Saturday, June 22, 2013

On This Date in 1998

My shoulders and upper back are still a little warm from all the sun they absorbed this past weekend, especially on Saturday. My face, noticeably reddened as a result of this overexposure, feels a little tight along the forehead, but I’ve been applying a moisturizing cream every once in awhile.

Andy had quite a weekend of baseball. He played Friday evening, a regular league game, pitching on inning and getting out of a bases-loaded jam, his team going on to win 10-5, or something like that. I only caught the second inning of the game, having spent the day in Oshkosh where I had scheduled a WLA board meeting at the public library. JoAnna wanted to watch Andy play, so after my quick stop at Andy’s game, I drove to another part of town to watch Eddie’s game. He played much better than he did on the previous Monday, making contact with the ball three times he was up and getting on base. His team won, but I have no idea what the score was. After the game, we drove back to where Andy was playing and caught the final inning of the game. For supper, we went to Culver’s, a Wisconsin-based fast-food franchise, with a better and more varied menu than McDonald’s and Burger King. With a big weekend ahead of us, it was early to bed for everyone.

Andy’s first game of the Beaver Dam baseball tournament was scheduled for 11:00 a.m. Beaver Dam is less than an hour’s drive from Middleton, going northeast on state highway 151. The coach had asked everyone to meet in the high school parking lot by 9:00, so he could distribute the uniforms. (Caps, jersey, and socks. The boys supply their own pants.) With a second game scheduled at 2:00, JoAnna and I packed a cooler with soda, sandwiches, apples, baby carrots, and brought along other stuff to tack on. (Goldfish, Twizzlers, pretzels.)

Middleton played a team from Waunakee, another suburban Dane County community, in its first game. Our boys got off to a quick 3-9 lead in the first, then held Waunakee scoreless for three innings and added three more runs in the bottom of the 3rd. Then Waunakee came back with 4 runs in the top of the 5th, three of them scoring on a bases-loaded smash to centerfield that neither the rightcenterfielder or leftcenterfielder (Andy) had a chance to catch. (In the league for 10 year olds, they play with four outfielders.) Andy, though, quickly ran to the ball and made a great throw to third base to beat the runner. Three outs. End of rally. Then Middleton tried to put the game out of reach with three more runs in the bottom half of the 5th. Waunakee didn’t score in the 6th, so Middleton won its first tournament game, 9-4.

The game was played at Lakeview Park, a very attractive outdoor space encompassing about four city blocks. Although it was close by, we didn’t have a view of the lake. (Maybe it was visible years ago when the park was first created.) We stayed here and had a picnic before moving to the location of the second game, a complex of four baseball diamonds in a different part of the town. We found a Dairy Queen along the way. With the temperature approaching 90 and the sun blazing down mercilessly, a cold treat seemed definitely in order.

The heat may have been part of the reason for Middleton’s poor showing in game two, but they were matched up against a very powerful (and older-looking) team from Fond du Lac. Fondy’s first two batters hit balls that should have been fielded cleanly and resulted in outs. Batter number three then poked a tremendous shot over the left-field fence for a home run. Then fences are short, of course, by major-league standards, but he still had to have hit the ball about 225 feet. I was relieved that the team had scored only five runs when the third out was recorded. The opponent’s two pitchers threw smoke all game. Middleton’s players aren’t used to seeing such good pitching over the course of an entire game. They managed to load the bases when the second pitcher had a bit of a problem with his control during his first inning of pitching but were unable to get a runner home. Final score: 13-0 in four innings. The games don’t go the full six innings when the score is that lopsided. Fond du Lac won its morning game by the same score. I wouldn’t be surprised if they won the championship game.

We were happy to feel the blast of the air-conditioner on the drive home. The outside temperature as shown on the digital dashboard display registered as high as 93. The lawn needed mowing, but that chore was not going to get done until another day.

“We should go to a movie,” JoAnna suggested.

In that way, we could continue to enjoy the comfort of an air-conditioned space. Throughout the week, Eddie had expressed a desire to see the new Disney movie, Mulan, which wasn’t even near the top of my “gotta-see” list, but since he behaved so well during what I’m sure was a long day for him, he deserved to make the choice. I found the movie a bit silly. The songs were uninspired, and the animation flat. The computer-enhanced images seemed borrowed from last year’s Hercules, a movie I was expecting to detest, based on the previews I saw, but which I actually found quite charming. But who cares what Dad thinks, right? Eddie enjoyed the movie, his frequent laughter attesting to this. JoAnna and Andy also like it.

