Category Archives: Sport

The Winner Takes It All.

I’ve made no secret of my lack of knowledge of, and interest in American sports of any stripe, save for a marginal interest in seeing the Seattle Sounders do well.  It may then  come as a surprise to you to learn that for the past five years I have been a regular participant in an NFL fantasy league. I’ll let the deafening noise of jaws hitting the floor  like a collapsing pile of encyclopedias subside  before continuing. You see, when someone from school floated the suggestion I saw it as a way to have a bit of harmless fun and  wind people up at the same time.

Not knowing the first thing about the relative merits of the players, I was performing the digital equivalent of picking a prize from the lucky dip bin whilst blindfolded. If  I finished dead last without a win to my name, I’d be doing about as well as could be expected, so anything better than that would be a victory for me. As I’ve said in other posts, any A.M whiff of Napalm will do. My first two seasons were remarkably unspectacular, and  I was out of the running for the playoffs by the half way point.  Two seasons ago my team took such a comprehensive and brutal beating that last year the Glenbuck Violets (named in honour of the first team Bill Shankly ever played for) changed their name for the following season to The Rodney Kings. Tacky? Yes. Borderline offensive? Certainly. But since when has that ever stopped me?

Last season saw a reversal of fortune as I reached the final with a semi final win so overwhelming that it made a fight between the 1st SS Panzer Division and the Girl Scouts look like a fair contest.  The game ended with yours truly achieving the  biggest points total of the season as well as the largest winning margin of the year. This after another member posted a message to the website  with the title  “How the fuck did NWSingledad get into the playoffs?”  Of course, I  suffered a convincing defeat in the final with the same starting lineup that had performed so heroically only the game before. Ah, well, it’s a funny old game.

So of course, when the email regarding this season came around, I duly signed up and sent my $20 entry fee to the Commish. I won’t bore you with a game by game analysis, but there were some noteworthy moments: winning by 0.2 points was most certainly one of them. No, that wasn’t a typo. The league moved to a new platform which awards points for actions other than points scored. Of course, the day I picked the wrong QB – Joe Flacco for anyone who cares- I lost a game I would have won had I played my usual first choice – some guy called Ward? . Humph!  In fact, despite a 7-6 season I had quite a good year, with several victories snatched from the jaws of defeat. This was enough to get me into the playoffs, and that was all that mattered.

Naturally, finishing fifth of six qualifiers meant I was in for a rough run. Despite this, I won my first game only to face the regular season champions in the semi final. At this point I thought my goose not only cooked, but eaten, carved up for sandwiches the day after and in the pot to be boiled down to make stock. Guns, Germs and Steel, for that was their name, had beaten me pretty convincingly during the season. You don’t end with a record of 11-2 by being crap.  I’ve always picked my team purely by the numbers – the expected points score of each player, and despite my best efforts, I looked doomed.

Oh me of little faith, to quote Lewis Black. My reputation as the Comeback Kid paid dividends as I won by a decent margin. That meant that the final would be between my Craggy Island Feckers and the Glorious Goats, a team that finished sixth with the same overall season but a worse points differential. Again, despite doing all within my power to add better players and run out my strongest squad, the almighty algorithm had me down for a defeat just short of double digits. Ah well, even second place would mean getting back more than my original stake, so I was in no position to complain.

Christmas got in the way and managed to distract me from my impending defeat as we celebrated on the 24th with the kids. They always spend Christmas Day at their own home, so my sweetie and I celebrate a day early. After their departure we headed into the city for a night in a very nice hotel in lieu of going out of town. As we sat in the bar enjoying our drinks I glanced up at the T.V. to see a game in progress and through the powers of  thought association I checked my phone to find out the worst. I knew I was behind as my opponent had had  a player in action the previous day, so imagine my surprise and delight to see that before the days’ games were over I was already more than 50 points ahead. My lead increased during the afternoon and by the time we turned in I was assured of a championship win barring all but a disaster of a scale only associated with the extinction of the Dinosaurs.

