Thursday, April 29, 2010

Video Gaming? Really?

So, I walked into my home the other day and found my oldest son Tyler playing his Nintendo DS. I was irritated. Admittedly, I like to play a good video game as much as the next guy, but nothing irritates me more than seeing my sons and daughter playing video games at 3PM on a Saturday when it is 75 degrees outside. I mean, we have about approximately 72 hours left until it's too hot to go outside, so I don't like to see my children wasting their time playing video games.

I often am suggesting to Tyler to do more productive things. Of course, he has to finish his homework everyday, he needs to practice the piano, he needs to clean his room and a couple of times per week, I ask him if he has worked on his Cub Scout requirements. He is in the Webelos group, and is working on several activity badges and his Webelos badge. He is usually good about dropping the video games and working on his Scouts and passing off requirements that help him to be a well-rounded boy and eventually, a productive member of society.

So, imagine my consternation the other day as I walked in as Tyler was playing a Pokemon video game (I could write an entire blog about Pokemon and how I just don't understand that phenomenon) and I asked him, "Tyler, when was the last time you worked on your Cub Scouts". His reply: "Daddy, I am working on my Cub Scouts. I am doing the video game activity pin and belt loop." Ha ha, Tyler, you are veeeery funny. "No, Daddy, I am serious." (By the way, these are the words that Tyler customarily says when he is lying to me.)

"Daddy, I am serious - Cub Scouts just introduced a new video gaming activity pin and belt loop. It's brand new and I am going to get it. I need a couple of extra activity pins." I honestly thought that Tyler was lying to me and so I jumped on the computer and found out, to my utter shock and dismay, there really IS a video gaming activity pin and belt loop.

When I think of Boy Scouts, the first thing that I think of is being outdoors and building fires and camping and hiking and surviving in the outdoors. I think of canoeing and kayaking and rock climbing and orienteering and shooting guns and getting dirty and other outdoor activities. One thing I absolutely DO NOT think about is Pokemon and Super Mario Brothers.

I read the requirements of this new activity pin and all of them are pretty silly if you ask me, but my absolute favorite requirement is this one: play an appropriate video game with a friend for one hour. Really? Do we really need to encourage our Cub Scouts to play MORE video games? I think this is a really bad precedent to set and the wrong message to send to our Cub Scouts.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

My Favorite D-Back

For those of you that know me, you know how much I love baseball and the D-Backs. Opening Day was Monday for the D-Backs and it was a glorious day - a 6-3 D-Back victory marked by a Dan Haren gem, a Mark Reynolds bomb and a Stephen Drew inside-the-park homerun. It is fun to have baseball again. Michelle and I love it. (Hee hee)

I have many favorite Diamondbacks - Craig Counsell, Luis Gonzalez, Curt Schilling and currently, Justin Upton. However, my all-time favorite D-Back is my 10 year-old son, Tyler. Tyler currently is playing minor league baseball in the McCormick Ranch Little League and shares my passion for baseball. He absolutely loves it. He is pictured below here on his Opening Day from a couple of weeks ago. I love the Under Armor wristbands; not shown here are his blue Ray-Ban blades that he wears out in the field. He looks like a little pro.

Quick story. Tyler loves to hit. On Opening Day this year, in Tyler's 2nd at bat of the season, he was hit by a pitch in his backside and he went down like he had been shot. As he writhed around on the ground in pain, I had to giggle. I admit, I am a terrible father, but it was quite funny. Anyway, Tyler managed to pick himself up and limp down to first. He eventually scored and shook off the painful episode, but ever since, he has been a little gunshy at the plate.

In the last couple of weeks, I have been waiting for Tyler to break out of his batting slump. I have watched as he has struck out more often than normal and just hasn't been as aggressive as he normally is at the plate. We had a conversation in the car last week about being more aggressive at the plate and swinging hard. The conversation helped him be more aggressive but unfortunately, he was swinging at anything and everything including balls in the dirt and balls that were so high that they had snow on them.

Finally, this weekend in Pinetop, Tyler and I began to retool his swing and get his confidence back. We spent several hours with the whiffle balls and getting him to wait back and drive through the ball. I could start to see him gaining his confidence back and I was anxious to have him play in his game last night. I went home early from work, took Tyler to the park across the street and spent about 30 minutes fine tuning his swing. He looked great and seemed ready for the game.

In the top of the 1st inning, Tyler was batting sixth and I was more nervous than normal. As he stepped into the batter's box, he seemed much more relaxed. He went through his normal routine: he dug his back foot in, tapped the plate three times with his bat and got into his stance with most of his weight on his back foot. He looked fantastic. First pitch, he was so excited that he swung and was about 4 feet in front of it and missed. He looked back at me and smiled. I told him what I always tell him: "Relax, keep your weight back, pick out your pitch and drive it!"

2nd pitch was over his head. 1 ball, 1 strike. Next pitch was a foot outside and he took it for ball 2. Then, the next pitch was at his head; he ducked out of the way and fell back onto his back. He looked back at me and he had the same look in his eye as he has had the last couple of weeks and I was worried that he would lose his aggressiveness. I clapped and yelled, "Get back in there, wait back and drive it!" He dug back in, a little tentatively and I thought he might go back into his old habit of being passive. Next pitch was a perfect pitch and he took a beautiful swing and fouled it straight back. It was a picture perfect swing, he just missed it. I thought he had seen his only good pitch in the at-bat and missed it. (In Minors, you are lucky to see 1 decent pitch per AB) Needless to say, I was very nervous for him.

Two outs in the inning and Tyler had a full count on him. He stepped out, as is normal for him, and took two perfect practice swings and then dug back in, tapped the plate and sat back waiting for that perfect pitch that I feared wouldn't come again. I clapped and yelled,"You can do it buddy. Wait back and drive it!" The pitcher looked in and went into his windup and delivered the pitch. Tyler waited and waited in his beautiful stance and it was a perfect pitch right down the middle and Tyler put the most beautiful swing on that ball that I have ever seen and absolutely hammered it.

A rocket line drive into the left-center field gap and Tyler was off to the races. I jumped up out of the bleachers and kind of choked on my Diet Mountain Dew and Ranch sunflower seeds. I was so excited as Tyler took off as fast as he could and I watched as the ball rolled all the way to the wall. Tyler was cursed with his Dad's speed (to put it kindly, he has less than blinding speed) so I was worried about him getting around the bases, but I was going crazy. As he rounded third, the third-base coach was giving him the windmill sign and sending him home and I could hear in my mind the theme from Chariots of Fire playing. It was a beautiful and proud moment as he crossed home plate for only his 2nd homerun ever. He smiled at me as he went back into the dugout and gave me the fist pump.

I was in heaven for about 30 minutes until his next at-bat. First pitch, he popped out to 2nd base. I love baseball.