The awesome trip to Florida I never told you about

Sunset over Sanibel Island, Florida - February 2013

Way back in February, I mentioned the awesome trip to Florida that we took … and then I got sucked into a roughly four-month-long black hole that involved spending all day in a cubicle writing code for my employer and all night in my basement writing code for a freelance project … a lethal combination that left this blog moldering by the side of the digital road. And I’m sure that you’d love to hear every mind-numbing detail about those four long months, but I instead am going to tell you about the awesome trip to Florida that we took, m’kay?

So last Christmas, my mother-in-law said that, if we were willing to accept delayed gratification, she would forego the usual holiday gift-giving ritual and instead fly us down to Florida in February to visit with her on Sanibel Island.

Let’s review: A free trip. To an island. Off the coast of Southwest Florida. In February. Um, lemme think about that for a—

Sanibel Island, Florida - February 2013


Phew. That was a tough decision.

And so, after waking in the cold and desolate wastelands of suburban Philadelphia one dreary February morning, we boarded a plane and, in a matter of hours, were strolling along the beach in Sanibel … which, I learned, is famous for its bevy of seashells.

Sanibel Seashell

See? Shells.

More seashells on Sanibel Island, Florida - February 2013

More seashells

Sanibel Island, Florida - February 2013

Enough already with the freakin’ seashells!

Yes, I shouldn’t focus on the seashells so much … especially when we also saw …

Sanibel Island, Florida - February 2013

… dead fish!

Sanibel Island, Florida - February 2013

“Hello, dead horseshoe crab! I’m a dead fish! How are you today?”
“Um … well, I’m kind of, you know … DEAD! So, yeah … not so great! How are you, genius?”

Sanibel Island, Florida - February 2013

“Oh, I’m fine … or at least I was until this girl came along and made it look like I’m MAKING OUT WITH A DEAD HORSESHOE CRAB! Scram, kid!”

This is what happens when you let your 9-year-old use the camera.

Of course, as fate would have it, the weather in Sanibel on the first night of our stay was unseasonably cold … like, the coldest it had been in that region of Florida in roughly two decades (because apparently Mother Nature still hasn’t gotten over the smack I talked about her after she almost killed me; chick knows how to hold a grudge) … which explains why my mother-in-law, the kids and I were dressed like this by sunset on the day we arrived:

Sanibel Island, Florida - February 2013

The bad news: I had to wear jeans and a fleece at the beach in February.

The chilly weather didn’t pass until about midway through the second day of our vacation … which turned out to be a good thing, because it gave us a reason to skip a previously planned morning at the beach and instead go visit with some friends from Boston. OK, technically, they’re not friends … but they’re definitely not strangers, either.

Sanibel Island, Florida - February 2013

Big Papi was excited to see us … or he might have just been laughing about something else while I snapped his picture with a telephoto lens from very far away through a chain-link fence. One of those.
(Bonus points if you can name the mustacheoed former Sox pitcher shown above.)

Sanibel Island, Florida - February 2013

Hey, it’s Shane Victorino! Lookin’ good in your new Red Sox duds, my man! (Shane used to be on our second favorite team, the Phillies. As you can imagine, he was thrilled to see some familiar faces from the Philadelphia area. At least, I’m sure he would have been thrilled if he had any clue who we were and had noticed us amidst the throng of people pressed up against a fence located
a great distance away from him.)

Sanibel Island, Florida - February 2013

Look, it’s Jarrod Saltalamacchia! Yo, Salty! Got any catching tips for my son? Salty! Hey, Salty! Salty? Hello? Um, OK, maybe later, then!

So, yeah, we took a little drive over to the Red Sox’s Spring Training Camp in Fort Myers … and even though we didn’t get any face time with the above big-name players, the kiddos did get score autographs from some other Red Sox notables … including …

Sanibel Island, Florida - February 2013

… first-basemen & slugger extraordinaire Mike Napoli …

Sanibel Island, Florida - February 2013

… and rookie phenom Jackie Bradley Jr.

Red Sox Spring Training Camp - February 2013

Jayna even got a little history lesson from our resident Ted Williams fan.

Sanibel Island, Florida - February 2013

Suffice it to say, our first family visit to Red Sox Spring Training Camp won’t be our last … and I now have my eye on a retirement gig as a turnstile operator at the ball field. Or a hot-dog vendor. Or a parking attendant. Or whatever. (Listen, I love Fenway, but if it means never seeing another snowflake for as long as I live, I’m happy to settle for Fenway South.)

By the time we wrapped up our visit with the Sox, it was warm enough to do this:

(Zan’s an excellent driver, by the way. Which is good … because it gave Wonder Woman and I the chance to really enjoy the local drink specials. I knew having these kids would start paying off at some point.)

