’m standing off to the side pretending to do something or look at something when the truth is I’m watching the drama unfold out of the corner of my eye. Some people like reality TV. I like reality.

There was one recent episode that took place while I was out shopping one morning. My children were all at school, so it was another trip to the store by myself. A chance to take a little drive, play a little music, and get some things done and out of the way.

As I was making my way through the parking lot, my head turned in the direction of someone who was shouting. I saw a man walking with a cell phone in one hand. The other hand was fending off a woman who was walking with him, visibly (and audibly) upset over something that involved whoever was on the phone.

I went into the store like a mature adult who, “wasn’t interested in other people’s drama.

The woman was trying to maneuver past the fending hand. She stretched her neck as far as she could to the phone. “What the heck did that lady say about me? Come down here and say that to my face, you bawd!”

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

“Ignore her,” the man said on the phone. “She’s upset.”

“You’re darn right I’m upset,” the woman screamed. “I’m more than upset. I’m hopping mad! Tell that woman to come down here. I’m right here in the parking lot, you hag! Come on down here and say that to my face!”

The woman continued to shout past the man to the phone. The man still had the phone to his ear, trying to prevent the woman from getting to his phone. A part of me wanted to know the backstory. It was entertaining, to say the least. If I had children with me, I would have hustled them through the parking lot faster than I was moving by myself, but there were no kids with me so I was able to watch the entertainment during my stroll to the store. On my way to the store, there was another woman who was walking with her daughter. The child asked, “What’s that?” The mother said, “Nothing,” and ushered her along so the child wouldn’t be caught gawking. I exchanged glances with the parent, who was trying to answer her daughter’s questions as vague as she possibly could. Meanwhile, I was wondering what parts of the conversation I had missed as I went into the store like a mature adult who, “wasn’t interested in other people’s drama.”

My new book “Down on the Farm” is now available for purchase on Apple Books.

What Shall we Play?

Friends, relatives, readers and other compatriots know I love playing games, especially with my children. It’s hard to find a game we can agree on. I tried to convince my children to try Cribbage, especially when they were younger and starting school. I thought teaching them how to add up to 121 would help them out with math and help to kill a little time here and there. They were against that. Anything that involves cards is usually boring. They might occasionally tolerate a game of Fish or War, but playing cards is mostly boring.

Photo: 20th Century Fox

Kicking a soccer ball is also boring. Batting practice in the backyard? Boring. Seems like everything is boring. I never thought my children would turn down the chance to have someone pitch a whiffle ball to them, but here we are. Even video games is a struggle. I feel like I’m trying to negotiate something huge with my children. I also feel like I need Scott Boras or Gordon Gecko to hammer something out with my children.

Sometimes, we can agree on something and by “agreeing” I mean playing a game the children want to play and if I don’t agree to play the game, there will be no game. The Boy likes to play “Call of Duty” on PS4. This would be fun if I new what I was doing. We play a game where two people are out in the field and try to find and “neutralize” or “eliminate” each other. Both players start at different parts of the playing field, track each other, and… well, try to win. I’ve been playing games like these for a long time, since “Medal of Honor” came out for Playstation. PSOne. Whatever people call it today. I’m pretty good at it. Not great but I win some. I lose some. In this PS4 installment, I lose all the time. It doesn’t matter where we are. It doesn’t matter what weapons I have with me. I lose. He finds me. He gets me. He “eliminates” me. He loves it. Me? Not so much but The Boy loves it. I try to get him to play other games. I try to get him to play a baseball game on a console. I figure if playing baseball is “too boring” than maybe a faster-paced video game version would be better for him. It’s not. Still boring and he just wants to play “Call of Duty”.

This was the last time I explained ANYTHING about the game to The Oppressed.

I also try to convince The Oppressed to play a game with me. Again, this involves a little negotiation on my part. Usually the only negotiation involved is what game we’re going to play. The Oppressed agrees to play with me if I agree to play a Harry Potter version of Trivial Pursuit. I love Trivial Pursuit. Do I like Harry Potter. Let’s say I don’t hate the franchise. The Oppressed, on the other hand, LOVES Harry Potter. We went to Universal Studios a few years ago. We drank butter beer. The kids got wands. The Gringotts ride was incredible. The whole time there was fun. I may have watched 30 or 60 minutes of Harry Potter out of the entire 8-film series. The Oppressed has read the books and watched the movies. She knows a few things about what happens to who and the tools and spells and enchanted items utilized. I know there’s a kid named Harry Potter. There may be an owl somewhere in a scene and I think someone who was in “Die Hard” is in the movie.