My opponent did recover some ground the following day, but even so I ran out winner by nearly 60 points and only missed recording the biggest victory margin of the season by a hairs’ breadth. I’m sure my sweetie was delighted to see the season come to a close as I did rather lay it on a bit thick, checking the scores somewhat more often than required and letting my delight show a little too much. Still, the prize money was pretty decent and a very nice bonus Christmas present. There was one more element that sweetened the win – my opponent was the same as the year before, so it was justice repaid.

Don’t think that I’m being disingenuous in all this. I’m not lying when I say I don’t follow football. I don’t spend hours reading reports and obsessing over video clips. At most I spend 10 minutes a week selecting my starting lineup. I honestly do make my selections purely on the predicted scores for each player, although I do take into account their actual, as opposed  to their predicted ranking. Even I know that an over performing player is worth having on the books.

Is there a moral in this? Is just a case of blind, dumb luck? I’m not sure. Maybe this was my Leicester City moment. Perhaps next year I will be beaten like a red headed stepchild on a rented mule. Who knows? I certainly don’t. All I know is that when next season hoves into view, I will be ready with stake in hand, hope in my heart and the knowledge that if I can piss off even a single  person in the league who actually puts effort, thought and emotion into it, it will all be worth while. Yes, I’m looking at you, Krog the Sportinator.


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Girls Just Want To Have Fun.

I’m sure you’re all sick to death of me bleating on about how great the kids are. If so, then skip this one. As you know, my daughter is something of an all-round athlete, and now that the softball season is over, her attention has turned to football. There is a regular sequence of events associated with the start of every season of every sport: First, a lack of enthusiasm, followed by the constant refrain of “I don’t want to play X, I don’t want to play X” followed by a slow growing interest leading to active engagement as pre-season practice begins.

This season was no different, except that her initial refusal to play was replaced by a “Maybe” when asked if she intended to play, although this may be due to the fact that  her best friend is one of her team mates. Due to the vagaries of the league schedule,  I have the kids on the weekends when her team plays away. There is only one U12 girls team on the island, so they are playing against teams from all over the county. The first game of the season was against a team based an hour away, and far enough off the beaten track that we could hear the banjo music long before we arrived. I won’t give a match report, except to say that despite a strong showing, her team,  now named “Riptide” lost. Not the best way to start the season, but at least they weren’t crushed.

I missed the second game as my sweetie and I were away for the weekend, making up for the fact that I missed the San Francisco trip. Again, the team lost, 2-1 and my greatest fear was that this  would turn into as dismal a season as her last softball season. Not so: the third game ended up as a victory, with my daughter getting her first goal of the season, so you can imagine how happy I was for her. Again, a familiar pattern emerged. She usually starts any season with some reluctance, but at some point, a door in her brain is unlocked and she realises: “Oh yeah, I’m competitive and aggressive”. From that point on, there is no stopping her, and she throws herself into the game with gusto.

This brings us to yesterday. The torrential rain of the night before, and the constant, often heavy  showers of Saturday morning left me with a sense of foreboding. I  had visions of the pitch resembling the first day of the Somme in terms of playability. I realise that the often knee-deep Flanders  mud didn’t stop some British troops from kicking footballs  in front of them as they left the trenches and walked very slowly towards the German machine guns, but I think it’s a bit much to expect 11 year-old girls to do the same, albeit without the machine guns.

This is not to say that she hasn’t faced similar situations in the past. Two years ago, her team played a game in November under inhuman conditions: As we parents huddled under a portable marquee, swathed in several  layers and  clutching insulated mugs, our daughters slogged through a quagmire in the pouring rain. My daughter has always disliked playing in goal, saying on many occasions that the Goalie always gets the blame when the team concedes a goal, and how she doesn’t like being cold, wet and muddy. However,  I have a picture on my phone from that day of her soaking wet and covered in mud after a stint in goal. She an expression of  unadulterated  joy and enthusiasm spread across her face, the result of the aforementioned door in her brain being opened.

