Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Best Sports Day Ever

And Amari's birthday. If there's one thing that she may grow to resent, it's my passion for baseball...and basketball...and football when there's nothing else on. Who am kidding? Now that Tiger's back from his sex camp, I'll even watch the occasional round of golf. Here's how our week started.

The Butler Didn't Do It

I know I'm  almost a week late for this story, but such is life for a working, blogging, sports fanatical, stay-at-home dad. Have I mentioned that it's impossible to keep up with everything? The first time I ever saw my dad cry was when UCLA lost to Louisville in the 1980 basketball championship. This story is for him.

On Monday, April 5th, as the clock struck five months for Amari, it struck midnight on this year's March Madness Cinderella story - the Butler Bulldogs. In the best story college basketball has seen since Jim Valvano's NC State Wolfpack's magical run to the title in 1983, this small, mid-western university better-known for its academics than its athletics surprised everyone by marching through the madness to the championship game where it met one of the game's most storied franchises, the Duke Blue Devils. Unlike 1983, where a tip-in at the buzzer defeated the Goliath, Olajuwan-Drexler-led Houston team, this year's story ended with a half-court shot rimming out as horn sounded.

It was Amari's first championship game, and she and I watched every minute together. I explained the odds that Butler was facing - their first title game in school history against a team that routinely hangs championship banners - and like me she was immediately hooked by the human interest part of the sport. Amari sat on my lap and we cheered and booed loudly as Butler and Duke fought an amazing, albeit unattractive, defensive battle. Although I have nothing personal against the Mike Kryszewski (pronounced Natzi) led Blue Devils, I just don't like teams that win so often and so convincingly - unless of course it's the UCLA Bruins, the Lakers, the Giants, or the Niners. Sadly, our cheers and jeers were to no avail - except the undeniable bond that is forming between us.

Giants Begin World Series Run or Kids Storm Ravens Hollow

Monday was also baseball's Opening Day. The real opening day - not the made for TV/Money Sunday night bullshit between the Yankees-Red Sox. My buddy, Matt, always takes this day off - a tradition I have adopted since we met in grad school. Fortunately, I don't work Mondays this year. Instead, I stayed home and had a slew of visitors and their children take over the house for a few hours. In total, we had eight adults, four kids, and two infants. It was nice to have our home so full. It reminded me of good times before my parents went their separate ways.

In my opinion, baseball is the greatest sport of all. It may not have the athleticism or physicality of other sports, but it has a timeless beauty to it - an undeniable magic that brings generations together. I love the pacing, the strategy, the impact of single plays or single players. I have no doubt that many could argue circles around me about other sports, but this is the one I grew up loving. I used to wear my Dodgers hat incessantly, and although my mom made me take it off at the dinner table and when I went to bed, as soon as the lights were off, out came the hat from where it was hidden beneath my pillow.

I may have been brainwashed into loving all things L.A. as a child, but growing up in the Bay Area in the 1980's helped me choose my own teams to the tune of the Giants and the Niners. I'm still a Lakers fan, because there was no need to give up on a dynasty. Amari may choose her own teams later, but for now, since I still get to choose her outfits, she's stuck with the Giants. Fortunately, she makes orange and black look almost as good as I do.

She's a really good sport about all of this. At least for now.
The Giants won 5-2 and proceeded to win four of their next five games. I have a good feeling about this year.

Five Months and Counting

Literally. Although she can't talk yet, Amari is now using one of her toys as an abacus and has hung her shingle for tax season. Girl's earning her keep.

Rivaling both Opening Day and Championship Basketball was Amari's five month birthday. In past couple of weeks she has reached both significant milestones and daunting challenges. About three weeks ago, she managed to roll over from her back to her front. Although initially a struggle, generally paired with loud shrieks of frustration as she wiggled her second arm out from under her body, she now does it effortlessly and prefers to be on her stomach where she performs a variety of freestyle swimming moves, upward facing dogs, and most recently the two-handed grab of anything dangling in front of her. I wish I had her lower back strength.

She's also showing an interest in solid foods - watching us eat and opening her mouth as food enters ours. Unfortunately, with solid foods come these pesky little things called teeth, and I do believe we'll be seeing some very shortly. Two weeks ago, the predictability of Amari's mood began to change. Food, Diaper, Burp, Nap, Hug had been my mantra for nearly three months. My checklist, if you will. More recently it has become Food, Diaper, Burp, Nap, Hug, Tylenol, Hug, Hug, Wyman's Teething Tablets, Hug, Hug, Hug, Say Nice Things and Hope the Pain Goes Away for a While. Rinse and repeat.

Amari's a trooper. Even during inconsolable pain, she finds ways to be endearing. I love that she recognizes her name now and will turn her head when I call from across the room to let her know I'll be right there. I love that she reaches her arms towards me when I bend down to pick her up, then wraps them around my neck as I pull her towards my shoulder. She whimpers in pain and I say, "I'm sorry you're hurting." She cries and I hold her. It breaks my heart, but I'm grateful I can at least make her feel safe in these moments. Although I didn't cry when Butler lost to Duke, I sometimes do when Amari hurts so much.

Looks like I finally found something better than sports.

Happy Belated, Amari.

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