Beer and ball

For me, music and sports go together like milk and fresh-from-the-oven brownies. Whether it’s hearing Alabama’s Rammer Jammer cheer or “Crazy Train” when Atlanta’s Chipper Jones steps up to the plate or “I’m Bad” while working out, music gets me fired up.

So as the Boys of Summer get ready to make a run for October and the Boys of Fall kick off their season, I’ve got singer/musician Chris Blake here to talk about how music makes the sports we love even better.

Chris, whose latest EP Girl is just out, explains why sports and music are so intertwined. “Music does so much to bring the game to a new level–particularly baseball,” he says. “Music accompanies celebration, loss, traditions like the 7th-inning stretch. It adds to the tension, like when the organist plays Charge! during a two-out, bases-loaded situation.

“Music also keeps us entertained in a big way during the breaks between innings–like when the little kid starts playing air guitar to Don’t Stop Believin’ at Dodger Stadium!”

While Chris enjoys a few college football match-ups each year, baseball is his real love. The Southern Cal Trojan says, “The only reason I ever really watched football games back in college was to drink beer.”

However, he figured out that baseball was much more conducive to beer-drinking. “You could lose an entire inning waiting in line for a Coors Light and still come back to your seat and not have missed anything.”

A Chicago White Sox fan, 2005 was a big year for Chris and his family as the team won the World Series. “Along the way (catcher) A.J. Pierzynski brought (Journey’s) Steve Perry along for the ride, and now, even though I had such strong childhood memories attached to ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ ’, all I can think of when I hear it now is how amazing it was at that moment when the Sox somehow managed to go all the way.

Want to know more about the 7th sexiest man on Twitter? RSVP for The Music Mamas Twitter Party happening Friday night from 8-9:30 Central, and join us for a chat with Chris and a chance to win an iPod touch and his CD Girl.

Playing ball when you’re deaf

She’s come a long way since she got her first glove.

Riley’s had two softball practices with another set for Saturday. She’s paying better attention this year, but we still need to figure out a better way to communicate than just yelling at her. It’s hard for anyone to hear a coach yelling from the dugout during a game and even harder when you’re hearing impaired. That’s one reason we’re considering an FM system … so she can hear easily whether she’s on the field, in the classroom or out in the backyard.

Another family offered to let Riley try out the system their children no longer use, so I think a phone call is in order. Of course, the system will have to be tweaked to complement Riley’s hearing and programs, but we should get started on this soon.

The first two practices were COLD – the poor girls were bundled up so tightly they could barely move! And you know how much it hurts when you swing the bat and don’t hit the ball solidly. Ouch!

She batted right-handed the first practice and did OK, but she switched back to being a lefty the second day and did even better. I’m going to let her decide how she’s most comfortable at the plate. Lefty or righty, it’s her choice.

The coach worked her out at second base and Riley did really well for her first time on the field since May. Several of the other girls played throughout the fall and are also playing on a travel team during the community season, too. They’re getting a lot more reps, but Riley will catch up.

I’m the dugout mom again – keeping the batting order; making sure helmets, batting gloves and bats are where they’re supposed to be; helping the catcher get dressed; bandaging any scrapes or strawberries; and yelling for mom or dad if I can’t help. Basically, several moms are tag-teaming to take care of everything from uniforms to snacks to picture day to concession duty.

We’re all ready for spring and softball and warm weather.

You throw like a girl

Saturday at Riley’s softball practice, a different coach was running things because our regular coach was out of town.

As he was hitting grounders to the girls, this other dad walks by and jokingly says, “That guy in the red shirt throws like a girl,” and our coach turned around and tossed the ball at the fence where the other guy was.

First of all, what a STUPID thing to say in front of a team of 7- and 8-year-old GIRLS! Most of them can throw and throw well. And those who can’t are just learning.

Second, why does that putdown have to reference a girl? Why can’t they say, “You throw like a sissy”?

Third, I wanted to say, “And you sound like an idiot.” But I didn’t. I did say fairly loud, “Nothing wrong with throwing like a girl.”

It bothered me mostly because the guy saying it was obviously a dad (probably to boys) and the guy taking offense is a dad to GIRLS. I wish he’d said, “Yeah, and I’ll throw you out at the plate anytime.”

Girls are trashed for “throwing like girls,” and they’re trashed for being tomboys. We just can’t win.

That’s why I tell Riley she can play with Barbies and trucks. And there’s nothing wrong with a boy playing with trucks and dolls, either. They’ve got to learn how to care for children somewhere, right? 😉

Try to hit off this girl: Olympic gold medalist Jennie Finch

Whenever I Run

Run, girl, run
Speed doesn’t matter; hitting the road does

(Column first appeared at FemmeFan.com in October 2006)

By Tiffani Hill-Patterson

I am a runner. I’m not fast and I don’t do long distances, but I am a runner.

That description is one I never thought would apply to me. As a high school and collegiate athlete, I hated to run. When running is always used as punishment it tends to make you hate even the thought. Slowly, I’ve overcome that mind-set, and I no longer see it as the price you pay for missing a grounder or serving the volleyball out of bounds.

I see it as a way to sneak some time for myself, to gather my thoughts, relieve some stress or just zone out to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. And the bonus is that my legs are stronger and slimmer, my heart is pumping more efficiently and my mind is clearer.

I started running when I started doing the Body-for-LIFE program. The cardio portion was a 20-minute workout, and I did a combination of walking and running. Eventually, I was able to jog and run the whole 20 minutes. Without dying. And I liked it. It was a miracle.

The longest length of time I’ve run is 42 minutes, 12 seconds. That was my first 5K, on Memorial Day. It may have taken me awhile to finish, but it was exhilarating.

My husband had tears in his eyes and said, “I’m just proud of you” as I headed to the starting line. If that doesn’t put a spring in your step, nothing will.

My daughter stood near the finish yelling, “Go, Mommy!” I knew I couldn’t slow down even a little until I crossed that line.

And I couldn’t have done it without my little brother, who has run 10Ks and half-marathons. He ran with me and kept me going. And my parents and sister-in-law were there to cheer us both on – it’s great to know you’ve made your family proud.

But even better was the pride I felt in myself for taking on the challenge and accomplishing the goal. I did it. For me. To prove that I could.

After my first 5K, I met a woman at the gym and we hit it off and started running together at least once a week. She’s faster than I am and much more committed. And that’s a good thing. She doesn’t know it, but she challenges me to get better. And even though I haven’t been giving much lately, I’m grateful to have someone to be accountable to.

My second race was in September, and I cut about 2 minutes off my time. Another goal met. Another boost in self-confidence. This running thing has turned out to be more fun than I thought. And I’ve made some friends along with getting in better shape.

The final proof that I am a runner came last Saturday, the day of my third race. The first thing I had to do when I awoke was hit the bathroom. Um, someone find the Imodium. After three trips, I was sure there’d be no running, but I was going to do that 5K anyway, even if I had to walk the whole way.

That’s just what I did. The cool air and conversation with a fellow walker kept my mind off my tummy troubles. At least for the first mile-and-a-half. By then I was halfway done . no point in stopping. Finally, I saw the 3-mile marker and rejoiced; the finish line was just ahead.

I spotted my husband and daughter in the crowd and yelled for my daughter to come with me. My sweet 5-year-old grabbed my hand, and we ran the last 30 yards to the finish line. The look of excitement on her face was enough to make me sign up for another 5K in November. And to dream about the day she’ll run a race next to me.

I’m not fast; I’ll never be fast. That doesn’t matter. I’m a runner because I run.