• Itchy Packages and Other Ballpark Tales

    Genital matters have come to the forefront in the barracks at Cooperstown. The coaches realized that they had more than baseball to deal with yesterday when several players complained that they were itchy underneath their baseball pants. It’s no wonder; they wear sliding shorts and play in the hot sun, then head to the barracks and trade pins and eat lunch before they shower.

    They’re required to wear their bathing suits in community showers, and apparently the lack of privacy and nudity has hampered their bathing efforts. The buildup of dust and sweat in such a tender area has resulted in a condition that Bill bluntly calls “crotch rot.” Regardless of its true name, once a couple of players contracted it, the disease became a badge of honor. It’s become widespread, so although some of our guys are walking a bit gingerly, they’re holding their heads high. We’re hopeful that the tutorial on scrotal cleansing and the ointment our team doctor has administered will lick the problem.

    Tuesday morning we played the North Carolina Riptide. Before the game we were warned that the Riptide had a “troublesome parent” among their fans, who would be escorted away by security if he had another outburst. This was heartening, as we had missed the holiday fireworks due to baseball, and we felt we deserved some. We spent the game leaving men on base at the end of each inning and scanning the opposing team’s fans for the offender. Could it be the man in the red polo? The one in the orange and white T-shirt? Sadly, we lost the game, the fan behaved himself and we left the game feeling we’d lost twice.

    Losing doesn’t affect the spirit of our cheering section, which appears to be one of the strongest at the park. We haven’t seen another team sing the ESPN theme in harmony, act out a riptide, namecheck the players in order, or yell, “Let’s get up in their kitchen, Blaze!” or “Tag the bag!” with such fervor. We’ve recently added “Shake and Bake!” to the repertoire, which hasn’t helped the team but cracks up the stands.

    Tuesday afternoon we were surprised when West Pines Florida’s high school football team showed up in baseball uniforms ready to play. The Guinness Book of World Records needs to head down there when updating its entry for “World’s Largest 12-year-old,” as the team had fourteen contenders. Finn pitched and I tried yelling, “Give ‘em your easy greasy, baby!” but he shook me off, and I reverted to more traditional forms of encouragement.

    If you’re organizing a baseball team, it helps to have a parent who owns two gourmet restaurants with you. After three days of pizza and chicken fingers, parents and players were getting grumpy. We gathered at a house and worshipped at the chef’s altar as he directed the preparation of grilled chicken and flank steak, guacamole, Greek salad, and four cheese macaroni. Our able bartender Ephraim (his choice of pseudonym) continued his winning streak, serving beer, wine, and exotic mixed drinks.

    Although we thought this was going to be a family vacation, I haven’t spent much time with Bill at all, as he’s staying in the barracks with the team. We’ve resorted to kissing through the fence at the start of each game. The cookout gave us time to sit down together and talk. That’s when I learned about the itch. I also found that this is many of the boys’ first experience dressing and undressing in front of others. Bill said he stripped down the other night while our pitcher looked on and said, “That just don’t bother you none at all, does it? “

    I also discovered that the Cooperstown laundry service, while highly praised, hasn’t been so dependable for our team. The Blaze has sent off the correct number of uniforms but received only partials back, and Bill’s underwear is AWOL in the Park, rather than on his derriere.

    We appreciate all your well wishes. Our team isn’t nearly the best here, but we’re set on having the best time of any group, and so far we’re succeeding.

  • Cooperstown Dreams (And Nightmares)

    Sadly, I write this missive from the Cooperstown Dreams Park infirmary where Finn is being treated for dehydration. He’s sleeping well, and this isn’t the first time I’ve posted from a medical facility.

    The Birmingham Blaze has made it to the birthplace of baseball, and we’ve already survived checking into the Cooperstown Dreams Park with 97 other teams, (chaotic lines of traffic, tired travelers; nightmare), the opening ceremony, (captive audience forced to listen to unknown cheesy songs and facts about baseball for three hours before the baseball teams appeared; nightmare), and two baseball games.  We won one and lost one, but counted both as wins.  We lost the second game by only 11 runs and went all six innings, while the team that played them earlier lost 33-0 in three innings.

    All of the players and coaches are staying in barracks within the park, and the families are staying around Cooperstown.  “Around Cooperstown” should be defined broadly in the Glamore’s case, as our “resort” (more about which later) is certainly closer to Canada than Cooperstown.  The “resort’s” website led me to believe that it was located much closer than it is, but that will be a different post altogether.

    This is the first time that all the Blaze families have been forced to hang out together for an extended period of time, and I’m happy to report that so far there have been no fisticuffs.  It’s not all rainbows and butterflies on every team, however, including one from Michigan.  Word is that their coaches are fighting with each other, one parent has told another that her kid sucks at baseball, and a player got thrown out of a game for unsportsmanlike conduct.

