Chicks Dig the Long Ball

https://youtu.be/qLECMCargd8

Such a huge day today for father and son, for baseball fans, for Yankee fans… for baseball in general. So here’s the background… there’s an old saying that hitting a baseball is the hardest things to do in sports. Throw in the fear of getting nailed by a fastball, and you can understand the challenges coaches face trying to teach these little future stars how to play the game.

Many kids when I was growing up were told to “just make contact“, “hit the ball on the ground” or “swing down on the ball.” Hitting a baseball is one of the most complex collection of movement patterns in sports. Hand eye coordination is so important. They say Ted Williams- arguably the greatest hitting in baseball history- could see the laces on the ball as it spun out of the pitchers hand… but the game has changed drastically since the WWII era. So why then… are we teaching our kids to just hit down on the ball? So why do we want to restrict or teach our children to settle for base hits?

Folks… “CHICKS DIG THE LONG BALL!” Tom Glavine said it… heck Greg Maddux said it… and they are two of the greatest pitchers of my generation.

It’s no different for Jackson “The Judge” Carmine who is starting his first season of coach pitch baseball. That’s exactly why he is swinging for the fences. Exit velocity and launch angle and all that advanced saber-metric crap… that’s what he’s learning… he’s four years old and the youngest player on his fall ball team by far… but he’s a dominant force in the lineup. I feel sorry for the opposing coach who has to get down on one knee and toss the ball to him. It must be what a rookie, journeyman reliever feels like facing Aaron Judge.

No really, he’s going to play the game at a young age the way he wants. He’ll learn the right way to play and we’ll have have fun out there together… even if I’m that journeyman reliever who’s out there tossing pitches to him to launch to the moon.

I’m just so excited to see my little guy out there swinging the bat. A four year old hitting pitches is pretty cool, especially if that four year old is your own kid! Watching him make contact and put the ball in play on his first at bat with live pitching was amazing. I’m so proud of him… even if it was just a ground ball! LOL.

Los Chivos de Hartford and Oliver’s First Game de Beisbol

Baseball continues to play such an important part of my father/son(s) interactions. Especially now that Oliver is more than a sack of potatoes with eyes, and being that he can engage in activities for longer than twelve seconds now it was finally time to take him to his first baseball game.

I’ve written about how growing up baseball was so important to me and how it shaped me as a young man. I’ve discussed how it shaped my relationship with my grandfather (Pop) and now how it’s shaping my relationships with my sons. Then again… it’s America’s Past Time and a father/son rite of passage… so how surprising is it that my first game with Oliver was such a big deal.

No it wasn’t at the Cathedral that is Yankee Stadium we didn’t get to see Derek Jeter’s last home game, but we did get to witness one of baseballs top prospects, Brendan Rodgers, in one of MiLB most amazing parks, Dunkin’ Donuts Park, home of the Hartford Yard Goats. Not to mention they have the dopest logo and mascot in all of sports. Needless to say it was baseball, it was live and it was amazing.

We sat in the right field stands for a night game (which is not recommended for a 15 month old, let alone a four year old). The view was amazing and the stadium dogs, chicken fingers, pretzels, ice-cream, french fries and waters were tasty (by the way: that was just for the kids). We watched the Yard Goats win 11-1. They played as the Los Chivos de Hartford and rocked sick alternate jerseys for the game. Highlights included Brendan Rodgers going 3-4 and Peter Lambert pitching a complete game four-hitter.

Now listen I’m not going to sit here and lie and tell you that bringing two children to a ballpark is easy, or that it isn’t without its difficulties (and choice words muttered under my breath from time to time)… but it is quite amazing to be with both my boys, especially with Oliver for the first time, at a baseball game.

It was great to experience everything as a family, to be with my wife and two boys. But of course being a dad and taking my son to his first game is extra special. I enjoyed every second of exposing Oliver to how the game works… and he enjoyed clapping when I clapped. He smiled and seemed to be enamored by the green grass and beautiful sunset over the first base side seats. He enjoyed the food and the fans, but I’m pretty confident in saying I enjoyed being there with him and his brother more than either of them will ever know (that is until they have sons of their own). Then again if you read this blog often… you already knew that, besides it’s America’s Past time and a father/son rite of passage… and everybody knows that.

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Click here to read about Jackson’s first game at Yankee Stadium: Jackson’s First MLB Baseball Game

The Bonds of Baseball

A few years ago Marc Fisher, of the Washington Post wrote, “Baseball has lived for the better part of a century on its unchanging character, its role as a bond between generations, its identity as a quintessentially American game that features a one-on-one face-off of individual skills tucked inside a team sport.” For almost 120 years baseball has been dubbed the “national pastime.” 

Children still take to Little League fields every spring, some on pace for the college scholarships and others are content to stand in right field picking dandelions and looking at airplanes fly overhead. The song “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” is still as well known as any on the radio and writers and directors have used baseball to tell amazing stories like, The Natural, Bang the Drum Slowly, Shoeless Joe (the basis of Field of Dreams) and The Sandlot.

This is a game that has stood the test of time. A game that to this day has not succumbed to the fast paced mentality that other sports thrive upon (at least not totally). Baseball is and will always be a game handed down through the generations. From father to son and son to grandson, baseball will always in and of itself stand for family and transition. In an ever changing society there has always been one constant in life… baseball

Baseball belongs to me. It belongs to my grandfather and to my sons. The memories can never and will never fade. The thought of my grandfather standing across from me on the other side of a sprawling, beautiful manicured lawn plays over and over in my head like an old silent movie. It’s as vivid as is it were yesterday. Shopping for my first “real” baseball glove. Watching him intently as he showed me how to break it in. Oil it, tuck a ball inside just right and wrap it up with twine. I still have that glove. It smells like days past, like Charles Place, like a younger version of my grandfather when he was still able to move without pain to show me how to field a ground ball like the Scooter… it smells like baseball.

