Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Little Bit Of Riding...A Lot More Football and Baseball

Aside from this biking thing, around my house of late we've been primarily exicited about two things. Football and baseball. The football is of the kiddo flag variety (thankfully as it's another very sad year to be a Cyclone)...and the baseball is of the professional sort...Dodgers baseball. My child is pretty sure he's joined the ranks of the NFL what with his sore muscles, mouth guard and all. This stuff is great entertainment and for the first time ever, his season has been blessed with PERFECT weather:

My son found this great love affair of both football and baseball through birth into a family of sports fanatics, but also from watching a whole bunch of games of nearly every level/type. For his football season, we implemented a "good sportsmanship rule" prior to his second practice. It seemed to me a good expectation to set early as he jumped in the car complaining about something. And shortly thereafter as I observed another practice, we also implemented a "no showboating rule." Simply put...you showboat and you're out. And if you're not a good sport you're out.

Both of these rules fall nicely into our overall "Sports Deal." We have this Deal, my son and I, that has been longstanding (in the mind of my nine year old at least) through a number of his sports teams and seasons. I stole it from the parenting annals of one of my very dear friends after lamenting one night over a glass of wine how spun out of shape so many parents seemed to get, and how awful their behavior was on the sidelines and how it all seemed lost on them that then subsequently, their children acted the same way on the court/field. What are these people teaching their kids, I wondered aloud?

My friend promptly replied, "To act like idiots."

And then he explained to me The Deal.

He made The Deal with his dad and mom growing up, when he played baseball, first Little League, then eventually made his way to the major leagues. The Deal: you make a fool out of me on the field and I will make a fool out of you on the sidelines. I adopted it as my own that night.

When we discuss The Deal at home, my son explodes into a fit of the giggles imagining what I might do in any number of hypothetical situations he dreams up. We haven't used it yet. But I have sat at each of my son's games and watched kids showboat, bitch, complain and pout with great bravado; all while their parents sit in their lawn chairs and swoon over how cute they are.

It would be easy to brush this off as "this day and age" and blame it on the example cast by many of our professional athletes. Except we've found for my son a role model on this MLB Dodgers team that has just blown every one of those stereotypes to smithereens. At Cleveland game earlier this season Casey Blake gave my son the royal treatment: talked to him, threw him a ball, came to see him again after the game and EVEN REMEMBERED HIS NAME!

Hands down, he made my son's summer. And from that day on, my son has watched, and therefore I have watched Casey Blake's every move. We have scanned the papers and read line scores. We have logged on to ESPN.com. We have recited stats from his baseball card, quizzed one another.

My son was devastated with his mid season trade to the Dodgers after following Cleveland all summer. And then we read together an article where Casey Blake took the move to Los Angeles in stride; and Casey looked for and he pointed out the positives. My son was amazed.

"He likes it, mom! Did you see that? I was mad that I thought he'd be missing his friends and he said he LIKES it!"

And now as the Dodgers take center stage, and each game is televised we sit around and we watch Casey Blake even more closely.

"He doesn't showboat, does he mom?"

"He has great sportsmanship, doesn't he, mom?"

And perhaps my favorite moment of them all, last night Casey hit a solo homerun line shot that put the game back in L.A.'s court. The LA fans demanded a curtain call. The cameras were all on Casey. And it took two teammates nearly hurling the guy outside the dugout to get him to acquiesce.

And my son, "He looks almost embarrassed that they are making him do that, doesn't he mom?"
This a.m. as we drove to school, he sat in the back of the car lamenting their loss (that he was not allowed to stay up and watch). He said, "Do you think Casey's mom and dad had their OWN Deal, mom?"

I told him I am sure they did. And sometimes the good guys do win.

Lets hope so tonight.

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