Kids baseball season roundup

No sooner had it started than it ended, with both kids having played baseball since mid-April here in merrie olde England for the second year.

Scarlett played in T-Ball, with me as her assistant coach, though as the season progressed I spent more & more time with Miles’ team who needed someone who could pitch for batting practice.

But anyway Scarlett was on the Mariners and played her little heart out. I’ll push her into coaches’ pitch next year (where the coaches pitch to the kids, rather than using a tee). She’s got great hand-eye coordination and is fast. Plus it’s really obvious that she likes playing as part of a team, which sometimes girls don’t get to do enough at her age, where quite often they play individual sports instead.

Miles was playing for the Indians in what they call the minors, playing with boys who were all 1-2 years older than him, as he wasn’t officially old enough to be playing truly competitive baseball this year, but he did well enough in the trials to get in the team. He started playing in the outfield and being catcher, which he liked, as you got to dress up in all the gear. But eventually he was allowed to pitch and ended up as starting pitcher two weeks in a row, pitching three innings each time and doing really well.

His batting improved as the year went on, as it did for all the kids, but it’s quite a different experience having Dad pitch to you so that you can hit it, and have a 9 or 10 year old boy – with all the inherent lack of control they have at that age – pitch to you so try and get you out, with a 17 year old umpire behind you calling the strikes. It was a good learning experience and the NY Mets bat he has ended up with two major dents in it, so we’ll be getting a new one of those at some point.

Anyway click on any of these pictures for (slightly) larger versions, including ones without the heads cut off and there’s loads more higher quality ones here from the month of June.

Fulham in the final

It’s taken me a week to get round to posting about last week’s events in Hamburg. A few days to get over it and then a few more to get my act together. Anyway we had a great time, went out there with Mum, Dad (doubt they ever thought they’d see Fulham in a European final), Martin over from Australia and my mate Geoff, from slightly closer to home. We met up with Ken, Andy & Paul in town (more pics & videos), so it was quite a family affair. The wider Fulham family were in fine fettle before the match, meeting up in the ‘fan zone’ just off the Reeperbahn.

And then we headed to the ground, via our ‘own’ train, on which we met the Atletico fans, who we subjected to ‘are you Brentford in disguise?’ chants, which they took in good, if slightly bemused spirits.

We walked the last bit to the ground through a park, and under a tunnel, where we attempted to turn the Atletico’s Y Viva Espana chant into our own Y Viva El Fulham (the song from our 1975 FA Cup Final appearance, in case you didn’t know):

Geoff and I were optimistic of a the greatest victory in Fulham’s history before the match, but it wasn’t to be.

The boys held out for the whole match and then 26 minutes of the 30 minutes extra time, hoping to make it to a penalty shoot out at the end but we couldn’t quite make it. They looked tired after a long season that began at the end of July in Lithuania and as this map shows, it was quite a journey.

I made it to all the home games and the away legs at Juventus and of course the final. As you can probably tell it’s almost as much to do with the experience of going to these games as it is with the result. It would have been nice to win, as quite frankly we haven’t won much in 131 years.

But hopefully it won’t bee too long before we’re all going on a European tour once more.

Cricket debut

The boy made his debut in competitive cricket last night, ostensibly playing for Barnes Cricket Club’s U10s. However as the opposition – Hampton Wick Royal – only had 7 players so we lent them 3, one of which was Miles.

They asked him if he wanted to open the batting, but he declined and went in at number 6. He scored a run off his first ball and could’ve had three more runs but wasn’t sure when to run and when to stay – I’d forgotten to drill him on that!

Then it was his (temporary) team’s turn to field. He got to bowl eventually and guess what, he got a wicket with his very first ball, which you can see here (the wicket is right at the start of the video, then the scorer asks for his name as he was a new bowler):

He then got another wicket in his second and final over, leaving him with some pretty good statistics for his first competitive game of cricket.Pretty good considering all the boys were at least a year older than him and some were as old as 11.

We got back home just in time for bed, reminding me that despite his auspicious debut, he is still just a little boy.

Taking one for the team

At his third at-bat for the Indians at Wormwood Scrubs today the boy took one in the back and got his second walk of the day. In his first at-bat he hit a line drive between first and second to get on base and was walked in the second one. Here he leaves the first pitch, as like many pitches in this age group, it’s high and/or wide; he’s got a good eye for an 8.5 year old.

Last week he had to leave the game after taking a line drive to the chest while playing first base, so he’s been in the wars a bit recently. Anyway, this is an example of how much of a step-up he’s taken from playing ‘coaches pitch’ last year with me and the coaches putting balls up for him to hit; now it’s 9 & 10 year olds doing their best to make sure he can’t hit it, even if they hit him instead!

Final whistle celebrations at the Cottage

This is what winning the UEFA Europa League semi-final meant to those of us in the Putney End at Craven Cottage on Thursday night.

Having beaten Juventus, Shakhtar Donetsk, Wolfsburg, Roma, Basel and now Hamburg (among others) over the course of 18 matches since late July last year and traveled some 18,000 miles in the process, we’ve made it to the final in Hamburg on May 12. And of course, we are going!