Raising a Mets Fan

Marcus Stroman Is A Role Model

Getting to watch and follow Marcus Stroman since becoming a member of the New York Mets organization, it has been increasingly clear he is a role model. He has been that in every sense of the word.

Outside of being a terrific pitcher, what first comes to mind with Stroman is HDMH, i.e. Height Doesn’t Measure Heart. This mantra emanates from Stroman being a 5’7″ pitcher to make it to the Major Leagues, where he has established himself as an excellent pitcher. It speaks to believe in self and not allowing obstacles stand in your way.

Stroman has made it more than that. Aside from a mantra, it’s also an apparel line and foundation. We have seen him invite children to unique baseball events not normally available to them. He has also created uniforms for different youth baseball teams. We have also seen Stroman give of himself working with young players, especially during the early parts of the pandemic last year.

In addition to what Stroman does to help children, there is also how Stroman carries himself. He not only has a belief in himself but also his teammates. If you follow what he does and says, Stroman is all about building up yourself and those around you. That is a very powerful message he strives to deliver:

Keep in mind, Stroman is a fiercely loyal person who will do what he needs to protect those he loves. During the pandemic, he gave up millions of dollars to sit out the season to protect his family. Rather than risk his parents catching COVID19, he stayed home in what was his last season before free agency.

It didn’t matter to him that he was giving up money both that year and potentially in free agency. He did what he knew in his heart what was right. We see him do that in everything he does. That includes speaking out against injustices he sees.

If you are near and dear to him, he will continue to build you up and show the world all the ways you are great. He does that with his teammates, and he does that with his little brother.

Part and parcel in that is Stroman trying to become an increasingly positive person who tries to shut out the noise. We know he acknowledges the negative, but rather than dwell in it and drag him down, Stroman seeks to find ways to improve himself and the world around him. This is not just a one dimensional human being. He is one of the most unique people we have ever seen play the game.

Mostly, Stroman is the person he is, and he is unapologetically so. That’s great because he is a terrific human being who carries a great message. In everything he does, he not only seeks, but he exudes greatness.

This is someone who isn’t content. He is always trying to improve as a player and a person. Case-in-point, he follows around Jacob deGrom to learn from him. He has talked with other players to see how he can improve as a pitcher. This year, we saw those efforts result in a new split change and a phenomenal start to the season.

Lest we forget, Stroman is an intellectual in every sense of the word. Yes, even after being drafted and beginning is playing career, he did make sure to finish his degree at Duke University, one of the best universities in the country. It is more than that. He has an intellectual curiosity when it comes to his craft and everything in his life. Really, it is no mistake he is successful in nearly every undertaking.

When you look at Stroman, you see a real human being not only trying to be a great baseball player, but you are looking at a man trying to leave his mark on the world. He is trying to make himself a better person, and he is trying to make those around him better. Hopefully, even through all the naysayers and all the noise, he realizes he is accomplishing that goal.

Next time you look at Stroman, hopefully, you see more than a great pitcher. You should see a good person. You should seee a role model to hold out to the next generation of baseball players and leaders.

Baseball Mitts Need To Become NBA Players’ Sneakers

When a really good NBA prospect is drafted, the question is which sneaker company is going to sign him. Invariably, it is Nike, and we see the shoe company put out new designs for those players. Inevitably, that leads to a rush of purchases for those exclusive sneakers, and it does lead to that players’ profile being raised even higher.

For other sports, this doesn’t work quite as well. While NBA players wear sneakers, which people, especially children, can wear everyday, you can’t wear cleats or skates on an everyday basis. So, to that end, other sports need to find a way to better market players and their equipment. If you look towards Marcus Stroman and Francisco Lindor, the answer to that might just be baseball mitts.

It used to be baseball mitts were basically two to three colors. There was the tan, the brown, and the black. Now, we are starting to see many more colors on the field as players begin to express their personality more. It is not just through the bat flips and celebrations. It is increasingly by what they wear when they take the field.

When it comes to fans, they love this, and when it comes to kids, they want to be just like their favorite players. That’s why they want to wear their favorite players jerseys and shirseys. If there was a special mitt out there, they may well go out there and try to get their parents to buy that too.

Yes, many players have their signature in baseball mitts. If you go to Dicks right now, you can go get your Mike Trout baseball mitt. It is just like the mitts they had 30 years ago where the only real defining characteristic was the signature. If you are Rawlings or another company, you could go out and change that.

