July 18, 2014

This is dedicated to my friends, the 2014 Astros Moms.

July 18, 2014. I plan to savor every minute of today. It’s the last day of the last road tournament of my youngest son’s youth baseball career. We’re all riding high off the excitement of a late inning victory last night and the hope of one last national championship, but I know when it’s over, win or lose, the reality will hit and we’ll all be a little sad. The reality is, it’s the last day of the last road tournament of our sons’ youth baseball careers.  I feel a twinge of melancholy now before the first pitch is even thrown.

It has been a privilege to watch my son and his teammates become men on the diamond. As a baseball mom, I’ve steered clear of dugouts, bullpens and cages. My place has been on the sidelines, breathing sighs of relief on my son’s good days and suppressing the urge to gnaw off my own arm when I helplessly watch him struggle. Today, there is a perch reserved just for me in the bleachers and while I’ll be watching and cheering, adrenaline pulsing through my veins and a towel on my head (a story for another blog), I know it will be a little different.

In the back of my mind, I’ll know it’s the last day of the last road trip. There’s something special about being on the road. There’s a special sort of bonding that happens. It is on road trips that you realize teammates are more than friends. They are brothers. It is on the road when “team” means family.

These young men have been together for a long time. It’s hard to imagine that soon they will scatter. With scholarships waiting, I’m excited about what the future holds for each and every one of these players and most especially for my son. I’ve no doubt they will cross paths again and will stay in touch. The future is bright, but the truth is, after today it will never be the same.  So just for today when the ump shouts, “Ballgame,” I’ll let myself be a little sad, watching from the sidelines, as this chapter finally comes to an end.

 

© Copyright 2014 Just Another Ordinary Day by Antoinette Datoc  All Rights Reserved

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait..and Play by the Rules

There is a compendium of unwritten mandates in baseball that fall under the umbrella of things you just don’t do. The majority of them serve to prevent baseball moms from embarrassing their sons and themselves… but mostly their sons… in public. You can learn more about them here. Others provide a code of conduct aimed at maintaining harmony within the baseball mom community. They prohibit stuff like gossiping about other people’s kids, negative cheering, brown-nosing coaches and perhaps most importantly, punching  other baseball moms in the head no matter how annoying they may be.

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 10.05.11 AMThe need for rules governing laundry room etiquette may seem odd if you’re a soccer mom or a basketball mom or a swimming mom or any other sort of mom, but if you’re a baseball mom you know restoring your son’s uniform to its pristine, pre-game condition is serious business. If you’re a baseball mom you should also know unless AND ONLY UNLESS you are the mom designated to wash uniforms for your entire team on a road trip, you must NEVER monopolize the hotel guest laundry facility by doing consecutive, multiple loads of laundry when people are waiting to use the washing machines. Period. It’s the one-load-only-when-there-is-a-line-for-the-hotel-washing-machine rule (henceforth know as the one-load-only rule). It may be unwritten, but it’s still a rule and should never be violated. Just don’t do it.

The one-load-only rule is rooted in simple common sense, fundamental good manners and good old-fashioned consideration for others, but you’d be surprised at the number of women parading around as “baseball moms” who feign obliviousness to the one-load-only rule. These women should not be allowed to call themselves baseball moms. If it were up to me I’d ban them from baseball (or at least from hotel laundry rooms) for life.

I do not care if you are traveling with your entire family including two teenaged daughters, each of whom changes clothes three times daily and a grandpa who soiled his trousers when Junior was proclaimed safe on a close play at the plate. I don’t care what your whiny excuse is. It is non-negotiable. It’s rude and inconsiderate and I shouldn’t even need to write about it, but I’ll say it again. You never violate the one-load-only rule. JUST DON’T DO IT.

This actually happened a couple of nights ago in the baseball mecca of Ft. Myers, Florida. A woman from New Jersey (let’s call her Garden State mom) violated the one-load-only rule when she tied up the only two washers and dryers available in the Homewood Suites for more than four hours. I’m not kidding. This was a particularly egregious violation because 1) the majority of her soiled laundry was non-baseball and 2) the line for the machines snaked out the laundry room door, about thirty feet down the hall into the lobby. As Garden State mom started transferring her first two loads from the washers to the dryers, it became obvious to all of us waiting that only a fraction of her laundry was dirty baseball stuff.

One rule-savvy baseball mom from Texas (Lone Star State mom) called her out on it, but Garden State mom played ignorant, “I’m heeeyah with my entiyah family and they were at the beach awll day. Whaddya expect me to do widdit? Take it awll home dirty?” A couple of South Carolina (Palmetto State) baseball moms waiting in the hall poked their heads in the door and chimed in with a few snarky comments of their own.

