How to parent like the best manager in baseball.

“There are only 2 seasons, winter and baseball.”~Bill Veeck

Now that the regular season is under way, winter must be over.

It’s time for some baseball.

There is nothing like the sensory experience of the ballpark.  The taste and smell of a ballpark hotdog.  The sounds of a crowd standing after a Francisco Lindor playoff home run.  The sight of Andrew Miller striking out the side.  The feeling of a high five after Cody Allen tallies that sometimes elusive 27th out.

Oh, the ballpark.  So many things can be learned at the old ball yard.  It’s a place where parents can share stories of memorable moments and create new memories.  I remember taking our son through the turnstiles for the first time on a hot July afternoon.  He soaked it all in.  Wanting to go on my shoulders so he could see as much as he could.  After the game we walked by the spot where Jim Thome hit one out of the Jake (yes, I still refer to it as the Jake and always will).  On another evening, we stayed well past his bedtime to watch Corey Kluber strike out 18 Cardinals and work a no hitter into the seventh.  We met Onion, Mustard, and Ketchup and watched them race in the Hot Dog Derby.  Multisensory memories that he will take with him long past I am gone.

But there is one more I want him to learn.

The Tito Principle.

Terry Francona has been managing our beloved Indians for the last four seasons.  In his first, he took us to the playoffs.  In his most recent, we were one game away from the World Series Pennant.  Both were seasons he won AL Manager of the Year.  He won 2 world championships with the Boston Red Sox.  And I firmly believe he will do the same here in Cleveland.  Why?

The Tito Principle.

If we try our very best to…

play to our strengths,

and stay in the moment,

then, we will find internal content and peace.

This statement does not go only for the diamond.  It goes for life in general.  For all of us.  No matter our age.  But most importantly, it speaks to how we raise our children. 

Playing to our strengths

Michael Brantley played only 11 games.  We lost Carlos Carrasco with a broken hand.  Danny Salazar spent four different times on the disabled list.  Yan Gomes broke his hand.  Trevor Bauer had a mishap with a drone.

Yet we still made it to the World Series.

Tito played to our strengths.  Make the game shorter with a bullpen of Brian Shaw, Andrew Miller, and Cody Allen.  Create a schedule where your work horse ace can pitch as much as possible.  Hope that you get a timely hit from Frankie Lindor, Jason Kipnis, or Jose Ramirez.

As a parent or teacher, play to your kids’ strengths.  I remember when our son was two and he would stay awake until after 11PM.  We couldn’t pinpoint it at first.  He would go right down for nap with no problem.  We investigated deeper.  We compared the events around his nap to those around his bedtime.  In both parts, he ate prior to sleeping.  He also read and listened to music before both.  What was different?  Bath time.  Turns out, by the end of his day his sensory bucket was empty.  He had nothing left and it would put him over the edge.  We decided to start showering in the morning when his sensory bucket was full.  We played to our son’s strengths.  Thus, he started to fall asleep earlier and earlier.  Be like Tito, play to your kids strengths.

Stay in the moment

Have you ever listened to a post-game interview or a press conference with Tito?  When asked about next weekend’s pitching matchup against the Tigers or the long road trip that lays ahead, Tito has a typical response.  “We will worry about that when it is in front of us.  Our focus is getting better every day and concentrating on today.

Wow, if that is not great advice for anyone, I am not sure what is. 

As a parent of a son who has a unique set of needs, we must be in tune and aware in every moment.  I think we can get lost in worrying about when the next meltdown may be.  But if we are truly in this moment right now and learning, your child will notice.  One of our favorite explorations is the beach.  It is a quick ride and an enormous science experiment waiting to be explored.  Find these moments to share, stay in them, and learn together.  I need to remind myself to put the phone down or forget about the clothes hamper that exploded from the closet.  I try my best to remind myself that they will only be this little once and time is a non-renewable resource. 

Oh, I can’t wait.  Only four more days until the corner of Carnegie and Ontario will be rocking.  More teachable moments at the ballpark with our kids.  Maybe this season will be the one we will learn about winning with dignity.

Best of luck to Skipper Terry Francona and our beloved Indians.

Go Tribe!