Carpe Diem Y’all by Michele Bernard

Writer, Texan, Semi-interested Sports Fan

A Peanuts and Cracker Jacks Kind of Day

ball_field.jpg Bittersweet October.  The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect pause between the opposing miseries of summer and winter.  ~Carol Bishop Hipps, “October,” In a Southern Garden, 1995

I squeeze hard, breaking the seam of the hard outer shell housing salty goodness within.  Shell flutters to the ground, and piles up around my feet as I pop roasted peanut into my mouth.  October breeze ruffles loose strands of hair escaped from my pony-tail. I brush my hair back and consider the day.  Bright, sunny, blue, and breezy.  Cool.  I love this day.

As I squeeze another peanut,  I look around.  Families grouped in twos and threes surround my family and me.  My father and mother sit in front of me.  My husband to the side.  We all face forward and watch as high school aged boys in dusty white pants and school colors throw the ball, hit the ball and run bases, honing their skills while entertaining those of us who spectate.

The stands we sit on are hard, wooden, weathered, sturdy.  The word historical comes to mind, as well it should.  The baseball park we enjoy this day is 94 years old, only one of two Class A Minor League parks of its kind and age in the nation.  Willie Mays played here.  Johnny Bench played here.  My dad played here. 

Today, my son plays here.  My dad smiles.  Big.  So do I. 

My husband turns to me, revealing a new treat:  Cracker Jacks in one hand, Double Bubble bubble gum in the other.  Within minutes we compare Cracker Jack prizes as we work to see who can blow the biggest bubble.  Cool.  I love this day.

Carpe Diem Y’all, Michele 

 © Michele Bernard 2007


October 23, 2007 Posted by | Autumn, baseball, Best Lines, Family, Heart, Inspiration, Inspirational, Just Wow, Michele's Musings, Motherhood, Notes from the Cheap Seats, Parenting, Sports Stuff | 5 Comments

New At Bat Song?

I’m always searching for the perfect Life At Bat Song, the song they break into right after your name is called to step up to the plate.  The perfect song needs to provide insight into who you are, inspiration to you as a player, have a motivational beat, be a tone setter for your opponents, and blend well with the clapping and cheering of the fans in your peanut gallery.  So is  I Don’t Dance from Disney’s High School Musical 2 a contender?  Looks like a few big leaguers are trying it on for size.  What’s your At Bat Song?  Carpe Diem Y’all, Michele

August 25, 2007 Posted by | baseball, Dance, Humor, Just Wow, Michele's Musings, Music, Notes from the Cheap Seats, Sports Stuff, Summer | 1 Comment

Notes from the Road: “I wish Derek Jeter would scoot over a little so I can get a good picture of the kids” or Things I Thought I’d Never Say


August 1, 2007 Posted by | baseball, Best Lines, Blogroll, Derek Jeter, Michele's Musings, Notes from the Cheap Seats, Sports Stuff, Summer, Travel | 4 Comments

Nuts About Baseball

A baseball game is simply a nervous breakdown divided into nine innings.  ~Earl Wilson

Subject:  Angry People.   

Thought I was going to say Baseball didn’t you?   

By now you’ve figured out that I love baseball.  In fact, I’m nuts about it.  Win or lose, baseball can usually put a smile on my face.  But at a recent baseball tournament, I felt nervous and anxious, as if I were surrounded by Angry People.  Oh wait.  I was surrounded by angry people:    parents, coaches, players, umpires.  It was ugly.  You know something has gone terribly awry when you have to maneuver your vehicle around police cars to exit the sports complex parking lot.  At the end of the day, an umpire lost his job, and a bunch of fourteen year olds and their parents have one more unfortunate incident to add to the Whacked-Out-Things-That-Happened-While-Playing-Baseball Memory Bag. 