If you are a fan of Harry Potter, buy this game. You will love it. The questions cover spells, characters, production, quotes and magical charms. All things The Oppressed knows and loves. I was out to a pretty good start. I got two wedges before she got one. I liked my chances. I also remembered what it was like in 1986 when the Red Sox won the first two games against the Mets. I tempered my excitement. Those two pieces of the pie I got? Those were the only pieces I got in the entire game as The Oppressed ran the board on me and filled up her Slytherin token. She was happy and excited as she answered the questions and then explained to me where in what movie these things took place. I have no idea what she’s talking about and I’m honestly surprised I got any questions right, let alone earned a wedge. I will say my worthy opponent was very graceful and helped me out with a couple of hints when it came to the questions. Not for the wedges, those I did earn on my own but there were times when my daughter helped me out.

A look at the Hogwarts action.

So, my performance wasn’t ideal. It usually isn’t when you are looking at subject matter you know almost nothing about and your opponent is a walking encyclopedia on the subject matter. Oh well. What matters is my daughter and I got do do something together and my daughter was away from a screen for a little while. I had fun playing with her and, somewhere in Britain, I hope J.K. Rowling appreciates the additional royalties.

Reflections of Another Baseball Season

“The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings…”

Seasons inevitably change. Things come and go. That’s life. That’s the way it is. The end of one thing and the beginning of another gives us the chance to reflect on what was and what may follow.

The weather continues to get warmer and the school year is winding down. Both are reasons to be happy excited if you are a young man (or young lady). Unfortunately, we recently observed an ending: The end of the baseball season.

Baseballs laying on the grass.

At the level I coached this year, the focus was more on fun and learning than scores, winners, and losers. Therefore, at the end of our 2021 season, I look at the improvements each player made. The Boys of Spring came to me in the cool, damp days of March and April. I did what I could to fix holes in their individual swings and flaws in their fielding and throwing. I kept it as simple and basic as I could. I reminded them to keep their glove down on the ground. I told them to relax at the plate and don’t swing for the fences. Improvements were made during the season and I’m glad to have played a small part during the journey.

Children and adults on the baseball field.
Another deep conversation before resuming the game.

There were also the deep, stimulating conversations we had during the game. These usually consisted of, “I’m tired.” “Can we go home?” “I need water.” “I have to go to the bathroom.” We had eight players on our squad this year. Five or six of them wanted to play first base at once. A simple bunt down the third base line would have meant a sure double. Luckily our opposition wasn’t so baseball-savvy.

One child spent the whole morning asking when we’d be done. I told him we had two more innings. He responded, “NO!” I apologized and quickly amended it to three. Apparently, this was not the answer he was looking for either. Another was excited to learn we share the same birthday month. We are now officially “Birthday Twins”.

The complaint department handled grievances regarding the lineup. I always tried to make sure the same person didn’t hit first or last every time. Occasionally, one or two of the players would try to change the lineup. By “change”, I mean write his name down and no one else’s. Other methods of altering the lineup included running to the dugout and being the first to get his helmet and bat thereby superseding the written lineup. I called Rob Manfred to make sure this was indeed a rule. I’m still waiting for confirmation.

There were displays of strength such as boys seeing if they could throw the ball over the fence instead of at the intended target. There were boys running away from the ball. This was when I reminded them they had a glove to protect them. There were two runners on a base. I reminded them it was one at a time. The boys told me about school and Pokémon. I told them about Mel Ott and George Brett. I traded stories of school with the children and bourbon and scotch tips with my assistant coaches.

It was a season of fun and learning. We taught baseball and smoothed over bruised egos. I hope the children enjoyed themselves. Thanks to my assistants D and R for their help. Thank you to C, D, J, J, L, M, R, and W for their (unending) feedback on my coaching and showing me the ways I can improve upon myself.

And I think I inadvertently hit two or three batters. Sorry about that.

Players lined up at home plate after a game.
Waving good-bye to another baseball season.

A Quick Note of Thanks on Memorial Day

An American Flag
Photo by Sharefaith on Pexels.com

Memorial Day has been called the unofficial beginning of summer. It is usually a time when people pack up the car and go somewhere for the long weekend. I feel that over the past few years, people have been getting back to what Memorial Day was originally intended for: honoring those who served and are no longer with us.

There are plenty of reasons to celebrate Memorial Day. Those reasons can be found marked with gravestones and American flags.

