The Real Problem with Today’s Youth: Travel Sports

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In every town, there is a high school quarterback doinking the head cheerleader underneath the bleachers exchanging a cornucopia of STDs and breeding deep-seated insecurities.  Shortly after graduation, our anti-hero will get a job laying brick while paying child support and falling behind on his retirement planning before succumbing to the effects of CTE.  She will end up in a greasy spoon diner with a two-pack-a-day smoking habit dodging the IRS for not reporting her tips and dealing with a lifetime of daddy issues.  It sucks to peak at 18.  As you log roll down the last three-quarters of your life, consider yourself lucky if you hit a tree and terminate early.

This terrible scenario can all be avoided if kids didn’t dedicate their formative years to travel sports.

Some Moronic Parents Believe Their Child Will Get Paid to Play

It is excellent parenting to want your child to excel at some activity other than iPad watching and telling their parents, “I’m bored.”  Unfortunately, many dads decide their kid is going to play a professional sport.

  • “Just give my son five years of pitching in the majors. Then he can go be an agent”,
  • “I’m not saying he’s going to leave college early to play in the NFL, but I’m not too concerned he failed his multiplication test yesterday.”
  • “I’ve got him playing b-ball up a couple of grades–get him use to playing against bigger players, because in the NBA…”

Your kid just wants play sports as a hobby when he is not hanging out with his buddies.  You, your child’s life advisor, should focus on what really matters:  producing a well-rounded adult who will not be living in your basement until he is thirty-five because Little Tommy’s pro sport career didn’t pan out as father predicted.

Do the Math:  Your Kid Ain’t Going Pro

Here’s a chart I put together.  If you don’t believe in probability, I’ll sum up the chart for you:  It is not going to happen for your kid.

League/Job               Players                     Median Salary     Avg. tenure      Lifetime earnings

Little League Players12,600,000 Players$0N/A$0
Minor League Players2,2.57,700 Players$1,000/month*4 years4$48,000
Major League Players3750$1,500,000/year5.6 years5$8,400,000
Dentist10195,722$190,840**30 years$5,725,200
High School Teacher63,200,000$58,030**30 years$1,740,900 plus pension
Elevator Repairman720,700$80,870**30 years$2,426,100 plus pension

*4 years is the recommended time to see if you are pro material or a minor league lifer.

**Approximation

To further complicate matters, 27% of all MLB baseball players are foreign born, so that kid working on his curve in Chisholm, Minnesota has a world to beat out if he is going pro9.

Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones are not going to pick your boy up in a VW van on the way to a mystical field of dreams where ghosts shag fly balls and talk of banishment from baseball.  Shortly after your son arrives at this imaginary park, he will see a choking victim in the stands.  Your all-star transforms into a doctor and saves the little girl.  The perfect son.  A great movie, but it is only a movie.

Instead, expect to pay $5,000-$15,000 a year on travel baseball8.  You’re going to cough up league payments, staff a fieldhouse of personal coaches, buy home and away uniforms, pull your kid out of school on a semi-regular basis, hemorrhage tournament entry fees (plus buying tickets so you can watch your kid play), acquire a couple of $400 composite bats, spend nights in hotel rooms, and alternate your meals between Chili’s and Ponderosa.

You’re doing all this to give junior the best training to have an opportunity to earn below minimum wage in the minors.  Ten years of travel ball at 10 g’s a year is the same cost as a four year public college at the out-of-state rate or about half of the tuition of medical school12, 13.  A father entrenched in the travel programs will say, “It is worth it”.  Everyone on the outside sees travel sports as the Scientology of organized religion.

We are not raising Spartan soldiers, who by age seven were stripped from their mothers to train as elite warriors11.  Focusing on the nuances of throwing a breaking ball or learning effective bat control when laying down a bunt are hardly the skills needed to protect country, property and freedom from foreign aggressors in order to preserve our way of life.

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As a more reasonable option, house league ball will set you back about $100 a year while using team bats, letting your kid ride his bike to practices, allow dads to coach while concurrently investing in father/son time, maximize the child’s schooling, and eating home cooked meals coupled with sleeping in your own bed.

