The bad guys had a man on third and he looked surly. He looked jumpy. The scoredboard had a giant zero in the "outs" column and the baserunner on the hot corner looked ready to exploit someone.
When the ball exploded off the bat in a parabola of sure doom, the baserunner saw what I didn't. He knew the ball wouldn't make it over the fence. The bad guy slipped back onto the bag and waited. This is where he would exploit someone. He'd exploit the centerfielder's weak arm.
From our spot behind home, we couldn't hear the ball hit the leather glove in centerfield, but we did hear the slight huff of the baserunner's breath as he broke from his spot on third base.
I watched as the centerfielder summoned some sort of masculinity from his jock strap and put the ball on a frozen-rope bee-line for home plate.
As the ball crossed over the second baseman's head, I screamed, "He's got'em!"
I stood, nearly spilling my beer, and waited for the inevitability.
The bad guy slid into the catchers glove, the same glove that held the ball that milliseconds before had been more than 300 feet away.
"Hwah!" I joined the small crowd in cheering the first exciting thing that had happened in four innings. Then I looked down at my sleeping kid. He didn't stir from his kid-coma.
"That's alright, kid," I thought. "I'll tell ya about it someday."
A few days ago, I took my kid to his first ball game. It was minor league ball. It was a team that is leaving town to go to, of all places, Mississippi. But it was a ballgame.
What's more, it was a moment. And I like moments. I live for them, for, often, they teach me more than full scale experiences.
As such, I'm learning.
I'm learning slowly that life as a father is a practice in accepting chopped pots. Sometimes you get the whole thing, sometimes you lose it all, and sometimes you chop and should be happy about it.
But, it's hard to remember that sometimes. When you're 30 years old and have spent three decadeson a self-important, egocentric, me-me-me kick, the transition to being the only way a kid will stay alive is a tough proposition. Deep down, there's a part of you that remembers the old days, those days when you could stand up, walk out of the house, and go wherever you want; the days that the only bad thing about getting drunk was a hangover and disapproving look from the wife; the days when as long as you gave the wife a kiss once a day, you were doing your job.
And now, every priority is different.
But, then, you fathers know that, don't you?
"He's got the hammer."
The words popped up in the chat bar, an ethereal nod to the poker world I know. It was a friendly screen name in a pond of anonymous sharks. I'd slayed these sharks many times before, but in recent days I'd felt like chum.
A defense mechanism I keep in in a pocket change purse had been humming a mantra, "It's variance, Otis. It's variance." But I knew it wasn't true. Variance doesn't turn good players into chum.
It left me with two options:
1) Something had happened to my game.
2) I've been very lucky in the past year.
It was about that time the room, for a few seconds blessedly silent, erupted into a scream.
Just as I had bought into the SNG, the new addition to Mt. Otis had started to cry. I thought he'd be alseep for the hour and fifteen minutes it would take me to play the ten-person tourney. As I have been many times in the past three weeks, I was wrong.
When I set out to write this post, I thought I was ready to quit the game. Fatherhood and mid-level poker play just don't mix.
However, I'm not sure that's the answer.
And, frankly, though I usually am fairly sure of myself, I'm at a loss for whether I can be a good dad and and poker player at the same time.
And as much as I want to write about this subject, I just can't get past the idea that even considering a corolation between fatherhood and poker amounts to me being a poor father. That is, a good father just would stop playing for the next 20 years.
And, frankly, I just don't want to be introspective about my qualifications as a father. That may cut a little deep.
Frankly, I'm not doing much of anything very well. My multitasking skills have fallen apart. It's resulted in no small amount of paranoia. For instance, take this snippet from a recent entry in my other blog
Buzzwords are the bastard sons of the catch phrase.
Perhaps if it weren't for the invention of the computer, we'd have never heard the word "multitasking." That is, after all, what computers do. They multitask.
But, sometime in the last ten years, some marketing genius decided it might be fun to assign "multitasking" to human processes. Screw that guy.
Methinks there was a larger Dr. Phil-ish conspiracy afoot. That is, if we can convince people they should be able to act like computers, then we can sell them more books teaching them how to act like computers. