Dating advice for the next 4 years

So, the election is pretty much over now. And as a parent, I’m thinking about the next 4 years in my boys’ lives. They are now 11 and 13, so over the next 4 years they may start dating. And it occurred to me, this election can actually help me guide them.

See, there will be girls who my boys should treat with respect — but they’re boys, right? They’re going to have needs. They may want to find some girls that you can just…you know. Just go for it; doesn’t matter what the girl wants.

If you’re a Trump supporter, I’ll know you’re OK with that kind of behavior. I mean, if you think someone who behaves that way is good enough to be president, it must be good enough for your daughter?

So just leave a comment for me in the comment section. And maybe leave me your daughter’s name. It’ll be a big help. Thanks.

Goodbye Big Papi


Attn: David “Big Papi” Ortiz

From: the NuckolBall editorial staff

As a Yankees fan, you have been the symbol of the enemy for me. I have loathed you for years. You have gut-punched me again and again. I have delighted when you failed and sworn until I’m red in the face when you succeeded. You were at the heart of the worst baseball experience of my life (2004 comeback).

You were a massive whiner. A cry-baby. You were nailed for steroids and the Boston press loved you so much that when you said “I’m going to get to the bottom of this,” that seemed to be all they needed to hear.

But unlike most cry-babies, you could deliver the goods.

You made baseball unbearable. You made it must-see. For years, watching a Yankees-Red Sox game was 3 hours of muscle-clenched agony. I tracked the entire games on where you were in the line up. Please don’t walk this guy or we face Papi next inning. Every time we got you out, I gasped in relief and then started to count all over again.

Baseball is about tension. People say it’s boring and hate the slow pace. But the slow pace is what so masterfully builds that tension. It’s like a great horror movie. It’s not the zombies that are scary – it’s the anticipation of them. It’s waiting for them to spring.

And Papi, you were the ultimate zombie. You were Freddy Krueger. You were Jason and Chuckie and Leatherface. I’d spend the entire game waiting for you to spring out of the shadows and smash a game-winning home run. And then I’d spend the entire next day thinking about the next game in the series.


And for all this…I thank you.

You’ve been an integral part of a golden time in my baseball life. NuckolBall will be officially voting for you as a first-ballot hall-of-famer. You broke my heart quite a few times, and I thank you for it.

Now listen to this and cry (good stuff starts around 1:25).


X-Rated Post from SF


To quote Alex: “Dad was cursing. A LOT!”

We just came home from a fantastic 2-week road trip vacation in California. And towards the end we hit AT&T Park in San Francisco, which is #2 on my park list. We got there 2 hours early for batting practice…which turned out to be the source of my foul language.

So…here is the typical thing you find at batting practice before a game. A bunch of kids trying to get balls and autographs. Warms my heart.

But take a look at some of the people in the crowd. Why do grown men have gloves with them?

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LOSERS! God, I’m getting all mad again as I write this. Grown men should not be trying to get balls. It’s embarrassing as hell. Wait…here’s my favorite shot. Look at how cool this guy thinks he is because he got a ball.


He was literally tossing it up and down in the midst of a bunch of kids who were dying to catch a ball. What a putz. For God sakes, you’re a grown man. If you want a ball, buy it. On several occasions, I saw these buffoons swoop over kids to catch a ball.

It’s especially bad when a player actually tosses a ball to a kid and these guys grab the ball. Eventually I got so mad I headed down to say something to one of these guys, but Mets closer, Jeurys Familia, called the guy out and demanded the ball be handed over to a kid.

Anyhow…here are all the words I used to describe these guys as I was ranting in front of Alex. For the sake of avoiding an X-rating, I have typed them into my iPhone and let auto-correct fix them.


Aside from my fury, the game itself was absolutely terrific fun. Actually, the whole 2-week trip was one of my favorite 2 weeks ever. But still, if you are a grown-up getting balls, you have to stop.

Here’s a video of Jack flipping the K placard.




Diving on the Big Stage



Alex’s goal for the AAU Diving Championships in Orlando:

“Not come in last.”

It turned out to be a wild and emotional experience.

