For The Love of a Glove

No other image sparks so many memories for me than a baseball glove.

Nothing quite brings back certain memories for me than the smell of a leather baseball mitt. I can still hear the snap and pop of the ball piercing the afternoon sky when it hits the leather; I can feel the small ridges and wrinkles of the glove as I worked tiny gobs of Vaseline over every leathery inch of tanned skin while molding and shaping it to fit my (and only mine) left hand.

I bought my 9-year-old daughter her very first glove this week, not because I want her to recall similar memories when she grows up and has kids of her own. I did it because Ava has shown a genuine interest in playing baseball, throwing a tennis ball all over the backyard and even going so far as to tape the shape of a home plate on a patch of concrete near the trampoline.

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Ava’s home plate that she in the backyard.

In other words, she’s caught the fever.

I don’t blame her. Baseball was a huge part of my life growing up and if I could sit and watch games every day, preferably in person, I would gladly do so. As a kid, having a baseball glove gave you immediate “street cred,” guaranteeing you a spot in the order during impromptu baseball games at the crappy field near my old house. It was a game that brought much joy to my childhood, an even greater amount of pain – take a line-drive hit by a high-school kid to your face when you’re only 8 and you know what pain is – and friendships that have lasted to this day.

I don’t have these memories without my father, though. My dad would come home from work and we’d play catch together. Sometimes I wouldn’t let him go inside or even put his cigarette out, for that matter. I’d just toss him one of my brother’s gloves and he knew what time it was.

My dad was a big man, standing about 6’2 with broad shoulders. He’d squat in a catcher’s position and the setting sun behind him gave my dad the silhouette of a block. I’d throw to that block until the sun went down and I could see his face again.

Not every throw I made was perfect. Sometimes they were erratic; sometimes they were wild. But that’s okay, because my dad wasn’t perfect either.

As erratic and wild as I could have been off the baseball field, especially during my teenage years, my dad was, well, he was my backstop. He made sure nothing got past him. He might not have always had the right words to say but he was there, a constant presence.

Whether Ava’s baseball fever ever goes away remains to be seen. Right now that glove goes with her everywhere she does. She stares at it, snaps a ball against the webbing. You could say they’re getting to know each other, she and that glove of hers.

As much as I want to keep her safe, happy and healthy each and every day – we all strive for this as parents, right? – I’ll start by taking a page from my old man and be her backstop on and off the field.


My new book, Pizza For Breakfast! (Waldorf Publishing) comes out in September and I’m proud to have launched a new Teachable course called Tell Your Story! It’s the first step in starting your own publishing career.

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Dynamite Dads Go To School

I have always said that the toughest crowds to speak in front of are 5-year-olds. They are not afraid to let me know whether I’m bombing or not. But speaking to a group of dads may have topped those tiny tikes!

It was all smiles at REL Washington Elementary School in El Paso for their first annual Cool Guys read event in January.
It was all smiles at REL Washington Elementary School in El Paso for their first annual Cool Guys read event in January.

Last month I had the honor of reading and speaking to a gymnasium full of dads and grandfathers – all of them cool – during REL Washington Elementary School’s 1st Annual Cool Guys Read event. The idea was hatched by librarian Rosie Rodriguez and brilliantly executed by staff and volunteers. We talked books, literacy, the importance of setting an example and most importantly – letting go.

What do I mean by letting go? It means forgetting about how silly you may look when you read in funny voices, make weird faces and let loose in front of your kids. As guys we need to set aside our egos sometimes and give our kids an experience that will stay with our children

. And believe me, I know as a father and a son how positive moments like these can be.

Hats off to all of those fathers, grandfathers and even big brothers that showed up to the event!

Why does Trump Have A Problem With Women?

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 9.25.19 AMIt’s a scene that can be played out on televisions everywhere:

Child enters the room (waaay past her bedtime) and in the most adorable of ways drops this little gem:

“Daddy, what’s a b*#ch?”

Dad knows the drill all too well, giving his wife the “it wasn’t me” look while hoping to God the child didn’t hear it from him.