    In contrast, the Blaze fans are coming together like Jello. Our appointed Social Chairman has a well-stocked bar at the HoJo, where we report each evening for a nightcap and to rehash the day’s events. Our photographer bravely ventures over to the other team’s stands each game, so that the Blaze is photographed from every possible angle. As a bonus, she then reports on our opponent’s state of mind, and whether they are well-mannered or sending jeers and cusses our way.

    Several Blaze families have high school kids, and they make up the bulk of our cheering section. When we’re not at games, “the big kids” hang out together and play a variety of intricate card games. Drew hovers at the periphery of the group, soaking in the rules like oxygen, so that he’ll be prepared the next time the cards are dealt. His highest goal for the week is to join the card game and prove himself worthy of the club.

    Drew particularly idolizes one boy, a six foot two specimen named Scott. Drew shadows him, laughs hysterically at his jokes, and watches him adoringly as he goes through life in a body three times as big as Drew’s. We’re planning on a rip-roaring game of mini-golf this afternoon, and Drew is determined to be Scott’s partner. If it’s not clear by the end of the week that “the big kids” refers to the actual big kids AND Drew, it won’t be because of lack of effort on Drew’s part.

    Porter, who is completely oblivious to the big kids’ innate coolness, is unknowingly foiling Drew’s plan, and Drew is growing increasingly frustrated with him. Porter acts like an inquisitive nine-year-old, which he is, while it’s obvious to Drew that mature behavior is required to hang with the big kid club. Drew is linked with Porter by blood and twinhood, but he’s resentful that Porter is spoiling his mojo.

    I‘ve received word that this morning’s game was a loss (I spent the last three innings in the infirmary) and that Finn will be needed against the team we play next. That game is in a couple of hours, so his recovery will need to be mental as well as physical, and I’m better than Bill at the former.

    Update: Finn is recovering nicely, so we’re off to prepare for more baseball.


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  • Scenes From The Ballpark


    I found myself watching Finn’s baseball game solo for the first three innings last night. Bill was with Drew and Porter at soccer practice.

    This year I’ve been running about ten minutes late to every game, and that is no big deal unless your son is the starting pitcher. I’ve had no reason to believe Finn would ever fall into that category, but he did tonight and I was damn glad I was there to witness it, as he hasn’t pitched a lot in the past.

    Bill and the duo arrived around the fourth inning. Bill wanted to know Finn’s stats, and telling him that he had done well so far wasn’t going to satisfy him. He wants to hear ESPNy words like, “He hit a stand up double to right field, stole third, and came home on Bert’s single.”

    Finn hasn’t pitched enough for me to have my pitch-patter perfected yet, so I said, “He struck out Jay and Justin, he walked Peter, someone balked, he made a nice toss to get Lewis out at first, and he hit Bainbridge in the fanny on a 3-2 count.” I thought that was a fabulous report, but later I saw Bill up in the press box looking at Finn’s stats in the book. Maybe he thought I made up the part about Finn nailing the batter in the ass.

    Although I had fed everyone before we hit the fields, twinsanity were hungry and restless. I’ve taken a stand against ball park food this season, and against junk food in particular.

    We were sitting at the other team’s bleachers where I’d been chatting (baseball games are the core of my social life here in the Tiny Kingdom) and no one heard Drew ask me if he could get some Skittles at the concession stand. Everyone, however, heard me tell him that NO, he could ask me every night from now until the end of the world if he could get Skittles and I would always say no. Then they watched his face crumple and the tears fall down his cheeks and I won the award for Best Ballpark Mom Ever, right on the spot.


    Enough with the paparazzi. I got a game to play.


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  • I Can’t Shut Up About Snacks

    You would think that everyone would have STOPPED the sports-related snack madness, but they haven’t. My third graders’ soccer team is STILL having after-game snacks. Nothing like Oreos at 10 am.

    At least I’m not on my friend’s 4k T-ball team. They practice TWICE A WEEK from 4:30 to 5:30 pm and the team mom has commanded “healthy” snacks for each practice.  Not games, PRACTICES.  Who needs that kind of extra work, or food?

    I don’t care if they’re shooting wheat grass

    and chomping alfalfa sprouts;
    I don’t want my kids doing it right before dinner twice a week.  Nor do I want to have to provide it.

    Don’t EVEN get me started on the ridiculousness of kindergarteners practicing twice a week and having a game on Saturday. It’s nuts.

    It occurred to me that’s part of the reason everyone’s so over scheduled. When we were growing up, ballet was once a week. Now an activity is two or three times a week.  That’s fine for a sixth-grader like Finn, who’s deep into the “learning to manage your time” lesson, but it’s ridiculous for six-year-olds.

    We need to take it down a notch!

    That will never happen in the Tiny Kingdom, at least with sports.


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