Alex and Shani had flown down to Orlando on Sunday. I flew in Monday night and after a bunch of flight delays, I slithered into the hotel room around 1 in the morning. Shani and I caught up in whispers as Alex slept in the other bed. When we all woke up, we had a very hyper boy on our hands. Alex basically did somersaults on the bed for an hour before we finally headed over to the pool. The schedule was as follows:

  • 7-8 AM: Warm ups
  • 8:30: First round of competition. All divers would do 5 dives.
  • 3:30: Finals. Here is where the top 12 divers from round one would compete for the championships.

And here was the good news: There were only 12 kids in Alex’s age group. So right away we knew that Alex would make the finals. But there was a little bad news: it made his odds of coming in last a lot higher. It made me all the more nervous as the first round started.

To describe round 1, I’d like to take you dive by dive. I’d like to take you through each round and tell you how Alex scored and build up the tension. But I can’t do any of that – because watching this event was completely incomprehensible. Check out this pool…


There were 14 diving boards and three different competitions all going on at the same time. There were three announcers calling out names and scores, and I could only catch bits of words. Plus, the whole building was a giant aluminum shed that funneled all the splashes, yells, boards, and chattering into a huge echoing roar. It wasn’t until Alex’s third dive that a woman next to us told us to go on the website: Check this out…


It gave us a running scoreboard and ranked the kids in real time. So I mostly watched round 1 on my phone.

But when the dust settled, Alex had done 3 good dives (4s and 5s), 1 lousy dive (3s), and one really nice dive (6s). We knew Alex wasn’t last, but we didn’t really know much else. At 2:00 we got back at the pool for the finals. I wandered over to the scoreboard. And get this…because here’s where things get good.

Alex was now in 4th place. They kept 3 dives from round 1 and somehow this re-scoring had worked in Alex’s favor. This boy wasn’t just going for next to last place – he was in it.

The basic picture was this:

  • There were 2 kids way ahead of Alex
  • There was 1 kid barely ahead of Alex
  • There were 4 kids right behind Alex

For the finals, each kid did only 2 dives. I figured I could actually track this thing and be more in the moment. Because if things went well, Alex had a real shot at the bronze. Here’s my inane scoring sheet.


Alex was 5th in the diving order. I watched the first 4 kids and tracked them accordingly to where Alex had to be. The kid right before Alex was the one who was in 3rd place, and to my great joy the kid did a mediocre dive. If Alex could execute, he could move up to 3rd place.

Alex stepped up to the board…

Time out.

I’m going to stop and let you know what we didn’t know at the time. See, diving rules are confusing. Alex had warmed up the past hour to get up and do his 1.5 inward. But when the boy got up on that board and heard the announcer say… 

“Now doing a reverse tuck…Alex Nuckols.”

Alex and his coach had screwed up and suddenly Alex learns that he is doing a completely different dive. A major curve ball had been thrown to my boy. But Shani and I didn’t know any of this at the time. All we knew was…

Alex stepped up to the board…

And bombed.

The dive was awful. Legs splayed, body all wrong, big awkward splash. I could hear a few of the scores as they called them out. “2.5…2…2.5…”.

I closed my notebook.

I could see that Alex was in bad shape when he got out of the pool. I watched him go over to his coach. I watched him prepare for his next dive. Even from across the giant pool, I could see that he was crying. Five minutes later, he was coming back up on the board for his second and final dive. He later told me he was still crying as he climbed the ladder.

He went up on that board, took a deep breath and…

THAT is what it looks like to nail a dive. I heard the muffled announcer call out: “7…6.5…7…7.5…”

Look, I’ve seen Alex win a shitload of dive meets and anyone stupid enough to ask me about Alex will hear me brag and beam about him. I’ve had so many proud moments with this sport – but that dive blew them all away. He collected himself and he executed. Damn if I’m not choked up right now as I write about that dive. My boy. Hell yes. Hell, period. Yes, period.

OK…so the meet ends and you also have to realize that Alex has no idea of the score. None. Didn’t know he was 4th going in. Didn’t know anyone else’s scores. All he knew was that he bombed his dive and that his goal was to not come in last. Suddenly, there he was up in the stands in a towel and his speedo and our boy just dove into his momma’s arms. I snuck some shots.

The instant the competition ended, he went right for Shani and he sobbed for a solid 3 minutes.

