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.

Random Thoughts

(With apologies in advance to Thomas Sowell.) For the first time in years I’ve had a hard time getting up in the mornings to run. I think it’s because school’s started and the boys don’t have time in the mornings to come with me on their bikes.

I will move to the Houston area one day. If Houston doesn’t work out, then I’ll move somewhere in Texas. Yes, even Austin. :-)

After watching the Detroit Tigers once again collapse after the All-Star Break, I wonder how much long-term damage I’m doing to my kids by letting them become Tiger fans.

I wish I was a good artist. Then I could write killer stories and turn them into awesome graphic novels.

I can’t get the song “Love Is All Around” out of my head. I blame Marathon Girl since I’ve done nothing but stay with her all day.

Forget writing groups, I want a brainstorming group. You know, one where I can share at least one half-dozen novels that are floating around in my head and get some feedback from readers and writers. Isn’t that one of the things that a writing group does, you ask? Yes. But a writing group requires a long-term commitment. I don’t have time for that right now.

Between Hulu, Netflix, and all the other network websites I find that I don’t miss TV at all. Not. One. Bit.

Johnny Damon hasn’t done much for the Tigers but I was glad to see him stay in Detroit. Maybe next time Red Sox fans will think twice before coming vitriolic toward players who leave their team.

The nice thing about discovering an author that you haven’t read before is that he or she has usually written several other novels that you can dive into. My new author discovery this summer? Harlan Coben.

I need more than six hours of sleep a night.

I’m glad football season is about to begin. I’m looking forward to taking the kids to some low-intensity college football games in the coming months.

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.

The Sports Kids Love

I was contemplating taking the kids to another college football game yesterday but a steady snowfall and temperatures in the 20s make me reconsider. Even though I would have loved to watch a game in the driving snow storm, I doubt the kids would have lasted past the first quarter. And since I want them to enjoy going to football games, it’s probably not a good idea to have them associate them with freezing temperatures and snow—at least until they’re old enough to want to do something like that. Instead we stayed home and played copious amounts of Chutes & Ladders, war, rogue chess, and many other card and board games. A good time was had by all.

Last weekend I took them to their first Utah Jazz game. This means in the last year or so they’ve attended a major league baseball game, college football game, and an NBA game. Aside from making them spoiled rotten, it’s been interesting to see how they act at different events and which ones they enjoy the most. For any parents in the crowd, here’s my take on how young kids (say, 6 and under) enjoy different sporting events.

Best: (college) football. There’s enough stoppage between plays that they can stand up and do whatever they want then focus their attention back on the field. And since most plays take up quite a bit of the field, there’s a lot to focus on. By the end of the game the boys understood the basics of the game and could read the scoreboard. (Read about the experience here.) And after watching a game in person, whenever we throw the football around the yard, they now want to play “real” (read: tackle) football. Final Weber State game is next Saturday. If the weather warms up, I’ll consider taking them.

Okay: baseball. The game is slow enough for them to follow the action while still act like kids and find all sorts of ways to entertain themselves during the breaks in the game. The problem is that when the action does occur, 90% of it takes place between the pitcher’s mound and home plate. It was hard for them to pay attention to that small area or watch the ball get thrown back and forth. They enjoyed it more when the bat and ball made contact. Will probably take them to a handful of minor league games next summer and see how they handle it.

Too soon: basketball. Despite row 7 seats, the Jazz game was too fast for them to follow. They got the concept of putting the ball in the hoop but that was about it. Score changed too fast for them to follow. Parts of the game were too loud for them—something they didn’t enjoy. The best part of the game for them was watching the Jazz Bear. Might wait a few years before trying this one again. Might consider some Utah Flash games if the chance arises. Those games aren’t as noisy and they won’t have to watch Carlos Boozer screw things up.

Boys and Baseball

While in Phoenix my friend Brent and I took his oldest boy and my two boys to a Diamondbacks/Tigers baseball game. Considering the ages of my boys (three and two) I was taking somewhat of a chance on whether or not they’d be able to sit through an entire game. A game typically lasts between two and a half and three hours and most of the actions takes place between the pitcher’s mound and the batter’s box – not exactly the most interesting thing to watch if you’re young, full of energy, and have a typical little boy attention span. Yet all three kids had fun time. And I really have to thank Brent who has done this enough times with his oldest boy that he knew exactly what to do to keep them occupied and entertained when they weren’t watching the game. Between learning how to shell peanuts, drinking root beer, watching the world’s largest HD television in center field, letting them take pictures with my digital camera (gulp!), looking at all the people in the stands, watching a few pitches each inning, and playing with each other they had a good time. Their favorite part of the game, however, was the 10 minute firework show at the end. (At least I know they’ll enjoy any fireworks shows I take them to this summer.)

As young as they are, a few years from now they probably won’t remember the game or the fact that Tigers lost a game they should have won. But seeing the smiles on their faces and how much fun they had, I’ll remember this day for the rest of my life.

I’m looking forward to taking them to more games in the future.

Finally, A Vacation

Phoenix, Arizona

The phone call came like an answer to a prayer.

For several days Marathon Girl and I had been discussing when to take some time off and where to go on vacation. The phone rings. On the other end is my friend Brent.

Brent calls just to see how things are going and then mentions that the Tigers will be in town soon to play the Diamondbacks.

The Tigers are coming to Phoenix? I’m stunned. I looked at their schedule back in March and didn’t remember seeing that. I get online and discover that the Tigers do have three game series in Phoenix in mid-May.

Suddenly family vacation plans materialize. A trip to Phoenix to enjoy the company of friends, see their two kids, and squeeze in a Tigers baseball game.

And our trip would coincide with a wonderful event for Brent and his wife. The adoption of their second child is scheduled to be finalized that week and they have some fun things planned in celebration.

We’re still working out the details but it looks like the family heading to Phoenix sometime in mid-May.

Suddenly, I'm not so tired anymore.