Tag Archives: baseball

Sunday Serenade: She’s A Wonder

With the celebration of our independence just past, I thought it would be time for a bit of patriotism.

Being the comic-book geek that I am, I of course went to my stash of famous patriotic super heroes. Should it be Captain America, who has a horribly, awfully, deliciously bad theme song? No, I have too much respect for you dudes.

The Superman theme song? Or even the theme from Superman: The Movie, from which we all learned to believe that a man can fly. No, I’m still too depressed over how badly the current crop of filmmakers have misinterpreted the Last Son of Krypton.

Then I hit on just the right note.

It would have to be Wonder Woman, most notably from her first season. Starring the incomparable Lynda Carter‘s breastsWonder Woman the tv show was just a, pardon the expression, wonderful moment of culture. It ran for its first year as a period piece during World War II. Then, in the second year, it completely abandoned the past and moved right up to the future with the exact same cast and never really explained.

It’s just the way it is. Deal with it.

And, really, nothing says apple pie, baseball and America, all that patriotism, better than a single woman, arriving a stranger to our shores, having been raised by not one, not two but hundreds of mommies at the same time, having never been around a man and not actually sure what they’re good for. That’s America, y’all!


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Happy Birthday, Dad!

Okay, I lied.

It seems like I do have something important to say today.

I’m just stopping by for a quick shout out to my dad, my namesake and the big dude who taught me everything he knows — but not everything I know — about how to be a dad. Sometimes he did it by setting an example, and sometimes he did it by showing me what not to do.

Either way, I learned more from that man than I could have from a library full of books.

He taught me that if it was important to his son that he coach in sports, then he took the time off his job to be there for his son and coach whatever sport was in season. Dad coached me in tackle football, baseball, basketball, just about everything I ever wanted to play. When I made the school track team in shot put and discus and the mile relay, it was my dad who took me aside and showed me how to do it all.

He taught me that you didn’t have to go along with the herd, even if you wanted to achieve the same goal as it did. He’s a doctor, but he didn’t undergraduate major in anything science-y. He majored in English because he enjoyed it.

He’s also the man who showed me the value and the warmth of a real Hawaiian shirt with the wooden buttons. My wife, known to me as She Who Must Not Be Allowed Near My Closet With Anything Remotely Sharp, might not like them, but I love my Hawaiian shirt collection.

He’s also the man who brought home the first science fiction/fantasy book I remember reading. It was the middle book in a trilogy, but I was hooked for life. He set me on a path toward some exceedingly strange places, that I’m so very glad I found. He nurtured my love of reading and words and creating with them and I can’t thank him enough.

He’s also the man who helped shape my sense of humor. So, yeah, he’s the one you can blame.

Thanks, Dad, for being such a great mentor, teacher, coach and cheerleader all rolled up into one dad-sized package that kept pushing, prodding and questioning, all the while letting me know I was loved no matter what I did, as long as what I did made me happy.

Happy birthday!

Before I go, though, answer me one question: Who’s on first.

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Keep Your Eye On The Ball

It’s the oldest piece of advice in the history of sports that use balls in the playing thereof.

Seriously, dudes, what did your dads tell you when you were learning how to hit a baseball that actually moved off the tee and was headed right for you?


“Keep your eye on the ball.”

It’s a piece of advice and, also, a metaphor. It means for you to literally keep your gaze on the ball you’re about to either hit with a stick or kick or whatever. Watch the ball until your planned maneuver is finished. This allows you to concentrate more fully on what you want to do, rather than have just any old thing happen.

It’s also a metaphor for making sure you keep your objective in mind as you pursue it. Keep your eye on the ball and don’t get sidetracked watching Youtube videos when you’ve got a history paper. That sort of thing.

Very good advice in either case. We all know it. We all do it.

As it turns out, we don’t. And we know this because there are very many people who want to become much better golfers. No, really.

Recently, researchers in England set out to determine whether weekend golfers could improve their game through one of two approaches. Some were coached on individual swing technique, while others were instructed to gaze fixedly at the ball before putting. The researchers hoped to learn not only whether looking at the ball affects performance, but also whether where we look changes how we think and feel while in action.

 Although we’re taught this sort of thing in elementary school or earlier, there’s a growing body of research that says people are looking away when they thought they weren’t or looking for far shorter times than they had thought they were. It’s almost like we can’t believe our own eyes.
So these researchers divided the subjects up into one group that got putting practice and one group that was trained in “Quiet Eye” looking.

Quiet Eye training, as the name suggests, is an attempt to get people to stop flicking their focus around so much. But “Quiet Eye training is not just about looking at the ball,” says Mark Wilson, who led the study, published in Psychophysiology, and is a senior lecturer in human movement science at the University of Exeter in England. “It is about looking at the ball for long enough to process aiming information.” It involves reminding players to first briefly sight toward the exact spot where they wish to send the ball, and then settle their eyes onto the ball and hold them there.

 A quiet, focused eye, in other words, seems to encourage a quiet, focused mind, which then makes for more accurate putting.

So, after all that training, what was the result? Well, it turns out that the people who refined their putting technique didn’t do as well as those who only trained their eyes and learned to look with a quieter, more firm focus.

The thing I find most interesting about all this, is the idea that — because we all were taught this at a young age — we assume we’re already doing it; already keeping our eyes on the ball. And we’re not. Simply refocusing ourselves on some of the most elementary parts of a complex process can generate greatly improved results.

Something to think about, yeah?

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