Jingle Balls

“I like Jesus very much, but he no help with curveball.” –Pedro Ceranno

If you are one who celebrates the season, then you know what it feels like. The date on the calendar tells you it’s over. All the markings that celebrate the season have been removed. The lights outside have been turned off. The particular foods that are synonymous with the season are no longer being eaten. It seems like it will last forever but it has now ended and only when you discover a discarded list or card do you come to terms with its finality. You are tired and odds are you are broke from the overspending that accompanies the daily attempt to fully enjoy it. Your house is a mess from the lack of time to clean it properly because of all the late nights and travel. All the little irritations and annoyances that accompany the season seem forgotten in the warm glow of accomplishment that you feel once it is over. The truth is that you are more than a little sad to see it end. Although you have seen this season come and go numerous times, each year it seems different and unique. It is a time for children, but you know that the adults enjoy it as much as their offspring do. And as the years pass, you realize that a time will come when your kids will outgrow it so you attempt to make each one as special as possible. As soon as this one ends, you start making plans on how the next one is going to be even better.

No. I am not talking about Christmas. I am talking about youth baseball and to those that partake in these high holy days, it is a far more spiritual experience. However, upon review it has far more similarity to that December holiday that I had previously realized. Witness the evidence:

·        Christmas is a season involving a costumed man in red, Santa, that many kids both love and fear.

·        Baseball is a season involving a costumed man in blue, The Umpire, that kids love when he calls them safe and fear that he is going to call that ball that just bounced across the plate a strike

·        Christmas is a season where parents spend $100 for a bike that their kids will leave out in the rain.

·        Baseball is a season where parents pay $100 for a leather glove that their kids will leave out in the rain.

·        Christmas is a time when people who love each other will scream at each other due to the stress of the season

·        Baseball season is a time when people who love each other will scream at each other because of the stress of watching a kid take a strikeout looking with the bases loaded in a tied ball game.

·        During Christmas there are people whose sole job is to stop people from stealing, they are called security guards.

·        During baseball season there are people whose sole job is to stop people from stealing, they are called catchers.

·        During Christmas, adults go to church and quietly say words like “Son of God” and “Mother Mary” in a voice only God can hear.

·        During baseball season, adults come to the park and quietly say things like “Son of a <bleep>” and “Mother <bleep>er” in a voice that they hope the kids can’t hear.

I guess the one thing that makes both things so similar is the way that marketing companies and commercials have completely violated the celebration of both. While Christmas has recently become a victim of the attempt by retail to push the season earlier and earlier so that it is now possible to have your inflatable Santa holding a Jack-o-Lantern on Halloween night , baseball has fallen victim to equally nefarious schemes that seem destined to separating the “volunteer” coaches from their money. Consider the following scenario: A parent decides to coach his son’s tee ball team but has never run a baseball practice before, so logic dictates he goes to the interwebs for some advice. He googles “free baseball drills” and the results display at least 50 different listings for “free” practice plans for $19.95. Apparently in the baseball world the word “free” has a different definition than in any other segment of society.

I have been involved in coaching my son’s teams for the past 12 seasons( in Florida there is such a thing as Fall baseball) and have learned a few things in the process, so if you want to coach or just pass yourself off as one at the local bar, here are a few tips:

·        If you want the mothers to come to the games, treat the kids with respect.

·        If you want fathers to come to the game, make sure the Team Mom is hot.

·        It’s only called tee ball because the term “herding cats” was already taken.

·        Every kid says that they can pitch, 99% of them are lying.

·        Use the following terms in your coaching instructions: Bend your back, follow through, back of the box, split the plate, roll a pair in the middle.

·        If you actually know what those terms mean there is no need to read this article.

·        “Take one for the team” only applies to other people’s kids.

·        If you believe that winning doesn’t matter at all and the kids only care about having fun, baseball may not be the best sport for you. I would recommend unicorn rodeo or perhaps dragon racing.

·        Baseball will remind you how much you love kids and detest their parents.

·        The players’ health and safety is important. If your star player is bleeding out of less than 75% of his orifices, then leave him in the game. If the cricket chaser in right field hiccups, then you need to give him two weeks off to recover.

·        A ball off the fascia is live…every time.

Finally, enjoy the madness.  You will never celebrate louder than you do when you see a great group of kids succeed.  It’s better than meth without the facial sores and tooth loss.  Coaching and working with the kids is the best feeling in the world and I wish ever parent could experience it.  Well I gotta go and get ready for next season.

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While you were out

The following is a transcript of a secret meeting that took place between myself, the duly appointed representative of all Jaguar Fans and a Mr. Maurice Jones Drew. It took place in a secret vault deep within the recesses of Everbank Field. The only other party that was present during theses highly sensitive meetings was Mrs. Dubchek my secretary and she alone produced the record you are about to read.  Unfortunately, Mrs Dubchek is nearly 80 and has lost all the hearing on the one side so she only recorded the things I said but I am sure you can still understand the general feel of the conversation.The only original copy of this transcript will be sealed in a Hellman’s mayonnaise jar, only suckers eat Miracle Whip, and buried under my front porch just like in the movie Stand by Me.

Maurice, come in come in.

Oh really? O.k. Mojo, why don’t you sit down and make yourself comfortable.

