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Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Rookie

Plague and pestilence! Your correspondent is ill, Her Majesty is exhausted, and the Captain is a bit snotty (literally, not socially). Dr. P, our ship's doctor, had scared the bejeebers out of us with menacing statistics about infant mortality from influenza. She ordered that the crew be inoculated immediately, and yours truly was the first to succumb. I mean comply. Did I mention that the crew dubbed her The Tigress? You don't go mouthing off to tigresses or you end up sliced extra rare on a banana leaf. But the blasted shot got me sick, I'm sure of it. Stupid modern medicine. Give me quinine and leeches any old day. Next time I'll be properly bled like a rational person. If I get the Cap'n sick, it'll be better if I don't recover at all...

The skipper has been quite well this week apart from dodging virulent germs from me in a constant game of immunological Frogger. The fleet actually had a very auspicious weekend, entertaining both the Top Brass AND the Admiralty at the same time. Top that, Spanish Armada! Jack was handed around so often between the grandparents the whole thing ended up looking like a squaredance. Or maybe a hootnanny. You get the idea.

On Saturday night, the crew was given their liberty to go ashore in dress uniforms for the Medina Children's Home Benefit Dinner. I'm not exactly an old hand at the charity circuit, but I'm told it's customary to have a well-known speaker, well, speak.

Her Majesty and I were very happy indeed to have landed ourselves in front of Jim Morris. No, not the singer for The Doors. If you saw the great movie, The Rookie, that's Jim Morris. He's the smalltown baseball coach that lost a bet to his high school team and ended up a relief pitcher for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Rays. Devils. Or whatever they call themselves these days.

Some neato highlights: After a major shoulder surgery sent him packing from an undistinguished turn in the minors, and by his own admission, 50 pounds of gut later, Jim found himself trying out in front of a real, live big league scout. When asked if he wanted to warm up, he responded, "To embarrass myself? I don't need to warm up!" His first pitch was clocked at 94 mph. At one point, he ends up throwing 12 consecutive 98 mph pitches as a crowd gathers around the 2 radar guns at the plate. He's signed to a Major League contract in a matter of days.

OK, I get you. How does this relate to Jack? Since I'm learning this whole fatherhood gig, I'm not shy about stealing good ideas. And I think I found a good one. Jim's basic topic had to do with a person's dreams and things or people that prevent them from being fulfilled (he calls these "dream killers"). Long story short, his point was that when he was trying like crazy to fulfill his own dream, playing baseball, he was doing that for himself. It was all about him and it fell apart when his arm did. But ironically, after he gave that dream up completely, when it was long dead, something happened. He accidentally used it as collateral on a bet to motivate his high school kids. So the lesson was, when he chose to serve others, his dream was given to him.

I'm not arguing for, and I don't think he would argue for a quid pro quo, that we should somehow try to deftly engineer our own successes by involving others out of false charity. But his is an awfully powerful object lesson for how you should use your life. Do you use it for your own gain? Should it be used for the profit of others? Is doing the latter really a better way of doing the former? Jesus said it better, of course: "But many that are first shall be last; and the last first."

It was a lot of stuff to think about over the dessert course.

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