Thursday, February 26, 2009

Classic card of the week


Al Pedrique, 1989 Score



Al, a slick-fielding shortstop who can hit the ball in the gap…

I love scouting reports. Al Pedrique can hit a baseball into the gap, which is to say that Al Pedrique can occasionally hit a baseball in the area of the outfield where the outfielders are not standing. This is a skill that is unique to Al Pedrique, and should be mentioned.

…spent time at both Triple-A Buffalo and the Pirates in 1988. At both, he provided a sure glove. In his Buffalo stay, he also gave the Bisons an active bat as he hit .307 in 61 games.

The Pirates, unfortunately, were not equal beneficiaries of that same hot, active, Bisonesque Pedrique bat. Although, it should be reiterated that his glove remained sure, and for that the Pittsburgh Pirates organization is forever grateful.

In ’87 he was a non-roster invitee to the Mets spring training camp. He made the team but was sent to the minors in May and then traded to the Pirates.

The timeline of this biographical tidbit is all over the place. After his brief stint with the Mets, Al Pedrique was born.

Before you knew it, Al was the starting shortstop and the top clutch hitter in baseball.


In a 1987 poll of major league players who were asked, “Who is the top clutch hitter in baseball?” 54% replied, without blinking, “Al Pedrique.” 12% replied “That dude on the Pirates who hits the ball in the gap. No -- not Barry Bonds. The other guy.” 18% replied, “Clutch is a vastly overused and largely irrelevant term. That said, Al Pedrique.” And 16% said, sarcastically, “Kirby Puckett.”

Believe it or not,

I’ll believe anything after you just told me that Al Pedrique is, without question, the best clutch hitter in Major League Baseball.

he led all major leaguers by batting .458 with runners in scoring position.

Not taking anything away from Al Pedrique, who went on to a long career of storied clutchitude, but this is silly, for many reasons that I am too lazy to delve into right now.

And at one point,

Whenever you are about to get a statistic within the timeline of “at one point,” you can rest assured that said statistic is going to be awesome. Awesomely arbitrary and stupid.

Al had eight straight hits against southpaw pitchers, the longest streak in the majors.

Amazing. A right-handed major league batter getting hits off of lefties? Unheard of. I am assuming all of those hits safely entered the gap. What else, Wikipedia, is Al Pedrique famous for?

Pedrique is perhaps most famous for his appearance in RBI Baseball (NES), where he plays shortstop for the National League All-Star team.

Allow me, if you will, to elaborate:

Al Pedrique, a Major League Baseball player, is perhaps most famous for appearing in a popular video game that featured Major League Baseball players.

Or, more accurately:

Al Pedrique was perhaps most famous for his strange inclusion on the National League All-Star team in the popular video game RBI Baseball. Pedrique's inclusion was strange because, when compared statistically with other National League shortstops at the time, he was simply not as accomplished. In his defense however, RBI Baseball -- though a data-inspired and graphic marvel in its time -- did not include criteria such as "clutchitude" and "sure-glovedness" in its appraisal of players. Wait -- that actually makes it stranger that he was on the All-Star team. Whatever. In conclusion, Al Pedrique is perhaps most famous for being undeservedly lauded with praise by a video game.

Did you know?
Italics called. It wants its relevance back.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Classic card of the week


Scott Haskin, 1993-94 Upper Deck

Here is a picture of Indiana Pacers’ forward Scott Haskin about to throw down, or better yet, it's a picture of Scott Haskin grabbing a rebound. In warmups, I presume, as no other player is in sight. Can you feel the excitement of the aerial view? I cannot tell if he’s on the ground or two inches in the air! Man, I am bored. Let’s turn this baby over.



Photographer: Okay Scott. We nailed the picture for the front of your card yesterday. Remember that? Yesterday? When I sat on top of the backboard like Bell Biv Devoe and took that ridonkulous shot of you jumping with the ball or whatever you were doing?

Scott Haskin
: Yes.

Photographer: Well Scottie my man, all I’m saying is…just wait. Just wait. Today we’re doing the back picture. So put your uniform on, grab your comb and a basketball, and meet me outside near the bike rack. We’re going down to the business district.

Scott Haskin: Okay, cool. Why, are there basketball courts there or something?

Photographer: What? Pffft. No. Well, I mean, yeah…probably. But that’s not where we’re going…

Fifteen minutes later

Photographer: Alright Scott, stand over there near that Orange Julius stand.