If your house league child decides to hang up the second-hand purchased cleats and pursue something more sensible than baseball like B.A.S.E. jumping or running an underground scorpion fighting ring, the reverberation of “but we’ve invested so much in your career” will never sound within the walls of your house.

No One Likes a Helicptoer Dad Seasoned With a Heaping Side of Affluenza.

Your spouse will want a divorce.  Team parents don’t like hearing you ramble on about how your son is superior to their kid.  Your co-workers would rather get trapped an elevator while two people discuss fantasy soccer than hang out with you at the coffee machine.  Worst of all, you are setting your child up to follow a path of chasing life situations with negative expected value.

Who Am I to Throw Shade On Your Dreams that Your Son Plays Pro Ball?

After getting on the varsity team my senior year, I realized that I was never going to play as much as I wanted, so I asked the coach to move me down to JV.  The coach agreed to move me, but not the three other varsity players who subsequently asked for the same transition.  My senior year of hockey was awesome.  We didn’t have any ego maniacal parents with inadequacy issues morphed into a tyrant-like hockey parenting making Vlad the Impaler look like Mr. Rogers.  The kids on the team were realistic, because they realized what was at stake:  Nothing.  No one was going to make a career out of a game.  The act of winning was fourth to having fun, staying off the streets, and saying “No to drugs”.

I chose to focus on my education and used sports as recreation.  As for how it turned out, well, I’m glad I didn’t end up in some farm system outside of Mobile, Alabama praying for a scout to notice my ability to be a pull hitter or my time in the 40 yard dash.  Meanwhile my pregnant wife is sucked into the downward spiral that the next phone call might be the invite to the “Big Show”.

I enjoy playing in the beer softball leagues.  I am a sub-average player but it’s OK, because by the time you’re in middle age, hopefully you realize team sports are more about the team and not the sport.

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Man versus Can

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To the CEO of the Manischewitz:

How am I supposed to eat your delicious sardines when I have to solve a jigsaw disguised as the pull open tab on your cans?  If I wanted a brainteaser I would stick with Sudoku or the metal puzzles at select chain restaurants.  Instead, I find myself battling with a can containing two ultra-sharp edges capable of eviscerating the radial index artery in my finger resulting in massive blood loss, the onset of sepsis, and an early grave for a dedicated Season’s customer.

I work out.  I can bench press my body weight, run nearly a 20 minute 5k and, in my mid-30’s, leaned down to 10% body fat.  However, opening your cans is an arduous task.  On more than one occasion, I have forced open the tab while losing complete control of the base of the can.  Oil sprayed all over my work desk and splattered on my heavily faded, medium-quality Gap shirt.

The oil that did not land on me oozed onto the tabletop.  Despite numerous attempts to wipe down the table, the lingering smell of dead fish repulsed my co-workers resulting in an onslaught of insults directed at your product and me.  I am used to the verbal abuse from them, but I took great offense when they attacked the healthy snack your company makes.  I attempted to defend the nutritional value of your sardines with their heart healthy proteins and fats.  My rebuttal was ignored as their complaining persisted until the next day when the overnight cleaning crew was able to use industrial strength chemicals to remove the remnants of the fish oil.

One time I pried open a can and strained a muscle in my forearm.  I have already explained how I am in excellent shape.  I can only imagine what levels of exhaustion and injury normal people, of average strength and aerobic condition, must endure when engaging your pull open tabs.  Although the directions for opening the can are clear and simple to read on the box, the act of opening a can is of a Herculean magnitude.

I appreciate the value of your sardines.  For less than the price of a pop and bag of chips, I can enjoy a natural food that is easy to carry to baseball games, winter campouts, and hikes in the forest.  I eat your pilchards five to six times a week.  If the Frenchman, Nicolas Albert, the originator of canning, could taste your product he would be impressed.  I feel his approval of your container would fall short of his eighteenth century expectations.

“Your best teacher is your last mistake” – Ralph Nader

Admit it.  Manischewitz screwed up.  It is OK.  There is still hope for your product’s container.  Prior to switching to the metal lid, you used a foil lid.  I implore you to bring back the foil lid.  It is easy to open and kid friendly.

