Sunday, June 28, 2009


For the last four days I was witness to a group of 10-year-old boys be utterly devastated by a loss in the first game of their All-Star Tournament. To lose when you play your game is tough, but acceptable. What I witnessed, however, was a devastated All-Star team and Tyrel was among this casualty; they had been bested by a solid Cedar American Team and all the Cedar National All-Stars could muster was a scant semblance of their baseball ability.

This is a song our family has heard before. Tyrel has played in three championships in various sports over the last year and finished as the “first place loser” in all three contests. Truthfully, I have run out of clever and believable things to say to the defeated 10-year-old who sleeps in my basement.

The Cedar National All-Stars seemed born to swim in deep waters as this loss now meant they would have to fight their way back into contention through the loser’s bracket of the tournament. But, this gang arrived the next day with brilliant, white uniforms (Color Country doesn’t wash out of white uniforms easily- thanks moms) and a hint of confidence behind their smiles.

When the game began they all went to work. I always contend the most dangerous opponent is a gifted team who just had their nose embarrassingly bloodied. The Parowan All-Stars were the unfortunate beneficiary of a focused and hungry gaggle of individuals who had shared some suffering together and now started to act as a team. Teams are magical because some how the sum of the team is always greater than the sum of the individual player’s efforts.

Day three of this odyssey brought Enterprise, a big unknown from a historically baseball town. Cedar National brought their white uniforms and easy smiles from the day before. This time, only the white uniforms were fast-fleeting. The Cedar National All-Stars commenced the work of baseball, but remembered this grand game is FUN. This ended with another one in the win column.

Saturday was a marathon. This sprint started against Washington. The Cedar National All-Star moms amazingly produced clean boys in white uniforms yet again. Now, a different element was added to the team ingredient, quiet confidence. A talented team with confidence emphatically did the work of baseball to hand Washington its second, and final, loss of the tournament.

With no rest for the weary, Dixie stepped in next. This contest ended for Dixie the same way it had for their sister team. However, I was grateful my son was able to witness a team and coaching staff who displayed how to lose gracefully rather than the awful rant of gesticulation and the red-faced words of the previous team’s coach.

The Cedar National All-Stars had rounded the corner and now faced Cedar American, again. The game started ordinarily enough, but soon Tyrel had a cramping left hamstring. At one point, this cramp got so bad that Tyrel was carried across the diamond in a fireman’s carry by his teammate, John. I hope Tyrel looks back on that trip across the field to recognize what he had become to the team and the team had become to him. I won’t soon forget the moment. Tyrel tried to hide his tears from the pain, but hiding tear stained cheeks is tough.

I spent the first part of every inning for the remainder of this game frantically faking like I knew how to fix a cramped hamstring. By the way, a baseball bat used like a rolling pin, accompanied by stretching, and forced hydration works. I felt this was all a smoke screen for convincing Tyrel to take the field and play on, and play on he did.

Through this charade Tyrel and I played each inning the Cedar National All-Stars found themselves the victor at the end of regulation. Now both teams had each lost one game. Game two with the same teams would shake out a champion.

The championship game saw smiles, the boys of summer having fun, the continued work of baseball, but now the vividly white uniforms were long gone. Instead, they were now something similar to the Great White Buffalo- worshipped but something only your ancestors might have seen. White uniforms after back-to-back-to-back-to-back games will never stay white.

Momentum is a chaotic force. If your team has it, you guard it, hoard it, fight for it, but most of all you hold on tight and ride the wave. If you desperately need it, you would give your left arm to have the pendulum swing your way. Cedar National owned it and kept it.
After congratulating their opponent, the Cedar National All-Stars and now 2009 Champions stormed the field in a celebration worthy of their journey. I couldn’t help but notice that Tyrel, overcome by the moment, had forgotten all about his tight hamstring. As a father I could not have been more proud of my son and this team. Relish the moment.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

These Things I Wish For You

Some time back I first happened on to this essay originally attributed to Paul Harvey. Although I didn’t have any children at the time, I still remember it striking a familiar tune with the way I was raised by my father. Now, these words have different meaning as I too have children of my own. But this new meaning has not wiped out my first impression of my father. I could think of no better day than Father’s Day refresh these memories of Dad.

We tried so hard to make things better for our kids that we made them worse.

For my grandchildren, I'd like better. I'd really like for them to know about hand me down clothes and homemade ice cream and leftover meat loaf sandwiches. I really would.

I hope you learn humility by being humiliated, and that you learn honesty by being cheated. I hope you learn to make your own bed and mow the lawn and wash the car. And I really hope nobody gives you a brand new car when you are sixteen. It will be good if at least one time you can see puppies born and your old dog put to sleep.

I hope you get a black eye fighting for something you believe in. I hope you have to share a bedroom with your younger brother. And it's all right if you have to draw a line down the middle of the room, but when he wants to crawl under the covers with you because he's scared, I hope you let him. When you want to see a movie and your little brother wants to tag along, I hope you'll let him.

I hope you have to walk uphill to school with your friends and that you live in a town where you can do it safely. On rainy days, when you have to catch a ride, I hope you don't ask your driver to drop you two blocks away so you won't be seen riding with someone as uncool as your Mom.

If you want a slingshot, I hope your Dad teaches you how to make one instead of buying one. I hope you learn to dig in the dirt and read books. When you learn to use computers, I hope you also learn to add and subtract in your head. I hope you get teased by your friends when you have your first crush on a girl, and when you talk back to your mother that you learn what ivory soap tastes like.