Scott Haskin: I am embarrassed. What are we doing here? It’s noon, and everyone who works at City Hall is on lunch, and I’m walking around in full uniform and carrying a basketball but nobody knows who I am. Everybody is staring. What is the theme of this photo shoot anyway?

Photographer: Scottie, Scottie, listen. The theme is YOU. And Indiana. You and Indiana. Know why?

Scott Haskin: Why?

Photographer: Because you ARE Indiana, Scott! That’s why. You and this city are one, and--

Scott Haskin: Isn't Indiana a state?

Photographer: Yeah, well, you know what I'm talking about. Indianasville here, or wherever we are.

Scott Haskin: Indianapolis?

Photographer: Yeah Scott, whatever. Anyway, no one is as comfortable as you in these surroundings. That’s why on a pleasant day like today you’ll leave practice during intermission and head down to the business district. You’ll meet your wife for a milkshake, you-

Scott Haskin: I’m not married…

Photographer: LISTEN TO ME! You’ll meet your wife for a milkshake, because she works at the local insurance company. You’ll see Senator Johnson walk by and you’ll playfully jab with him about the new whatchamacallit thingee. You’re signing autographs and kissing babies. Some old bag lost her cat in a tree and you reach up and grab it like it’s nothing because you’re tall. Like a tree. Everyone applauds. You tell everyone you have to get back to practice but remind them that you’re playing the Kings tonight. Everybody better be there because you’re going to score twenty points in honor of that local firefighter who broke his arm. You own this city, Scott Haskin, You are this city.

Scott Haskin: Wow. Okay, let’s do this. You said my hand on my hip like this?

Photographer: Right! Just like that. Now hold it there…

Did you know?
Scott Haskin wore No. 43 in honor of being handed that number by the coaching staff.

Living in the center of the spring training universe

Note: This column appears in the 2/26 issue of The Glendale Star and the 2/27 issue of the Peoria Times

For all intents and purposes, where I live in northwest Peoria is on the outskirts of civilization. When we first moved here, we had to drive to Bell Road in order to do anything, from get a bite to eat to find a decent nose hair trimmer (two hypothetical examples). From an accessibility standpoint, things have improved over the past year or so, but it’s a slow process, and we still often find ourselves having to travel a relatively great distance to do regular everyday things like fill up our cars with gas. In fact, if your car runs out of gas while in our development, your only hope is to release flares into the sky and hope that one of the jets from Luke will see it and inform authorities of your whereabouts.

Which is why it astounds me that within a 20-mile radius of our house, for the next month, I can easily go to three different spring training facilities and watch baseball while sitting in the sun and enjoying life while also calling family back home on my cell phone to sarcastically ask how the weather is.

Last year was great enough, with the Peoria Sports Complex (off of…Bell Road!) and the Surprise facility in close range. It was my first spring training experience, and I never even made it to Surprise, but spent several afternoons at the Peoria ballpark, loving every minute of it. Now, in a few days, the Camelback Ranch Glendale facility opens up, which is the new spring training home for the Dodgers and White Sox. Seriously, pinch me.

I’m not sure how many people realize this or even care, but we live in the epicenter of the spring training universe right now. Florida is sooooo 1990. Where we live is where it’s at if you’re a baseball fan. (Or a weather fan.) People all over the country take weeklong vacations to go watch the same games that we can attend with a quick car ride. I cannot get over this.

I already have tickets for a game at Peoria. Plus, my one –- and possible only –- friend here is a huge Dodgers fan, so I know we are going to Camelback Ranch every chance we get. I also plan on going to Surprise to watch Josh Hamilton. I am positively giddy.

I’m not quite sure that everybody shares my excitement. While reading an article online about Camelback Ranch and the subsequent reader comments, many voiced their frustrations at the cost the city incurred to build the ballpark (irrelevant now), the traffic it will cause (minimal), the legal citizenship of those the new ballpark will employ (presumptuous and bizarre), and the projected price of a beer and nachos (delicious). All of this missed the point, and reminded me of a line from a famous movie: If you build it, they will complain.

Not me. I am going. It’s professional baseball, and it’s a 20-minute car ride from our house. The wild horses that live next door couldn’t drag me away.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Classic card of the week


John Dopson, 1991 Score

John Dopson: If Roger Clemens had eyebrows.



