Tiger Town

Congratulations to the Detroit Tigers who reached the World Series yesterday. To add icing to the cake, they swept the New York Yankees to do it. Couldn’t have asked for a better way to get there. Now I’m pulling for the Giants to come back against Cardinals because I think the Tigers match up better against them. Either way I’m looking forward to watching the games with my kids. And I'm jealous of my brother who lives in Michigan. It's probably a lot funner when everyone is excited about a Tigers playing in the World Series. Here? Not that big of a deal.

Go Tigers! Enjoy the highlights of their last game below.

Tiger Town

My youngest brother is in the middle of his first semester of law school at Michigan State University. Since he and his wife moved there in August it’s been interesting to hear him talk about how many people are excited about the Detroit Tigers. For example, the bus driver is always talking about their latest game when he boards her bus every morning and his law school classmates will stop their late night studies to watch a couple of innings here and there. According to my brother, the energy level has only gone up exponentially since the Tigers made the postseason. Since Tiger fans are a rare breed in Utah, I’m envious that my brother gets to experience that communal sports delight.

No doubt the energy levels been tamped down somewhat since the Tigers season came to an ignominious end at the hands of the Texas Rangers tonight, they made it farther than anyone thought they would back in April. And Tigers did knock the Yankees out of the post season and that alone made their trip to the postseason worth it. Besides, my brother says the bus driver and his law school friends won’t be down in the dumps for long. The Detroit Lions who are off to their first 5-0 start in over 50 years and everyone’s excited about that too. Here’s to hoping the rest of the Lions’ season will give sports fans in Michigan something to cheer about all the way ‘till February.

Handling Setbacks with Class

Last week a blown call by umpire Jim Joyce cost the Detroit Tigers Armando Galarraga a perfect game—one of the rarest feats in baseball. (See video above.)

As a lifelong Tigers fan, I’m used to seeing my team end up on the wrong side of history. (Two other Tiger pitchers have lost perfect games with two outs in the ninth.) But I have to admire the way Galarraga and the Tigers handled the situation.

There could have been long-winded, obscenity-filled rants at the post-game press conference, an appeal to Major League Baseball to overturn the decision, and diatribes about the need for instant replay in baseball to make the games “fair.”

But there wasn’t any of that. At least not from Galarraga and the Tigers organization.

After the game Joyce watched the replay and admitted his mistake and apologized to Galarraga. Galarraga accepted his apology and shook his hand. The next night Galarraga was treated to a standing ovation. Joyce umpired from behind the plate. The Tigers won. Life went on.

In a world full of people who rant and rave when life doesn’t turn out the way they want it to, Galarraga’s reaction was very refreshing.

We live in a harsh, unforgiving world. Life is rarely fair. We work hard and devote our lives to building up families, businesses, and dreams only to “watch the things you gave your life to broken” by our own mistakes or the actions of others. What’s important is how we react to life’s setbacks. Do we complain and give up on our goals or shrug off the disappointment and “stoop and build ‘em up with wornout tools”?

Armando Galarraga may have been robbed of his place in baseball’s history books, but his reaction to a very disappointing setback will always make him a class act in my book.

Real vs. Virtual Talent

Time Management

The best Christmas present I ever received was an Atari 2600. Unwrapping it on Christmas morning is probably my most vivid Christmas memory. Over its life it received thousands of hours of playtime. Even after it became outdated (Nintendo’s were all the rage in high school), friends and I would break it out on occasion and play our favorite games. It and the dozens of games we owned were finally thrown away as the family packed up to move to Wyoming.

By far the best Christmas present our kids received this year was a Wii. And while I’ve enjoyed playing it with them as well as watching them play, it’s been somewhat troubling how addictive they find it. The boys would spend all day doing nothing but playing it if we let them. (We don’t. Its use is highly regulated.)

I bring this up because it amazes me how much time kids and adults spend playing video games. Even a lot of adults I know can’t live without their weekly game nights or spend hours after their kids are in bed playing World of Warcraft. Granted today’s games are better, more complex, and take longer to play than the ones I grew up on, but it really concerns me when I see the boys begging to play the Wii while they’ve got plenty of other toys and friends to play with as well as countless activities they can do outside. And though I wasn’t a video game addict, I did spend lots of time during college and the year or two after I graduated playing video games. Looking back it was time that could have been better spent honing my writing skills or spending time with friends, family, and loved ones.

This month we gave our boys a choice: they could sign up for spring soccer or baseball. (They both chose baseball. And, no, I did nothing to influence their decision.) The issue wasn’t what sport they were going to play but, rather, how they’re spending their time. And even though there are hundreds of clichés on why sports are good for kids, the real reason I want them to play a sport is so they can learn the amount of hard work it takes develop real talents as opposed to virtual ones.

While I don’t expect my kids to become professional baseball or soccer players, I know they all have skills they can develop that will help them later in life. It takes hours of practice to become a good artist, plumber, or computer programmer. Having the self discipline to work hard at something will carry anyone long distances in the real world.

We all have a limited amount time in this life. One of the best things we can learn at any age is what our real talents are and the best way develop and use them. Yes, it takes skill to hit a baseball 450 feet on the Wii (I’m still working n that one), but it takes more talent to hit a home run with a real bat and ball.

I’ll take the real talents over virtual ones any day.