Sincerely,

Power user

Enclosure:  a picture of my pantry with 100+ cans of sardines

My sardine stash

UPDATE 5/31/17:  Bonnie, from the Manischewitz company, responded on behalf of the CEO.  She came with the great news that my sardines are now packed in a foil lined can.  She also included 12 cans of their delicious sardines, numerous coupons for sardines, and a very nice letter thanking me for being a loyal customer.  

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So I Collect Art Now…

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I was the Belushi-esque frat kid who, in college, organized a cigarette-smoking contest followed by a Revenge of the Nerds inspired tricycle race. Everyone got a trophy. The only fine art I thought about was building the most robust beer can tower in the entire bar.

Now I am refined.

I sip off-the-menu cocktails, wear dry-cleaned clothes, and collect art. Here is how you can join the gentry.

Why Collect?

Whether any art collector admits it or not, they are in it for bragging rights and/or making money. No one does it for the beauty of hanging a one-off picture, or limited edition signed print, in their foyer entrance. Collecting is the subtle brag about how much cash a man can drop on a thing with no intrinsic value.

Art is the ultimate throwaway toy.

Art Collecting Etiquette

Sales people at galleries say “Buy art because you like it’. The gallery wants you to overlook the fact that you’re paying 5-1,000,000 times markup for $100 of materials and a couple hours of an artist’s time, so they use this line coupled with some white wine to push the sale. The reality is that thousands and thousands of fine art works are purchased and stored in dark, climate-controlled warehouses never to be seen until sold again.

The idea that you must like it is a bunch of hooey. Just buy it, and if you immediately have buyer’s remorse, ship it off to your nearest free port to defer the sales tax instead of hanging it next to your self-portrait in the smoking room.

When you walk into a gallery, how you carry yourself is very important. Initially, the sales people will appear snobbish, but they are usually on some type of commission and want to make the sale just as that used car dealer wants to get that 1999 Honda Civic off his lot. Don’t be afraid to be blunt and ask the receptionist, “How much is that picture?” as you point at it with your umbrella. Referring to it as a picture instead of a “piece” or “work” brings the salesman down to your level. It gives everyone in the room a quick reality check that you know the Matisse gouache (i.e. watercolor picture) they are selling is no different than the Crayola paintings you did of stick figures in your primary school art class.

If you go to an auction to pick up some art to replace the unframed “Dogs Playing Poker” poster you have taped to your wall, don’t expect to bump shoulders with art collecting celebrities. Steve Cohen, the trading genius or insider trading genius depending on who you ask, Steve Wynn, the king of Vegas, or Steve Guttman, the real estate developer turned art collector, will not be in the same room as you. Instead, the Steves will be far away bidding at the evening auction over a phone while you are at the online day auction clicking in your bids on some 1 of a 1,000 print made by some failed artist turned art teacher. If you weren’t bidding the opening price, the thing would have been burned never to be seen again.

How To Be A Big Swinging D*Ck Collector

The Steves don’t buy art because they think it looks unique or inspires them. They buy it so they can run around to all the other Steves at the next cocktail party and say, “You know who just picked up that Lichtenstein, “Masterpiece” for $165MM? I did. Look at how big my crank is!”

Its all ego and purchased pride. Unfortunately, for these guys, there can only be one most expensive painting which forces the Steves to outbid each other at the next auction to remain the alpha of the art collecting world.

Sunday comic OR more money than the mind can conceptualize?
Sunday comic OR more money than the mind can conceptualize?

How To Be A Big D*Ck Collector If You’re Not Hung Like Tommy Lee

Art pricing is extremely opaque. There is no true value for art in the sense of stocks or real estate. It is all demand-driven pricing.

Everyone thinks the big names of art, Picasso, Rembrandt, Dali, or Monet cost millions of dollars for a picture. However, you can dig up a cheap headliner picture for under $1,000. It will probably be a pencil sketch or print, but it is an authentic Pollack, Renoir, or Warhol. Now you have bragging rights.