Big things were expected from John in 1990

Considering it’s now -- in baseball card years -- 1991, and I am unfamiliar with John Dopson, I am going to assume that big things did not happen.

He had been the Red Sox third biggest winner in 1989, his first year with the team…

Have the third most wins on a mediocre team one year, go out and win the Cy Young the next. This is called: proper progression.

…and had started using a puzzling knuckleball as his changeup.

You know what’s even more puzzling? Calling a knuckleball a changeup. Because a knuckleball can also be called: a knuckleball. Also: all knuckleballs are puzzling. Such is their nature.

But after only 17.2 innings into the season, he went down with elbow problems and was lost for the rest of the year.

I’m sorry -- 17.2 innings into the season, or his season? Yes, this is nitpicking, but I like to imagine that it’s the ninth inning of the second game of the 1990 Red Sox season, and John Dopson is sitting innocently on the bench spitting sunflower seeds before going down in agony with elbow problems. Another scenario that is humorous to me -- and more accurate considering that Dopson did pitch 17.2 innings in 1990 -- is that the Red Sox brass, so impressed with his 12 victories the previous year, said, “Dopsey,” (they called his Dopsey) “we like your stuff. Go out and pitch until further notice.” This lasted 17.2 innings.

A likeable guy who is cool under pressure…

John Dopson’s likeableness is obviously not under debate, however, I do question the pressure situations faced by a starting pitcher of the 1988 Expos and 1989 Red Sox.

John throws a natural sinker and a nasty slider when he is healthy.

When he is injured he throws an artificial forkball and a pleasant split-fingered fastball. To quickly recap John Dopson’s pitching repertoire:

-puzzling knuckleball that is a changeup
-natural sinker
-nasty slider
-likeable screwball*
-artificial forkball
-changeup (a.k.a. “the puzzling knuckler”)
-pleasant split-fingered fastball

It’s no wonder he had elbow problems. Wikipedia, your turn:

He was the last pitcher to balk 4 times in one inning, a feat he achieved on June 13, 1989.

The last pitcher or the only pitcher? Because I cannot even fathom that such a thing occurred, must less that it occurred more than once. Also: that is the opposite of a feat.

he is also a person to give up 12 hits in a game and still get the win.

Please note that “he” is not capitalized and it appears adjacent to the period that ends the previous sentence. It is also important to note -- because there may have been some confusion earlier -- that yes, John Dopson is a person. Only Wikipedia can mask an otherwise astounding fact by clothing it in awful writing.

*something he was, not an actual pitch

Did you know?
Peter Gallagher played John Dopson in the original Lifetime movie, Dopsey: It's Complicated.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Decision leads to a year’s worth of joy…and counting

Note: An edited version of this column appears in the 2/19 issue of The Glendale Star, and the 2/20 issue of the Peoria Times

I never wanted a dog.

We lived in a pet-free development in New Jersey before we moved here, and that was fine by me. I never had anything against dogs -- my parents and my wife’s parents each had one, and they were great. Loved ‘em. But personally I never wanted that added responsibility. Or hair. Or poop. I just never wanted a dog.

My wife was another story. For four years she was in my ear about getting one, and for most of that time I could easily fend her off by explaining that we were not allowed to have one where we lived. (We were also not allowed -- according to the document we signed -- to house livestock, which was an equally difficult temptation to resist.) By the time we moved to AZ in the summer of ’07, we were so busy getting our lives in order that getting a dog was, thankfully, not on our to-do list.

By this time last year we were largely settled in, just my wife and I in a much larger house than we were used to, with the rest of our family far away. Valentine’s Day was fast approaching, and I really wanted to make a splash. For the first time I found myself at least approaching the idea of possibly, maybe, thinking about getting a dog: Well, Arizona IS very dog friendly

When I casually mentioned to several coworkers of mine (who already had dogs) what I was thinking of doing, there was no turning back, because now they were in my ear everyday. I needed to start doing research, and I knew three things going in: my wife wanted to adopt a dog, it had to be a small one, and we live in Peoria. A quick Google search led me to Small Dog Rescue of Peoria, the first known time where each word of a business’ name totally and literally encapsulated everything I was looking for.