Every year, you could have a release of the new fashion designed mitts for their top MLB players. They can make specially designed mitts for each player, and they could send that out to the market. For children, who need a new glove every few years (if not more), this could lead them to try to get a new one each year. The same could be said for older players who need to replace them more for wear or tear reasons.

This could very well be a unique opportunity for baseball companies to market MLB players. They could have a release during Spring Training or at some point during the offseason. Will it reach the height of the sneaker releases, no, but it doesn’t have to reach those levels. Rather, all they need to do is just raise the visibility of the product and the players.

If they can successfully pull this off, MLB players could see their popularity increase, and baseball equipment companies could very well see their product lines sell more. After all, what little Mets fan wouldn’t be running to the stores begging their parents to buy them the new Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Jacob deGrom, Lindor, or Stroman mitt as Little League seasons are about a month or so away?

NJ Hockey Parents Should Be Able To Attend Games

Imagine this situation.

Your seven year old doesn’t just love hockey. He lives and breathes it. He practices and practices, and he gets so good, he gets an incredible opportunity.

Despite being a younger seven year old, he gets called up to play a Squirt game. There’s this little boy on the ice with 10 year olds. They just tower over him.

Undaunted, he steals the puck, goes the length of the ice. Despite getting knocked down by a larger kid, he gets the shot off, and he scores. He’s beyond excited, and just like he’s done since his first ever game, he looks to the crowd to look for his family cheering and giving him a thumbs up.

Except, they’re not there. Instead, it’s 19 degrees outside, and dad is sitting in a car desperately trying to get WiFi so he can watch this game.

Now, imagine finding out in another part of the state, parents were huddled together getting to watch their children on the ice. They got to see their children skating, but your child didn’t get to see his smiling and cheering family because of what now appears to be a completely arbitrary and capricious decision.

Well, that was my Sunday.

In that boondoggle that is the American Dream mall, parents were permitted to stand and watch their children skate. However, if that was a hockey game, they would’ve been cleared out because no spectators are permitted for youth hockey games.

Those people are masked, and the groups appear six feet apart. According to every COVID protocol we know, there’s nothing wrong with that. As hockey parents, that’s all we want.

But, we can’t. Believe it or not, we’re not even permitted to attend outdoor games. For some reason, that’s also not allowed.

Over the course of this season, kids have scored goals or made great saves. They’ve fallen and gotten hurt. They’ve had big wins and tough losses.

When those kids needed a reassuring face or a hug, there’s no one there. They just need to hope the WiFi was working so you could see the moment, and/or know they have to now try to convince someone at the arena they need to be allowed to enter.

Again, if this was an open skate or a skating lesson in a mall, this wouldn’t be an issue.

All hockey parents want is to see their children play. They’re happy and willing to do the temperature checks, fill out the waivers, wear as many masks as required, and stay as far away from everyone else as is required.

If it’s alright for a mall, it should be alright for a rink who has far less traffic and is better able to sanitize between games and events.

This isn’t pretending there isn’t a pandemic. It’s also not pretending there isn’t a need for safety measures. Making those counter-arguments purposefully misses the point.

Rather, this is about fairness. It’s about families and children.

So long as social distancing measures can be accomplished in an arena, and it can by marking off seats six feet apart like they do in restaurants where people eat unmasked, at least one parent per child should be permitted inside to watch their child play a game.

Really, this isn’t too much to ask.

We want to be there to celebrate. We don’t want to miss seeing them do what they love more than anything. Mostly, we want to be there to give them a hug to celebrate or to let them know it’s going to be alright.

Sadly, we can’t do that. Instead, we sit in idling cars in freezing temperatures hoping to get a glimpse. We hope not to miss anything, and we hope some day, someone will not punish our children and families because our kids are playing hockey.

Until then, we will all do what we need to do to permit our children to be able to play just like we’ve done all year. We’ll wait until we’re treated the same as that person eating in a restaurant, shopping in a crowded mall, or watching their child participate in a non-hockey ice event.

MLB Needs Weekly Nickelodeon Or Disney Game

By and large, the NFL having a playoff game on Nickelodeon was a massive success. When you looked at it, there really wasn’t anyone with a true negative thing to say about the game.

At my house, my son wasn’t as enamored with the graphics. As he put it, “It’s not really slime; it’s graphics.” However, he loved how great a job Nate Burleson did teaching the game.

Specifically, he said he thought Burleson did a great job explaining the red zone. With the fun graphics, he got a better understanding of the sport there. He also had fun with the other kid friendly things like the NVP.

Like me, he was also disappointed there was no slime. It seemed like a big missed opportunity, but based on what we saw, it should happen next year.