“Where did you hear that word?” Dad asks, demanding an answer, but not really because there lies the very real possibility that one simple word will basically guarantee the panicky father many nights in the doghouse:

“You.”

Cue the lame laugh track.

Thanks to Donald Trump and his sad trail of misogyny, degradation of women and racism (to name a few of his deplorable qualities), dads like the example above now have the ultimate scapegoat. See how differently the scene plays out when you apply the Trumped Up, Trickle Blame Down method to such a scenario:

Cut to child entering the room.

“Daddy, what’s a b*#ch?”

Dad gets angry, looks at mommy.

“You see! This is what happens when we let the kids watch Trump debates! He’s starting to rub off on her!”

Dad leaves room in disgust (a brilliant move in the event dad wants to laugh). Dad then opens the fridge (looking for a beer):

“That’s another reason we’re not voting for Trump!” he yells at the grapes.

All joking aside, this isn’t some made-up television show with a fake laugh track. This is real. And based on last Monday night’s debate performance, Trump’s a guy that’s unprepared, unrefined, unfiltered and unfocused. Hell, he may have spent more time talking about a woman’s weight and (I can’t believe I’m typing this) Rosie O’Donnell than to better explain his policies that would “Make America Great Again.”

“Why is that man so angry?” my 4-year-old asks, staring at the Dorito-faced man with the feathered front comb over.

“The woman in red is kicking his, uh, is much smarter than he is and it makes him angry.” My God, it’s starting to rub off on me!

Any child will ask a ton of questions. But what happens when my older daughters start asking tougher questions. Like, “What is the big freaking deal with Trump and women? Why does he seem to have a *problem with us?”

*There are 134,000,000 search results when you Bing the following phrase: Trump’s Issues With Women.

I might not be the smartest parent in my house, but I’m pretty sure about this: I wouldn’t want anyone, much less a presidential candidate, talking about one of my daughters the way Trump has talked about some women. In a world rife with bullies, body shaming and perverted Internet trolls, hearing Trump describe former Miss Universe Alicia Machado as Miss Piggy, Miss Housekeeping or an eating machine makes my skin crawl.

Realize, people, that I’m not even talking about his politics. And for Trump, that’s a huge problem. It’s a problem because that’s what we should be discussing. Instead, he’s citing phony polls, defending his actions and threatening to bring up Bill Clinton’s infidelities as a way to play mind games before the next debate.

And for some odd reason we continue to give him a free pass for this odd behavior/strategy. What if we all took a page from Donald and applied his Trumped Up, Trickle Blame Down method for all of our discrepancies?

  • Your daughter learned a new cuss word because you didn’t change the channel from Howard Stern? Blame it on satellite radio technology!
  • Don’t want to pay your Federal taxes? Disagree with how the government uses the money and don’t pay!

You see, by applying the Trumped Up, Trickle Blame Down method, you can skirt any issue and deflect the way Donald has his entire career. With enough practice, you, too, may find yourself blaming a microphone, a mean debate moderator, a Mexican-American judge, the liberal media, etc.

Believe me, this is not an endorsement for Hillary Clinton as much as this is an appeal for decency and respect. Want to know why Trump has dragged this election into the pits of Kardashia? Because we’re suckers for this type of content, that’s why. We’re a growing population of timeline-scrolling zombies with the attention spans of cats on crack. We’re fascinated with wreck on the side of the road, which is why so many people watched last Monday’s debate – we were waiting for the wreck and Trump came through!

Many people feel that we don’t have quality candidates this election cycle. My response is, uh, yeah, we actually did. But we sold ourselves short by choosing the entertainment value of a Trump candidacy over qualified candidates who actually respected the office they were seeking.

If we want better candidates, then we have to be better, too. And it starts at home with me. You. We try and teach our kids right from wrong and that doing the right thing is important. We want them to treat others the way they expect to be treated. And that includes the way this dad wants his daughter’s to be treated.

It’s hard to take a candidate and his policies seriously when he can’t seem to take women seriously.


Dorito-faced man in suit enters the Oval Office, sits on gold-plated chair.