First of all, on behalf of the whole organization I just want to tell you how happy everyone is that you are back here with the team.

Yeah you are probably right. I doubt he is happy you are back but I am sure we will find a way to get him a few carries this season. After all, he did do a great job during the preseason.

That’s funny. But I wouldn’t know cause I have never kissed my sister.

No, I don’t think he would look good in green.

That wouldn’t really help them cause they don’t have a real quarterback either.

Yes I know, the most popular punt protector in the league, right?

Sure, I love to hear jokes.

O.k., I ‘ll play along. What’s the difference?

Hahahaha. “At least  Byron Leftwich has a ring”. Hahahaha.Man, you are an entertaining dude. But we really need to talk about how we can bring you up to speed and make up for all the lost time.

Now, I have to confess that we were starting to worry if you were ever coming back and I was getting desperate.

Oh, really? I though they paid you  all year.

No? Not until the regular season starts? Well hell, I would have come back too.

I wish I had known that before I orchestrated this lavish gimmick that I was going to stage at halftime of the Minnesota game.

No. The team is still in Minnesota. Yeah, I know talk about bad location.

No. Since you are back I don’t think it really matters. But if you insist, I will tell you what the plan was. First, we were going to get some rough and rugged Hollywood legend to have an imaginary conversation with an empty chair and pretend that they were talking to you.

No way! Really? Clint Eastwood? And it was THAT bad? Then I am really glad you came back when you did and saved me from that humiliation.

O.k. I know you want to go get to practice so I need to get you ready for a couple of things you will need to know. But first, do you have any questions, or maybe any concerns now that you are back in Jacksonville?

No. It hasn’t rained EVERYDAY this summer. I think there was one Tuesday where it just kind of sprinkled.

Sorry, Mojo but we can’t control how hot it is here.

No, Shad Khan cannot “trade” the weather if it makes him mad.

Yes, his name really is Mularkey.I know it sounds like what a grandma would say when she is mad, but a name is a name.

First about the fans.

No, I wouldn’t say “Pissed off”. I would say that they are more mildly annoyed. Let’s just say that it is a good thing that the fans yell, “Dreeeewwwww” whenever you come on the field because since it already kind of sounds like they are booing so you can kind of just pretend they are still calling your name. And it could be worse, your name could be Yusuk.

No, I think it is still o.k. for you to go out in public but you need to prepare you for some of what you will hear. I am sure you will at some point run into some nighttime cashier at the Stop-N-Save that will tell you how if he held out for money that his boss would fire him. Just be prepared to….

No,” and the horse you rode in on” is not the response you should give there.

While I think a monkey could do the mopping, I doubt it could give back the proper change, so they probably wouldn’t hire one.

Instead, you should probably just say that you were sorry and are glad to be back.

Now, about the money. I know that several players in the league got new contracts this off-season and that really made your salary seem to be somewhat smaller than it actually is.Yes, I know you led the league in rushing last year but remember that we also only won five games so that’s not really like you should throw that in people’s faces.

Yes some of the players with new contracts were receivers.

I am sure if they play Tight End they have already heard that joke before.

So what we need to do is find ways to make your money last longer.
First of all, just about everyone agrees that you need to get a new agent. Let’s face it, the one you have now is giving you some real bad advice, so we need to find a cheaper way to get you the same quality of representation you are currently receiving. Based on how bad it was, you could probably get the same kind of help from a guy in the Greyhound bus station or at any of the local drug rehab facilities.

Now, about saving money.

No I don’t think being the seventh highest pain running back in the league qualifies you for public assistance and besides the government cheese is not half as good as you think it would be.

I have two words for you: Extreme Couponing.

No, I think moving into a trailer park, while it would save you money, would probably not be the best solution.

I have it! Walk around Everbank and tell other players that you will trade them two tens for a five, keep repeating until you have covered your 1.2 million in fines.

Since we really can’t cut too many expenses then we need to find new ways to get some new revenue. Here are some suggestions:

  • Insist on calling it Mountain Drew
  • You know that ladies’ store Maurice’s at the mall, see if they want to change the name to Maurice Jones-Drew’s
  • See if you are owed any royalties from The Doors’ song “L.A. Woman”, specifically the line “Mr. Mojo risin'”
  • You are a pretty good dancer, how about you start convincing the kids at the local bowling alleys to play you in Dance Dance Revolution for $3.00 per game.
  • Ask Nike to chance slogan to,”Just Drew it.”
  • There is a lot of money in children’s books so how about instead of the “Nancy Drew Mysteries” it was the “Maurice Jones-Drew Mysteries”. Your character could go around solving football mysteries like what happened to Terrell Owen’s career and how in the hell did  mumble mouthed Shannon Sharpe ever get a job where he was paid to speak.

Now, we also need to protect your brand, so be careful what projects you do. Saw the picture in the body issue of ESPN the Magazine. So, let’s not do any more nude pictorials, o.k.? Save the nudes for when you are broke and out of football, unless of course, you get that part in the sequel to Magic Mike.

Let’s see. Yes that just about covers it. I seem to be forgetting something, but was it?

Oh yeah, I know. The Jaguars have discovered a previously unknown aspect to the game of football. It is something rare and revolutionary to the way we have played the sport here in Jacksonville in the last 10 years…..

It’s called the forward pass, and we are very excited.