Yesterday was a fine example of the determination that she and her team mates have developed: The team went 0-2 down, fighting back to lead 4-2 before ending the game as 5-3 winners. My daughter didn’t score, but throughout the game she showed commitment and determination, defending with strength and skill, often making important clearances. She does have certain advantages though. She is the tallest girl on her team, as well as being broad shouldered and athletic, although some times these traits work against her.

You see,   there is a substantial height variation among 10 and 11 year-old girls that is truly startling. Some of the opposing players  have been a good foot shorter than her, and referees, most of them dads themselves, presumably take such things into account. At the second away game, my daughter was running with the ball at her feet when an opponent much shorter and lighter than her attempted a tackle. They collided, with the other girl falling to the ground whilst my daughter barely broke stride. There was no malice involved, simply two girls subject to the laws of physics  attempting to control the ball, yet the ref awarded a free kick to the opposition, having, in his eyes at least, see a diminutive  player clattered to the ground by a bigger, stronger opponent. This  happened a couple of times to my daughter, as she quite vociferously told me after the final whistle.

I had to tell her that this is a common occurrence, even in professional football, and that at her  level, referees are often prone to their own biases, even when attempting to apply the laws of the game in as even-handed a manner as possible. However, I  did agree with her about the obvious favouritism of the referee – he being from the same area as the home team. Still,  her enthusiasm  for the game remains undiminished. No doubt two consecutive wins  for her team as well as her goal and sterling performances have helped in this regard. I don’t know how long her interest in the beautiful game will last, but as long as she enjoys it, I will be there on the touchline shouting encouragement and giving as much vocal support as I can. I do have to admit though, that at times I find it difficult to restrain my natural instincts and keep my shouts  “G” rated. It would be very bad form indeed for me to stand on the touchline and, to  the tune of the Pet Shop Boys classic “Go West” chant “You’re shit,  and you  know you are, you’re shit,  and you know you are” at a bunch of young girls.  Besides, I’ve seen some of the dads on the opposing teams, and they’re all  much bigger than I am.



































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Falling And Laughing.

In the interest of full disclosure and the spirit of honesty, I should let you know that I am addicted to a fine white powder. It goes up my nose, down my front, it causes me to disappear at weekends, it costs me money I could spend on more useful things and causes me pain. I’m talking about snow. What the hell did you think I meant?  And if you think “Snow” is a euphemism, no, I’m talking about crystals of frozen Di hydrogen monoxide. You see, This year I was finally able to get some serious snowboarding time.

About five years ago my ex and I decided that it was stupid not to make the most of our winter trips to Whistler so we enrolled the kids in ski school and signed up for adult lessons for ourselves. Of course, the kids took to it like ducks to water, or should that be penguins to snow? My son because he loves anything technical and my daughter because she is the consummate athlete. Having worked in a sports medicine clinic I was fully aware of the pain, time and money involved in ACL tear repair, so I was the lone snowboarder in the family – It’s one piece of equipment instead of four, and you’re fixed securely to it. I’ve yet to hear of anyone being impaled by his own board. Have you?

For a couple of winters I took a couple of lessons, so managed to get a grasp of the basics, but the cost of rental equipment meant in went no further than that. The next year I didn’t so much as sniff snow (no pun intended), but last year I finally bought the necessary gear after a long search. My height and size 12 feet meant I needed the longest, widest board I could find to avoid going base over apex due to my toes or heels digging in during a turn  or the tip digging in as I put my weight on the front foot. I know the fashion is for shorter boards,  but let’s face it, width is as least as  important as length. Wouldn’t you agree, ladies?

At least I managed a couple of trips during what was last season’s perfectly crappy weather. On one trip I didn’t so much need board boots as  flippers! I didn’t break anything but did manage to fall backwards and smack my visual cortex so hard the entire world turned red for a brief flash. I always wear a helmet, so at least the world didn’t go black.