Which leads me to the question I ponder every year while sitting in the cheap seats:  what is it about baseball (or any kid sport for that matter) that cause the people (adults) involved to lose their freaking minds?  As a parent with three athletically inclined sons, I could write a book about this phenom, having personally witnessed angry outbursts ranging from the comedic to the down-right-scary.  As a former mental health professional who worked with youth for several years, I can also attest to the fact that the number two reason parents and kids sought my counsel was sports related.  (Number One:  “My family is moving again.) Interestingly enough, in my new career as a freelance writer, the only angry comment I’ve received thus far was from someone spewing about MLB baseball in reference to a blog entry I wrote about six-year-old’s playing baseball.  

After twenty years of pondering, I still have no clue, but I have developed a few theories: 

  • The Chaos Theory:  We must create order out of chaos.  Well ordered baseball is beautiful.  It has symmetry, not unlike a well choreographed dance, with individuals contributing unique offerings to create a balanced well functioning whole.  Baseball at every skill level is always just one over-throw or one close call away from chaos.  And when you’re dealing with children playing the game, the odds of a missed play are exponentially greater.  And when you’re dealing with coaches and umpires who are not much older than the players(or worse yet, are related to the players), the tipping point becomes that much closer.  Much like a butterfly flapping its wings in Hong Kong, one dropped ball can plunge a game into chaos, creating a perfect storm on the field, in the dug-out, behind the plate and in the stands.
  •  The I Coulda Been a Contenda Theory:  Think Tim McGraw in the football movie Friday Night Lights.  He plays a former high school football star named Charles.  His son, while a good player isn’t a great player and this is something Daddy Chucky struggles with.  Daddy Chucky’s dream of watching his son follow in his footsteps quickly turns into a nightmare for all involved.  In one scene, he even duct tapes a football to his kid’s hands to ‘teach’ him what it feels like to not fumble a football. 
  • The Mama Bear Theory:   A Mama Bear’s main job is to ensure the survival of her cub.  Any perceived threat to said cub will surely result in a swipe of a French-tipped bear claw and a flash of razor sharp teeth.  Most teams carry a minimum of twelve players on the roster.  That’s twelve Mama Bears per team, twenty-four per game.  Given divorce statistics in this neck of the woods, factor in another twelve to account for Daddy’s new wife, bringing that number to thirty-six.  Throw in another twelve to account for six grandmothers per team bringing the average number of Mama Bears roaming the stands to forty-eight** (**this number higher during District Play, League Championships, and All-Star Series).  My own mother tells the story of one of my brother’s games interrupted due to two Mama’s falling out of the stands and rolling around on the ground in a heated wrestling match.  And their kids were on the same team.  All the other Mamas were later subpoenaed to testify at the trial.
  •   The Not On My Watch Theory:  This Rules Maven may or may not have an affiliation with the team.  This person knows baseball.  This person knows baseball so well, they can barely enjoy watching baseball for pointing out all the mistakes and broken rules on the field, in the dugout, and behind the plate.
  •   The Thrill of Victory and The Agony of Defeat Theory:  Many people allow what’s happening outside to dictate what’s happening inside, hence, the thrill of victory equals a state of well-being and inner-peace, while the agony of defeat equals losing their freaking minds.

Mix all the above with a healthy dose of sweltering summer heat to produce:  Angry People. 

This is one more reason I’m glad baseball tournaments only last a few days. 

Carpe Diem Y’all, Michele

Copyright © 2007 Michele Bernard      

June 12, 2007 Posted by | baseball, Best Lines, Blogroll, Family, Michele's Musings, Motherhood, Notes from the Cheap Seats, Parenting, Sports Stuff, Summer | 3 Comments

Doing Summer Week One

  A suburban mother’s role is to deliver children obstetrically once, and by car forever after.  ~Peter De Vries 

Too bad one can’t rack up frequent flier miles while ferrying children from Point A to Point B.  I’d have circled the globe by now, and be well on my way for another go around soon. 

This week, the extra miles were worth it, as we were able to do the things we needed to do, with plenty of time to do the things we wanted to do.  And it was fun.  Even the Summer Reading Challenge proved to be a good time, not only for me, but for my son and his buddy as well.   The boys have decided to create an original graphic novel based on whatever inspirations they receive after reading A Raisin in the Sun.  I can’t wait to see what they come up with.