May you skin your knee climbing a mountain, burn your hand on a stove and stick your tongue on a frozen flagpole. I don't care if you try a beer once, but I hope you don't like it. And if a friend offers you dope or a joint, I hope you realize he is not your friend.

I sure hope you make time to sit on a porch with your Grandpa and go fishing with your Uncle. May you feel sorrow at a funeral and joy during the holidays. I hope your mother punishes you when you throw a baseball through your neighbor's window and that she hugs you and kisses you at Christmas time when you give her a plaster mold of your hand.

These things I wish for you - tough times and disappointment, hard work and happiness. To me, it's the only way to appreciate life.

Written with a pen. Sealed with a kiss. I'm here for you. And if I die before you do, I'll go to heaven and wait for you.

Lee Pitts

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Before delving into the heavy stuff, here is Erin's new look. As you can tell Erin lost her first tooth and Tyrel now has glasses to wear while reading, writing, and watching TV. Nobody is more excited about his glasses than Erin.

Clubber Clyde (Erin's baseball name) and the Red Sox continue into the meat of the season. For me, T-ball is an exercise in simplification. Even more challenging is keeping the kids FOCUSED. Despite the trials of Amy's assistant coach/husband it is apparent nobody has more fun than T-ballers.
Tyrel was certain the sun would not rise the next day after little league playoffs ended. His team played hard and played their game. They just happened to be bested at the game on that Wednesday. Tyrel was a rock at catcher but felt like his hitting lost the game for Mountain West. I likened myself to Socrates in analogies and stories trying to esuage and explain how hitting 2 for 3 with 5 RBI's is fantastic, but I don’t think Tyrel was picking up what I was putting down. Despite this personal gloom, the sun came up the next morning.
Tyrel’s funk was short lived as he was out of the Little League frying pan on one day and into the fire of Utah Summer Games soccer the next. The Cedar Red Devils played good soccer for a newly formed team. In fact, they played well enough to win the bronze metal!

Their metal game was picturesque soccer- England style. The weather started great but quickly degraded to a bitter down poor with me in shorts and a t-shirt. And the game went on despite my being under dressed for winter in mid-June.

At the end of regulation the score was tied. These are the times where I learn volumes about myself. This day I was reminded I am NOT a good spectator, especially with the great mystery- soccer. Every game I ever played required the ball going into the hands!

Back to the topic at hand. A tie score in the Summer Games means two additional 5 minutes periods, even in this weather anomaly. The Red Devils played stingy defense and were able to eek out one additional goal with just a couple of minutes in the second 5 minute period.

…and above all of the “in the moment” high-five’s, hugging, and jumping of the players, were the parents having their own, more overstated, “moments”, minus Amy. The car had her trapped inside where it was dry and warm and nobody was paying the ransom.

Monday, June 1, 2009


It is now official, t-ball season for Erin starts this week. Amy and I have quickly realized our family lives at baseball diamonds in one form or another. As usual, the people actually involved in something are the last to recognize reality.
Some years ago I got all dressed up in a tuxedo and said, “I do.” What I didn’t realize at the time was these words would automatically obligate me help Amy coach Erin in t-ball. On a tangent, I believe everyone learns something from participating in team sports. With that in mind, have you ever tried coaching a 5-year-old who already knows all there is to know about t-ball? Undoubtedly, I am “grasshopper” learning patience from the baseball sensei, Erin. Hai.

During our first couple of t-ball practices I struggled to keep a straight face; however, I was rolling on the ground with psychological tears running down both cheeks on the inside.
Let me share why. First, Amy informed her team their uniform shirts would be red and then asked what they wanted their team name to be hinting it should be something red. Without hesitation someone shouted, “Apples!” Other red names mentioned were “Roses” and “Tomatoes.” Finally, Amy decided the team would be the Red Socks. Then, there was a little accident when one of the fielders stepped on the ball and found herself horizontal instead of vertical. Next, but not surprisingly, the ice cream truck stole the attention of every player. Driving by once would have been understandable, but I am sure that truck circled the block 7 or 8 times. Finally, one of the players, who happened to be running the bases, asked when they would be able to slide. For a moment I was certain we had a phenom. This player then elaborated by pointing to the playground slides. Of course!

Now a proud moment for Dad. Tyrel played baseball this week like a believer. As his team's catcher, he was a rock. As a hitter, he found his stroke. He was 2 for 3, but reached base all three times. His final at-bat was a home run scoring 3 runs as a result! This was needed as Mountain West and Dr Pepper were dead-locked going into the last inning. Nearly as important, all involved coaches for both teams conducted themselves as adults.
Tyrel's most recent game lacked a home run, but he displayed some nifty base running with 2 steals. He continued his stroke and was once again a rock.
Finally, we made a trip to Salt Lake to catch a Salt Lake Bees game. We were lucky to have family with connections so we got to watch the game from box seats (Scott, Maxine, and Kathy). This is the only way to watch baseball. The game happened to go extra innings with the Bees winning in their final at-bat. The Bees had runners on all 3 bases and no outs. I mentioned to Tyrel and Skyler (Tyrel’s cousin and a like-minded fanatic) that it would be great if the game ended with a home run. The next batter stuck out; however, the game ended as I had hoped. A grand slam ended the game.

Is there such a thing as too much baseball?