This year has been much better. After a couple of solo trips I convinced my sweetie to come along. She hasn’t skied since junior high, so she signed up for lessons and off we went. The first couple of trips were all weekend affairs but we soon settled on single night stays, booking a room at an hotel which at least is a clean place reasonably priced, but in need of some TLC.

After some group lessons, I bowed to sense and booked a private lesson so I could master my nemesis, the heel-edge turn. It’s exactly what it sounds like, but trying to teach it to myself was a frustrating affair to say the least. Two hours of one on one instruction seemed to do the trick, and seeing as it cost no more than two group lessons, but with 100% of the instructor’s attention it was money well spent.

Now before you get the idea that I’m some sort of “Better shred than dead” type, think again. I’m too old to throw caution to the wind and will admit to not being a speed merchant, but I get down the slope in one piece, and usually one go. Managing six consecutive runs down an easy slope with no falls may not sound like much to you hard core board hounds ( you know who you are), but I’ll take any A.M whiff of Napalm I can get.  Most of the other boarders are half my age, and some of them only one tenth my age, but hell, this is my first full season, so pogue mahone.

What really amazes and cracks me up in equal parts is the five to seven year olds zipping down the slope at full throttle without a care in the world. I envy their lack of fear.  The show-off teens and twenty somethings I find laughable. There is so much posturing involved that I feel that were this the 1950’s they would all be sitting in their hot rods in the parking lot of the local diner. Oh tempora, oh mores.

One thing that still stuns me is the number of people without helmets. I realise there is no legal requirement, but isn’t it common sense? Oh hang on, I’ve just seen the flaw inherent in that last sentence. I don’t have much of a brain ( please, don’t all contradict me at once) but it’s the only one I have and replacements aren’t available, so it makes sense to me to take care of it. What I really, truly don’t understand is the parents who don’t wear helmets but insist that their kids do. What kind of message does that send? I’ve always worn a helmet around the kids, whether on a board or a bike. How else are they supposed to learn how to behave except through seeing their parents model appropriate behaviour.

I guess some people just don’t get it. For instance, in Whistler during the summer, the ski runs become bike runs and it is not uncommon to see people cycling home from the slopes  along the highway wearing so much body armour they look like a character from “Call of Duty” with their helmets dangling from the handle bars! Wha? I’ve taken more than my fair share of falls this winter and have managed to bruise just about every part of my body, ego included – who knew there were so many shades of purple? – that I dread to think what state I’d be in without my helmet.

It’s not all negative,though. I love going from the heel to the toe edge and executing a grand, sweeping turn, and learning to break on the heel edge without face planting gives me great pleasure. Of such little victories is life made.

I have also been very impressed with the artwork on many boards. There seems no end of variation in colour and design and some are pure works of art. In fact, I remember writing a blog post for a lifestyle website on the topic of storage and keeping the bachelor pad tidy and I recommended mounting snowboards on wall brackets to display their underside designs. If I ever have the spare cash I’m going to get a custom  board made. The top will show a rocket shooting through space, flames jetting from the engines against a backdrop of stars and planets. The bottom will be plain black with neon orange text, reading : “If you can read this, please dig me out”





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Wild Horses

Once again, my children continue to amaze me and show what incredible human beings they are: For the past three years or so my daughter has been taking horse riding lessons, first at a stable that taught her how to ride a horse and of late at a different facility that is teaching her how to be an equestrian. I realise that pretty much all young girls have an obsession with horses, but she took up riding after a friend held a birthday party at a stable, and she learned that her best friend was taking lessons.   I know when a hill is not worth dying on, and anyway, I wasn’t paying for it. Additionally, I’ve always encouraged the kids to follow their passions, and if she loves riding, then who am I to stop her?

Her current lesson plan involves both tacking and untacking her ride. Yes, you heard me. She spends fully half an hour before and after her lesson tending the horse. She is incapable of keeping her room even vaguely tidy, but give her a curry comb and a brush and there is no stopping her. She is as passionate about caring for the horse as she is about riding it, and it’s gratifying to see this small child taking care of a horse that is more than twice her height and several times her weight.

