End of Regular Season Update

On 6/19/18, Alan had his first career 3-hit game!  He went 3-for-3 with 1 RBI and 2 runs scored (career high) in a win over the Red Sox.  Alan also caught three innings for the second straight night and played three more in LF.  He was disappointed that he didn’t get a game ball after the game — that went to a player who broke a 9-9 tie with a 3-run double in the bottom of the 5th — but it made him appreciate last night’s honor even more.  Grandma Debbie, Papa, and Lulu(!) were there to see the Yankees earn their first winning streak of the season.  Alan proudly told his teammates that Lulu was his dog. 🙂

On 6/25/18, Alan went 2-for-4 with 3 RBIs (career high) and 1 run scored in a win over the Marlins.  He also caught all 6 innings!  The Yankees spotted the Marlins 5 runs before coming back to win 15-13.  It was a great end to the regular season, made even better by the fact that Tyler, Carleigh, Grandma Debbie, and Papa came for the third straight Monday night.  Alan LOVED having them come this season!

Alan’s cumulative season stat line reads as follows:  17-for-33 (.515) with 8 RBIs and 8 runs scored.  He closed the year on an impressive 10-game hit streak and had multiple hits in six of those 10.

As a team, the Yankees closed the year with three straight victories to end the regular season at 5-6.  That’s good for a third place finish out of five teams.  The order of finish was Dodgers-Red Sox-Yankees-Marlins-Giants.  The Yankees will open the playoffs with a 1-game showdown vs. the Red Sox.  The winner will play a best of three series vs. the winner of Dodgers vs. Marlins/Giants.

Alan’s Big Night

Alan had his best game of the season tonight in front of Grandma Debbie, Papa, Tyler, and Carleigh.  Alan earned his first career game ball and helped lead the Yankees to a win over the Giants!

At the plate, Alan singled in his first at-bat.  In his second at bat, he drove in 2 runs on an RBI ground out.  In his third at bat, he singled and would later come around to score.  Alan was so locked in that he only saw 3 pitches over his 3 plate appearances.  I coached first base for the first time this season (after being at third for all other games) and congratulated Alan each time.

Defensively, Alan caught three innings (on a very hot night) and played one more in LF.  No one on the team enjoys putting on the equipment and catching right now more than Alan.

After the game, Alan and Xavier were each presented with game balls.  The ump originally gave the balls to me following the last out.  When I handed them to our coach, he was consulting with the stat-keeper on the most deserving recipients.  I heard him say Alan, so I had my phone ready to record the video of Alan receiving the game ball.  Alan had been wanting so bad to receive a game ball and tonight he got his wish.  Both he and Xavier really deserved it tonight.

Afterwards Tyler and Carleigh greeted Alan with a big hug.  Alan proudly showed them the game ball, then showed Grandma and Papa too.  It was a very special night for Alan and he was thrilled to share it with his family!

  

At home Alan asked if he can have a case for his game ball, and I agreed.  We’ll be displaying that ball for sure!

Tribe Game No. 2 of 2018/Father’s Day 2018

The Indians were back at home on Father’s Day after a brief 1-year hiatus, and Alan and I celebrated with the Indians for the 4th time in the last 6 years.  We made the day even more memorable by playing baseball on all three sites where professional baseball has been played in Cleveland — thus hitting our baseball trifecta for the first time since August 2014.

The day began for us at League Park, where about 400 people (according to the League Park Twitter account) gathered to play catch between 11am and 1pm (before first pitch of a semi-pro game).  Alan and I parked on Lexington Ave right near the 290′ sign in the right field corner.  We saw there was quite a bit of open space in the expansive outfield, so Alan asked if he could bring his bat and hit.  I only had two balls in the car — one Rawlings “C” ball that I had just bought at Target that morning and a neon, rubberized “C” ball that was in Alan’s equipment bag — but we made it work anyway.

Note:  We actually had a third baseball – an “All-Star Dad” gold ball that Alan had just given me for Father’s Day, but I didn’t want to get that one dirty!