And it should happen again. As a parent, I liked being able to put my kid in front of a sporting event and not have to worry about the commercials. I also really thought they did an extraordinary job explaining the game while not pandering or condescending to the kids.

On another important note, I’m not a special needs parent, but seeing the reaction on social media, it was a success for those families as well:

What the NFL did yesterday was truly remarkable. They need to be commended, and if you’re another league, they need to be replicated.

That goes double for baseball. We hear time and again people lament how kids aren’t following the game like their parents and grandparents. We hear about their difficulties attracting newer and younger fans.

Well, the NFL just gave it to them. They now have their template.

If you’re MLB, you should be more daring. This shouldn’t just be a single postseason game. Instead, they should have a game of the week with a children’s network.

Yesterday, we saw Nickelodeon could handle it. We also know MLB has a relationship with Disney by and through ESPN. It makes you wonder if they could instead opt to have a game on the Disney Channel.

As an aside, we know MLB and ESPN agreed to cancel the weekday games on Monday and Wednesday. Those are two days available right there to have the games.

Now, this is where people clamor for afternoon weekend games. That’s a mistake waiting to happen. At that time, parents are out with kids running to practice, games, recitals, birthday parties, and much more. The weekend afternoon is when kids are not at home.

And if they are home, they’re outside playing with their friends. They aren’t going to be cooped up in their living rooms when they can be outside playing or swimming.

No, the best time to do this is the weekday afternoon games. They could make the game start around 5:00 or 6:00 to make it a little more kid friendly. They could also do 7:00.

Whatever weekday time they choose, they need to find a way to make it work with a kid’s channel like Nickelodeon or Disney. They need to find broadcasters like Noah Eagle and Nate Burleson who do a great job explaining the game to kids.

We’re all aware of what a success the game was yesterday. Now, it’s up to MLB to make it a success for them and to grow the game.

Thank You Colin Cosell

Mets fans are a truly blessed to be a great community. That includes regular fans like myself as well as people like Mets PA Announcer Colin Cosell.

Cosell, for no reason other than he’s a great person, offered to prepare walk-up music and introductions for Mets fans for free. He stepped up and gave Mets fans a free Christmas gift they can cherish forever.

I reached out, and I requested one for each of my boys. They absolutely loved it. It wasn’t just them either. My entire family did as well, especially my father who probably got more of a kick out of it than anyone.

That’s what Cosell did. He gave a gift not just to my kids, but also my entire family. That is something truly special, and I cannot begin to thank him. Honestly, in addition to my private notes is to publicize how great a person he is for doing something like this.

So again, thank you for this truly wonderful gift. Words cannot express how wonderful it was.

Use Zoom To Help Your Children See Their Friends

Seemingly, every school district in the United States has closed schools leaving parents to home-school their children. Looking beyond that, they are under the same self isolation and quarantine orders as their parents are. That leaves parents and children home and away from the outside world.

This is hard on everyone, especially our children. They are unable to see their friends. Their activities, like Little League, are being postponed or canceled. This leaves us as parents looking for ways to engage them and to make them feel normal.

Certainly, FaceTime helps, but that only works if the other parents have an iPhone as well. It is also somewhat restrictive in that it limits it to one-on-one interaction. It would also be beneficial if you could get a group of friends together in a fashion similar to what they normally do.

On that note, many have been utilizing Zoom to have office meetings and the like. Seeing how effective it has been for work, we should also be looking to use it for our children to allow them to see and speak with their friends.

Get together with the other parents and schedule a time where you can all have your children speak to one another using Zoom. You can do it as one-on-one or much larger groups. It also helps carve out the time to make sure everyone does it.

Think of this like Little League practice. For example, let’s say you were going to have Little League practices on Wednesday at 6:00 P.M. Now, instead, you can make that Zoom time. How long you want to do it for is up to you and the other parents.

It doesn’t matter if  you have hours to spend or if you just have 5-10 minutes. Every little bit helps your children see their friends and help them feel normal at least for that small time frame. You know you have that time somewhere in your schedule over the course of a week. Find it and coordinate with other parents to do it and help you and your children through this process.

COVID19 Home School Plans: Mo Willems Lunch Doodles

Mo Willems is the acclaimed author of the Pidgeon and Pig & Elephant series in addition to a number of children’s books like Knuffle Bunny. In his books, he has a way of reaching out to children, teaching them, and entertaining them.

Right now, at the moment we all need him most, he is helping out patents and children alike.

