I remember, when my ex-girlfriend was pregnant with our son, many years ago now, that we talked about sports. She determined that he was going to play soccer. I knew that he was going to be a baseball player. Guess who was right.
It's all about baseball. This is a boy who, when he discovered that his beloved Cubs had had Greg Maddux on their roster and let him go to another team, after a season in which he'd won the Cy Young Award, he was outraged. (this was before the Cubs acquired him again a couple of years ago, and let him go again last season). At a party, he might corner you and launch into a long, serious discussion on the Cubs' curse of the billy goat, and how to end it.
Greg Maddux, by the way, was waived by the Cubs in 1992, 2 years before my son was born.
The picture is the only known picture of he, I and Greg Maddux, who is warming up on the pitcher's mound about 200 feet behind us. You might note the toy goat in Adam's hand, his attempt to at last destroy the curse. It obviously did not work, as the Cubs ended up with the worst record in the National League this season.
Adam can tell you how many home runs Hank Aaron ended his career with. He can tell you his opinions on the Cubs' starting rotation. It's all about baseball. And in the summers, he plays in a league that runs out of the park near my home.
I've done all I can to support his baseball jones, having missed out on little league when I was a kid. There has been only one problem: aluminum baseball bats. I can't stand them.
I grew up playing with neighborhood friends. We'd play nearly every day, weather permitting. If we could play in a field, we'd use a real baseball. If we played in the street or in an alley, depending on where I was living, we'd use a tennis ball or something else more window-friendly that a hardball. But we used wooden bats.
This is not just a matter of nostalgia (although that is a factor). Any ballplayer can tell you that that beautiful *crack* of the bat helps a fielder gauge where a ball is going, how fast and how far. The "ping" of the aluminum is less help.
Also, aluminum bats exxagerate a batter's ability, providing significantly more "oomph," making mediocre hitters look good. And the ball comes off the bat with significantly more speed. This is a danger to pitchers and infielders, and aluminum bats have led to an increase in injuries to those players.
With all that in mind, my son's baseball organization has banned aluminum bats in the upper three leagues, which will include Adam's. I got a letter in the mail yesterday informing me of this.
I look forward to every one of his baseball seasons. I love watching his games. He has such a joy of the game. He's never been on a team that got above 4th place, but he goes into every single game with enthusiasm and drive. I know that when he's tallying up his childhood memories some day, the summers spent on the baseball diamond will be among the really good memories. I'm happy that those memories will now include one that I fondly remember from my own childhood-- the crack of a wooden bat.