That’s when I told him he came in 5th.

Turns out a lot of kids cracked under the pressure of the finals. That combined with Alex nailing his second dive and he’d ended up 5th out of 12. Here he is up on the podium. Sweet, right?

I will end with a warning. Watch out for Alex Nuckols next year. If I were those 2 kids at the top of the podium who won by 40+ points, I would start practicing right away. Because let me make you aware of Alex’s history as a diver.

Historical Example 1:
Alex’s first two years of diving he was just OK and only kind of into it. He placed 11th and then 6th at the South Jersey Diving Association (SJDA) finals.
Starting the following season, he has placed first in every meet he’s been in except one.
Historical Example 2:
This winter Alex started competing in AAU and USA meets events against a whole new caliber of competition. In his first few meets he was next to last and his best total score was 99.
The final meet of the season he scored 169.4 and shocked his coach by qualifying for the national championship in Orlando.

His goal this year was to not come in last.

I suspect he will be setting his sights a bit higher for next year.

Superman’s Blanket

A few things before I show you the video…

  1. Please note that this site has been changed to NuckolDIVE — to celebrate Alex’s extraordinary diving prowess this summer. He is in Orlando for the National Championships — which means he is among the top 50 divers in his age group. I’m headed down tomorrow — expect updates.
  2. My Uncle Coddy and I wrote a song together (I did the lyrics, Coddy did everything else.) I wrote the song about Alex — and it is here in a sappy video.


Updates from National Diving championships coming soon!

A Song in the Car


I’m processing a lot this morning.

  1. Over the past 2 months, I’ve faced the biggest professional challenge of my entire career. And if I do say so myself, I leaped into space I had no business playing in and this Friday I basically brought the ball over the goal line.

    So I’m still reeling from that.

  2. Jack is off to camp as of last Thursday. It is a month without my guy and it comes with a thickness of both missing Jack and appreciating the simplicity that comes with being down to only three family members.
  3. I’m feeling very much in love with my wife. Alex had a 2-hour diving practice in Philly last night. Usually one of us takes him and stays there at the pool.

    Last night Shani and I both drove him to diving. We dropped him there and shot to Mannyunk for dinner. We got beers and a plate of chicken nachos on the back deck of a place overlooking the canal. We chit-chatted about basically nothing, but I kept being struck by how gorgeous Shani’s hair is. She had on a blousy yoga shirt that was open in the back and as we walked to and from and car, I kept letting her walk ahead of me.

SO…with all that going on, I drove Alex to his swim meet this morning. He’s not as into swimming this year; it’s all about diving for the boy. But as we drove, he put on the Top 40 station and found a poppy tune.

Once I was seven years old
My mama told me to go make yourself some friends or you’ll be lonely

The song was “7 Years” by Lukas Graham. The lyrics are trite and the melody is pure candy. It’s a 25-year old sharing his wisdom about life. Instant channel change for me.

But I will say…there is nothing like having your 10-year-old sit next to you and sing along with every damn lyric.

No irony. No cynicism. Eyes forward and 100% in the moment of that song. His little voice.

My Uncle Coddy wrote a song called “20 Lifetimes” which is weirdly similar to “7 Years.” Coddy’s song is like a grown-up version of the same idea. Coddy has a lyric at the end:

I’ve felt forever in a moment.
I’ve lived a lifetime in a day.

And it occurs to me that during the ride this morning, as Alex sang that song sitting next to me…that was most certainly a moment in which I felt forever.

Little League Coach Quiz

Wanna know if you’ve got what it takes to be a great Little League coach? Take this quick 2-question quiz:

Question 1: It is a playoff game and the score is tied. The umpire forgets about a critical rule and makes a call that costs your team a run. Do you:

a) Fight for that run! Your kids need you to stand up for them. They want to win. Let that ump know that they missed the call. Call that ump out right there and then.

b) When the inning ends, grab the opposing coach (who is kind of a blowhard) and respectfully conference with the umpire.

