Freestyle Friday: He Just Wanted a Happy Meal

Good morning. I promise that I’m reading the Freestyle Friday idea generators that you guys send me, and one day I’m going to answer a Plinky question, but sometimes you generate ideas in ways that you don’t even realize.

This past week, a friend shared an article to her husband’s Facebook page. (Did I say that right? If not, you know what I mean.) She shared, “What Makes a Nightmare Sports Parent — And What Makes a Great One“, an article based on research conducted by a high school and youth coach with over 30 years of coaching experiences.

How many of you read “youth coach with over 30 years of coaching experience” and thought, oh bless his heart? It couldn’t have been just me.

I coached my son’s 5-year-old coach pitch baseball team a couple of years ago. It was his first time to play and my first time to coach. Neither of us knew what we were doing or what to expect.

We found out in a hurry that this was not a league that eased up the learning curve. Other 5-year-old leagues in the area allowed the child, after unsuccessful attempts to hit 2 pitched balls, to put the ball on a tee and play on. In our league, it was three strikes and you’re out. Go sit down kid. Score was kept, wins and losses tallied, and all of it was posted on the website for all to see (whoever “all” might be).

It was more pressure than I signed up for, and the parents that paid close to $500 for registration, a bat, a glove, cleats, pants, a helmet and whatever else certainly deserved a better coach than me for that type of money.

After another disappointing game that saw our record fall to 1-9 or something worse, Jack asked me on the ride home, “Dad, you know what I want?”

Funny what sets you off sometimes.

“YOU KNOW WHAT I WANT?”, I screamed in response. “I WANT KIDS WHO WANT TO PLAY BASEBALL AS MUCH AS THEY WANT TO THROW DIRT AT EACH OTHER! I WANT Y’ALL SWINGING THE BAT LIKE WE DO IN PRACTICE. I WANT TO SEE YOU RUNNING HARD AROUND THE BASES.”

I was just getting started.

“WHEN WE’RE IN THE FIELD – WHICH IS FAR TOO OFTEN BY THE WAY – I WANT TO SEE SOMEONE STOP A GROUND BALL.” To add emphasis to this brilliant outburst (to a 5-year-old) I started pounding the car’s armrest with my hand at this point. “I DON’T WANT TO SEE THE BALL ROLL TO THE FENCE, BUT IF IT DOES ROLL TO THE FENCE, I DON’T WANT TO SEE SEVEN KIDS PILED UP NEXT TO THE FENCE FIGHTING FOR IT WHILE THE BASE RUNNERS MOONWALK AROUND THE BASES! THAT’S WHAT I WANT!”

Spit flying out of my mouth. I was a raving lunatic.

“WHAT IS IT YOU WANT?”, I finally asked.

“Nothing”, Jack responded.

“No, what do you want?”, I pressed.

“I was just thinking, umm, since we haven’t had dinner, maybe we could ride through McDonald’s and get a Happy Meal?”, he asked.

He was 5-years-old. He couldn’t tell me the score of the game. He really just wanted to enjoy the experience of playing baseball – as ugly as his version of baseball might have appeared to seasoned veterans like myself. That’s what I wanted for him also, but I let the score get in the way of that.

AJ McCarron, quarterback at The University of Alabama, made a comment earlier this week that “football is just a game”. It’s just a game. I suppose Bryant-Denny Stadium is a bigger stage than Bo Nelson Field, or the field your child will play on tomorrow. The game builds character and perseverance and develops teamwork and personal responsibility that help you in other areas of life – and it teaches those lessons through winning AND losing – but baseball, football, basketball…it’s just a game. Enjoy it with them!

Have a great Friday and great weekend! See you next Wednesday when we close out the Stop Wishing, Start Writing series.

Freestyle Friday: The 80s Edition

I had to start last week’s Freestyle Friday by apologizing when I started writing at 5:02. Today, my clock says 4:58. Jerry Seinfeld would call that ‘even Steven’.

The thing is, I don’t even have to be up early this morning. This is one of those days that I get go to work a little late, so I can have breakfast with the kids, see Jack get on the bus, and drop Layne off at preschool. I don’t need to be up for another hour, but I said the Freestyle Friday was from 5:00 to 5:30, so here I am.

It’s fun to see the kids in the morning. They’re like real people with their routines, their “I’ve got to be here at this time”, and their car line that you better not mess up.

