Diamond Diary by Kevin Cooney



Oct. 20, 2004

Fall Is In The Air...

It's that time of year when people are out picking pumpkins and drinking apple cider, as the air gets that chilly feel again. Skeletons and ghosts are all over the neighborhood, as the country gets ready for Coach McCormack's favorite holiday.(dark chocolate is healthy!)

I know it's fall because I see people in Boston and New York bundled up at playoff games. My son Luke asked why the pitchers were blowing on their hands. He's never had to grip a baseball in 48 degree weather.

The Yankees - Red Sox series is again going down to the wire. It seems like yesterday I was watching Game 7 in the hospital with my Mom. How does time manage to go by like a Mariano Rivera fastball when you get older?

The fall is a time that the NCAA, in its omnipotence, has mandated that teams be limited to the amount of time they can practice together with their coaches. We are stuck with a limitation of two hours per week requested by the player to work with a coach. Brilliant idea isn't it? I'll bet they are all in the library the rest of the week.

This actually makes things harder on coaches and prevents the players from being exposed to the full coaching staff and the other players. It creates a fragmentation of the team that I have always felt was counterproductive. It has always been my philosophy that the more my players can be around the coaches, the better. The best work done by a college student is when he or she is in a structured environment. This is another example of the NCAA throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Our guys are looking good despite the format.

Our pitchers really seem top have taken to Coach Tony Fossas. His ten years in the minor leagues and eleven in the Bigs, give him an outstanding level of credibility. Tony has a great way about him and the kids seem to be responding.

I'm spending most of my time dealing with our campaign for a new stadium. Things are progressing and I feel real encouraged with the help being provided me by the University.

A couple of weeks ago I took a little road trip with my two youngest kids, Maggie (6) and Luke. (almost 5) They had been bugging me for the past two years to see Bruce Springsteen when he comes to Florida. They actually thought they would get to meet him because they think their Dad is big time.

When I saw the Vote For Change Tour announced, I got three tickets for the Orlando concert. I really thought I was giving my wife a break by leaving her home, only to learn she is a big fan of R.E.M., who was also on the bill.

We took off after school on Friday and headed up the turnpike. My plan was for them to sleep most of the way up so everyone would be wide awake for the show. That was my plan.

As we headed north, I got the feeling that the state flag of Florida should be changed to a blue tarp! I never saw so many houses with those bright blue tarps covering roof damage from the hurricanes that pummeled this part of Florida. The landscape along the Turnpike has changed. It looks like the countryside was sprayed with a chemical defoliant. We have the same problem behind our center field fence. Leaves have been stripped from trees giving a real autumnal look.

The first singer at the concert was Tracey Chapman. Our seats were slightly behind the stage, but the sound was great. Both kids wanted to know "his" name.

The second set was my first exposure to R.E.M. live, and they were great. Well...Michael Stipe was great. He seemed to be a combination of Steve Martin in his white suit and histrionics, as he bounced around the stage, arms flailing, and Jim Carrey in The Mask. But his voice is electric and he brought great energy and passion to their songs.

Luke fell asleep during R.E.M.'s set, but Stipe made an impression on him. Maggie stayed awake and helped me get Luke up and moving before Bruce and The E Street Band came out.

Springsteen started off with an acoustic instrumental version of the National Anthem. Luke recognized it and put his hand over his heart. The main song he wanted to hear was Born In The USA, which fortunately was next. Luke loved seeing it and hearing it at a decibel level heretofore unknown. It was the last song he heard.

Maggie made it through the whole night with only a short one song doze. She got a kick out of guest John Fogerty singing Centerfield. She likes it because they say "Coach". They also sang Fortunate Son which seemed appropriate in this particular election.

I did have to hold Maggie all night, but we danced together until the old man was too tired and she sat in my lap for the rest. I really think she had a great time.

The kids didn't really think of the concert as anything but a musical event, but it was more than that.

As a child of the Sixties, I must admit that I am happy to see that various artists on both sides of the political fence are out there trying to support the policies they would like to see in government. Fans of Springsteen who disagree with his politics will still love his music. Toby Keith is selling out all his shows. But I see nothing wrong with artists speaking out.

Art or music is supposed to be about making people feel something. If not the artist hasn't reached the audience.

Springsteen's music has helped me feel things about life for over thirty years.

It was nice sharing it with two more Cooney children. KC

 

 

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