Mid-summer musings: While We’re Waiting

The summer has by now enveloped our daily lives. There is no basketball, no hockey, and football has yet to have peeked out to check for its shadow. Most schools are in a seasonal recess, and most offices have noticeable absences of those taking vacations throughout these weeks. The only things of stabilty are cold refreshments, barbecued meats, and baseball. It is the best time of the year.

Here are a collection of random thoughts from my summer.

Kids overcoming their parents

There is a great episode of the Simpsons, Moaning Lisa, where Bart demonstrates to Homer that he has surpasses him in video games by crushing him in Super Slugfest (boxing). It is a scene any dad knows is coming or remembers happening whether it be video games, sports, or other another competition. In the episode, Homer goes to the arcade to learn some tricks from a Super Slugfest expert- let’s call them Old Man Tricks– so that he can defeat Bart.

My boys are beginning to push limits in real life. Their education regime is aggressive, and the fruits of it are born in many arenas, most recently in our board game play. The heat is too harsh to spend much time outside, so having semi-educational options indoors with a competitive tinge is needed. Chess, Trivial Pursuit, and Scrabble are staples in my family in a similar manner as baseball is.

Now, I’m not a parent that will allow their kid to beat them to prop up a false sense of self-esteem. Back in the day when they were learning, I would certainly help them and instruct them as we played, but when they defeat me they are going to know that they earned victory. This past weekend, both of my boys showed that the day is coming soon in Scrabble.

My eldest is crafty and has learned through his Math Pentathlon tournaments to utilize every rule to his favor. His strategy was to bang on the double and triple word scores and keep the options limited. He squeezed the board with short words and limited the growth. It nearly worked as a comfortable edge for myself was squeezed near the end with high score letters left unused on my ledger in what wound up a six point win.

My younger son eschewed the gamesmanship and decided he would prefer to throw haymakers. If he would go down, then he would do it on his own terms. The feature image of this article is our final board. Threads, trapes, limb, wig, acute,1 lore, and trundle are some of the words he laid down. A huge lead early left me scrambling for the old man tricks against a child whose age remains in single digits. Bide, a 54 point play given the triple word score on it and the completion of trundled on the horizontal, wound up being enough to surge ahead and stay there.

While I was able to squeak out wins, the truth is that I could not be more proud of them. There will be a day soon where they are able to defeat me in short order at Scrabble along with a multitude of other games, sports, et cetera. It is the cycle of life as a father teaches his sons how to hunt and forage for themselves. I move forward knowing my sons will do just fine on their own.

Andrew Miller on fixing MLB

Cleveland Indians uber-reliever Andrew Miller penned a piece for the New York Post about what he would do in order to fix baseball. Like my three part series (Part I, Part II, Part III), he doesn’t believe baseball is broken, but there are items he thinks can be tweaked in MLB to make the game more enjoyable for all. Of course, as a pitcher, one of those items was widening the strike zone. We’ll let that one slide. His other ideas have great merit. Here are some excerpts.

On instant replay:

I was in the collective-bargaining negotiations. The intention was to fix the call on the hit 5-feet foul that’s ruled fair. I think I would be in favor of cutting back the review time big time, from a maximum of two minutes to 30-to-45 seconds.

On mound visits:2

Right now, talking to your catcher every second pitch in a tight spot, the crowd boos, the ump’s yelling at you … that’s not the product we want. I get it.

On walk-up music:

I don’t think walk-up songs are necessary. Remember when the White Sox and Orioles played the 2015 game in Baltimore with no music and no fans because of the riots and looting in Baltimore? That game lasted 2 hours and 3 minutes.

On the health of MLB:

My gut feeling is that baseball is doing really well. We have a lot of exciting players who are bringing fans in. We’re a growth sport right now. But that doesn’t mean that we can get lazy with it.

It is always good to get an inside perspective of what the players might be thinking about around the pace of play changes. It would have been insightful to see his thoughts on sensor strike zones or a pitch clock, but he might not have wanted to go on record about issues that would be read by the umpires calling his pitches or ones that will continue to be leveraged in the collective bargaining discussions.

Who was your first favorite athlete?

Another staple of the summer is random thought memes populating across social media. I avoid most of these, but one popped up that was too fun to duck.

The first player I remember becoming a huge fan of was “Andy Allanson” when I was “six” years old.

I understand that Allanson was a terrible hitter and not an especially renowned catcher in Indian’s lore. However, Allanson’s Topps card with the wood-grain was in the first pack I ever opened. He was the only Indians baseball card I had and it said “All-Star Rookie.” That was all it took.

The meme reminded me of a conversation I had with someone somewhere that we shared this weird appreciation for one of the worst hitters the Indians consistently trotted onto the field. It being summer, I felt it worthy of doing some digging and figured out it was none other than WFNY’s own Andrew Clayman.

We’ll begin this edition with a quickie from the tail end of the Cleveland Indians’ 40-year walk through the desert. It’s a WUAB Channel 43 Tribe promo from the early portion of the 1989 season, which eventually ended in a 73-89 record and the exit of manager Doc Edwards. More importantly, it would also be the last season in Cleveland for the aforementioned trusty backstop Andy Allanson—a mulleted and mustachioed Virginia hilljack whom I briefly held in the highest regard.

WFNY Youtube Channel

Speaking of YouTube rabbit hole adventures, Jeff Nomina and Jim Pete have started what we hope will become a series of YouTube short videos on random sport topics. Please feel free to offer feedback in the comments here and I’ll be sure to pass them along. Thanks.

  1. He was particularly proud of utilizing acute as he had just learned about the angle in school this week and stopped the game long enough to leave the room so he could thank his mom for teaching it to him. []
  2. He also notes it is a necessity for now due to the cameras focusing on catcher signals. []