Last week she took part in her first riding competition, so new readers start here. I learned about the event by chance, when I told her that both my sweetie and I would be at her upcoming football game. We were mightily relived to learn that the competition was on the island as her football game entailed a drive of nearly 45 minutes for a 9 am kick off.

We arrived in what turned out to be plenty of time and had the opportunity to see the earlier skill classes – four year olds on horseback are an absurd sight, but even these tots showed quite a level of skill. I did enjoy the showjumping, and it was very easy to spot the expert riders as they turned on a sixpence and sped at the fences.  I managed to find my daughter, although at first I didn’t recognise her due to the fact that she was wearing all new riding gear: namely a dark blue riding jacket and tan Jodhpurs. I have to admit that she looked every inch the accomplished equestrian and very smart to boot.

Eventually her class took to the ring for two rounds of walk/trot, which is exactly what it sounds like. The class were put through their paces as the judges looked on. Of course I’m biased, but she looked very professional, not looking around at the crowd, and staying focused. Imagine my delight when she placed third in the first round, and my even greater joy when she placed second in the second round! Two top three places in her first appearance in the ring. As you can imagine, I was grinning like an idiot, as indeed was my sweetie.

The best was yet to come, though little did we know it. After a short break came two Hunter/pole rounds, which is basically show jumping with poles on the ground instead of fences, as the competitors are not at a high enough skill level to tackle jumps. During her first attempt even I could tell that she nailed it, the horse never breaking stride as it crossed the poles. I said as much and it helped that we had seen her do the same exercise during one of her classes during the summer. I nearly exploded with joy when she was announced as having taken first place. The second round followed a more complex course and the day was made even more memorable when she placed second in the round. Imagine that: four top level rosettes in her first ever competition.  Naturally, I was overjoyed, and made sure she knew just how proud I was of her. Now to be clear, had she finished last in all four rounds I would have been proud of her, but seeing the grin on her face made it all the more special. She is her own worst critic and after the first Hunter/pole round she was certain that she hadn’t done very well although it was very apparent that she was doing her best and displaying exceptional skill.

It’s especially telling that she did so well among a field that included many lifelong riders. There is a big horsey set here and many  people own horses and equestrian properties and take owning a horse to be a natural part of life. For someone most certainly not from that background she did spectacularly well and I for one can’t wait for her next competition.

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Pretty In Pink.

As you know, I am inordinately proud of my kids (see “Computer World” etc.) and their abilities. In contrast to her technically minded brother, my daughter excels in the artistic and sporting fields. She is a very talented artist, budding guitarist and an exceptional equestrian but it is on the Softball field that she really shines. She started playing Tee Ball at age three and I have many pictures of her sitting in the outfield with a friend picking daisies to prove it. She progressed from Tee Ball through the various levels of Softball until 2015 saw her in her final year at the Intermediate level. Her batting improved slowly but surely as did her confidence, although throughout the years she maintained a mantra of “I don’t want to pitch, the Pitcher always gets the blame, I don’t like everyone looking at me, I don’t want to pitch”. All well and good, as I’ve never been one to push the kids into doing things they have no desire to do, so it came as something of a surprise, but also no surprise,knowing her contrarian personality  that prior to the recent season she announced :”I want to learn to pitch”.

I’d often felt that pitching would be a natural thing for her and after attending a couple of pitching training sessions I was not surprised to hear from her coach of her natural ability on the mound. I was surprised to see her pitch in the opening game of the season as I had expected a little time before she was thrown into the breach. She performed admirably, pitching two innings and striking out batters with a confidence that I doubt many older players would display under similar circumstances. She had a mid season crisis of confidence after a couple of very harrowing innings in which she walked five batters each time which made her want to quit. She was told that she didn’t have to pitch in the games but did have to continue with pitching practice and after a session in which her no-nonsense coach addressed her concerns she was back with a vengeance.

She pitched through the whole season, even pitching three innings on one occasion, something I learned most pitchers don’t do until their second season, often not until their third, and never in their first, which boosted my belief in her even more. Her ease and confidence on the mound shone through and even when facing tough opposition late in the season she never lost confidence, something that would have happened at the start.

