Back in the Day Music 1/27/17
Baseball parents are crazy. Seriously crazy. They think that by having their kid play 75 games a summer and traveling all over the Midwest is going to guarantee that their kid becomes a Division I athlete. See, they even forget that there is another part to that athlete phrase. It is really student/athlete. Perhaps they could sign their kid up for a traveling math team? If they would only listen to someone who had a little bit of a clue and was connected to the profession that they may wise up. But no. Instead, they listen to a guy that pours concrete and they write a check to. He fills their brains with fantasies and dreams because he has that privilege. His job is to cash a check and make all of the parents happy. What he really is doing is helping kids lose out on a childhood. Two of those kids from his travel team of twelve kids will play Division II or better. The other guys will find other things to do, which, unfortunately is not playing a different sport.
I didn’t play on a travel team until I was 18 and I had already graduated from high school. Sure I played on the in house team and played on the “All Star” teams, but we played maybe 30 games. It sufficed. A drive to Palos Heights was a long haul for a Morris team. My travel team consisted of me driving 25 minutes west on Route 6 to Ottawa. I definitely had reservations about playing with these guys. Growing up we would always run into their “All Star” team at some local tournament. We disliked them very much. Why, who knows? Perhaps it was that they were tough and gritty like us and we knew there wasn’t room for two river rats. Maybe it was their loud personality. Or, most likely, it was because they had a kid with long curly hair that was named Dana and we didn’t stand for losing to a guy like that.
Playing with these guys was like working a second shift job. I would eat lunch around eleven, which was conveniently the same time I woke up, leave Morris at two, and play doubleheaders each night of the week from about 5:00-10:00. And this place would be packed. It would not only be packed with parents or a few guys girlfriends, but just people from the town. I always thought that was cool. Such support for guys that are not even in your school system anymore, as well as nerd from Yorkville, a cowboy from Coal City, a Wanksta from Montgomery, and Pole-Billy from Morris (half Polish and half hillbilly). Getting home at 11:00 each night didn’t leave much time for a social life that first year out of Morris Public Schools but that wasn’t too big of a deal. I hung out with only a select few anyways so I knew I was only missing some NCAA Football 2002 and some comedic poems at the expense of pretty much everyone on poetry.com.
The goal for this summer league team every year was to get back to Battle Creek, Michigan for the 18u national tournament. Now, at this point in my life I didn’t really care much about playing any more baseball. It had already been a long school year and summer and I was just looking forward to a few weeks of relaxation before heading off to college. But, I had taken a liking to these guys. They were no different than Morris kids, minus they all had been chewing since they were nine. Even the curly haired guy I couldn’t stand when we were twelve was a great dude.
In order to make it to Battle Creek you had to win 2 out of 3 in a regional. We ended up hosting a team out of Naperville. We won the first game but lost the second game on Saturday night. That set up a Sunday afternoon tilt. Early on in the,9-inning affair, we found ourselves down huge. I managed to sneak my way on base somehow and got waved in from third. Every run was crucial and I had a little bit of speed (OK, insert slow joke now) to try to chip away at what had felt like an insurmountable task. There was going to be a play at the plate and I had always been pretty athletic at slides at the plate. Previously that spring we had beaten Batavia 1-0 in 9 innings where our cleanup hitter laid down a beautiful suicide squeeze bunt and I dove head first between the catcher’s legs to give us the emotional win. As I was coming down the line on these scorching July day, I got the wave from my on deck man to slide to my right. I made a wide slide, sitting straight up the entire time, and just snuck my hand into the plate, a move that would have made Javy Baez jealous.
And that brings us into today’s back in the day music. Today’s song was released in January of 1997 and reached number one on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks and number 23 on the Hot 100. In that winter of 1997 today’s band, which specializes in ska music, was coming off a fresh appearance in the Alicia Silverstone hit film, Clueless. You remember the scene; Cher’s date, Christian, dances the night away at a college party, Paul Rudd is just a nerd like always, and Brittany Murphy was just buggin’.
In the fall of 1999 the Vocational School in Grundy County had a class where they helped create the first ever, and best might I add, Morris High School Football Highlight film. For our regular season and homecoming loss to the Raiders of Glenbard South, the video team played a very good song, today’s back in the day song.
See, our head football coach didn’t seem to have a lot of fans outside of the area. That’s what happens when you work harder and are better than everyone else. People get jealous and some want to put you down whenever they get a chance. On that fall night in 1999 a referee wanted to make sure everyone in the stadium knew he was there to ref a game and threw our coach out less than 60 seconds into the game. It was the first and only time in his career that he was ejected. That ref had a negative impression of our coach before he even showed up that day.
Being ejected is not the most notable thing to happen to you. It can be embarrassing or at least it was embarrassing for me as I had to make a walk of shame back to my dugout as the umpire called me out on my beautiful slide at home plate in that summer game at Masinelli Field in Ottawa. Not only did he call me out, he did not take too fondly of me slamming my helmet on the ground and saying zero words. Seriously, I got run and didn’t say a single word. I must have left a disrespectful impression on him as he tossed me out of the game without thinking twice. That was his impression of me. I thought he was an a******. That was the Impression that I Got. Don’t worry, we came back from like 8 runs down to win on a walk off homer.