Opening Day 2018

It’s not quite forty degrees here in New Jersey.  It’s cold.  Hand stinging cold.  It’s the cold that makes your nose and ears hurt. 

Did I mention it’s April?  I think the fact that it’s actually spring makes the temperature outside that much colder.  

At least the sun is out, though the day will remain in the low-40’s.

Yet, even with the (close to) frigid temperatures, I am excited, very excited, unbearably excited, to get outside this afternoon.  Today is the Opening Day of our softball season.  

I just love to play ball.

Even if it’s cold.

I have been playing in various competitive men’s softball leagues for the better part of the last thirty years.  Growing up, I was convinced that I’d be a New York Yankee.  I wasn’t good enough.  Not even close.  I never even made it to high school varsity.

This then, is, and has been, my Major Leagues.  

I just love to play ball.

Today I’ll be playing for a brand new team.  They drafted me to be the young hot-shot rookie.  This is probably the last time I’ll ever come to a team as the young guy – my last rookie season.

This new team I am joining is in an “Over-50 Men’s Softball League.”  I’m not (quite) fifty yet (but I will be this season so I am eligible to play).  I was told by a teammate that the “young guys” like me will be expected to play all nine innings so the older guys can rest a bit.

I love the fact that they want me to play all nine innings!  I can’t wait!

This year I’ll actually be playing in two leagues.  In my hometown of Wyckoff, New Jersey, I play in an Over-30 league.  I’m actually still a shortstop, but I’m certainly not one of the younger players and as I get older (and slower) and the competition gets younger (and faster), I wonder how much longer I can play at a competitive level in that league.  Luckily for me, there are a host of players round my age still hanging on.  Like me, they don’t ever want to give this up.  

Maybe this is also their Major Leagues…

From what I understand, the two leagues have some differences.  In the Over-50 league, players can run through the bases.  I guess once you reach a half-century, you no longer need to slide.  I still might slide, though, unless it makes me seem obnoxious.  It’s not to show off, I don’t know if I’m good enough to show off, it’s just that when I play, I think that I’m a lot younger than I really am.  

When I play ball, I’m a kid again.  I don’t want to ever grow up and realize that I’m at middle-age and might not be able to do this for many more years.  I just want to play.  I want to be a kid again.  I don’t ever want to grow up.  

I also understand that the Over-50 league plays with metal bats.  This both excites and terrifies me.  The Over-30 league went to wood about seven years ago.  With a metal bat, I was (somewhat) of a power hitter.  I hit my fair share of extra base hits and would even club a few homers a year.  I haven’t hit a homer since they went to wood.  In some recent seasons I haven’t even hit a triple.  Or a double.  (Ouch.)

I’m hoping for a few round trippers with the older guys this year.  Hitting the ball and touching them all will feel good.  It’s been far too long.

But, since I play on the infield, I’m a little terrified about the hard line drives that rocket off of the metal bats.  I haven’t had to field missiles like that since the Wyckoff league went to wood.  If my hitting suffered because I lost my power, my fielding improved because the slower exit velocity from the hitter gave me more time to react to catch the balls and make the plays.  I hope these old guys don’t hit the ball too hard at me.  I haven’t tested my reflexes against a metal bat for many years.  (The perfect league would allow me to hit with a metal bat while my opponents would be limited to wood.)

Ah, what does it matter?  Whether I catch the ball or get any hits, in a few hours I’ll be playing softball.  The long and wonderful season is on the horizon in front of me.  

I can’t wait.

I want to play forever.

I just love… to play ball.

 

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Radio Star II

A few months ago, I shared how people who I will never know might be impacted by the words I read from my basement in the early hours before school each day.  I read a health report and share words of inspiration for a radio show in the Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania area. 

As a high school kid, when I dreamed of being a radio announcer, I thought I’d be doing things a little differently than what I’m doing now.  I also thought that if I was on the radio, I’d be talking about baseball – especially the Yankees.   

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It Is!

“Is this Heaven?”

