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A Different Spring

Posted by Dutchman Friday, May 2, 2014


For the first time in 14 years, I'm not sitting in the cold, sleet, or rain watching my son play baseball. There are no score-sheets to fill out, no statistics to calculate, and no walks through mud and wet grass to get to the field. I'm not sitting in 40 mph winds in the cold on one day, and roasting in heat and humidity the next. There is no racing home from work and grabbing fast-food on the way to the field for a practice or game. I don't have to hear parents complaining about their son not playing short-stop, or sitting the bench, or being asked for a bunt or "hit and run" when they could be swinging away. Nobody argues that their son should have a hit recorded instead of an error, because the ball bounced off 2 blades of grass and was traveling over X miles per hour causing the short stop to drop it from his glove.
Tyler put of lot of hours into being a good baseball player. He went to hundreds of practices and games. He attended hitting and pitching lessons. He discovered that talent only goes so far and then you must work. For a while Tyler worked very hard. He was a pretty good ball player. He played short-stop, out field and pitched. His junior year of high school, he pitched more innings than anyone on the varsity team. His ERA was 2.3.  He received the "Most Improved Player" award and was elected to the Michigan Baseball Coaches Association First Academic Team.
One day, during his junior year, his team was playing Rochester High School. He had a hit and was on 1st base.  I could see he was thinking about something and then he started talking to the 1st baseman. After the game, I asked him what they were talking about. He said, he was calculating the effect that the hit would have on his batting average. The 1st baseman heard him talking to himself and asked why he was doing calculations during a game. Tyler explained that "Everything that happened in a baseball game could be represented by mathematical equations. For example, you could calculate the speed and trajectory of the next pitch and then figure out that based on the contact point and bat swing, that the ball would be a hard grounder passing between the short-stop and 2nd base."  The conversation ended at that point because that is exactly what happened and Tyler was off to 2nd base, leaving a befuddled 1st baseman.
Tyler chose not to play baseball his senior year of high school. It wasn't because of disgruntled parents. It wasn't because of a coach who wanted to marginalize his talent over other favored players and it wasn't because he injured his pitching hand during the basketball season. It was because of numbers. There is another calculation one can do. It's result is the ratio of successful engineering/math students to college athletes. It is a very low number. It is low because it is very hard to work out, train, and play a sport that takes a minimum of 40 hours per week, take 16 credit hours of STEM courses, and study enough to keep a decent GPA.
Tyler opted to devote his time to studying for 3 Advanced Placement tests, a summer internship, and computer programming. At the moment, he is in Indianapolis at the Business Professionals of America National Leadership Conference. As the 1st place finisher at the Michigan competition in Computer Concepts, he qualified to go to "Nationals".  There he will also take a number of certification tests.
So, no more spring baseball.  What to do?  What to do?
You know, there is a calculation for where in a stream your dry fly will land if you apply the right back-cast, trajectory and speed to a Cortland double tapered floating tip line with a 3 foot 4X tippet.

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I'm a middle aged divorced father living with my two sons. We like to canoe, bicycle, fish, camp, play baseball, and spend money when we want and where we want, without permission from anybody. HA!

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