Kid Stuff, Baseball Fluff and History Buff

Justin July 2, 2012 1

Scenes from a weekend:

-I spent the weekend at my parents’ house. Both Beltway Buddy and SCP book club member Craig were in town as well, visiting their parents.  On Sunday, Beltway Buddy and I hung out by the pool in my parents’ backyard. We spent the early part of the afternoon swimming, until my mom came into the backyard and told us lunch was ready.  Then, we sat at a patio table and ate mini pizzas and watermelon. It was the exact same way we’ve been spending summer afternoons since we were 5 years old. Then, Beltway Buddy got a phone call. He had to go pick up his wife and son.

-Same day. A couple of hours later. We are now sitting by the pool with Beltway Buddy’s wife, his year and a half old son and my parents. My father brings out a box of my old toys for Beltway Buddy Jr. to play with. My mother has a moment. She’s taken by the fact that this amazing little guy is now sitting in the same backyard playing with the same toys that his father and I played with 30 years earlier. My father softens in the presence of a child. For the first time in my life, I see him speak baby talk. Beltway Buddy’s wife is speaking with my mother about parenthood. And I watch Beltway Buddy watch over his son, making sure he doesn’t fall into the pool while making sure he experiences the joy of swimming on a hot summer day and going to whatever lengths possible to make this child smile. And then there’s me. I’m watching as BB jr picks through the toys, grabbing the ones he’s interested in and discarding the ones he doesn’t care for. And, for a split second, I feel… jealous. This kid gets to play with all my awesome toys. He gets to see if the Thundercats action figures float and he gets to push the matchbox cars around on the imaginary track in his mind. And.. What the hell is he doing playing with that GI Joe arctic vehicle? It’s the summer. That’s clearly designed for battle in the snow. I mean, it’s white, for god’s sake!

-Another point in the weekend. I am back in the pool. So is Beltway Buddy. Craig has joined us, sitting on the side with his feet dangling into the water. And the conversation centers on.. car seats. Craig has a two month old. He needs advice from someone who has been there before. Will the car seat he has now still work when his son gets older. Will he have to buy a new one? Is there an easier way to transport the baby from the car to the house and back?  I look on quietly.  Eventually I float away. No one notices.

I sometimes worry that my adulthood is fraudulent. I am a grown man with a big job and a life in the city. Yet I still sleep in a bedroom decorated with pictures of baseball players and rock stars on the wall. While my friends worry about their homes and their children, I worry about what I’m going to eat for dinner and.. well, that’s it. That’s pretty much all I worry about.

I was a precocious 12 year old. I was smart and quirky and I was capable of having intelligent conversations with adults. It worked for me. Everyone loves a precocious 12 year old.  Two decades later, I’m still the same.  Is a precocious 12 year old still adorable when that 12 year old is 33?

Sports Illustrated: July 2nd, 2012

Lebron James, Basketball, Miami Heat

AFTER THE JUMP: THE MOOD LIGHTENS. I SWEAR TO GOD, IT DOES.

PREGAME:

I’m going to take yet another opportunity to rip SI writer Joe Sheehan who continues to rip the soul from the magazine’s baseball coverage. This week’s Inside Baseball column makes the point that the AL East is good. This is not a foreign idea to anyone who has watched baseball for the past decade. I honestly don’t understand how the editors allowed Sheehan to go ahead with this idea. It is a complete waste of column inches. Isn’t there anything else going on in the sport to report on? Couldn’t you have had the SI baseball writers name their All Star teams? That would have been timely and interesting and sparked some good debate. Instead you get “the AL East is good.”  Be sure to check back in next week to read Sheehan make the case, “Year in and year out, CC Sabathia continues to be tall.”

THE ARTICLES

Promise Keeper by Lee Jenkins

A few weeks after writing a thorough profile of LeBron James, Jenkins checks back in with the superstar, who is now fresh off a championship. LeBron put up extraordinary numbers throughout the post season. He was the most consistent member of the Heat, and for the first time in his career, he truly put his team on his back for an entire series and willed himself to victory. But, that’s not why I’ve decided to climb back onto the LeBron bandwagon. In fact, it wasn’t until after the final buzzer sounded in game 5 that I was truly convinced.  Once the game ended, before he celebrated with his teammates, LeBron walked over to each member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, gave them a hug, and spent a few seconds with them. Every player. That’s a classy move. It was at that moment that I said, “Fuck it, I’m on board with this guy.”  The scene that opens up Jenkins article, with James posing for pictures with a soon to be married couple minutes before their wedding, reflects that same class. Michael Jordan would have never done that. He may have been a win at all costs maniac, but he lacked the kind of class that James showed.

The Mystery Pick is Royce White by Pablo S Torre

Torre profiles former Iowa State star and Houston Rockets draftee Royce White, who suffers from anxiety disorder and “says what he thinks” and likes “music.”  He’s a one of a kind revolutionary, just like Shane Battier, Ron Artest, Joakim Noah and Bison Dele before him. I guess it’s good that he was drafted by the Rockets and their GM, Daryl Morey, who also revels in the fact that he’s different than everyone else.

While we’re on the subject of the NBA draft, I’d like to ask a question of the good people at NBA TV.  Where were the old drafts this time around? Every year, the network has devoted the week leading up to the draft to re-airings of old drafts. We get to see what teams did in 1989 and which picks analysts loved in 2002 and what crazy clothes the players wore in 1997.  I missed that this year. Please bring it back in 2013.

Name Changer, Game Changer by Albert Chen

Chen ostensibly writes a profile about Marlins slugger Giancarlo (Mike) Stanton, but what he’s really writing is a piece about the cyclical nature of baseball. As pitching and defense have become more dominant in the sport over the past few seasons, players with raw power, like Stanton, are becoming more valuable. Eventually, they will become over-valued and teams will once again start investing in pitching and defense.  It’s the circle of life.

I See London, I See France by Austin Murphy

I see a picture of a cyclist and so I don’t read the article. Even if its only a page long.

The Greatest Game Nobody Ever Saw by Jack McCallum

I didn’t read this article either. But it was for a far different reason. This is an excerpt from McCallum’s upcoming book about the Dream Team. It’s a book that I can’t wait to read. So, I have skipped all the excerpts that are out there, because I don’t want to ruin the experience of reading the book from cover to cover.

Point After by Phil Taylor

From the very beginning, Phil Taylor has been able to write about the Sandusky story with a pitch perfect tone. He doesn’t cover the facts of the story.  He focuses on the bi-products; The change in behavior among youth coaches, parents and players, the way to discuss the story with children and, this week, the way to find some silver lining in an unspeakable tragedy.

An interesting side note (at least I think it’s interesting:) On the day the Sandusky verdict was set to come down, one of my co-workers brought his 7 year old daughter into the newsroom to see what her dad does for a living. And, without anyone ever actually saying anything out loud, the entire newsroom automatically started talking in code when referring to the story. There is no reason for a 7 year old to ever even imagine that a man like Sandusky can exist on this planet.  I was proud of all of us that day. In an industry where nothing is sacred and every topic is rife for ridicule, we held our tongues.

I guess the mood never really lightened. Sorry about that. Next week: dick jokes.

 

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