“Words of Wisdom” For My Son On His Birthday

Today is Alex’s 3rd birthday.  Happy Birthday little man!

I know you can’t read yet, but I thought I would write this to you now while you still think I’m cool (no one else does, so don’t feel bad when you finally realize I’ve been playing you all these years).

I thought it might be helpful to impart some “wisdom” I’ve learned over the years from various people – some famous and some not-so-famous.  And some wisdom gleaned from my own mistakes (I made a few).

1) “Hustle, you have nothing else to do” — Your grandfather said this to me while we watched some baseball player slowly jog to first base.  It’s true in life too — it takes way more energy not to try than to try your hardest.  You’ll only have regrets if you didn’t give it your best shot.

2) “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Wayne Gretzky — Trust me, just go for it.  Unless it involves playing with a bear, wrestling a shark or walking a tight rope over the Grand Canyon, you should be fine.  Ask that girl out, take the extra base, try out for the school play, sing karaoke — trust me, you’ll be better for it.

3) Don’t be afraid to cry — your dad cries all the time, so don’t make fun of him.  Shawshank Redemption, Miracle, Rocky, Field of Dreams, any Adele song…these are all good reasons to cry.  Anyone who tells you it’s not ok for men to cry has not lived an honest day in their life.

4) “90% of what people say is 100% about them.”  Your mom says this all the time.  Most people are guided through life by their own insecurities (including your parents).  Try to understand where someone is coming from and whether they have your best interests at heart.  It’s better to have a few really close friends you trust implicitly than many acquaintances that you don’t.

5) Perfection is a myth.  Even a perfect game in baseball isn’t perfect.  Don’t ever think you need to be or can be perfect.   The sooner you figure that out, the better off you’ll be.

6) Introduce your parents to new things, let them see the world through your eyes and your interests (thank you for Caillou by the way, but that’s not really what I meant).

7) Watch “The Wire” – don’t give me any “but dad” crap…  Sit your ass down at some point in your life and watch it end-to-end.  Then immediately call/text/email me and say thank you.

8) Think very carefully before you sell my baseball memorabilia.  Sure it has monetary value, but money isn’t everything.  The person who buys my Sandy Koufax autographed photo that I personally selected from the archives of Cooperstown when I was 10 has no idea of the story behind it.  Of course you’ll likely remember the story even without the photo, but it will connect you to me forever. In other words, don’t sell my fucking Sandy Koufax photo!! (or my Paul O’Neill autographed ball that your mom gave me; or my Derek Jeter rookie card…)

9) it’s vs. its; their vs. there vs. they’re, here vs. hear, to vs. two vs. too.  Never get these wrong.  Everyone notices.

10) Don’t buy flowers for anyone on February 13 or 15.  Of course it’s cheaper but they’ll know you forgot.

11) Suspend your disbelief.  Don’t be the guy that doesn’t like Armageddon because there is no way you can drill a hole on an asteroid; or the guy who doesn’t believe that the Man in Black is the smoke monster.  Nobody likes that guy.

12) Anonymous charity is the highest form.  Don’t give just so you’ll get noticed for giving.  That makes the receiver feel badly.

13) Don’t get too caught up in statistics and data.  When I say Derek Jeter is the best baseball player of my generation, don’t tell me about his WAR or that according to some stat he has poor range.  I once asked your great-great uncle Benny who was the best baseball player.  He said “Babe Ruth.”  I asked him why (and he took a puff on his cigar) and he said, “Because I saw him play.”  Trust your eyes and instincts and what you know to be true.

14) Don’t spend a lot of money to impress someone on a first date.  If they really like you, they’ll come back for more.  If they don’t, you won’t feel badly about wasting your money.  Ask your mother about this – it totally worked with her. And regarding your mother, she is amazing.  Always be nice to her (she puts the food on the table). And don’t ever get in the way of her and a pile of laundry.  That never ends well for anyone but the laundry.

15) Be passionate about what you care about – a person, a friend, a job, a hobby, a place, a cause – give it everything you have, leave nothing on the table.  When you understand that, when you can do that, when you know how good it makes you feel, then you’ll just merely scratch the surface about how we feel about you.

Happy Birthday A!


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