While are children are home with schools closed down due to COVID19, Willems is hosting a 22 minute “Lunch Doodles.”

In the Lunch Doodles, Willems shares his creative process while encouraging it in children. There were drawings at the beginning and the end, and he takes time to answer questions.

He even encourages kids to send questions and share their drawings with him. Overall, it’s inspiring a creative and learning environment, and he’s doing it just as the time we need it.

They’re available at 1:00 P.M. EST, and they will remain on YouTube to accessed later if needed. The first episode is embedded above, and if you return here, subsequent episodes will be linked to this article.

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4


Other Ideas

Write a Journal

Mystery Science

Field Trip

COVID19 Homeschool And Work From Home Schedule

Like many parents across America, we have been faced with the prospect of having to work from home while also homeschooling our children at the same time. Even with the teachers handling online learning it can be difficult, though many of us can learn more about effective studying here. Still, it’s been difficult adjusting, especially as many of us do not have proper home office setups or spaces suitable for our kids to sit and learn. Fortunately, there are a few things we can do to remedy that.

In regards to setting up an office or learning space, a spare room or storage room is the best. If the space is tight then you may want a desk to fit in a corner and allow more room that way. If you have no spare room then it’s important to separate work from home in a way. For example, if a lot of people are going in and out of the kitchen then that is not a good place to set up your office space or your child’s learning space.

Once you have the space set up, your next obstacle is time. Your boss may have already outlined a schedule for you but with a child, it can become difficult. If your district is like my school district, there are strict log-in times to count your child’s attendance. If that is the case, you are stuck teaching your children during work hours instead of being able to be truly flexible.

To put things into perspective, my children’s home school district sent the following requirements that our child be logged into Google Classroom anytime 7:00 – 10:00 A.M. to count attendance. From there, the school day is assigned as 9:00 – 2:00 with teachers getting an hour break from 12:00 – 1:00.

During that time, we are supposed to do assignments with our children while also finding a half-hour during the day for physical activity. While that may not seem daunting, in our household, we have to do that while finding time for both parents to work while also keeping watch over our two-year-old.

With that in mind, we have developed a schedule which we hope helps other people in the same situation as us:

6:30 – 8:30: Parent A works from laptop while Parent B get kids dressed and has breakfast with them.

8:30 – 9:00: Clean-up of breakfast, set-up for homeschool log-in, and switch of parents for work.

9:00 – 12:00: Parent A is out of pocket monitoring emails and calls working with the homeschooling. Parent B is on the laptop working.

12:00 – 1:00: Lunch time for family. Both parents are out of pocket monitoring emails and phone calls.

1:00 – 2:00: Parent A goes back to laptop while Parent B is out of pocket finishing up the school day.

2:00 – 4:00: Both parents working from home simultaneously while children are doing activities like coloring, reading books, playing outside, or watching T.V.

4:00 – 4:30: Regroup. Discuss who still needs to do what, have a light snack for kids, and figure out any contingencies for the rest of the day.

4:30 – 5:30: Parent A sits with kids and begins preparing dinner while Parent B is on the laptop

5:30 – 6:30: Dinner

6:30 – 7:30: Every device off for family time. Part of time spent is a family walk, play a game, etc.

7:30 – 8:30: Bedtime process, i.e. baths, reading books, and tucking the kids into bed

8:30 – 10:30: Both parents on the laptops doing work finishing up whatever they need to do for the day.

Parent A: worked 7 hours
Parent B: worked 8 hours

From 10:30 on, you can find time to spend with your significant others, and catch up on whatever you need to catch up on from the day.

Please keep in mind, this is a framework of a schedule for two parents working at home with kids who have homeschool or online learning classes to attend. As a family, you may need to adapt to your jobs demands as well as any challenges which may come our way while we are all home due to COVID19.

As time progresses, this may be amended to reflect any changes we need to make. If there is anything you are doing which is different than this, and you find it helpful, please share in the comments section. Overall, remember that even though we are all socially isolated, we are still all in this together, and we can all work together to try to figure it out.

Parents Guide To Combating Coronavirus

I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. Like most of you, I am just a person who has no idea if the coronavirus is a pandemic of biblical proportions, or if this is just a seasonal virus which will pass much like the avian and swine flu once did.

No, I am just a father concerned about my children and parents getting it. Like with the flu, the risk is greater for them. This means while I will presumably be alright, if I contract it, I can spread it to others. For me, that’s the real risk.