It was easy for me to be patient because I still wasn’t sure I wanted to do this. Each day I casually browsed the dog “bios” on the Small Dog Rescue of Peoria’s website. A few days before Valentine’s Day I stumbled upon Mac’s bio -– a two-year old Terrier mix (my in-laws have a Terrier, who my wife is known to leave voice mail messages for) who was playful, great with kids, and cute as all heck. I found myself going back several times a day to make sure he was still on there. Eventually I printed out his page and decided to show it to my wife, figuring this was a decision we needed to make together. I told her not to get her hopes up. I am such a romantic: Happy Valentine’s Day honey! Here is a printout of an animal we may or may not be able to get. If it falls through, I will buy you a shirt. So what’d you get me? Also: Her hopes were up.

The next day, after a string of phone calls confirming he was still available, we went to visit Mac at one of the dog-foster homes of Small Dog Rescue. They say that you don’t pick a dog -– they pick you. When I walked in and sat down Mac crawled right into my lap. Other dogs in the house that were smaller than him were playfully hanging from his neck, and he couldn’t have cared less. An hour later we had ourselves a dog.

It’s been a year now that we’ve had him, but it feels like ten, mostly because I cannot remember what it was like without him. I still can’t get over the fact that there’s a being on this earth that is so unbelievably ecstatic just to see us get home from work. He runs with me, he goes on road trips with us, he sits on our laps while we watch trashy TV and doesn’t judge us, and he loves to play wiffleball. (And by play wiffleball, I mean eat wiffleballs.) He follows us everywhere, except when he’s content laying in the sunshine outside, or in the sunrays inside. He’s a hit wherever he goes. A month ago I was carrying him in an elevator at a hotel in downtown Phoenix, and a fellow dog-lover who was so smitten with him let him finish her ice cream. Mac happily obliged.

One year later I can say that, yeah -- we pretty much made the right decision. Strange too because, ya’ know, I never wanted a dog. I even recall marveling at the “weirdos” who were obsessed with their pets. Two months ago Mac was featured on our Christmas card and I even set him up his own Facebook page. I am that guy. And just like Mac with dogs hanging from his neck, I couldn’t care less.


Oh, you guys are watching Flavor of Love XII? I'll be up here.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Classic card of the week


Pride of the Reds, 1982 Donruss

The Pride of the Reds are two white men. They stand solemnly but proudly amidst the hilly countryside of the French Alps. If you find them, they will let you take a picture. In that respect, they are not like the elusive Sasquatch. Where they are going, they do not know, but they have their uniforms on, so just in case a game breaks out they will be prepared. Except one-half of the Pride of the Reds forgot his hat. But that is okay -- hats are just for show. The Pride of the Reds are interchangeable. They are the same in physical stature and in whiteness. Ask them for an autograph and each will sign it, “To Billy: Believe in the stars. Sincerely, Pride of the Reds.” They remain nameless. Yet prideful. And Redly. But what will the historians say?



When the historians look back at baseball years from now and try to decide who were the dominant players in the game during the 1970s, they need not go much further than Johnny Bench and Tom Seaver.

The year is 3026. The President of the United States is named Hazlack Orff. Our country is in three galactic wars, and money is tight. Regardless, Mr. Orff has decided -- against the best interests of the nation -- to use the remaining surplus from our takeover of Montreal to commission a group of historians. Their mission: to decide who the dominant baseball players were during the 1970s.

These historians work day and night for 30 consecutive days, sequestered in a conference room somewhere in Parsippany, which is now the nation’s capitol. They argue, they scratch their heads, they scour Wikipedia, which is now the only means of biographical and historical data. One of the historians, drunk on moonshine, mistakenly utters the name “Rod Carew.” He is murdered. After 30 days, the historians, satisfied with their discoveries, go immediately to President Orff:

President Hazlack Orff: And what are your findings on the dominant baseball players of the 1970s?

Historian (Frank): Well, sir…ahem: Johnny Bench and Tom Seaver.

Orff: Ah, yes. I somewhat recall my great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather regaling stories of the accomplishments of those fine fellows. Do continue.

Frank: Ummm, well…that is all sir.

Orff: That is all? How is that possible? There were like, hundreds and hundreds of baseball players around during the 1970s. Surely more than two of them could be described as dominant. I spent 800 trillion galactabucks on this commission! Explain yourselves!

Frank: Well, sir, we collectively decided that, after examining all of the statistics of Mr. Bench and Mr. Seaver as they related to baseball in the 1970s, that we need not look much further.

