Happy Father's Day. And to dads everywhere, thank you for giving us baseball.
This is my first Father's Day without my dad. Throat cancer took him earlier this year and I have missed him every day since. I, like most kids probably, learned the game of baseball only by taking that first initial step: having a catch with my father.
This Rockies season for me has become a kind of cathartic release. Baseball is a game of stories, some of which are worth calling home about. I wish I could have called my dad yesterday and said, "Did you see that Nolan Arenado diving stop and throw?" Luckily, I was on the phone with my mother and we remembered it for him.
Baseball is our connection to our past, a remembrance of all the things our fathers used to teach us about a game that really taught us about life.
Whenever I would get too excited or too anxious and rush a play my father would say, "You always have time to make a good throw." After a while he would say this regardless of whether or not the play had included a throw of any kind. Eventually it was the kind of statement that I would hear while learning how to drive, or how to do quality school work. There is always time to do the job right; otherwise you may as well just start by throwing your work directly over the first baseman's head and into the stands.
Yesterday's beat-down of the Phillies reminded me of old school Rockies baseball. It reminded me of dad taking the family down to Coors Field to see the Blake Street Bombers. Dante Bichette, Vinny Castilla, Andres Galarraga, and even Ellis Burks were my absolute favorite players for a long time. My favorite Larry is, was, and will always be my dad. My dad's favorite Larry wore No. 33 and roamed right field for the Colorado Rockies.
At my dad's service, while I played some sappy goodbye songs, his brother played an old-timey folksy version of "Take Me Out To The Ballgame." Today is a good day to remember to thank your dad for having ever taken you out to the ballgame. We owe this game to our fathers and their fathers. So if you can, give him a big ole' hug today, and remember it for as long as you can.
The last real conversation I had with my dad was essentially a post-game report on a University of Kansas basketball game. KU had won the game, but my father went on quite the rant about their lack of effort, their lack of mental focus, and their need to run a lot in practice. It reminded me of my old little league days.
Dad was still teaching me about life. Sure, the backdrop was sports, like it had been so many times before, but what he was saying wasn't really about any individual game, not about winning, but about getting better. It was a conversation about taking pride in your work.
My father built homes with his hands. The one I was lucky enough to grow up in was his masterpiece. It was a constantly evolving, ever-changing work of art that our family shared our lives in. In a way, so is baseball. And so is life. If and when you don't get it right, even if you still get paid, get back on the field, or the court, or into the batting cages or back to a blank canvass or an empty sheet of paper. Work harder, do better. I love you and I miss you, dad.
After he passed, I started writing about and coached baseball. Maybe this is just my way of passing on his words that will never leave my head: "You always have time to make a good throw."
And now for some links about actual baseball!
Jay Caspian Kang of Grantland writes a pretty entertaining (if not altogether convincing) piece on Yasiel Puig's early success and how the "small sample size" argument can sometimes just ruin good fun.
I think this piece from Woody Paige is about how good the Rockies can be at their best, or it's about ice cream.
Feel free to share your dad/baseball stories.