(hint: the answer is b)

Question 2: You have a marginal hitter on your team who loves baseball sooo much. (For the sake of this example, we’ll call this kid Jack Nuckols.) As you walk with Jack to the plate for his at-bat, do you:

a) Find a way to motivate him. Bring the intensity. Tell him to focus and that this is his chance to make it happen.

b) Ask Jack: “Bunt? Swing? What are you thinking? It’s your call, how do you want to handle this?”

(hint: the answer is b again)

Quiz complete!

And with that, we now transition to:

An open letter to Coach K

A day may come when my son (or one of the 11 other kids on the team) may make the majors. And my son may look back and think: “I remember Coach K made me a better hitter.”

That’s a possibility, right?

Alternatively…a day may came when my son (or one of the 11 other kids on the team) will encounter a difficult disagreement with a senior citizen, or a policeman, or a veteran — and in spite of the tough situation, my son will treat that person with respect. My son may look back and think: “I remember how Coach K handled that umpire.”

That scenario seems much more likely. For my kid and for every single kid on the team — including your own.

It should also be noted, that your own parents were at the game. I hope they didn’t care that your team lost the game. But I do hope they noticed how you handled that umpire and were beaming with pride. They should have been.

I write this on a Sunday, the day after that game. Yesterday’s loss means that the team is one loss away from elimination from the playoffs. Which means tonight may be Jack’s last Little League game. I find myself awash with a sparkling and thick nostalgia, sweet sadness, and above all, gratitude.

Thank you, Coach K. It’s been a pleasure to have my son’s final season be with you. While I’m at it, thank you Coach Carl, Darren, Bill, Dan, Gary, Charlie, Lance. You’ve all nurtured something in my son and you’ve been central to years of memories that I cherish. Sitting on those metal bleachers, smelling that grass, hearing parents jabber and cheer.

When I think of my own childhood, the main setting I think of are the woods behind my house. I suspect Alex will think about the pool when he pictures his childhood. Jack? Jack will look back and think of this Little League field. And when Shani and I think back to the time when we were raising our kids, the Little League field will loom large there too.

It’s been a blessing.

Hope they win tonight.

With Pride

You may have read blog posts about my younger son, Alex, and his camping adventures.

I am brimming with pride over an article he wrote about 5 hikes in our local area that just got put in our local paper. Here’s the article on line.

And now…I owe him $50.








About Fatherhood (The Curse of Donna G’s Boobs)


This is the final and concluding installment of the Donna G Project. This project has been written to and for my boys. It was inspired by my wife’s friend Donna G and her experience with breast cancer.

The final subject of the Donna G Project: fatherhood.

If you’re a dad, and you take your kids out for breakfast without your wife, there is a 100% chance that someone will come up to you and say:

“What a good father you are.”

It’s a sure thing. It usually happens 2-3 times over the course of the meal.

Now let’s break this down. A dad spending time with his kids without his wife is so extraordinary that strangers feel the need to come and recognize it. Hell, you’re not even making breakfast – you’re taking your kids out so someone else can do the cooking. But still, it stands out as a marvelous act of fatherhood.

Think that happens if a mom goes somewhere alone with her kids? Not a chance. But that’s how low the bar is for dads.

The fact is, dads get a pass. For some reason, wives, kids, society, everyone is just fine with dads getting away with doing 10% of the parenting. Watch families in public for 5 minutes and you’ll be stunned.

Dads pretend to not smell the dirty diaper. They pretend to not hear the baby crying. They dodge their own kids and for some reason that’s OK. It’s actually expected.

That’s the bar for dads.

Now you may ask yourself: How can this be? Why is it like this? Good question. Well, as a father, I can share 4 reasons that help explain the current state of fatherhood.

Reason #1) There are times when fatherhood sucks

Everyone will tell you it’s wonderful being a dad. Children are a blessing. But in reality, some things about fatherhood are just awful. Fatherhood is sitting through 2-hour pre-school “concerts” where 14 classes of kids sing crappy songs. You wait for your kid’s class to sing and then afterwards you tell them how amazing they were at singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

Fatherhood is pushing a big wheel around the driveway until your back is killing you because kids don’t pedal for themselves. Fatherhood is deep knee bends down the hall at 3:55 AM trying to get them back to goddam sleep. It’s rushing into the skankiest gas-station bathroom for an emergency poop and suspending a 4-year-old over the bowl for seven minutes with your face level to the lip of the foul-smelling toilet.