I thought (hoped) a riot might ensue, something tantamount to a bench clearing brawl that would allow me to act on my exceedingly strong urge to punch Garden State mom squarely in the head. Luckily, the words just don’t do it popped into my brain at the exact moment that I stood up to cock my fist in her direction. Given my normal peace-loving nature, I found the whole thing very unsettling and briefly considered retreating to the safe haven of my room in order to save myself from doing something that would require my husband to post bail on my behalf.

The thing is, I still had a filthy baseball uniform that needed my tender loving care and like most self-respecting baseball moms, I take my laundry responsibility very seriously. It occurred to me, good things come to those who wait so I waited. I suppressed the urge to pummel Garden State mom and I waited…and waited… all the while quietly repeating the baseball mom’s mantra  just don’t do it just don’t do it just don’t do it until it was my turn.

The next day we arrived at the field and wouldn’t you know it. My son’s team was playing the New Jersey (a.k.a Garden State) Tigers. We won 15 to 0 in three innings by a mercy rule. I scanned the bleachers for Garden State mom because I sort of wanted to gloat, but I didn’t see her, plus I thought just don’t do it and that’s when it occurred to me. Good things come to those who wait… and play by the rules.

 

© Copyright 2014 Just Another Ordinary Day by Antoinette D. Datoc All Rights Reserved

Mind Your Manners

Mind Your Manners

ELEVATOR MANNERS

  • To the lady who nearly knocked me down as I exited the hotel elevator yesterday:  Now, I know elevators can be incredibly tricky and perhaps they make you anxious.  Even if suffering from some underlying phobia drives you to foresake common courtesy, think about practicality.  There simply isn’t enough room for everybody who wants to get off and everybody who wants to get on to be there at the same time, so wait till I get off before you get on.  It’s really simple.  Just wait.  No need to smile or exchange pleasantries.  Just wait and while you’re at it stand far enough back to give me room to walk by you without being forced to count the pores on your face.  Less than two seconds is all it takes.  It’s not going to make you late and if it does, you should have left earlier in the first place.  And if  I happen to be carrying a cup of something liquid that spills when you bump me in your frantic rush to board, say excuse me.

GROCERY STORE MANNERS

  • To the woman behind me in line at the grocery store who asked if she could go first because she only had a few things compared to my full cart and she was running late to bring her daughter to ballet class:  No… and wipe that scowl off your face.  I have places to go too.  Occasionally when I’m feeling particularly altruistic I will offer to let a body scoot in front of me, but if I don’t offer, don’t ask.  I don’t care if your daughter is Dame Margot Fonteyn, her ballet class is not more important TO ME than whatever I’m doing next.
  • To the guy in front of me with the blue-tooth device implanted in the area of his skull behind his ear:  Hand the divider thingee to the person behind you (me) and if you don’t,  do not stare me down and get annoyed when I accidentally knock over your two liter bottle of Dr.Pepper as I strain awkwardly across your stash of groceries in an effort to grab the thingee myself.  By the way, no one is beneath the task of bagging one’s own groceries so if no bagger is present, do it yourself.  Chances are you take your groceries out of the bags when you get home, so put away your cell phone and put them into the bags yourself.  I promise it won’t kill you.

And finally…

BASEBALL SPECTATOR MANNERS

  • To the guy sitting in front of me at my son’s game yesterday:  First of all, I am sorry I snapped, “Thanks for the balk lesson.”  However, please note the following:  1) you have no idea what constitutes a balk and even if you did; 2) I wasn’t talking to you; 3) I solicited neither your opinion nor input; so 4) learn to mind your business.

That’s all for today.

One Simple Rule: Just Don’t Do It

The unfolding of a 6-4-3 double play, especially when my offspring is involved in the execution, gives me sweaty palms and causes my heart to go pitapat. This primal response is not commonly associated with the ordinary baseball spectator. Then again, I am not just another ordinary baseball spectator. I am a baseball mom.

I confess I never was much of a baseball fan nor did I know much about this glorious game until my kids began to play it. It’s funny because nowadays I’m known as somewhat of a genius among baseball moms (or a savant as a fellow baseball parent once coined me upon my demonstration of an arresting arsenal of fascinatingly obscure baseball knowledge). I’m not being smug. Honest. It was bound to happen. After spending nearly two decades perched in bleachers at every level of my kids’ ascensions from coach pitch to college, I have acquired an absolutely, altogether and thoroughly impressive baseball IQ. I am a baseball mom and a savvy one at that.

