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Baseball Dads Book Review

In Book Reviews on May 21, 2016 at 11:21 am

baseball dads cover

By Adam Waldman

If you’re a parent, it’s highly likely that you’ve spent countless hours watching your kids participate in sports.  It’s also a virtual lock that you’ve experienced coaches who made your stomach turn with their ineptitude and/or nepotism.  If you’ve been a coach yourself, you know how it feels to deal with “participation trophy” parents who place selfish desires to see their kid in the spotlight over the greater good of the team and experiencing real competition.  Political correctness, and fear of embarrassing your child, makes it very unlikely that you ever do anything about your dissatisfaction besides complain to your inner circle of friends.  Do you ever wonder what it would be like to share your inner-circle thoughts with the masses, take meaningful action and let the chips fall where they may?  If so, Matthew S. Hiley’s Baseball Dads is a must-read!

It’s been nearly a decade since the country was captivated by Tony Soprano and his take-no-shit crew of New Jersey gangsters that you couldn’t help but root for, despite the fact that they lived on the wrong side of the law.  Who among us, when watching The Sopranos, never fantasized about dishing out our own brand of justice (if only it were legal)?  Most people never reach the breaking point that pushes them to vigilante justice, but in the darkest depths of your mind, the thoughts certainly exist, even if they are never acted upon.

In Baseball Dads, Dwyane Devero evolves from a hard-working, loving father who struggles to make ends meet and do right by his family, into a Tony Soprano-esque superhero that leads a crew of equally disenchanted baseball dads to mete out their own brand of justice.  Devero’s challenge lies in leading a crew that faces an unexpected transition into a life that they have no real skills to handle with any degree of expertise.  It is the main character’s undeniable charisma and feeling of invincibility that acts as the glue that holds this group of flawed men together.

From massive drug use to wildly inappropriate sexual escapades and cringe-worthy blunt talk loaded with foul language, you can’t help but follow along with anticipation to see how the story unfolds.  This book is not for the faint of heart or the uptight, but if you were a fan of The Sopranos, you will find Baseball Dads to be a thoroughly entertaining read that will make you laugh out loud, while simultaneously shaking your head in disbelief.

By tapping into a subject that is so familiar to every parent that has ever watched their kid play sports, Matthew S. Hiley brilliantly develops these characters in such a way that you feel like you can be one of them.  There is no doubt that Baseball Dads would make an excellent movie in the future, and if it hits the theaters, I’ll be there on opening night.

Click here to read the first three chapters of the book for free, and then click the button to order your own copy.  You will not be disappointed!

What If?

In Family, Life, Life Lessons on October 9, 2014 at 8:47 am

What If

“What if?” is a question that my mom tortured herself with since my dad passed away in 2001.  The passage of time never diminished her need to know what would have happened if we had done something different, something more extreme in the hopes of an unlikely miracle.

Wondering “what if?” reached its peak each year during our family’s “hell week,” which happens every July.  It begins with the anniversary of my dad’s accident and ends with the anniversary of his passing.  That is always a difficult week, but there used to be a reprieve that lasted until his birthday in March, when we all can’t help but wonder once again…“what if?”

Today marks the final day in another “hell week” for my family.  Today I find myself asking “what if?” on the first anniversary of my mom’s untimely passing.

What if she had taken the test that she feared taking earlier?  Would she still have had the complications that she had from her surgery, which led to more surgery, which led to her ultimately passing away and leaving us all in shock once again?

What if she was able to reach me earlier on the day of her test?  Would I have been able to travel to the hospital quickly enough to give her a hug and kiss and tell her that I loved her before her surgery?

What if the doctor’s appointment that sent her rushing for emergency tests was after her birthday weekend, instead of the Friday before?  What if we didn’t “celebrate” her birthday praying for her to wake up at her bedside?  What if we had the chance to have one last birthday celebration by going out to dinner together (which was one of her favorite things in life)?

What if she got to read the heartfelt, handmade birthday cards that my kids made for her instead of having me read them to her as I said my last goodbye because I knew that the end was near?

What if my daughter could have given her the card that she made for her for this birthday, even though she knew that there was no place to send it?  What if my son could have called my mom to share his excitement about the home run that he hit on her birthday with the bat that she gave him for his birthday?

What if, instead of having two “hell weeks” each year from now on, our family didn’t have any?  What if my dad got to meet the amazing kids that my mom used to look to the sky and tell him about?  What if my mom got to see the kids that she adored grow up, graduate high school and college, get married and have kids of their own?