No matter how good her pitching, it pales in comparison to her batting. Every time she approached the plate this season she displayed confidence and prepared to face the pitcher with a pose that exuded confidence, strength and ability. Her weight would always be on her back foot, her front leg extended in front of her and her bat twitching with anticipation.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed but in every game that involves hitting a ball there is a very distinct sound associated with a well delivered shot. Believe me, I became very well acquainted with the Thwack of a metal bat against a softball. It’s a heartening sound because it means that all her practice has paid off and that she is facing a pitcher capable of putting at least one ball out of seven over the plate, which is something that eludes many girls at this stage through no fault of their own.

This is where her athleticism kicks in. She is a natural sprinter and only through the poor luck of a ball that ends up grounding within reach of the pitcher or first baseman does she ever fail to make first base. Of course, given even a fraction of a chance she will steal second and third and take an opportunity to slide or sprint into home. Not to boast, but consistently throughout the season if she got a hit she got on base and if she got on base she got a run unless she was stranded on third or tagged out due to exceptional fielding, a brilliant catch or very bad luck.  All of this is a very long winded way of saying that she had a superb season, excelling even when the team as a whole didn’t and that I spent much of the time with a very broad grin plastered across my face whenever she was at bat or on the mound.

Her team  made it to the playoff final which is why I found myself the night before the game dyeing my hair and beard pink  as I had promised her in anticipation of the game. As the game was on Friday evening I had to go to work with my new tint and I can tell you that I got several funny looks on the boat, but then again, what’s new in that? I hear you ask.

Alas, they lost to a stronger side with lots of very experienced players and veteran coaches. Not that it dampened the post game celebration. The girls were all impressed that their medals were metal rather than plastic and all accepted that they had been outplayed and had not disgraced themselves, having given their best throughout the game. Just for the record, my daughter took six batters in her two innings of pitching and scored three of her team’s six runs, so she certainly shone, regardless of the final result. She had also dyed her hair pink, but only with a single streak, but she got a big kick out of my show of support, as did her team mates and many of the parents.

I know it sounds like a daft thing to do, but isn’t parenthood all about the stuff you don’t have to do? I’d made the same promise last year (see “Hand In Glove”) and wasn’t about to let the opportunity pass this time.  She was excited just about the prospect and it was well worth all the funny looks and the explanations I had to give at work when asked to see the look on her face when I arrived at the park.  This sees the end of her time in Intermediates and next year she moves up to the Majors. I can’t wait, seriously, I just can’t wait to see her play next year. Can anyone direct me to the hair care aisle, please? Just in case.

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World Cup Willie

Hmm. Now I look at it, that title may give the impression that I suffer from some sort of embarrassing social disease. Well, to be honest, I do, as loving football is still looked upon as something vaguely unpleasant and not to be talked  about in polite company. As you know, I love football ( see “Football Crazy”) to a fault and like any true fan spent most of the second quarter of this year with bated breath in anticipation of the  extravaganza that is The World Cup. Just to turn it up to eleven, not only was this years’ Copa das Copas held in Brasil, but my dad was here for the first time in two years.

Four years ago I thought that South Africa would be the last World Cup my dad and I would watch together, so this year had a special  poignancy to it.  Logistics took the lead as I only have my desktop monitor to view the games and that makes for a less than ideal situation, so I was pleasantly surprised when my ex said that it was O.K. for us to watch some of the games at her house while she and the kids were at Disneyland. Seeing as she has a 60″ HD screen, I jumped at the chance.

For the first two weeks my dad and I looked at the schedule and decided where to watch the game depending on which teams were playing and the kick off times. Of course, we watched the first two England games on the big screen, all the better to watch our pathetic performances and well deserved defeats. Watching England is a soul destroying experience at best, and this was not best by any means. Mind you, the 5-1 thrashing Holland gave to Spain took some beating as a spectacular game.