“I asked you to bring me my coffee, you fat cow,” Trump barks.

Enter a panting Chris Christie holding a coffee cup. He stares off into the distance, wondering how a once-promising career led him to be Donald Trump’s b*#ch.

Cue sad music. Fade to black.


New book – Pancakes For Dinner! (Waldorf Press) – out September 15, 2017. Follow me on Twitter @phillipdcortez

Dear Matt Forte…

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“It’s an honor to play for such a great owner,” Forte didn’t say.

We’ve started our 2016 Fantasy Football campaign on the right track, despite a Week 1 loss to something called Oprah’s Circle. And even though you hardly played in the pre-season, you’re over 30-years-old and toting the rock with a new team, the 915 Ballers are looking to devastate the league this season, led, of course, by you. And me.

Us.

Week 2’s tilt versus some team called Year of the Raging Chinamen has our squad up a fat 28 points heading into Sunday. If only I could have picked you up in the other fantasy football league I got suckered into joining (even though my team did manage to beat Kiss My Big *I Can’t mention the rest of the name because you and I are decent men of faith and esteem but it rhymes with Lass), the victory would have been sweeter with you in my lineup.

Thursday was a thing of beauty, you scampering through a porous Buffalo defense en route to 100 yards and three TDs – me with the foresight and cunning to insert you into the lineup.

Can you believe that this is my 20th year playing fantasy football? It seems like only yesterday that I was fidgeting with a team that featured one of your New York Jets predecessors, Curtis Martin. Curtis took me to the playoffs that year – here’s to you doing the same! Together we’re going to beat the likes of the Saltydogs, Yeehawks, Scout Snipers and my brother, Paul’s stupid team: Lick My (And once again, I apologize for his vulgarities, but it rhymes with Malls).

As I reflect on the last 20 years I recall the people who called me and my friends, nerds and dorks and all kinds of names because of our passion for sports. Today the very same people that labeled us are now playing against us, as millions of people throughout the world, from CEOs to porn stars, are playing fantasy sports. Matt, my mother is playing in our league (and I’m too embarrassed to tell you her team’s name).

In essence, Matt, I’d like to think that we were ahead of the curve, trailblazers with foresight – personally I forget my kids’ names at least 20 times a day but ask me who still holds the rookie rushing title set in 1983 and that would be one Eric Demetric Dickerson, thank you very much.

So much has changed in my life since that very first fantasy draft, Matt. Technology has evolved (we don’t need an abacus to figure out scores anymore), the guys in the league are separated by many miles and even oceans but we still manage to talk as much smack to each other in our 40’s (and 50’s Keith Garcia) as we did when we were teenagers going to college in Honolulu.

We’ve managed to weave our league into our every day lives during the season, something that takes skill and moxy. In 1999 while living in San Francisco, I dated a girl with big toes for thumbs (I found it intriguing at the time) that absolutely hated my involvement in the league. So I faked a stomach virus and many “trips to the bathroom (laptop)” for an entire weekend just so I could get through the draft that season. It was the same girl that shared my desire to never have children. Today, I stopped counting after my wife and I gave birth to our fifth child. Or is it four? Anyway…

You know, Matt, I used to think that managing a team in this league helped me stay on top of the happenings and goings of some pretty incredible people I met a long time ago. And that certainly hasn’t changed. But in addition to this, I see this time of year as the outlet I need to keep me from losing my mind. I mean with all these kids (this includes three girls, mind you), the league is the equivalent to how most parents feel using the bathroom in peace, free from interruptions, knocks and tiny fingers sticking under the door.

You understand. You’re a baller – a 915 Baller.

Here’s to an incredible season of domination, Matt (so long as you stay healthy and average 15 fantasy points a week).

Your friend and GM,

Phillip


NEW Book Update: “Pancakes For Dinner!” (Waldorf Press) will be included in Book Expo America, held in New York City in May 2017! The expo is North America’s largest gathering of professionals from around the globe and is the leading business event for publishers, librarians, retailers and more.


Schools are already booking their 2016-17 readings and events. Make sure to schedule yours today!