Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Field Looks Good, Coach.

I love this time of year. It's warming up and Spring is definitely here. After being cooped up for the winter, I really enjoy getting to take the boys out to the ballpark to watch some baseball.

When Coach took over the baseball program six years ago, well, let's just say that it needed some attention. Our kids weren't too excited about baseball it seemed, as evidenced by a string of losing seasons. The community didn't support the spring sports with the same enthusiasm seen in the fall. And, the facilities were, well, embarrassing.

The high school team plays on a city field. The city and the school work together to maintain it. Coach worked to change the attitude towards baseball around here. He started by raising expectations for his athletes and demanding them to take pride in the program. He also began a series of improvements to the facilities as part of his plan. The city has been gracious to support his ideas for improvements. They have helped provide materials and Coach has supplied the labor. Along with painting the dugouts, new bleachers, and a new pressbox, the most significant change has been converting the infield to grass. You cannot imagine the hours that have gone in to this project.

Some complain that spending money on a park is pointless. Others, who know so little, complain that you shouldn't take money from the school to athletic facilities. It's a city field, remember. The school doesn't really pay for it. But it's the same problem with all facilities. Athletics raises its own money. They also pay for themselves too. Money spent on sports doesn't come from the school. Ever. Besides, shouldn't we as a community be proud to have a nice baseball park for our kids to play in? Does it matter what condition the field is in? I think it does. Under Coach Bailey, the Bobcats have made 3 straight post-season appearances, so something is working. And, our park is as nice as any we play in.

Woodland hosted a baseball game on Tuesday. The field looked great, the best I've ever seen it. I know he's my husband, but if no one else will say it, I will. I appreciate the work and effort he has given to the team and the facilities. I understand how giving these kids a home field they can be proud of contributes to pride in the program as a whole.

Most people have no idea what goes in to the upkeep of football and baseball fields or even gym floors. If you've never had to be responsible for taking care of something like that, you can hardly comment on how it's done. For those of you worried about the school, make a donation. They'll gladly accept it.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Oh the Irony. Saints, Be Ashamed

When I heard the news about the bounty pool conducted by the New Orleans Saints organization, I was completely speechless. Disgusted, shocked, disappointed. I could not believe that a professional athlete could ever intentionally try to inflict serious injury on another player, much less be rewarded for it. What could be worse?

As I processed my thoughts on the matter, I had a really hard time getting a grasp on what I was hearing, this coming one day after I witness a collision at centerfield that sent one high school baseball player to the hospital. That young man was in surgery to repair a seriously injured shoulder as news of "Bounty Gate" broke. Unbelievable, horrible, awful.

We all know that injuries can result from participating in sports. It seems that in recent years many organizations have developed rules that go too far trying to take some of the physicality out of sports. I've voiced my opinion before about how they may as well give quarterbacks poms and skirts these days. We love the brutality on sports, the kind that occurs as a result of playing hard and aggressively. What the Saints were doing is a different kind of brutality. These guys were trying to end other players' game, season, careers. These guys have families. This is their livelihood. I'm still shaking my head.

There is good and bad in everything. The great things about sports are innumerable. But, there are bad people in sports too. We've heard of players betting against their teams, point shaving, illegally using performance-enhancing drugs, spying on opponents' practices, etc. Bounty Gate is truly sports at its worst.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

March Madness

Eleven years ago, Coach had a brilliant idea. In order to keep his new wife from complaining about the ridiculous amount of basketball dominating the television in the month of March, he handed her a copy of the NCAA tournament bracket. And so it began.

I had never followed the tournament, and the whole bracket thing was completely new to me. He explained that the object was to try to pick as many game winners as possible. We would have our on little contest. We'd each wager something, and the one with the most wins at the end of the tournament would get the thing she had asked for in the beginning. I think I asked for a dinner date or something like that.

Unlike Coach, I had no clue what I was doing. It was a 2/15 match-up at  best. I was clearly out of my league. He studied match-ups and seeding and countless other factors to make his selections. I flipped a coin. Despite very different methodologies, we both got our brackets filled out.

It was a genius move on his part to get me involved.Not only did I not complain about the constant onslaught of basketball, but I watched every minute with him. There was, however, one little variable that he hadn't counted on. You see...just like the tournament, there could only be one winner, and that year, it was me. That's right. Duke's players weren't the only ones celebrating a win that night! Cinderella had not only made it to the ball, she'd done the impossible! The buzzer-beating go-ahead half-court shot by the biggest underdog in bracket history! Shocked, but a man of his word, I got my dinner. He let me enjoy that one. After all, it was beginner's luck.

Throughout the 11 years of our marriage, I have used a variety of methods to fill out my bracket. The trusty coin, mascot match-ups, uniform preferences, gut feelings, blatant guesses, etc. I've tried everything except applying my extensive basketball knowledge, of which I have none. But, no matter what criteria I decide on, the result has remained the same. That's it again...let it sink in. I have never lost. In the Bailey Battle of the Brackets, I am a perfect 11-0. Undefeated. Somewhere in the background "We are the Champions" is playing in honor of me.

And, if you think Coach graciously accepts his yearly defeat, think again! I call it "March Madness" for a completely different reason. Ha ha. Actually, each year, he pays up and vows to never fill out another bracket. But, I know he doesn't mean it. He won't stop, not until he's evened the score. That could take a while.

Speaking of score, in case you're wondering. After the first two games, I'm up 2-1. After my choice, the WKU Hill toppers, overcame a 16 point deficit with under 5 minutes remaining to put me up one game, I'm feeling pretty good about number 12.