Fatherhood is boring. It’s exhausting. It ruins vacations. Hangovers are brutal.

A lot of the time, it sucks having kids.

Reason #2) Kids make it easy

Fatherhood is the most unfair relationship in the world. You have all the power – and that is awfully seductive. You make the rules. You define good and bad. You have the power to punish and reward. You can say: “Daddy needs to watch this game and then we can play.” And because you said so, you’re right. Hell, you can punish them if they don’t leave you in peace.

In other words: if you want to avoid fatherhood, all you have to do is tell your kid that it is right to do so. They will accept your rules as right because you’re the dad, and you have the power to enforce your bullshit rules.

And on top of it all, that kid worships you. So after laying all that unfair bullshit on them, when you finally do get up and spend 20 damn minutes kicking a rubber ball around the backyard, your kid will forget the 3 hours of waiting. They’ll be deliriously happy. Kicking that ball will be their favorite memory of the whole week. They’ll tell you you’re the best dad in the world.

That is how easy kids make it.

Reason #3) Technology makes it easy

Give your kid your phone – done. Put on a video – done. Set them up with the iPad – done. This one is obvious, but still it is so easy to fall into that trap. Whole teams of brilliant experts are developing technology designed to be more interesting than you. Your kids will beg for it and all you have to do is say yes and you’re off duty.

Reason #4) Society (including wives) make it easy

Think of it this way: if you went to your job and 90% of the time, dodged your workload and dumped it onto your co-workers, what would happen? There’d be a damn mutiny. You’d be fired in a week.

But dads do that every single day and for some reason it’s fine. Maybe wives just give up and decide it’s not worth the fight.

In fact (and I swear I’m not making this up), I wrote a draft of this in an airport and right across from me…a mom, dad, 3 little kids. The kids were crying and fighting and the mom was struggling to wrangle the 3 of them. That dad sat right there, talking on his phone, like he didn’t even realize his kids were there.

So now when you ask yourself why the fatherhood bar is so low, you have 4 solid reasons why. Someday you may experience these reasons first-hand. In fact, that’s where we’re going to go. But before we go there, we’re gonna take a time out. This is the last installment of the Donna G Project, so I thought it made sense to check in with Donna G. Let’s revisit her story, shall we?

It started with an abnormal blood test. Then a scan and the detection of cancer in her right breast. There was telling her husband. There was telling her two daughters. (You boys know them, imagine that moment.) There were logistics and appointments. Then the surgery.

They laid her on her back, put her under, and took scalpels to her breasts. They cut down the tops and across the bottoms, discarded her nipples, and then peeled the skin back like opening up an orange. Then they cut out all the flesh of her breasts. They slid implants under her pectoral muscles. Then with great care and precision, they sewed the skin back together.

Start there. Consider that mutilation. That physical devastation.

From there, the slow, plodding, aching recovery. Physical therapy. Muscle spasms in the pectoral muscles. Knots in the tendons under her armpits that a physical therapist would have to “crack” by pushing down hard with both thumbs. That’s what Donna G went through.

It’s been two years and no sign of the cancer returning. But still the thought never leaves. When Donna’s knee hurts after going for a run, cancer lingers. She will think: “Has it spread to my bones?” Horrible doubt and fear lurking. Donna G lives under that shadow.

She takes medicine that causes her hands to ache. Her daughters will notice when it’s bad and say, “You don’t have to braid my hair, Mommy. I’ll wear it straight today.”

Donna has faced it with grit. With bravery and clarity. She told me, “cancer is a control freak and you have to take control back from it.” That’s what she does. That’s what she has done. “It’s the new normal,” she says.

And as I read that over, it occurs to me that those are her reasons. If she wanted to do a half-ass job as a parent, she had plenty of compelling reasons.

So with that, let’s go back to fatherhood, shall we? Because as we come to the conclusion of this project, I am invoking all the power of Donna G. The suffering, the endurance, the refusal to live under any terms but her own. I invoke all of it and bring it to bear in the form of a curse.

When it comes to fatherhood, you two don’t get a pass. Your pass has been revoked. You two get a different bar and I’m setting it right here and right now. In all the other things I’ve written, I’ve given you advice. This is not advice. This is a requirement. This is mandatory.