I ended up pitching to Alan in medium deep right-center field, with him hitting towards the wall.  The rubberized ball had some nice roll to it, so Alan was able to reach the outfield wall on his best hit.  We also played catch in addition to hitting.  In all, we played for about 15-20 minutes before heading to Progressive Field — which was no easy task in the record-breaking heat (the high of 94 degrees at Hopkins airport was a record for June 17).  Alan described it as though we were “muffins being cooked in the oven.”

Despite the heat, we still had fun and plan to return to League Park next Father’s Day, when the organizers of the Baseball Heritage Museum hope to set a world record for the largest game of catch!  As original League Park petition-signers back in 2010 and 2012 (to rehab the grounds for baseball purposes), Alan and I definitely want to be a part of that event!

   

When we arrived at Progressive Field, we headed straight for the air-conditioned team shop.  After cooling down from our walk to the ballpark, we went up to the Kids Clubhouse.  The line was long due to the number of families at the ballpark, but Alan wanted to wait it out for the train table.  We spent about three innings in line and four innings inside.

Afterwards, we made our way to Heritage Park to meet with other season ticket holders who had used their points to play Catch on the Field.  We watched Cody Allen work a quick 9th to cap the Indians 4-1 win over the Twins (the first MLB win of Shane Bieber’s career) from the Frank Robinson statue.

When it was time to enter the field, we dodged the sprinklers and set up to play catch in right field.  The rubberized ball skipped pretty well along the outfield grass, so we played from a pretty good distance.  The Indians gave us a ball to play catch with as well.  We made it for approximately 15 minutes before Alan sought out one of the sprinklers to cool off.

After we finished playing catch, Alan got in line to run the bases for the first time this season.  Following a photograph by the dugout, we sat in the stands and drank water before trekking back to our car.

  

But of course we weren’t done just yet.  After the Tribe game, we headed to the grounds of Old Municipal and played catch outside the same University Hospitals gate where we played 3 years ago.  This time, though, there was a Jim Brown statue at the gate, and Alan got to read about Brown’s career accomplishments.  Alan commented Jim Brown must’ve been the “LeBron James of the Browns.”

   

So in summary, Alan go to hit, run, and throw where the Indians have played baseball for the past 127 years.  And I got to have another ideal Father’s Day with my buddy!

Fun ‘N’ Stuff

As part of what’s now become tradition, I took off work the Friday of Father’s Day Weekend to spend the day at Fun ‘N’ Stuff with Alan.  We spent the day enjoying four rounds of mini golf, an inflatable basketball court (perfect for Tristan Thompson), and of course the arcade — featuring skee-ball, lots of air hockey, and other ticket-dispensing games!  Alan decided to save up his tickets (475) for a bigger prize when we return again at the end of summer.

Note:  We decided Alan’s favorite hole on the course is #9 and mine is #7 (pictured above).

 

Midseason Baseball Update

As the baseball season continues to move along, Alan and his team have been making good progress.  Here’s the latest update:

Following a rain-out on 5/22/18, Alan went 1-for-3 in a win over the Marlins – the team’s first victory of the season! – on 5/29/18.  Starting with this game, the team starting playing the same positions regularly.  Alan is the team’s consistent right fielder.

On 5/30/18, Alan again went 1-for-3 in a loss to the Red Sox.  Alan has been learning that when he hits the ball towards the left side of the infield he can usually beat out a hit, but it’s a lot harder to reach first base safely on a grounder to the right side of the infield.  But he’s been doing a great job putting the ball in play all season.

On 6/4/18, Alan went 1-for-3 with a run scored in a thrilling 1-run win over the Giants!  The highlight of the game was when Alan and Xavier manufactured a run by themselves in the middle innings.  With two outs and nobody on base, Alan singled and advanced to second base on an errant throw that only barely got away from the first baseman.  Then Xavier singled home Alan, who hustled home to score on a ball that never left the infield!

On 6/11/18, Alan went 2-for-4 with a run and a 9-4-3 outfield assist(!) in the 1st inning of a narrow loss to the league-leading Dodgers (He helped catch a runner caught between first and second).  The highlight of Alan’s game, though, was Grandma Debbie, Papa, Tyler and Carleigh coming to watch him play.  Alan was very proud to play in front of his family!