We saw our first summer action flick, Pirates of the Caribbean:  At World’s End.  Loved it.  Have I mentioned I have a huge crush on Johnny Depp?  We also took in a minor league baseball game.  Mucho fun, what with all the between inning high-jinx:  crazy mascots, break-dancing umpires, fans racing the baselines wearing swim fins, life jackets and snorkel masks.  Oh, and our team won too.  

Not a bad way to kick off summer. 

But today, I hang up my car keys and declare myself off-duty.  For, much like the airline pilot required to take time off between flights, this taxi-driver needs a day to curl up with a good book and rest.

Carpe Diem Y’all, Michele    


June 8, 2007 Posted by | baseball, Best Lines, Blogroll, Carpe Diem Quotes, Family, Michele's Musings, Motherhood, Movies, Parenting, Summer | Leave a comment

Baseball Ready

ryan.jpgWaiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite.  Or waiting around for Friday night or waiting perhaps for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil or a better break or a string of pearls or a pair of pants or a wig with curls or another chance.  Everyone is just waiting.  ~Dr. Seuss

One hour is a long time when you’re six and the ball won’t come to you and it’s not your turn to bat yet.  How does this young Derek-Jeter-in-training handle the extra time on his hands?  Cartwheels. 

If MLB would take a few pointers from my nephew’s league, imagine how much more efficient, not to mention entertaining our baseball watching would be.  I’m sure the players would be less stressed, and have more fun as well.  And, the time would pass so quickly, we could do away with the seventh inning stretch. 

So, MLB, take it from the mighty six year old Panthers and make the following exceptions: 

  • Four swings only at the ball
  • Allow Coach to pitch to players
  • Five runs only per inning
  • All players must yell “Baseball Ready!”  in chorus between each pitch
  • Cartwheels in the infield ok
  • Filling baseball caps with infield dirt ok
  • Drawing in dirt behind home plate, or any base for that matter, with un-gloved hand ok
  • Digging for worms in mud beneath dugout bench ok
  • Climbing dugout fence like a colony of ants ok
  • After Game Snack Time A-OK

When they start the game, they don’t yell “work ball, ” they say, “play ball” – Willie Stargell, 1981

Carpe Diem Y’all, Michele

May 7, 2007 Posted by | baseball, Best Lines, Blogroll, Carpe Diem Quotes, Family, Humor, Michele's Musings, Notes from the Cheap Seats, Parenting, Sports Stuff | 3 Comments

Manday Hangover

images.jpg  The clock talked loud.  I threw it away, it scared me what it talked.  ~Tillie Olsen, Tell Me a Riddle

I have a Manday hangover.  Manday fell on Saturday, April 28th this year.  For a brief moment in spring, footballs replace baseballs as the men in my family make pilgrimage back to home televisions, to gather together to observe Holy Orders broadcast live on sports television.  A moment of silence is observed to recognize the absence of a big brother away on military duty, and brief discussion ensues on whether the also absent fourteen year old male-child is ready to partake in Manday.   At the conclusion of business, den doors close sans the fourteen-year-old, and Draft day services begin. 

Manday is tense, not for the faint of heart, and definately not for a woman trying desperately to hang on to what little estrogen still flows through her body.  I back away from the men on Manday.  Too much Man Talk.  Too much debate.  Too much focus on the clock.  Too much scratching.  My husband actually squeezed his glass coffee canister while making a point during the Why Hasn’t Brady Quinn Gone Yet Drama, shattering it with his bare hands.  Note to self:  buy band-aides to replenish depleted supply in kitchen first-aide kit.

Today as I drive the fourteen year old to school, he studies baseball stats in the scorebook he keeps in the vehicle for just this sort of occasion.  “We should’ve taken Colorado’s kicker,” he offers, never looking up from the batting average table, “He’s amazing, and we really need a kicker.”

I note his Sports-Brain is mature enough to consider two sports simultaneously.  I’m sorry my husband and his brothers miss this developmental milestone, but they’ll be happy to know he’s ready to celebrate Manday with them next year.