Orff: Hmmm, I must say I admire your chutzpah. And those two men were amazingly dominant. They were considered the Pride of the Reds, were they not?

Frank: Yes sir, they were.

Orff: Tell me, what does Ted make of all this?

Frank: Ted is dead, sir.

Orff: That is unfortunate. But these things happen. Gentlemen, I accept your findings. You will all be rewarded orange stars of bravery! Afterwards there will be punch. Suzanne, show these men out of here.

Did you know?
Tom Seaver once pitched 7 2/3 innings of two-hit ball while wearing a tophat he borrowed from a local magician.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Traffic cameras cause safety, complain safety hazards

Note: This column appears in the 2/12 issue of The Glendale Star, and the 2/13 issue of the Peoria Times

I don’t consider myself as someone who has his finger on the pulse of local interest -- a somewhat alarming biographical tidbit for someone who writes a column for a local weekly newspaper -- but I have noticed that this area is abuzz with a supposed controversy revolving around the cameras used to catch dangerous drivers.

For those unaware, cameras have been placed at specific spots throughout the Valley, including Glendale and Peoria, for the sole purpose of catching speeding drivers as well as those who take a liberal stance on the meaning behind a red light. The way it works is, the camera snaps a picture of your license plate, and you are then mailed a traffic ticket, which, according to various email forwards and other unreliable data, you may or may not have to actually pay. (My humble guess? You should probably pay it.)

There is, somehow, controversy surrounding this process. The opposition, as far as I have deduced, rests their argument on the foundation of two factors: a) this is simply a means of government generating more revenue at our expense, and b) it is some sort of invasion of privacy, a Big Brother-type maneuver. To the former I say: so what? There are other forms of government revenue, such as higher taxes, that cannot be avoided by simply not driving like a lunatic. To the latter I say: there is no privacy on the road, and it would seem that having a ticket sent to your mailbox can actually prevent the public humiliation of getting pulled over in a high traffic area, where people like me pose an additional traffic hazard by slowing down to get a look at your face.

Also: the whereabouts of these cameras are, literally, mapped out. You can -- again, literally -- go online and locate the cameras, and adjust your driving habits accordingly. If you choose not to do this, you can also locate the warning signs that read, “Photo enforcement zone.” Or, on the other hand, you can choose to ignore these preventative means, gun it through a red light, get mailed a ticket, complain about the cameras, and ultimately choose not to pay the ticket because your Uncle Jim -- who also got mailed a citation for going 96 on the 101 -- says you don’t have to, and Uncle Jim should know, because his friend knows a guy who knows a cop.

This is not to say that there aren’t problems with the cameras. Namely, on separate occasions, due to the flash of said cameras, I have a) been temporarily blinded, and b) momentarily thought that the country was under attack. Maybe we can soften that flash a bit. Also, we need to find a way for the cameras to detect both tailgaters and those unwilling to put forth the absolute bare minimum of human effort by using a turn signal. Then I will be happy. Call me Big Brother.

One more thing. I am by no means a perfect driver. I make mistakes just like anybody else. Just last weekend I sped up at a yellow turn signal, and found myself in the middle of the intersection as it turned red. Luckily for me, I didn’t see a flash. But here’s the difference: Had there been a camera there, I would have been mad at myself. Not the camera.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Classic card of the week


Bruce Benedict, 1987 Topps

Bunting is a very underrated part of baseball. Not underrated as in players should do it more often. Because bunting is, nine times out of ten, completely pointless and counterproductive. (Shout out to FJM!) What I mean is that the physical act of bunting is underrated. It’s like, not an easy thing to do, to square up an 89 mph breaking ball and lay down a bunt in fair territory.

Bunting is made considerably more difficult when you are bunting old skool style, a.k.a. the Benedictian method, with hands exposed. Bunting old skool style is the athletic equivalent of placing the goal post at the front of the endzone, as your chances of hurting yourself badly increase by 8,000%.

So we know that Bruce Benedict bunted with reckless abandon. But what else?



Bruce’s off-season schedule includes speaking engagements and serving as a H.S. basketball referee.

Though not specified due to minimal space on the back of this card, among the wide array of topics discussed by Bruce Benedict during his many speaking engagements were the following: “The Benedictian Method: Moving Runners Over Whilst Protecting Thy Digits,” “That Wasn’t Blocking: When To Call An Offensive Foul,” and “Robert Frost: Poet or Pervert?”