I know what constitutes a catcher’s balk (yes there is such a thing) as well as a pitcher’s balk. I know there are 27 different ways to score from third base and come hell or high water YOU BETTER FIND A WAY TO GET THERE, SON! I know the history of a can o’ corn, what predicates an umpire’s invoking the infield fly (and why), and by-golly I know a good piece-a-hittin’ when I see one.

Being a regular old baseball mom is no easy task. Heaven knows, we’ve all logged more miles driving to and from practices and games, prepared more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for consumption between double-headers, and scrubbed our knuckles raw in futile efforts to restore filthy baseball uniforms to pristine pre-game condition more times than we care to admit. But if you’re going to earn the rank and title of savvy baseball mom (like me), you’re going to need to learn a few things about the game.

First, you need to learn all good pitches to hit are strikes, but not all strikes are good pitches to hit. Second, and perhaps more importantly (pay close attention), you need to learn regardless of how hard a batter hits the ball, it is not…I repeat… NOT a hit unless the ump declares him safe.  The thing is (and here’s where it starts to get confusing) even if he does end up on base, there’s a good chance it still isn’t a hit. Stuff like errors and the fielder’s choice complicate matters, which is why unless you have fully mastered the subtleties of hitting, you should never ever shout NICE HIT at your son upon his arrival on base during a game.  No matter how hard he hits the ball. No matter how quickly he hauls himself down the baseline. No matter how excited you are. No matter how tempting it is. Do not shout NICE HIT. JUST DON’T DO IT.

Let me stress, unless you are absolutely certain a hit is a hit, you must follow one simple rule: JUST DON’T DO IT. Apparently (and I learned this the hard way), a baseball mom mistaking something that is not a hit for a hit is the most egregious error committed in baseball. It’s worse than a passed ball, a wild pitch, a fly ball dropped in the outfield; it’s even worse than the kiss-of-death ground ball that slips between an infielder’s legs. I don’t care how thrilling it is to watch the umpire decisively splay his arms as your cherub slides into the bag for an extra-base hit. Do not shout NICE HIT unless you are certain it is one. If you’re wrong it makes you sound…well, there’s no nice way to put it…it makes you sound kind of stupid. Take my advice. JUST DON’T DO IT.

You won’t find JUST DON’T DO IT listed among the ten Divisions of the Code listed on page one of the Official Rules of Baseball, but I promise these unwritten rules exist. In fact, the prohibition of shouting NICE HIT is just one of an entire compendium of similar unwritten mandates that exists for one singular purpose: to prevent baseball moms from embarrassing their sons (and themselves) in public. Using pet names for your son, as in, “Way to hang tough, Sweetie-Petie-Poo!” while cheering is prohibited so JUST DON’T DO IT. Females loitering in the dugout is prohibited so JUST DON’T DO IT. Attempting to apply sunscreen to your son’s freckled face between innings  (especially when said face is sporting a mustache and soul patch) is prohibited so JUST DON’T DO IT. Furthermore, I do not care if it’s hot enough for the 16-inch numbers on your son’s jersey to sear themselves into the skin on his back; I do not care how hot (literally or figuratively) you are. Attending your son’s baseball game clad in Daisy Dukes and a halter top with no bra is prohibited so JUST DON’T DO IT JUST DON’T DO IT JUST DON’T DO IT.

Finally, while it’s perfectly acceptable to shout, “Run! Run! Run!” to a four-year-old t-ball player, you must learn once he heads off to college you just don’t do that sort of thing anymore. One might argue if he’s playing division I college ball (or for that matter if he’s over the age of 10), chances are pretty good he’s going to remember to run to first base when he hits the ball so there’s simply no need to shout, “Run! Run! Run!” anymore. I know what you’re thinking (once upon a time I thought it too). Aren’t there exceptions?

Aren’t there exceptions for emotionally-charged circumstances? What if your son gets his first ever college hit in his first ever college at bat in, of all places, a minor league stadium with his larger-than-life face plastered across the jumbo-tron? What if you’re really excited to see him make solid contact? Does that make it okay to wildly flail your arms while screaming, “RUN!RUN!RUN!RUN!RUN!” so loud that the home plate umpire turns around and stares at you? I’m not saying this actually happened, but if it did, I’m afraid you would find out there are, indeed, absolutely no exceptions.

I suppose if you’re going to earn the rank and title of savvy baseball mom you really ought to learn a few things about the game. Baseball is a complex sport so things are bound to get confusing. When they do, I beseech you. Take my advice and remember one simple rule. JUST DON’T DO IT. Trust me…I learned the hard way.

©  2013 by Antoinette D. Datoc