Carpe Diem Y’all, Michele

April 30, 2007 Posted by | baseball, Best Lines, Blogroll, Carpe Diem Quotes, Family, Football, Humor, Michele's Musings, Motherhood, Notes from the Cheap Seats, Parenting, Sports Stuff | 5 Comments

Sunday Afternoons

tomatoes.jpgToday I remember my great-grandmother’s kitchen table, laden with bounty from a tiny back yard garden.  Fresh tomatoes, cucumber salads, corn on the cob, snapped beans, mashed potatoes, fried okra.  It’s hard to imagine how they produced so much harvest from such a tiny plot of land.  And, it’s hard to imagine the numbers they fed.  Our family numbers many.  Yet somehow, each Sunday afternoon, four generations plus friends, would gather together to share a meal, visit, bid goodbye to the weekend and say hello to the week to come.  There was always plenty of food and plenty of cousins to play with.  Today, as I watch baseballs and boys fly around my own back yard’s recently potted tomato plant and herbs, I remember Grandmother and Old Dad’s tiny back yard.  Somehow there was always plenty of room for all of us to grow back there.

Carpe Diem Y’all, Michele 

Spend the afternoon.  You can’t take it with you.  ~Annie Dillard

April 29, 2007 Posted by | baseball, Best Lines, Carpe Diem Quotes, Family, Food and Wine, Inspiration, Inspirational, Michele's Musings, Motherhood, Parenting | Leave a comment

Notes from the Cheap Seats

baseballs-008.jpg Notes from last night’s game:  I fear my son will look up from the pitcher’s mound one day and see something therapy-worthy sitting in the stands, instead of a loving mother cheering him on.  “You never looked that freaked out when my brothers played,” I imagine his eyes accuse as he drops his head in shame.  That’s why I move out of his line of vision when he pitches.  After almost twenty years of watching my sons play baseball, I’m a fairly cool cucumber.  I don’t embarass myself or my children with questionable public displays.  To the naked eye, I look like any other mild mannered mom sitting in the cheap seats.  But tonight, underneath the calm demeanor, turmoil bubbles. My baby is starting pitcher against a team of unusually large, unusually talented fourteen year olds.  We’ve faced these corn-fed boys twice already this season, with shall we say, less than positive results.  I think of another baseball mom I know.  On the night her son pitched against the reigning state champions in a key play-off game, she hid in the ladies room with a cell phone in her ear and alcohol on her breath.  Obviously tonight isn’t that, but I still find it difficult to stay put and watch as my son gives it a go on the hill. 

But stay put I will.  This is my kid who loves baseball.  His brothers enjoyed it, he lives it.  What an honor to witness him living his young life to the fullest.  Even if it does give me ulcers.  Carpe diem y’all, Michele 

April 27, 2007 Posted by | baseball, Michele's Musings, Motherhood, Notes from the Cheap Seats, Parenting, Sports Stuff | Leave a comment

Captain Clutch my Heart

It’s finally October and even though the temperature is dropping, I’m feeling all warm and tingly inside.  I’m not sure when I started loving  play-off baseball, but since that day, my love affair with the great game continues to dance across my heart.  It looks a lot like Derek Jeter leading a conga line of not so much a bunch of beautiful models, but more like me through an American Express commercial.


I’m so glad my sports loving husband and baseball-playing sons forced me to sit and watch play-off baseball with them because now, most years it’s usually my favorite sporting event of the year. 

Play-off baseball means take your breath away blue eyes (or are they green?), that dimply I know what you’re thinking smile, scruffy good morning to-ya razor stubly cheeks, really tight pin-striped pants that look like I need to brush them off because he just gets so doggone dirty, dirty, dirty.  Not to mention going five for freaking five at the plate yesterday, with two doubles and one homerun to tie the postseason record for hits.

I need a moment.

God I love play-off baseball.


Carpe diem ya’ll, Michele

October 4, 2006 Posted by | baseball, Derek Jeter, Michele's Musings, Notes from the Cheap Seats, Sports Stuff | 1 Comment