As always, I’d be remiss if I did not consult Wikipedia on the subject of Bruce Benedict:

Whenever Benedict came to bat at home in Fulton County Stadium, the crowd would chant “BRUUUUUUUUUUCE” causing many opposing teams’ fans to believe that he was being booed.

I only included this to remind myself of the fabulous Simpsons episode when Mr. Burns is getting booed after his film premieres and Smithers tells him: “Uh, no, they’re saying, “Boo-urns, Boo-urns.” (By the way, this makes two consecutive "classic card" posts of FJM nods and Simpsons references. Fine by me.)

Also:

Bruce’s nickname is Eggs—as in Eggs Benedict.

If somebody can find me a sporting genre of fellows with more wit than that of our national pastime of baseball, then I would like to shake that person’s hand, for I presently deem such a feat impossible. Imagining the playful locker room banter of our revered heroes -- “Yo, Eggs. You suck” -- brings a certain joy to my heart.

It should also be mentioned that Bruce Benedict is currently a Division 1 college basketball referee. You may even see him in a matter of weeks during March Madness. Word on the street is that he referees with a false sense of confidence, as he deems the booing that follows any of his poor officiating calls as a sign of love and respect. If he so happens to make a bad call against your favorite team this year, I recommend the much simpler: Yo, Eggs. You suck.

Did you know?
When I was in Little League, the bunt sign was put on when our coach grabbed his belt. Also, our coach was my dad. One day he forgot his belt and we won 132-4.

Monday, February 02, 2009

The challenges of being a foster parent

Note: This column appears in the 2/5 issue of The Glendale Star, and the 2/6 issue of the Peoria Times

Last year my wife and I decided to become foster parents. It was a long and somewhat arduous process, but we officially received our license right before the holidays.

As a foster parent, your role is to care for whatever child comes into your home while being actively involved in returning that child to their biological family, regardless of any attachments you may establish. We knew this was going to be a challenge. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We had no idea.

........................................................................

It was not shaping up to be a good day. I had just found out we had a leak coming from our outdoor faucet. That morning, someone inexplicably put his car in reverse and backed into my car at a red light. When I finally got to work one of the machines we use to tie up the papers wasn’t working. I was having a terrible day. Then I got a call from our agency, Catholic Charities. It was about a newborn baby boy. Just a few days old. Would we like to take him?

Yes, yes we would! My day had just gotten a whole lot better.

As is often the strange nature of foster care transactions, I picked up the little guy in the parking lot off the freeway. He came with a file, a car seat on loan, some bags of diapers and formula from the hospital, and a “good luck.” I drove home with both hands on the wheel doing 50 mph in the right lane. He just slept like an angel.

My wife and I barely knew what to do with him. We didn’t have half the stuff we needed –- it’s hard to prepare for a foster child -- but before we knew it, several of our great friends came through with hand-me-downs and advice.

It took approximately .00003 seconds to fall in love with him. Knowing the conditions he came from made us love him even more. Suddenly, nothing else mattered. He was our first placement, our responsibility, and for however long, he was our family. Our sleep time was cut in half, but we didn’t care. In the flash of an eye, he became our world.

In an odd twist of timing, my Mom came into town to visit us for a week. That now made three of us past the point of no return. We took him down to Phoenix for the day and rolled him around town in a stroller. We gave him sponge baths. We watched him giggle in his sleep. We fed him every three hours. We took him for checkups at the pediatrician. We held him as much as we possibly could.

Almost a week to the day that we got him, we received a call that he was going back to a distant family member. They were picking him up in two days. Heartbreak is certainly not limited by inevitability.

We dressed him in the outfit my Mom had just bought for him, and the new, tiny sneakers our friends had gotten for him, and prepared to send him back to an unsure future. Did we even make a difference? He sure did. Giving him up was the hardest thing either of us has ever had to do.

Now we’re back to worrying about leaks and work on a full night’s sleep -- a sleep only interrupted by restless thoughts of where he is and how he’s doing. We’re left now with a whole new respect for foster parents, and the will to, somehow, do it again. I think this experience has made us stronger, and we wait both anxiously and skeptically for our next phone call.

We know it’s not going to be easy. We have no idea.