Despite the seductive promises of global warming, we are suffering through another year without a summer here in Minnesota. It has been cold, wet, and cloudy, all month. Which would make for a good wheat beer, but a lousy summer.
This past weekend 20 Prospect Jr. had a baseball tournament with the big kids. Our local baseball association does not have a regular traveling/tournament team at the 3rd & 4th grade level, what with the general lack of fine motor skills due to the high quantities of lead in the groundwater. So 20 Prospect Jr. asked to play with the 5th & 6th grade team, which was looking to fill out their roster. Last weekend was our first “real” little league tournament, and let’s just say it was eye opening.
The tournament was being held in one of those frou-frou Southwestern Minneapolis Suburbs. I won’t say which, so let’s just called it “Mercedesville”. (Seriously, we parked next to a BMW 7 Series. I don’t think we’ve ever had a BMW 7 Series even drive through our suburb.) It had rained pretty heavy the night before, so when 20 Prospect Jr. and I showed up at the field at 7:30am it was a little swampy. Our game was pushed back a half hour to give the grounds crew time to prepare the field.
They had a grounds crew. Not some Dad’s with a rake, but a guy employed by the City of Mercedesville to attend to the grounds of their Little League Baseball Estate with his helper elves. It would be unthinkable to play a game with the fields in poor condition apparently, which was a sharp contrast to the tournament we hosted last year, when it rained all day, and we played in ankle deep puddles. I can remember one line drive that hit the infield mud and just stuck there. The pitcher had to dig it out to throw it to first. But I digress.
It was a gorgeous facility, with seven or eight fields, a real batting cage, a snack shack, and park pavilions with a lake and a beach. I felt like we should have brought a picnic basket and stayed for the day. We’ll, we did stay for the day. Due to the on again, off again rain, we didn’t get home until 9 o’clock at night. In between we got creamed by three different teams, from three different towns in much higher income brackets.
The other teams were outfitted better than some minor league teams. For our uniforms, the head coach had borrowed T-shirts and hats from his regular 5th & 6th grade team, and brought them along for 20 Prospect Jr. and some of the other kids to wear. So even though we just had lousy cotton/poly t-shirts, compared to the full knit uni’s of the rich kids, we at least matched.
Those rich folk take their baseball seriously. The best (worst) part was watching one of their coaches chew them out after they let in 3 runs one inning. Despite the fact that they already had 13 at that point. He called them together and gave them a speech about not “letting off of the pedal”. Honestly, once you take your boot off our neck you never know what we peasants will do. Why take a chance? Keep the riff raff where they belong.
Despite the thumping we received, 20 Prospect Jr. had a ball. I was afraid he’d be intimidated playing with the big kids, but he wasn’t. He picked up on the rule differences, and the larger field, and had more put outs than any of the other infielders on his team. He even stole some bases, which had him thinking he was pretty hot stuff. At this level, EVERYONE can steal bases. Really, not even the rich kids with their personal trainers can throw a runner out at second playing on a high school sized field.
It was a long day, but a fun one. Well, for 20P Jr. and me anyway. After shivering in pissy rain all day, Mrs. 20 Prospect Jr. looked at me during the car ride home from Mercedesville, and stated in no uncertain terms “I am NOT watching baseball on TV tonight”.
Sunday was overcast again, but dry and a little warmer. For Father’s Day we took the Puppies and drove over to Stillwater, Minnesota, one of our favorite places to go bumming. The Nature Valley Grand Prix bicycle race was going on through the streets downtown, so we wandered around the course, and watched some of the race. It always amazes me what athletes these riders are. 20 laps up lung busting Chilkoot Hill at speeds I can reach only by going downhill.
Stillwater is an old lumber town on the St. Croix River. A hundred and more years ago it cut a bazillion board feet of lumber out of the White Pine logs that lumberjacks floated down river from the Northwoods of Wisconsin and Minnesota. Now it’s just a quaint 19th Century town, with a marina, and lots of shops and restaurants.
We walked around, had some ice cream, killed the better part of 2 hours, then drove home. Of course, we made time sure to stop at the Candy Store for some Salt Water Taffy first!
It was a day spent doing precious little, but we did it together, and on Father’s Day what more could I ask?
We’ll, I suppose I could ask to get dropped off at the Husband Daycare… but I’ll save that for our next visit.