I’m not saying there’s something wrong with taking a trip. Whatever you’re doing, you should be mindful of why we celebrate Memorial Day. The United States doesn’t have a draft. Every last man and woman who serves in the Armed Forces does so of their own free will. These people know what they’re signing up for and they go ahead anyway. To say it’s not an easy thing to do is an understatement. Our men and women knowingly and willingly go into danger when everyone else’s first instinct is to avoid it. Unfortunately, some who do this don’t make it back.

A grave with an American flag in a cemetery.
Photo by Sharefaith on Pexels.com

There are veterans in my family (Army and Marines) and Wife’s (Air Force). My grandfathers (Army and Navy) and Wife’s (Army) served in World War II. Every Memorial Day, we visit the resting place of Wife’s grandfather. We don’t forget, but The Oppressed likes to ask every year if we’re going. We do, and on the way there is some ceremony taking place, usually downtown, to honor the dead. We make that ceremony, no matter how small or how quick it is.

There are plenty of reasons to celebrate Memorial Day. Those reasons can be found marked with gravestones and American flags. The Oppressed was happy one year when she and a group of friends got to put the flags at the spots occupied by those who served. It’s a way of reminding herself why we have Memorial Day. There are a lot of brave daddies (and mommies) who left their families and didn’t make it back. For Wife and me, our grandfathers, our other relatives, and our friends made it back. Today, we remember those who didn’t. We remember those who knew what they were signing up for and left their homes and their families for that greater purpose that called them. Today, I hope your day allows a moment to pass through a cemetery and see the graves marked with flags. Some towns have a memorial in the center with a statue or a flag to honor those who made the Ultimate Sacrifice. Remember those who didn’t make it, and if you one of those who did, Thank you.

Local Beers and Taprooms

Daddy likes to unwind at the end of the day with a tasty beverage. He also likes to help local businesses. He relaxes. They thrive. It’s a win-win.

I like beer. You know I like beer and you know what kinds of beers I like. I’m happy to say I became a craft beer (formerly known as “microbrew”) connoisseur long before it became a popular thing to do, although I am happy to see the smaller taprooms popping up and taking advantage of the popularity by offering their own lagers, stouts, pilsners, etc.

I thought I would spend this week talking about some locally-made beers in my area and a couple that aren’t exactly close but on my way to and from destinations. These are beers that I have tasted and enjoy buying and imbibing, so I know what I’m talking about. I also want you to know these are beers I am writing about on my own free will and time. No one approached me for this and no one paid or offered me anything. These are beers I genuinely like.

Photo: bentwaterbrewing.com

Bent Water Brewing

This was a brewery I first learned about when passing through my old neighborhood. When on the road travelling to or from a vacation or visiting family, I try to stop somewhere to pick up some local beer. I like finding out about what’s around that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to buy and try. There was one drive home I decided to stop at a store I had passed many times but never visited. I was surprised to find beer made in my native Lynn, MA. I feel like my first beer was the Thunder Funk or the Viskiss. I don’t remember, which is odd because you always remember your first. Right? I’m hoping to try more from this brewery. I just need to make it back to the North Shore. (bentwaterbrewing.com)

Photo: twitter.com/ipswichalebrew

Ipswich Ale Brewery

I thought this was Mercury Brewing, but I couldn’t find that in my research. These nice people make many kinds of beer but their flagship offering is Ipswich Ale and it’s a great beer. In addition to this there are a number of other beers including Route 101 and Oatmeal Stout, personal favorites of mine. (ipswichalebrewery.com)

Photo: mayflowerbrewing.com

Mayflower Brewing

I’m a history buff, so I’m often in America’s Hometown of Plymouth. I’m not sure when I started drinking the offerings of Mayflower Brewing but their Thanksgiving Ale has been my personal tradition for years. Upon returning home from wherever we’re celebrating Thanksgiving, I put my feet up and enjoy one. Pilgrims drank beer all the time. It was safer than the brackish water. I drink beer because I like to support local businesses. Just doing my (small) part. (mayflowerbrewing.com)

photo: absolutebeer.com

Trillium

I think Wife introduced me to Trillium and I’m glad she did. They have plenty of varieties to choose from and you can enjoy their beers and grab something to eat in Canton and two additional locations in Boston. Otherwise, you can grab a four-pack at your local store. I liked the Double Dry Hopped Scaled the best but am looking forward to trying more, expanding my palette and trying more options. There are plenty from this brewery. (trilliumbrewing.com)

This is just a small sampling of the local beers I enjoy. There seems to be new tap rooms opening up all the time, which means more things to try out. No matter what pops up, I’ll be sure to pick something up from one of the existing breweries. If you like beer, there seems to be no shortage of options. Try one or two. They’re small businesses. They’re local. They certainly appreciate your business.