The mystery man at Miller Park
Thinking point of the day: “You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his question," — Naguib Mahfouz, writer, Nobel laureate (1911-2006).
I have the highest regard for police officers and the work they do. I will admit I can still get a little shaky when I see a police car, even when I’m doing nothing wrong, but my trust in them and the job they uphold, can only be described as a steady appreciation and respect for what they do and how they conduct themselves (for the most part).
The recent news article about the Rockland transient and the Rockland Police Department was a story with a happy ending and the Rockland officers who used their common sense to diffuse a very tense situation, and avoid a calamity, get well-deserved kudos for their actions.
Not the case a week or so earlier in Arizona when officers evicted the father of a 15-year-old, whose son was holding his beer cup so he could take a photo, at a Arizona Cardinals pre-season game. The father asked his son to hold his beer cup as they stood in a standing area, just after opening kick-off, so he could snap a quick picture with his phone before they went to their seats. Seconds later two undercover officers swooped in and proceeded to throw the man and his boy out of the stadium giving the dad a citation.
Perhaps a small error in judgment by the father, but don’t the consequences outweigh the crime here? The season ticket holder paid hundreds of dollars to be at this pre-season game and probably another $8.50 or so for the beer itself. Turning this into a learning moment might have been more appropriate than extreme overreaction by the security officers who told the man he was lucky he wasn’t being arrested on the spot. The key point here is that the son was not drinking the beer and he was under the supervision of his father; the son was just holding it while his father took a picture. C’mon, a little common sense please.
Sportsmanship and sports done right has always been a big thing for me. Balancing the desire to win and understanding that it is the game, not the outcome, that is important, has been a consistent theme with me over the years.
In the past, it was always as the observer, watching my kids’ games that I balanced the competitive nature of wanting to see them win with watching sportsmanship at its best.
This year, I was a participant in the Camden Adult Coed Softball League. I have played for about 15 years and have always been grateful to just get on the field and be part of the action. Most of the years I played, our Red Wings were not competitive and many seasons we were lucky to win one or two games. Everyone participated and the focus was on playing, not winning.
The last several years have taken a twist. Many longtime Camden coed players look forward to the day their boys turn 21, or their girls turn 19, so that they can play together. Four years ago my son helped form a father-son team that included four sons, four fathers and a daughter. The last two years, the young lads, and our group of capable women, have led us to the championship game and, more than ever, the desire to win has bubbled up to the top for me and I have had to examine how I am reacting while continually looking at trying to keep the balance and the weight of my foot in sportsmanship and not in the outcome of the game.
It helps me stay grounded when I read the below letter to the Mystery Man at Miller Park. This young man simply gets it and helps me want to be more like him and to hang around other young men and women who model his awareness.
"Dear Section 113, Row 17, seat 22;
Forgive me for not getting your name yesterday. I really should have because I wanted to pray for you by name. My husband’s company gets several sets of tickets to Milwaukee Brewers games every year that come available for employees use via a lottery system and we just happened to get four free tickets to see the Brew Crew play the Washington Nationals on Sunday, Aug. 4.
The weather was absolutely perfect for a day at Miller Park, but my anxiety level was still high because — let's face it — I was bringing the children. Not just the big kids, not just one of them, but all three boys. Together. At the same time.
Isaiah was jacked up for his trip to the ballpark and his behavior reflected that. Every 30 seconds came pleas for cotton candy, sunflower seeds, popcorn, ice cream, balloon animals, face paint, and other such nonsense. Micah behaved like, well.....Micah and Thomas didn't have a seat so he was basically crawling all over the place for the entirety of the game.
To put it bluntly, I was grateful for my cold beer. All three of them.
But you were not annoyed by the number of times you were jabbed in the back as Thomas crawled like a monkey from seat-to-seat. Instead, you turned around and frequently engaged in conversation with my children, proclaiming that Thomas would be stealing his big brother's girlfriends in about 15 years so, I had better be ready.
You couldn't have been older than 24 or 25 and you were clearly at the ballpark yesterday to spend some time with the lovely young woman you had your arm around. Still, you made it a point to chat with Isaiah and encourage him to try to catch a foul ball and even took it upon yourself to race him down to the Brewers dugout three times in the middle of innings in the hope of getting a game ball tossed his way. You promised my son, "We will get you a ball, kiddo." For the record, Daddy also brought Isaiah down there and struck out as well.
In the ninth inning, the Brewers were actually up by a couple runs (miracle of miracles!) and were three outs away from a victory. You told Isaiah to be ready, that as soon as that third out was achieved, you would bring him down to that dugout and wait for a ball. This was the time. This time, for sure, a game ball would be his.
But luck was not on his side, it would seem. In the crowd of fans all competing for attention, you two came up short. You walked Isaiah back up to our seats, giving him a reassuring pat on the back, but the disappointment on his face was evident.
That's when you knelt down and gave him a Milwaukee Brewers baseball. His eyes lit up, he took it from you slowly and you told him, "Hey, I promised you a ball."
I’m not sure when you got that ball. Maybe it was a side thought on a run up to the concession stands for a beer or soft pretzel. Perhaps you left your seat and went to the stores specifically to get Isaiah a ball. All I know is that you still tried like crazy to get him a game ball, knowing that you had a secret back-up plan in place for my son, a complete stranger to you, so he would feel like a million bucks.
Thank you for what you did for my son at Miller Park on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. As we were preparing to leave the stadium, I reached out my hand to offer my sincere thanks for your act of kindness. To my surprise, you pulled me in for a hug.
As we shuffled out of the stadium, Isaiah wouldn’t stop talking about his very own Brewer’s baseball and how it was one of his special treasures. It can be so easy to forget sometimes how small acts of kindness can have such a huge impact on our fellow humans. Holding open a door, offering a seat on a bus or subway, paying for a stranger’s coffee are all teeny little choices that can become a bright spot in an otherwise difficult day.
But you did more than that, sir. You made my boy feel like a rock star. You didn’t have to. You chose to.
And I am sincerely grateful to you for it. When my wiped-out children were tucked into bed last night, I took a few minutes to thank God for you. I asked that he bless you and draw near to you wherever you were. I prayed that the Lord would encourage you and honor your kindness by bringing joy to your heart.
But I would still love to find out your name so I can send you a proper thank-you note.
The Grateful Mother in Row 18"
News flash: The United States Post Office records a $740 million loss in quarter three after cutting costs by 22 percent. This gives them a total loss of $3.9 billion so far in this financial year. They state in a press release, “losses could have been worse had the USPS not taken action to cut its costs by 22 percent in the year so far, adding that comprehensive postal reform legislation is needed for it to return to profitability and long-term financial stability.” The postal service said its business model does not allow it to adapt to changes in the marketplace.
How insane is this?
UPS has a Earnings Before Interest, Tax and Amortization, or EBITA, of $3.16 billion and net income of $829 million. FedEx has EBITA of $5.6 billion and net income of $1.56 billion. During the same period, USPS had a net loss of $5.07 billion.
How about a one-word common sense approach: Privatize.
Reade Brower can be reached at: email@example.com.