Almost all artists have produced these budget buys. Buy that low cost signed picture and hang it next to your bathroom door. The next time a guest is at your home and asks, ‘Hey, where can I take a dump around here?’

You reply, ‘Down the hall, second door on the left, just pass the Chagall. If you hit the poster of “Dogs Playing Poker”, you went too far’.

Instant credibility for your eye as a collector and your social status has risen beyond the Everyman dope with pictures of his family at a waterpark vacation and his bros at Spring Break Acapulco in 1993.

Dealing With The Haters

Now that you’re a big deal in the art world, you are going to have to deal with the ones that want to piss on your class-jumping hobby.

You’re going to hear these dumb comments many times over. Here’s how you handle them:

‘My first grader can draw that.’

“Umm, no he can’t. And even if he could, he didn’t do it first. That is why this picture is worth [10x what you paid for it] and your first grader will be grateful to make it to second grade within three years. Besides, the artist leads a high-risk lifestyle and after he kicks the bucket, his supply is capped and the value of this piece* will explode.”

*”Piece” word choice is used to abase the offending guest as well as illustrate your supreme knowledge of the art world.

‘You paid how much for that?!?!?!?’

“Clearly, you don’t understand art.”

Art collecting is an enjoyable hobby but make sure you do it for the right reasons: financial gain and grandstanding.

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How To Thrive at Your 20-Year High School Reunion

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  • Don’t wear your letterman jacket to your reunion.  It doesn’t fit anymore and you will look about as cool as that high school wrestler who wore it to the college bars after losing in the state finals.
  • People look a lot different.  20 years of food, drink, and bad life choices will drastically change relatively innocent people into middle-age adults with real problems.  For some reason, their smile and laugh allow you to see through the baggage taking you back to a happier time where the most important thing in your life was keeping the French-roll in your pants tight.
  • Leave your W2 at home.  No one cares.
  • You will not recognize half the people.  They don’t recognize you either.
  • Remember that quiet girl who was like Laney Boggs from She’s All That before she took her glasses off and became smoking hot?  Well she took her glasses off somewhere between the ages of 20-28.  Don’t start creeping on her now; you missed the low tick on that one.

    Another missed opportunity.
    Another missed opportunity.
  • Someone at the reunion still lives in a rocket ship bed in their parents’ basement.  You do not.  Next time you’re thinking about hooking up the hose to the exhaust pipe in the garage, remember this guy.
  • People will bring spouses.  The tagalong feels as awkward at this event as you did through your four years of high school.  Go talk to them; they are probably more interesting than the people who graduated in your class.
  • There will be at least one totally bald dude.  He was also the same guy who was shaving in seventh grade.
  • You learn that everyone, from the science club kids, to the tight-end on the football team, to the potheads sparking up behind the field house, to the honor roll dorks, to Magic card playing weirdos, to marching band members, to the Marlon Brando looking guy who drove a Triumph motorcycle, all hated high school as much as you did.  Take solace in this.
  • Don’t try to get your comeuppance by laying out the guy that picked on you a generation ago.  He really did turn into a nice guy and was about to apologize for ruining you during high school.  Instead, you punch him in the head before he can make peace.  It turns out he is a regional champion MMA fighter and puts you into a hammerlock.  You end up facing assault charges while going to the hospital handcuffed to the gurney.  History doesn’t change and neither do you.
  • You will have at least two conversations with people who have no clue who you are.   They are trying to make friends to get ahead of the 30-year reunion or back fill some void from high school.  After seven “So how are you’s?”, it is time to move on to a person that you actually talked to in high school.
  • If a girl offers you a ride home at the end of the night, take it.  Unlike high school where you had to wait until prom before you rounded second base.  You might actually get some action within the hour.
  • Gone are the one-upmanship games and shot-for-shot contests at the bar you experienced at the 10-year.  Most everyone has matured to the point where they really care about you and your life.  Pre-conceived judgments are passed over and real conversations happen.  Social cliques are disregarded and people are treated as equals.  That said, there will still be some toolbox who talks all night how he gave the keys of his leased Aston Martin to the valet and got the spot in front of the restaurant.
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Throw Pillows Are The Worst

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I hate throw pillows.  What is the purpose of a pillow that costs an exorbitant amount of money and time, you can’t sleep on them, they house dust mites, and no one, outside of the inhabitants of the bedroom, ever sees them?