With our visit to Red Sox Spring Training Camp out of the way, the rest of our vacation was all this …

Sanibel Island, Florida - February 2013

and this ….

Sanibel Island, Florida - February 2013

and this …

When will this nightmare end?

and this …

Sanibel Island, Florida - February 2013

and even some of this …

Sanibel Island, Florida - February 2013

That there is a picture of the kids during a sunset cruise my mother-in-law chartered for our last night on the island. Sunset, ocean, leaping dolphins, Tostitos, fresh salsa and Coronas with a lime … and, yeah, it’s basically a goddamn miracle that my family was able to get me back on the plane when it was time to go home the next day.

The good news is, we all agree that returning next winter is a top priority.

The bad news is, we don’t all agree that we should move there permanently, right now.


Sanibel Island, Florida - February 2013

Someday …

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Posted in Family, Life, Winter | 7 Responses

The reason I don’t know your names after all this time isn’t because I don’t really give a shit what your names are, it’s because I … well, no, actually, that is the reason

In my mind, you all look like this

In my mind, you all look like this

Dear Co-workers Whose Names I Still Do Not Know,

Allow me to apologize. After almost three years of working here, you would think I would know what to call at least half of you … and the fact that I don’t makes me feel bad. Sort of.

OK, perhaps “bad” is too strong a word … but I do, at the very least, feel mildly uncomfortable when one of you greets me by name and I, in return, can only do that “Hey, how’s it going [mumbly sound that may or may not share some phonetic resemblance to your actual name]?” thing.

I do not have a socially acceptable excuse for my behavior, so I shall instead be brutally honest with you: I didn’t plan on being here this long … and since I wasn’t planning on staying, I sure as hell didn’t care to clutter my brain with a bunch of names that would be obsolete in what I was sure would be no time at all. (I know that makes me sound like a delusional, self-centered dick, but in my defense, I only said it because I’m a delusional, self-centered dick. It’s not my fault, is what I’m saying; I can’t help it.)

And, yeah, I suppose I could finally confess to you that I don’t know what your name is and ask you to share it with me again … but, in addition to being excruciatingly awkward, it also would be a waste of time … because I’m not going to be here much longer. At least, that’s what I’m still telling myself.

If it makes you feel any better, I also have not committed to memory the names of the random parents who, simply because my children participate in the same sports leagues as their children, have become semi-regular fixtures in my life. Don’t believe me? Here’s an email I recently sent to one of the other dads after attending my son’s basketball game:

SUBJECT: Hey, you know what’s really embarrassing?

BODY: Calling your friend’s wife “Barbara” even though you’ve met her several times and have repeatedly been told her name is “Paulette” (to include roughly two minutes prior to calling her “Barbara” … loudly … more than once … in front of people).

It sucks being senile at 43. Thanks for making the save, but I’ve been having such massive and sustained douche chills since that moment that I just had to say something. I’m assuming she noticed, in which case: Please pass along my apology. Inexcusable.

So you see? It’s not just you. It’s everyone. (And, yes, I know the apology I wrote to him seems far more heartfelt and meaningful than the one I’ve offered you here … but that’s only because I’m going to have to see Barbara Paulette repeatedly over the course of the next decade … whereas you all soon will be completely erased from my mind, much like this job itself. I hope.)

(Please, God, make it stop.)

Sincerely Callously Yours,


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In the fairy-tale version of this story, I would have hit an epic home run

Photo Jun 08, 7 50 15 PM

That previous post really set the stage for an exciting, emotional, underdog-makes-good kind of ending, didn’t it? The shrimpy, non-baseball-playing kid scarred from his less-than-enjoyable Little League experience steps to the plate more than three decades later and belts one over the fence.

And our fairy-tale ending would have been even more dramatic if, on the night of that recent home-run derby, our hero was the eighth batter, and the seven other batters who went before him — all of whom had substantially more baseball-playing experience — failed to hit a single home run.

Ten swings each. Seventy swings total. Zero home runs.

And now let’s imagine our hero stepping to the plate under the piercing gaze of dozens of onlookers, to include his own children, both of whose teams he coaches, and both of whom believe he knows something about hitting a ball … and let’s watch him take 8 of his 10 swings without producing a single home run himself.

But it’s OK … because no one really expected him to put one out. In fact, they’d probably have been stunned if, on his second to last pitch, he swung the bat … and connected … and drove one straightaway to deep center field … and planted the ball on the far side of the fence. I can only imagine how incredible that moment would have been … and in my imagination, that incredible moment would have looked like this:

Wha wha WHAT? Hold on just a minute. Let’s see that again in slo-mo. (Don’t worry; I’m not going to drag it out or make it seem more grandiose than it really was):

Yes, my friends, fairy tales can come true … it can happen to you … and all you need to do is practice … and believe in yourself … and suck down a couple of highly potent Cabo Wabo margaritas shortly before your turn at bat.