“It’s… Iowa”

from Field of Dreams

***

There is a Heaven.  I know it absolutely.  I have been there.  

Now, to be clear, I haven’t been to that Heaven, just one that, to me at least, might be awfully close.

There is a God.  I also know this absolutely.  God played a big role in making my trip to Heaven a reality.  

***

A few years ago I traveled to the legendary Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa to have a catch with my dad.  I have often shared the story of how that trip came to be.  I wrote about it and have put it on both of my blogs.  The story has been published as part the book Impossible is an Illusion.  Titled “Is This?” it might be my most widely read piece (to date).  Many people, including a number of prominent authors and, I’m pretty certain about this, the President of the Baseball Hall-of-Fame have read that story.

But, I have never told the story about what happened on those magical days in Iowa in 2016 with my dad and my mom.  I shared all about our decision to go there, but I’ve never told the tale of the wonderful memories we created on a little baseball field in the middle of nowhere.

This, then, is that story…

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Insignificant?

I think, in a way, we are very spoiled.  The world is at our fingertips.  We can see amazing things whenever we want.  Some of the amazing things we see are real, some of them might even be staged (“reality TV”), but, nonetheless, in the moment at least, what we are watching seems real, amazing, other worldly, and significant. 

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Day #1

 I have run a countless number of races in my life.  Yes, this includes 20 marathons.  (I always keep an accurate count of my marathons.)

I love to run.

I have often stated that the marathon defines me. 

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Saying Goodbye to Matsui & Meb

(This post can also be found on NYY_Report (“Start Spreading the News”):

http://itsaboutthemoney.net/start-spreading-the-news/2017/11/6/saying-goodbye-to-matsui-and-meb)

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We are sports fans.  There is something special and wonderful and unique about being a sports fan.  We love our teams and certain players.  We get excited by special moments.

 And when disappointment hits, it hits hard – and it often hurts. 

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No Marathon 2017

It has been the strangest autumn of my life.  Or, at least the strangest autumn of the last fifteen years – since 2002.

I’ve shared on these pages before that I’m not running a fall marathon this year.

It’s an unfamiliar feeling.  And I don’t particularly like it.  The beloved New York City Marathon, the race I love and adore, will go on without me.

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A Shining Light

(Author’s note – I changed the names of the student in this true story.)

Way back, a long time ago, when I was a teacher, I had a student named Beth.  One day in class, during a discussion about Pre-Columbian America, Beth shared that she was of Native American decent.  That prompted me to bestow a nickname on her.  (I gave happy nicknames to lots of kids.)  From that day forward Beth was “A Shining Light in the Sky.”  Beth loved the nickname.  She came to class every day with a warm smile.

Beth was one of those kids who was easy to like as a teacher:  She was happy, enthusiastic, a hard worker, and team player.  A model student, Beth was the type of kid who makes teaching a joy.

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Sometimes You Can’t?

Sometimes we can’t accomplish what we set our minds to do.

Sometimes impossible isn’t an illusion… it is real.  Or, at least it seems real.  We strive, we reach, we try – and we fall short, we stumble, we fall.  We reach and try again.  And fall and fail.  We fall and fail and fail again.  Or so it seems…

Sometimes the goal, whatever it is, seems too hard, too distant, too impossible.  We say, “I can’t.”  We say, “It’ll never happen.”  

What then?

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The Judge

(The following passage was included as part of the monthly newsletter that I send out to the parents of my school community.)

It is no secret that I enjoy sports, mostly baseball, and that I have always been a big fan of the New York Yankees.  There is something about baseball that resonates with me.  The ebb and flow of the game, the simplicity, the day-to-day consistency…  Like a good friend, from April through September, baseball is a constant companion.  I love it.

One of the big stories that has come out of this year’s baseball season has been the fact that a rookie on the New York Yankees, a certain Aaron Judge, recently set the record for the most home runs ever hit in one’s first season.  No player had ever hit 50 home runs as a rookie until Aaron Judge accomplished that feat.  Amazing.

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