Bigger Time Suck Than Facebook 

In the ten years I’ve dealt with decorative pillows, I have wasted approximately five hours of my life throwing them on the floor prior to going to sleep1.  My wife has wasted even more time.  Every morning she carefully puts each one on the bed as she rebuilds our sleep shrine.  When you add in time spent procuring the pillows from department stores, surfing online, as well as consulting others getting second opinions to ensure that they complement the bedding, curtains, and bath towels, the time lost becomes immeasurable.  When Jack Kevorkian’s apprentice pulls the plug on me in some nondescript hospice center, I’m sure I’ll say, “You know, I really wished I spent more time enjoying the beauty of decorative pillows.  Commence the flat-lining.”

The Pillow You Can’t Sleep On 

After flinging the pillow art off the bed, I uncover my trusty, run-of-the-mill K-Mart pillow and sleep.  In the morning my pillow is covered in drool and the dead soldiers from my receding hairline.  Apparently, decorative pillows are meant to be seen and serve no functional purpose.  Any attempt to sleep on the decorative pillow results in a lecture so painful I wish I could have just slept on the hardwood floor without any pillow.  The one-way conversation revolves around themes that I will douse the thing in saliva and snot while sleeping and ruin the pillow.  This confuses my pragmatic approach to life that things are meant to be used for what they were designed for.  Score another point for throw pillows in the “these things are beyond worthless” category.

Truly Is An Art Piece

Even if I were allowed to fall asleep on these pillows, how would I rest comfortably on one with an infinite number of large ruffles, oversized plastic buttons, and a fabric so rough that it makes 80-grit sandpaper seem like a bag of goose down?

06-5562
You can pick up this gem at Ethan Allen for only $139.  When I think of a medieval torture device, I think of this.

Michael Breus Ph.D recommends “If you have a plain-old, inexpensive polyester pillow, you should be replacing it every six months” 2.  Somehow throw pillows are exempt from this rule because we have had the same decorative pillows around our house since nearly the turn of the century.  They spend half their life lying in the corner of a room collecting dust mites and other allergens.  During the day, they are transferred to the bed where they deposit all their floor collections to the bedding.  Real pillows become a harbinger for asthma and upper-respiratory infections.  Might as well pack a little ebola and meningitis in the kids’ lunches and send them off to school too just ensure that everyone gets full exposure to all forms of communicable diseases.

These Things Had To Be Invented By Swingers

Who goes into your bedroom anyway?  Unless you’re swinging with the pink flamingo in your front yard, no respectable human walks into your house and says “let’s see the throw pillows”.  Instead, you give them the ho-hum tour of the professional grade Viking Stone, the wet bar in the basement with some super dark, microbrew ale on tap, and the lithograph Picasso near the butler pantry.  No host exclaims, “you must check out my fifteen-year old decorative pillows.”  Throw pillows as decoration make about as much sense as painting a mural on the airducts in the walls for your HVAC system.

I’m sure there is a greater purpose for these pillows and I’m missing it, but until I figure it out, I’ll keep on dealing with the annoyance.

If you have 2 mins, watch me go through my nightly pillow ritual,

If you are a millennial with ADHD, just watch this GIF.

Image result for along came polly pillow gif

15 seconds x 365 days x 10 years = 5 hours

2 https://greatist.com/grow/when-buy-new-pillow

3https://www.ethanallen.com/en_US/shop-decor-pillows-throws-pillows/wildflower-pillow/065562.html?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=pla|us|nb|cmp|0_500&utm_content=shopping_nb&gclid=CjwKCAjw7MDPBRAFEiwAppdF9MrkIKwDlHjzXK2-SJJ2lOfwWVMpvawtTHmPubbNqGG0tFQkXcYgHBoC3GoQAvD_BwE

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