The icebreaker in Sunday school this week was “Name and Favorite Song from High School.” The class is attended by people in their early 30s to people in their mid 40s. The average age is probably 37, so I’m probably one of the older people in the class. Point being, a lot of music happened between my high school years (’85-’89) and the mid to late 90s when some of the younger people graduated. Not all of it was good.

A lot of people in the class grew up on grunge. I never liked having that much guitar screaming at me. (I just googled ‘Courtney Love’ to see what ever happened to her. She’s still around.) So after CandleBox, Nine Inch Nails (is that right) and even, ironically perhaps, an Alanis Morissette reference, it was my time to go.

“My name is Jammy Erwin, and I’m going to say ‘Kokomo’.”

They laughed like I was joking. It came down to a choice of “Kokomo”, “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel, or “At This Moment” by Billy Vera and the Beaters. (What did you think I would do at this moment). Solid choices all, if you ask me – which the teacher did. If you knew me in high school, you know I wasn’t joking.

So what’s your song from high school? Leave it in the comments, or just smile all day thinking about it.  Either way, have great day!

Shark Tank season premiere is TONIGHT (9/20) at 9E/8C on ABC!

Freestyle Friday: The Best Blank That You’re Not Blanking

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Layne and Belle. This did nothing to slow the discussion of a trip to Disney World.

Good morning.  I have 5:02. Sorry I’m late. Here’s the deal, I’ll write for the next 28, now 27, minutes, and whatever I write in that amount of time goes up.  Today’s topic: The best blank that you’re not blanking.  One of my favorites!

The best radio station that you’re not listening to:  97.3, Y’all. Yes, it used to be a sports station, and then a Hawaiian luau station, but I think it has found its place as a radio station that just plays every good song from the last 60 years. They go from Ricky Nelson to Pink (she had that one song that you know) back to Waylon Jennings and then over to Phish. It’s what my iPod would be if I could ever remember the name of the girl who started her career about the same time as Debbie Gibson. The girl had a song, but Debbie Gibson had, like, 12 songs and the girl got shuffled out. What was her name? Started with a T…OHHHH was it Tiffani? What was that song? I digress. It’s an amazing station. Try it on your way to work this morning, or on your drive home if Rick & Bubba can’t be missed (I get that).

The best TV show that you’re not watching:  I love this “Best Blank” category because it includes one of my all-time favorite shows; Cold Case.  I haven’t forgotten that you didn’t watch the show. I don’t really blame you. I blame CBS for airing the show on Sunday nights “after the game”.  What time is “after the game”. Is that 7:00 or 7:32 or 6:81? What time is “after the game”? How do I tell the DVR to turn on “after the game”? It was a great show.  I haven’t forgotten, but I’ve moved on.

The best TV show that you’re not watching currently is…either Mysteries at the Museum or Shark Tank.  Both are excellent, but I’ve got to pick one….I’m going with Shark Tank. Friday night at 8:00 on ABC is throw-away hour, but Shark Tank is about to begin its sixth season (I think), so maybe you are watching it – or maybe the sharks are bankrolling it.  In short, people who have started their dream bring their ideas to millionaire investors and billionaire Mark Cuban to try to get them to invest in their project. Most people fail because they don’t know the numbers (cost of customer acquisition is always huge, but not knowing how much you have invested already is shockingly common). It’s fun, it’s educational and it’s inspiring.  If you have ever had an idea and wondered what it would take to get your idea to market – do A LOT more research than this – but start with watch Shark Tank. The new season starts…tonight?

The best book that you’re not reading: “Start”, by Jon Acuff. If you want to get your dream off the ground, start by watching Shark Tank tonight. Tomorrow, go out and get this book. It works for anyone from aspiring writers to plumbers to interior decorators to hunting guides. It won’t change your life if you don’t read it. Big fan – BIG FAN – of Jon Acuff right now.

5:35AM.  That went fast.

A quick follow-up to Wednesday’s post. As I was driving to work, traffic downtown was funneled to one lane due to construction.  As I’m slow rolling down 22nd Street, somebody in one of the to-be-closed land passes all the cars that are queued and tries to get in front of me! Did I, who posted about strangers possibly being angels, let this stranger in front of me? Absolutely not.  We’re all works in process.

Thanks for stopping by.  Go have a great day and a great weekend.