For some reason, when talking about the U.S. team, he always calls them “You lot” as if my having lived here for 22 years somehow makes me no longer English, which I think is rather amusing.  I will admit to following the “Von Trapps” with a great deal of enthusiasm, but I’m still a proud and loyal Englishman, so the team that represents  the country of my children’s birth will never be more than second choice.

Of course, the highlights of the tournament were the Germany v. Brazil semi final which showed beyond any doubt just what an incredible game football is and made even more laughable (if that were possible) the eyewateringly high level of ignorance displayed by Ann Coulter in a recent article that did the rounds on  social media – Excuse me while I disinfect my keyboard – and Tim Howard’s amazing display against Belgium

However, the weirdest part of the whole tournament was the final. My dad was basically wherever the kids were, and Final day saw them with their mum. My sweetie and I were both invited to watch the final there and it was without doubt the weirdest experience of my life to watch a football game with my ex on one side of me and my sweetheart on the other. I have to say that my sweetie was very nervous about the whole situation, but displayed a level of aplomb and courtesy that just emphasised how much  our relationship means. There are not many women who would share a couch with their boyfriends’ ex for the sake of a football game.

The World Cup is always something of a Curate’s Egg, and while the bad parts are truly dreadful  –  yes, I’m looking at you, England – the good parts are to be relished and savoured like a fine single malt whisky shared with good friends. The best part of it is the male bonding. My dad and I get very little one on one time and the World Cup gave us the opportunity to spend true quality time together by staring at a screen and moaning as the team in white disappointed us once again, just as we’d expected.

And yes, I can’t wait for Russia 2018. Only a little over 1,400 days to go and I’m already looking for a suitable pen with which to fill in my wall chart.

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Hand In Glove.

I appear to have made a habit of making shocking revelations in this blog, and I fear that this entry is no exception, so I will pause while you steel yourself. Ready? I’ve never owned a baseball glove.

Please come out from under the bed. You could suffocate if you wrap that Stars and Stripes any tighter around yourself, although I suspect that you can’t hear me as you have your fingers jammed in your ears and are singing “God Bless America” at the top of your lungs. Here, have a piece of Mom’s apple pie and calm down.

In fact, I’ve only worn a baseball glove twice in my life; the first time was when helping out at my son’s training session a couple of years ago as I ran around collecting balls as he practiced batting. The second episode was only this summer when my daughter attended a softball pitching training session. After being shown the basic techniques, all the girls settled in for some pitching practice with the help of a family member to act as catcher. I have to say that it gave me great pleasure to see her delivering balls with a fair degree of accuracy and more than a little pace, especially as it was her first ever attempt at pitching.

There is a great deal of satisfaction in hearing and feeling the ball slap into your glove, especially when it is your own flesh and blood delivering the ball. She didn’t pitch this season, but hopefully she will next year, although I have to say that her batting this year has been spectacular. Of course, I attend as many games as I can, although I missed a couple this year due to events scheduled before the season’s fixtures were known. About a third of the way through the season she remembered that she is both competitive and aggressive and her whole approach changed; she came to the plate wound up like a spring, daring the pitcher to throw a strike, and I’m happy to report that apart from a couple of sacrifice RBIs and a couple of good hits that deserved better, almost every time she got a hit, she got a run.

In blazing sun, in torrential rain she went out and always did her best and enjoyed herself even in defeat. My only regret is that her team didn’t make the playoff final and I was denied the opportunity to dye my hair pink for the game as I had promised her. Yes, you read that sentence correctly. I took a tube of temporary dye all the way to San Francisco on a trip with my sweetie just so I would have it available and be prepared to attend the match as soon as I got home. I bet that would have give airport security something to puzzle over.

It wasn’t a terribly successful season, but the most important thing is that she developed as a person, improving those soft skills that are so vital in order to be a decent human being; teamwork, compassion, empathy, sportsmanship, determination, courage. That’s what I understand when I read the phrase ” It’s not the winning that counts, but how you play the game”.

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Filed under child rearing, Sport