Now, there is no way to cut ourselves off from society. I need to go to work, and my children need to go to school. Honestly, even with the risk of disease, there are things we just have to do as a family. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t take preventative measures. The CDC has already outlined them:

  • Advoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
    • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
    • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to  others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

The general rule I’m using for my family is everywhere you go the first thing you do is wash your hands. I also keep baby wipes on hand to wipe down hands and faces. That is necessary when you are opening doors and touching things others who might be infected could’ve touched.

Keep in mind while you may need to live your life, you can make smarter choices. For example, you can go to the grocery store either early in the morning or very late in the day, i.e. at times when there aren’t many people. Also, you can order things on Amazon and have them delivered. On that note, Amazon does have many things cheaper than you can get them in stores.

The other thing we’ve done is stop eating out. You don’t and can’t know if the people handling your food have been infected. While that is a general rule of thumb, there is no vaccine for the coronavirus like there is for the flu.

Beyond that, we haven’t found much more we can do. Our children are already taking their vitamins, drinking their milk, and they had already been taking elderberry. Basically, they are doing all the things we can do to keep them happy and healthy.

At the moment, we are doing our normal activities with the children albeit on a more limited basis. For example, we are not doing story times at the library or Barnes & Noble. Instead, we read at home. We also aren’t going to the movies, nor are we going to attend any sporting events. Sadly, right now, that means no Opening Day or NCAA Tournament.

Mostly, we pray. We pray for health and guidance. Of course, right now, we pray while avoiding Church, which I hope is understandable even in this Lenten season.

When and if there are cases near us, we will reassess what we do. For right now, we are living our lives, but we are being smart about it. From our perspective, that seems to be what makes the most sense. If we had an infant, it’s very likely we would be even more restrictive in what we do. The same if our parents lived with us.

Overall, the best piece of advice to give anyone is to listen to the CDC, your doctors, and other medical professionals. Seriously, while I hope this was all helpful, you should disregard much of this advice because ultimately it’s uneducated advice.

In the end, the biggest takeaway is follow what the CDC and other medical professionals tell you and to stop seeking advice from people like me. In the end, all I can do is tell you what I am or am not doing. Like others, I cannot guarantee my advice is effective. Rather, it is just what we are doing. Hopefully, you find something which helps you and your family stay safe and healthy.

Coronavirus Presents Opportunity For MLB To Grow The Game

With the fears over the outbreak of the coronavirus, Major League Baseball is starting to take preventative measures. Different teams have prevented their players from signing autographs for fans. When it comes to the spread of disease and the health of their players, you understand why teams are doing this.

For Spring Training, this is troublesome. This is a time where fans get more access to the players than at any point during the year. That is all the more the case with expanded netting around ballparks. With the reduced access to players, fans get less time to interact and to get autographs.

Some teams are sensitive to that, and as a result, they are having their players sign some items, and those items are going to be distributed to fans. This is something teams should think about doing year-round.

For young fans, batting practice presents an opportunity to get autographs. Unfortunately, not every player takes batting practice, and some of the better players have team obligations pre-game which stands in the way of their ability to sign and take pictures with fans before games.

As a result, some young fans aren’t going to get autographs or get to see the players they want to see. To a certain extent, that’s life. Kids are just going to have to suck it up and grow from it. However, that doesn’t mean teams shouldn’t now be thinking outside the box and using this idea to grow the game.

Take the Mets for an example.

Every Sunday, the New York Mets have Family Sundays. On Family Sundays, there are some fun activities outside the ballpark for young fans. After the game, those young fans have the opportunity to run the bases. Perhaps, the Mets could also give away some player signed items to young fans at games.

Maybe it is a box of pre-signed baseballs given to young fans as they enter the game. It could just be random giving kids a chance to grab a Pete Alonso or Paul Sewald. Perhaps, they could do themed days.

One week could be rotation week with a ball signed by Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, Steven Matz, and Rick Porcello. Another week could be the outfield with autographs from Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, and whoever else lands in the outfield. With the 20th anniversary of the 2000 pennant, there could be a ball signed by players from that team including Edgardo Alfonzo, Mike Hampton, Al Leiter, and Mike Piazza.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be balls either. It could be baseball cards, or it could be other items teams have in stock and are just trying to move. In fact, you usually see that at the end of the year with the team having a wheel for fans to spin to win a “prize” which was really nothing more than a promotion they never could give away.

In the end, Major League Baseball is adapting to the threat of the coronavirus, and they are trying to make the game experience safer for their players and fans. They could take what they learned from this, and they can carry the policy through the season. If done well, they could make the game experience more fun for kids and help grow the game.