After the movie, we drove to a nearby Pizza Hut for supper. The boys ordered a stuffed-crust pepperoni pizza. JoAnna and I tried a new item on the menu, Bakemates, I think it’s called, although that doesn’t sound right now – rotini, chicken, and vegetables in an alfredo sauce. Not bad. It was served very hot with 2 garlic breadsticks.

JoAnna was actually the first one in bed Saturday night. Andy and Eddie didn’t get to bed until 10:00. I used the quiet time to catch on up paying some bills and tidying up my desk.

Sunday morning we were on the road to Beaver Dam at 10:15. Middleton’s first game was scheduled at 12:00. The opposing team, one of two host teams from Beaver Dam, looked much less intimidating than the Fond du Lac team.

“They might actually have a chance of winning and making it into the semi-finals,” I thought, which would mean another game at 4:30. Believe me, I had mixed feeling about how much baseball I wanted to watch in one weekend.

After two innings, the score was knotted at 2-2. When Beaver Dam started hitting the ball with authority in the 3rd inning, Middleton’s defense fell apart. It wasn’t so much fielding the ball, as to what to do with it once they had it. The infielders weren’t playing their positions, leaving bases open and allowing runners to advance, then making errant throws to advance even more. In the top of the 6th, the score was 10-3, Middleton down and seemingly out. However, they staged a rally, scoring three runs until a pop-up to the pitcher, with the bases loaded, ended the inning. A basehit would have probably made it a one-run game with the team’s best hitter coming up to bat. I noticed the coach’s son didn’t seem to be too disappointed.

“Yeah, now we can go home,” I heard him say as he ran off the field. I think he probably expressed the sentiments of most of his teammates and perhaps a majority of the parents. It was a good learning experience for the boys, though, and they’ll be better prepared for their next tournament, which takes place in Madison on the last weekend in July. There’s also a tournament the following weekend in Reedsburg, about an hour northwest of Middleton. Looks like Andy and I won’t be attending the Richard family reunion this year.

The boys slept during the drive home, and JoAnna eyes were very heavy as I parked the van in the garage. She took a nap, Andy immediately called Meaghan, Eddie watched TV in the kitchen, and I tackled a few household chores. Later I started to mow the front yard, but JoAnna, up from her nap now, said, “No, you don’t have to do that. It’s Father Day.” I turned the job over to her and went to the back yard where I picked up some debris – mostly broken tree branches - -from Saturday’s late-evening thunderstorm. I also uprooted dozens of little maple sprouts that had been hoping to make a home in our flower beds. Then I went inside and rested, taking a well-timed TV break to watch some of my favorite reruns on the Game Show network: Password, What’s My Line?, I’ve Got a Secret. JoAnna bought some steaks for a Father’s Day cookout, but the boys wanted to go swimming.

"It’s your decision,” JoAnna told me, since permission granted would mean we wouldn’t have a family supper. Since I had just spent $80 for a family pool pass earlier in the week, I allowed the boys to go and even drove them and Meaghan to the pool, with the idea that I’d pick them up in an hour. An hour later, Meaghan was ready but the boys were having too much fun. I drove Meaghan home as she had to be home at 6:30, no ifs, ands, or buts.

The boys missed a great meal. JoAnna cooked the steaks – a sirloin strip for me, a T-bone for her – to perfection. In fact, she couldn’t eat all of hers, so I packed away the rest of it.

We both went to pick up the boys at 7:30, a half hour before the pool closed. Andy was with Drew Farrell, a teammate on the select baseball squad who was also on Andy’s baseball team in 3rd grade and coach-pitch baseball team the summer after 1st grade. Drew goes to Sauk Trail School. “Drew” is actually a shortened form of Andrew. Eddie was having a great time both on his own and with a baseball teammate of his. Since they were already clean, there was no need to play “Battle of the Showers”. Andy will often promise to take a shower in the morning when he needs to clean the grime off his body before going to bed. Eddie will sometimes resist until I start the shower for him.

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