On 6/12/18, Alan went 1-for-3 with a run and an RBI in a loss to the Dodgers.  One of the Yankee coaches commented to Alan that he must have been practicing because he’s been making good contact at the plate.  It’s true in fact — all week Alan has been practicing in the backyard with his “Nagoon.”  One hitting session in the morning and one in the afternoon.  Despite the loss, the Yankees played well against the league-leading Dodgers for two straight nights and were upbeat after the game.

On 6/13/18, Alan went 2-for-2 with an RBI in a loss to the Marlins.  The team looked worn out from its 3rd game in 3 days, but Alan did his part to bring the energy at the plate and behind it.  He made his debut at catcher and caught all 4 innings of the shortened game (run spread rule).   He enjoyed catching so much that he wants to catch the next game too!

Playoff Run for the Ages

Alan and I had a blast together during the Cavaliers 2018 postseason run, culminating at the NBA Finals.  During the playoffs, we raised the banners posted at the Cavaliers website following each victory, and advanced the Cavaliers along in our playoff bracket with series wins over the Pacers, Raptors, and Celtics.  Alan especially enjoyed the city’s spirit for the Cavaliers.  He made sure to point out “Whatever It Takes” signs and Cavaliers window displays around town.  For Cleveland kids like Alan, all they know is winning basketball and championship-level enthusiasm in Cleveland!

2018 NBA Finals Game 4 Outdoor Watch Party

Alan and I took full advantage of the NBA Finals in Cleveland this week.  After I went to Game 3 on Wednesday, I took Alan to the Game 4 Outdoor Watch Party tonight!

Upon arriving downtown we headed straight to the surface lot across from Harry Buffalo, where Larry Nance (Sr.) was scheduled to sign autographs.  I had also met Mark Price there on Wednesday (photo below) and I was all for meeting another member of my favorite childhood team — the 1992 Cavaliers.  Alan was familiar with the name, as he remembered our prior conversations about Larry Nance Jr. joining the team this year.

To pass the time, Alan shot baskets on a mini hoop with a boy named Hank.  While Alan was shooting, amazingly, Larry Nance snuck up behind Alan and blocked his shot, adding “Get that weak stuff out of here!”  Alan wasn’t entirely sure what was going on, but I explained to him that was who we came to see!

After the block, we got back in line, got an autograph, and took a photo with Nance shortly after.

Before leaving the table, Alan made a Cavs sign.  It featured LeBron making a game winning three pointer in a 103-100 Cavaliers win over the Warriors. 🙂

Next we went back to shooting, since Alan could not get enough of the mini hoop.  He made a fair amount of shots, and after a while, we were both pretty good at it actually.  It took some persuading, but eventually I convinced Alan to head over to the Gateway Plaza to see the Cavaliers-sponsored Fan Fest.

We took a neat photo from the 4th floor of the Gateway garage before participating in the festivities.  Down below, Alan found a new hoop to shoot on, as well as a hockey slap shot game and Cavaliers Jenga game that we enjoyed.

Eventually we made it to the grass in front of the big TV just in time to watch the Cavaliers starting lineup being introduced (which Alan is very familiar with now!).

We watched a little bit of the first quarter action, but Alan wanted to head back to the mini hoop we shot on earlier in the evening.  On our way back, we ran into LeBron.  🙂

And we took Alan’s annual photo with NBA Finals signage!

Once back at the original hoop, Alan and I shot and shot…and shot.  There was also a TV there, so we knew what was going on with the game.  We left for home at halftime, but Alan probably could’ve stayed there all night!

Kids Starting Lineup at Game 2 of the 2018 NBA Finals

When a Cleveland sports team needs a kid in its starting lineup, who better to turn to than Alan?  He did it with the Indians in 2017, and he’s now done it with the Cavaliers in 2018!