What if life was fair?  I guess I’ll never know…

Living In The Moment Instead Of Capturing It

In Family, Life, Life Lessons on May 28, 2014 at 5:14 pm

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Life lessons can be found in unlikely places if you are open to learning them.  As a modern-day parent, armed with the requisite equipment (smartphone, digital camera, camcorder), I am always at the ready to capture every “important” moment, in addition to others that wouldn’t fit into the aforementioned category.  At least I was until recently, when I had an epiphany spurred on by Louis C.K.’s stand-up comedy routine.

We tend to look at any celebrity in a different light, but when it comes down to it, Louis C.K. is my peer.  We both have two kids, are close in age and spend enough time on social media to be able to appreciate the absurdity that often takes place in the medium, Facebook in particular.

If I revealed that I had discovered a way to experience life’s moments in incomparable HD-quality, many of you would immediately start Googling for reviews to see what others thought.  The bad news is that you wouldn’t find the information that you’re looking for, but the good news is that there is no cost and you can start experiencing this incomparable HD-quality immediately.  This sounds too good to be true, so there must be a catch, right?  Yes, there is!

The epiphany that I had, and the life lesson that I learned (courtesy of Louis C.K.), is that the best way to experience this HD-quality life is to put the camera down and live in the moment.  In his routine, he joked about how we all live our lives through a tiny, two-dimensional lens when we could be experiencing these moments in real-life 3D.  To be fair, the funniest part of the routine came afterwards when discussing what to do when posting these videos on Facebook, but it is not “family-friendly,” and cannot be shared in this forum.  However, you do not need the punchline to appreciate the legitimate point that he made with his observation.

Putting down the camera is easier said than done, but I was determined to do so the next time that the chance came to live in the moment instead of capturing it.  Fortunately for me, I didn’t have to wait too long.

With Louis C.K.’s words still ringing in my ear, I sat down in my seat to watch my 7-yr old daughter’s dance recital.  My wife wasn’t ready to join me on my mission, so she was in charge of the camcorder.  I took a few obligatory photos, but for the first time in six recitals, I experienced a “life-sized” moment, and enjoyed it more than ever before.  A malfunction with the camcorder had my wife in a frenzy.  In previous years, I would have also been in a panic, but I simply told her that we never watch them anyway.  I shocked myself with this newfound rationalism!

Memorial Day Weekend brought another major test of my willpower.

We have established a family tradition of kicking off the summer by attending the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach.  It is a spectacular event that must be experienced firsthand to truly appreciate.  In previous years, I took some photos during the early parts of the show, but when the headliner came on (Blue Angels or Thunderbirds), I kicked into full “capture-the-moment” mode.  At times, I would be shooting photos blindly into the sky with one hand while videotaping with the other hand.  I lucked into a few good pictures, but I cannot tell you how the videos came out because I have never watched them.

This year, I decided that it was time to live fully in the moment, and I did.  I didn’t take one photo.  I didn’t shoot any video.  I didn’t even turn my “battery-challenged” smartphone on to share the moment on Facebook.  Undistracted, I used all of my senses to take in this awe-inspiring show.  I found myself gasping at times as I watched the FA-18 Hornets pass within feet of each other at incredibly high speeds.  This is a staple of their demonstration, but I never appreciated the intense danger of the moment when viewing it through a tiny camcorder screen.

My brother-in-law joined us for the first time this year.  Photography being one of his favorite hobbies, he was intent on capturing every moment.  By the end of the day, he had taken 281 photos, a number that certainly would have been higher if he wasn’t budgeting his battery time for the main event.  My son took over 100 pictures, even though he was largely uninterested for much of the day.  My wife took some shots on her phone to send to friends, and my sister-in-law took some too.

As we sat around the table when we got home, I shared Louis C.K.’s insight with everyone.  In spite of the fact that they all took pictures, they agreed that his point was a valid one.  I asked my brother-in-law how many pictures he would have taken if he was using film instead of digital memory.  His answer (24) spoke volumes about how the convenience of digital media has made it too easy for us all to live life through a lens, capturing every moment instead of living in them.

Most people left the beach that day with numerous photos of the Air Show.  I left with a handful of photos, all of which were shots of me with my wife and kids.  Out of the thousands of photos that I’ve accumulated through the years of attending the show, one sits squarely on my mantle as a reminder of the experience.  It is a simple close-up of the four of us at Jones Beach, and one of my favorites because it brings me back to a moment in time.  The Blue Angels are awe-inspiring, but I wouldn’t trade a perfect shot of their performance for the family photo that means so much to me.

The majority of my life’s most memorable moments were not captured in photos or videos, but I remember them just the same because they have left an indelible, vivid imprint on my mind.  I don’t need to flip through photo albums or scan my computer to access them, so the argument can be made that the best way to capture a moment is to live in it fully.  It took Louis C.K.’s words of wisdom to bring me to this realization.  Hopefully, it will do the same for those who read this story.

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