I am calling on the full power of Donna G’s boobs and laying this curse upon you.

If you choose to have kids, you are going to be kickass dads. You read that right; I am placing an honest-to-God curse on you.

Oh, and remember those 4 reasons I laid out? Well those don’t hold water for the two of you.

“But sometimes being a dad is so annoying. I thought it would be fun.”

Too bad. Get in there. I don’t care how bad it sucks. Especially when it sucks. You will engage every friggin’ time. You will get your ass off the couch. You will dress up in dumb costumes. You will play hide and seek even though kids always hide in the exact same spot every stinkin’ time.

“My kids tell me I’m a great dad. They understand that I need time to myself. I’m helping them be independent.”

You don’t get to pull that bullshit. That incredible power over your kids is to be used to make them good people. It is to teach them good life habits and ingrain them with a sense of right and wrong. You get to use that power responsibly and for the interest of your kids, not for your own self-interest. It takes tremendous restraint and discipline – but that’s exactly what you’re gonna do.

“They don’t want to play with me – they want their devices.”

You’re gonna put that shit down. Devices are not the parents — you are. You need to be more fun than the device. Cut that bullshit out.

“But that’s how dads are. My wife gets it.”

BULLSHIT! 100 times – bullshit! You will not buy into that – do you hear me? You’re gonna get down on that rug and roll around. You’re gonna push that kid in those swings and chase them around the playground – then do it again. You are going to be the first to smell that diaper and you change it, goddamit. That’s your kid. Spring out of bed at night when you hear the crying. Read those awful picture books over and over.

You two listen to me, and listen good. This curse is real. It is legal and binding. It is happening. If you boys choose to be fathers, you will honor this curse or you will spend fatherhood with my foot (and Donna G’s foot) up your ass.

That is the curse of Donna G’s boobs – and I hereby lay it squarely on you both.


Full stop.

Take a moment to appreciate the fact that you’ve just had a curse placed on you. Because now I want to follow that rant with a few stories. Check it out.

My precious son, Jack:

The day after you were born I went for a run. My run took me through a tunnel and as I ran through it I suddenly found myself bellowing: JACK! JACK! JACK! It just gushed out of me. Again and again, I yelled it with all the might my thunder-throated voice could bring. The sound of your name crackled off the concrete arches and each time I heard it, reality sunk in deeper and deeper.

What had happened didn’t seem possible – but it was real. I was a father. I had a son.

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My son, Alex:

When you were three we spent a whole day together. Mom and Jack were away for some reason. You and I ran errands, we played ninja fights, we had dinner together. That night, I put you to bed and you were falling asleep the second you lay down. As I tucked you in, you said to me in the sleepiest voice:

“I wish we were twins.” Your voice was so tiny.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because then we’d be together always for our whole life.”


My son, Jack:

When you were two years old and we were living in that temporary apartment in Pennsylvania, you wanted to play cars outside after dinner. It was raining just a little, so I sat down on the concrete and rested against the door. I expected you to go play cars on the sidewalk, but instead you sat down right next to me like it was perfectly normal and suddenly everything everything locked into crystal clear focus. The whole universe instantly made perfect sense. In that moment I literally knew the meaning of life with absolute certainty. I had it in the palm of my hand. The doughy little boy, side by side with me on that cold concrete was everything I had ever wanted or needed. It was more than I ever had the right to ask God for, but there it was just the same.

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My beautiful son, Alex:

Our first backpacking trip. We slept in the shelter, and in the middle of the night it absolutely poured. The rain rattled so loudly on the metal roof it woke me up. I sat and listened to the whole world roaring around me. Out there with no one around for miles I sat there with your tiny sleeping body next to me, and I wished that moment would last forever.

My two sons. My two magic boys:

These moments are endless for me. I could fill pages and pages and pages with these moments. You boys have brought me joy that dwarfs anything else I have ever known. When it comes to my love for the two of you, it feels like God himself pulled the sun from the sky and stuffed it into my chest. To me, that is fatherhood. That is what the two of you have brought to me.

So yes, I have put a curse on you. But in spite of what the majority of people seem to believe, Fatherhood is not a curse.




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