Update on Jack’s Article

So…how is Jack’s article about spring training coming? Well, let me share the talking points I put together for the discussion we had Saturday.

  • Chores
    • Your chores are garbage. Do the minimal amount possible to get them done
    • When asked to do them, always answer “I will” or “hang on” and then it’s 10:10 and you’re doing the trash when you should be in bed
  • School
    • Spent 45 minutes studying for a test — compare that to 2 hours spent on screen time
    • 43/50 on MacBeth essay — pretty weak
    • Seems again, minimal effort possible
  • General screen use
    • Mom is constantly telling you to get off – causes tension
    • Return from school every day and your battery is dead
    • When I drive you to school, right on screen, don’t even say hi when friends get into the car
  • The article
    • This is the opportunity of a lifetime
    • 2 weeks later…nothing close to a viable article
    • Opportunity is passed — no one will publish an article about spring training now with real season starting in 5 days
    • The week after spring training, you did nothing
    • We had laid out a terrific outline to a super article — and then you did nothing
    • Finally wrote in week 2, spent maybe an hour on it. Mediocre
    • You didn’t hold up your end of this bargain
      • Wrote Pirates and said you wanted to do an article
      • They let you come and interview. You got all the good stuff
      • Then you didn’t do your part
  • What I’m seeing as a dad
    • On one hand, you have something productive, interesting, unique, amazing to do (article)
    • But instead, you chose Fortnight (Xbox game) and Instagram. Chose screens. Chose bullshit.
    • This is a signal of a serious issue.
    • So I am pulling screens

That’s as far as I got. Jack freaked out. Yelled that none of that was true, and then stormed away.

So that’s the update on the article.

Postlude: Negotiations have continued. Jack returned after giving it thought and admitted to screwing up on chores and the article. We then went into heavy negotiations for new rules to get screens under control. But negotiating with these two is always a challenge.

 

 

 

Lessons learned: Tips for Spring Training

If you are planning to head to spring training in Florida (which I highly recommend), here are the following things to take into account:

1) Get your tickets early

These games sell out. It’s not like minor league games where you can assume tickets are available at the window. Get your tickets a few days in advance at least. And maybe do your research here.

2) Get to the games early

We normally get to ball games early and are among the few people there. Spring training, EVERYONE is there early. So be there a solid 2 hours before the game and get ready for the long haul.

3) Don’t overdo it.

We tried to schedule multiple games in one day, which was too much. It ran us pretty ragged. One game a day, then take it slow from there. One game is plenty. And be wary that it’s usually more than an hour to reach any park.

4) Eat fruit

You’re gonna stuff yourself on salty ballpark food and eat out a lot. Make time to buy a bunch of fruit and eat it every day.

5) Lines for the mens room are long

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The crowd is full of old guys with old guy bladders. The line is long. Take that into account.

6) Bring sunscreen. Bring blankets.

The weather is wacky. In the bright sun, you can bake in 75 degree heat. Then at 6:30, it can drop into the 40s. This can all happen in the same game.

7) Follow the crowd for autographs

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The stadiums are filled with professional autograph seekers. You’ll see them with the binders and notebooks. They know where to stand to try and get autographs. (Or if you’re lucky, you have Jack as your guide.)

8) Teach your kids manners

If a player stops and signs a ball for your kid, and your kid doesn’t say “thank you” – that is an indicator that you are a crappy parent and raising an entitled little shit.

I will end by saying this. On our third day into the road trip, Shani posted this:

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She saw the truth of the matter. Assuming Jack makes sure that his grades don’t suffer, this trip is now part of our lives.

 

Spring Training road trip in 27 photos.

Footnotes included at the end.

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1) Headed out in the midst of a snow storm.

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2) Night in Richmond with DeMottes

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3) Headed south again

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4) Long ass day of driving.

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5) Dinner with Beatties in FL

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6) Drinks with Dave on his couch

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7) Tigers game at 1:05

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8) Seats in the sun along third base. It’s March and we are watching baseball!