I was the first guy to hit a home run at the home-run derby. That really happened. And for a little while, I got to strut around like the cock of the walk while men, women and children congratulated me and high-fived me and generally marveled at my overall awesomeness.

And my kids had a totally killer “That’s my Dad” moment that made me feel like a hero.

In conclusion:

Therapy to recover from childhood scars: $120 per hour.
Easton Hammer baseball bat: $49.99.

I just saved a ton of money on therapy.

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Take Me Out to the Therapist… Take Me Out to the Shrink…

The game of baseball has become a major part of my family’s life … which, based on the following photo, should come as a surprise to no one. I mean, let’s face it: When your background includes playing on a team of this caliber, your family is pretty much guaranteed a baseball-rich life:


I’ll point myself out in a moment, but first: How ’bout that coach, huh? He makes Morris Buttermaker look like Anthony Robbins. Of course, in his defense: Look at the collection of misfits he had to work with. I would suggest that his lack of enthusiasm was well justified.

And now, if you look closely, you’ll notice a teensy, tiny, action-figure-sized lad tucked amongst all those regular-sized boys:

Putting the "Little" in "Little League."

Let’s zoom in, shall we?

SS = Shrimpstop

Yes, as if playing on a team whose name was “Topeka” and whose uniform included jeans wasn’t bad enough, I rounded out my ensemble with that highly regarded athletic shoe known as the “brown loafer.” Perfect.

All of this to say: I was not much of a ballplayer as a child. Back in those days, I didn’t follow the Red Sox — or any other team for that matter — and, as such, I didn’t much care about participating in the sport … which I’m sure explains my complete and utter lack of a single exciting or glorious (or even marginally pleasant) memory of my Little League years.

Of course, the irony in all of this is that, later in life, I became a huge baseball fan, spawned a son who is completely taken with the sport, and have now coached his teams for the past six seasons.

And speaking of my son: How old do you think I am in that photo above? Six? Seven, perhaps? No, I’m NINE. Nine years old. I was the first-ever human chihuahua. This, meanwhile, is my 9-year-old son:

Zan winds up
Zan delivers
Zan is way cooler than me

So, yeah … he’s a bit more awesome than I was at his age.

Of course, when my son looks at me, he doesn’t see that little pipsqueak up there in the jeans and the doll-sized brown loafers; he sees Coach Daddy, the Baseball Guru who has helped shape him into what, for his age, could accurately be described as an above-average player.

And now Coach Daddy has gone and done something potentially stupid that could expose me for the charlatan I am.

While recently attending the annual Little League gala, I was talking to the other guy with whom I coached Zan’s team this spring. During our conversation, he mentioned that he did not yet have a partner for the league’s upcoming Moms & Dads Home-Run Derby.

“Can you hit?” he asked me.

“You don’t have a partner yet?” I replied, surprised that he hadn’t already teamed up with one of the other dads. “I’ll totally do that with you, dude.”

He walked over to the signup book, placed our names on the list, and then returned to where I was standing. “You never answered my question,” he said.

“I know, right?”

I left it at that. Why ruin his night and tell him that he just paired himself with the miniature kid from that barn-burning 1979 Topeka team?

And so, this Saturday, in a desperate bid to heal some of the wounds from my childhood, I will be stepping up to the plate with a bat in my hand and will quite possibly humiliate myself to death in front of a crowd of people who for three seasons now have somehow been tricked into believing I’m a half-decent baseball coach. Also on hand will be many of the players I’ve coached and hope to continue coaching … most notably my son. I’m guessing they, and he, will have less interest in taking baseball tips from a guy who can’t actually, you know, hit a baseball, right?

I can’t decide if my time between now and this weekend would be better spent taking batting practice or searching my insurance plan for a mental-health provider who can help coax me out of the fetal position on Sunday.

Yes, I promise to post a full report … no matter how tragic the outcome may be. Because why relive the horror of my youth within the privacy of my own little world when I can instead share my humiliation with the Internet?

Wish me luck.

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Posted in Baseball, Life | 6 Responses

No, I don’t miss this view at all. Why do you ask? *weep*

No, I don't miss this view at all. Why do you ask? *weep*
Click the image above to view full-size photo.

And as I stood there barefoot with a Corona in one hand and my iPhone in the other (because you can take pictures like this with a phone now; welcome to The Future), I thought to myself… [read the rest]

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