Baseball is a form of communication in and of itself and I don’t mean the language of the game or the intricacies of how someone might describe the perfect swing of Teddy Ballgame or Junior. It’s a silent language that doesn’t need to be spoken because it’s the silence of the game that speaks volumes. I sat at my grandfather’s feet as he relaxed in his chair. We barely spoke during innings. We watched, and he inserted stories of Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio. It was like I was there. Most people my age never saw Gehrig or Berra play… but I did. Through my grandfather’s words I saw Murder’s Row torment pitchers and watched Maris and Mantle chase Ruth.

No one can ever take that from me. No one can ever tell me those things didn’t happen. They are history, they are symbolic to me. The sound of a baseball snapping as it hits your glove. Feeling the vibrations that ring through your hands and arms as your bat makes connection with your favorite pitch (low and inside- something I could pull).

Practicing robbing home runs in front of Pop’s shrubs led me to firmly believe I would be the starting shortstop for the New York Yankees when I grew up… (damn you Derek Jeter).

Regardless of whatever happened to my dreams of becoming an all-star infielder, I’ll never really know… but what I do know is that soon the name Fragola will again be running out of a dugout and taking his rightful place on a baseball diamond.  Jackson starting t-ball is about the single most exciting thing I have been looking forward to as a parent!

Buying his first baseball glove and then a father and son’s first time ever playing catch. (Yes I cried a little in the sporting good store).

Playing catch with my son is more than father – son bonding time. It is a family heirloom that gets passed down from generation to generation. One that I look forward to sharing with boys of my sons. It’s also an an opportunity for me to share my passion for the game and share stories of players like Rickey Henderson, Don Mattingly and Ken Griffey, Jr as my grandfather did for me with the best players of his time. And I look forward to being able to tell my sons about the old days when packs of baseball cards were only a few dollars and rookie cards were all the rage.

Super proud dad moment. The first time your son wants to go through his baseball cards on his own… thanks @Topps for keeping the family tradition alive. #BaseballCards #Topps

Soon I’ll just be a dad in the stands or maybe one day even a coach in the dugout. But for now I’m content passing on the love for the game to both my sons, one of whom has finally begun his amazing story as a baseball player.

PS: ThrowBack to ’86: I wasn’t much of a power hitter in case you couldn’t tell from those scrawny arms… but man could I lay down a perfect bunt.

MLB Scouting Report

​Through his first three years Jackson has shown prowess as an athlete, with quick feet, soft hands and an eye for the ball, rumor has it that he hit .435 with 14 home runs and 16 stolen bases in the AAA KinderCare Playground League. A major league scout who requested anonymity furnished Chronicles of a New Dad with the following scouting report of the future major leaguer…

BATTING: 

Jackson shows some bat speed, but his swing is stiff. He is a physical specimen in the box (listed at approximately 3 ft tall and -almost 36 pounds) with good balance in his swing. He is stiff, but I it’s noted that he has loosened up a bit lately. His limited pitch recognition is his issue. That will come with more at bats, and with limited plate appearances (maybe three days worth of hitting while not being preoccupied with the dogs barking, the basketball hoop, or neighbors walking but, there is still room to grow). What he is doing is really difficult, being a three year old trying to make the jump from Pre-K to the major leagues, but if anyone is going to do it, it is definitely going to be him.

DEFENSE:

Defensively, Jackson has choppy footwork. His first step is slow and it often looks like he’s not sure where is going to go. He will get to the routine play, but he is not going to win you a ball game there and potentially could get you beat. He runs with reckless abandon and will run through a brick wall for you (he’s actually done it a few times already).

ARM:

Once he figures out what arm to throw with on a regular basis, he projects to have a canon. Has been throwing household objects around the kitchen and family room for a while now and has even broken a few toys with his laser like throws.

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A Ten Month Old’s Response to ARod’s Apology

Alex’s letter to fans:

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Alex Rodriguez apologize to Yankee fans yesterday.  Being a huge Yankee fan, I decided to read the letter to my son.  Below is the letter he wrote in response to ARod:

Dear Mr. Arod,

Hello, I am just a little kid, but I wanted to tell you that I read your letter.  Well, actually just to be honest, because lying is wrong (hahaha) I didn’t read it, my dad read it to me.  I think you were trying to say sorry about doing bad things.  It is really good to say you’re sorry when you do bad things.  Sorry is what my dad says to my mom all the time when he says dumb things.

I don’t really know what a steroid is.  But my dad says you have to use a needle and I.DO.NOT.LIKE.NEEDLES!  One time at the doctor’s office I had to get this stupid shot so I wouldn’t get something called measles, rumps and mubellas and I hated it.  I cried and cried and even kicked the doctor when I saw the needle.  So, I’m not sure why people would say you took a shot yourself. I hope you didn’t cry, well actually if you cried that might be a good thing.  Mom and dad call that a natural consequence.    

I want to ask you a question though. In your letter you say sorry.  I learned that saying sorry means you made a mistake and won’t do it again, or again, or again.  I hope that your sorry means that you are going to just play baseball and hit a lot of homeruns.

I love the Yankees because… because… well, I’m only ten months old, I don’t even know any other teams.  I want the Yankees to win a lot of games and win the World Series so that my dad is happy and buys me a lot of cool Yankees onesies and stuff.  If you can help them win then I know my family is happy to have you back on the team. 

Good luck this year.

Remember no needles and no strikes outs!

From,

Jackson

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