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9) 6:05 game — Jack watching Yankees warm up

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10) Learns Aaron Judge not in the game, but Didi Gregorius is.

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11) Right back to work

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12) Pushing for autographs.

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13) Got Greg Bird, Tommy Kahnley, and Chasen Shreve.

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14) Signed ball from Kyle Higashioka (who told Jack it was because he was the only kid to say “please”)

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15) Game on. Watching from the grass.

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14) Main event time. 7:45 AM arrival at Pirates

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15) Interview with Cole Tucker (Pirates #5 prospect)

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16) Interview with Austin Meadows (26th ranked prospect in entire MLB)

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17) Interview with Steven Brault (starting pitcher)

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18) Team building event — the players did a Chopped-esque challenge.

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19) Checking out which players made the best dish.

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20) Press passes gave us field access, so we took advantage.

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21) Jack taking a pee in the dugout bathroom

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22) Right there for batting practice.

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22) Our seats for the game.

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23) The master at work. (5 balls and dozens of autographs)

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24) Late night driving. Family Guy clips to stay awake.

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25) Long haul home. 10+ hours of driving.

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26) We got home close to 11:00. Alex was not asleep. He helped us bring in our stuff and asked Jack to show him all the swag he collected. Jack said to me later: “I really missed that kid.”

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27) The full road trip. 5 days. 2 Rambler stops. 3 ballparks. 2303 miles and 35 hours of road time.

Footnotes

Things we talked about in the car: Popularity, my mom, suicide (tragically relevant), relationship with his brother, baseball (lots and lots), future road trips, how I met Shani, times I had my heart broken, more baseball, Family Guy, hardest we’d laughed with our friends, play-by-play of my trip around the country, play-by-play of trip around the world, how we approach the future.

People we want to invite for future spring training trips: Shani’s parents, my Dad and Mary, Skinny and Spider.

Observations of a 14-year-old boy: At times he is so powerfully self-involved that he will answer someone’s questions inaudibly, not even considering whether the person can hear the response. He is open to being told to get off the screen. When he hangs back and seems disengaged, he is still paying attention deeply and will later recount the incident with vivid excitement. He deeply appreciates and loves Shani. And finally, he has a presence, a soul, something — it’s hard to describe. But it makes him an other-worldly traveling companion for a road trip. I may only feel that because he’s my son, but I feel it just the same.

And finally…I got a selfie with Ron Washington, bitches!

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Headed Out Soon

I will make this short. Here is our itinerary:

  • Wednesday: Drive from NJ to Richmond, VA
    • Stay with my good friend, Ben
  • Thursday: Drive from Richmond, VA to Amelia Island, FL
    • Dinner with my good friend, Dave, and hopefully his kids
    • Stay with Dave
    • Make a point not to spend a single dollar in Georgia
  • Friday: Drive from Amelia Island, FL to Lakeland, FL
    • 1:05 Tigers vs Mets
    • 6:05 Yankees vs Braves
    • Attempts to get autographs of Yankees players is very high on Jack’s list
  • Saturday: Drive from Tampa, FL as far north as we can get
    • 8 AM arrive at Pirates camp to get press credentials
    • 9:30 scheduled interviews with Trevor Williams, Jordy Mercer, Austin Meadows, Christopher Bostick
    • Hopefully hang out around the field and facilities as long as they’ll let us
    • 1:05 game time: Pirates vs Phillies (hopefully from press box)
    • Head out after the game and get as far north as we can
    • Make a point not to spend a single dollar in Georgia
  • Sunday: Drive the rest of the way home

Spring training with Jack is an item from my bucket list, and needless to say, I am excited to the point of deep distraction. Winters hang heavier on me as I get older, and getting baseball 3 weeks early is a remarkable thing.

But truth be told, it is driving from NJ to Florida and back with my 14-year-old son that I am looking forward to most.