I had registered Alan for the drawing to be in the Kids Starting Lineup for a playoff road game Watch Party at the Q prior to the start of the playoffs.  As part of the application, I had to write a few paragraphs as to why Alan would be a great selection.

As the playoffs went on, I had actually forgotten about the application – until I was contacted by the Cavaliers via email following the Game 7 win over Boston.  As if we needed more reason to be thrilled about the Cavaliers’ victory, this certainly provided another reason to celebrate!  If I had to pick any Watch Party for Alan to participate in, Game 2 of the Finals is what I’d have chosen.  It was great timing (on a weekend) AND Alan would get to run out before a near-sell-out crowd.

Coincidentally, I had already purchased four tickets for the Game 2 Watch Party before knowing Alan would be a part of the festivities.  Shane and I have gone to the Game 2 Watch Party all four years of the Cavaliers’ NBA Finals streak, so I knew we’d use two of the tickets.  It worked out well that Alan and Veronica could take the other two.

We arrived at the Q just before 7pm, about an hour before tip-off.  We met a Cavaliers rep at the bottom of section 126 by the scorer’s table.  She put us in one of the floor boxes while we waited.

Note:  I later realized that we appeared over Jeff Phelps’ shoulder throughout the Cavaliers pregame show on Fox Sports Ohio.  I caught that after watching the recording later that night.

After all five kids arrived at the floor boxes, they called the kids out to the court for a practice run-through around 7:30pm.

At this time, I didn’t know which starter would be Alan’s assignment.  But while Alan was on the court, I saw Alan was third in the order, which meant Tristan Thompson.  I happened to catch a Tristan graphic up on the Humongotron at about the same time.

After practicing, Alan returned to the floor boxes and confirmed he was assigned to be Tristan Thompson.  Just before 8pm, the kids were called back into position in the corner of the court, where they watched Sir CC and Whammer attempt backwards, half-court shots (Whammer actually sunk one).

Note:  The next day the Cavaliers posted a video of Whammer on social media, and I was briefly shown behind Whammer, taking pictures of Alan.  That’s a sentence I never thought I’d type — especially considering that Whammer hasn’t been around for 20 years!

As the kids got ready to go on, parents were allowed to step onto the court just to the right of the scorer’s table.  Veronica, Shane, and I got into position with our phones ready to go.  The Cavaliers in-game entertainment team went through the usual run-up to introductions, which included Phil Collins’ In the Air Tonight and of course the national anthem.  Soon after, the lights went off, the Cavaliers video intro (Finals version) played, and PA announcer Sean Peebles announced the lineup as the kids ran through a lane of mascots!

It was awesome being on the court for the first time and getting to watch Alan enjoy himself in the spotlight.

After all five players were announced, Alan huddled up with kids and mascots alike (photo taken by the Cavaliers).  Later I asked Alan what was said in the huddle, and he responded with “Go Cavaliers!”

After all the excitement, we went up to the Wine & Gold United members section at the Huntington Club Level.  The adults got some free food set aside for WGU members.  Alan opted for a soft pretzel and popcorn at the concession stand instead.

Alan stayed at the Q until halftime, and then left for home with Veronica, as it was pretty late by that point.

Here is the on-court video of Alan!:

6/9/18 Update:  Alan received a voucher for a free Cavaliers jersey for participating in the Kids Starting Lineup.  Today I cashed it in for a Nike Swingman LeBron jersey!

 

Piano Recital

Alan once again excelled at his end-of-year piano recital at the Music Settlement this afternoon.  With his parents and both sets of grandparents in the audience, he brought the house down with his rendition of “Little Playmates.”

Following the performance, we stayed for a picnic as well.  Alan was presented with his “100 Days” trophy, which he earned by practicing for 100 consecutive days!

Video of Alan’s full recital:

6/5/18 Update:  Alan also performed a duet of “Honeybee” at Cleveland State tonight with his Tuesday night Suzuki [method] partner, George.  On Tuesdays this year at the Music Settlement, Alan partnered with other kids to learn music collaboratively.  In addition to practicing the piano, Alan was able to watch kids play other instruments, which has led to Alan’s new interest in learning how to play the violin.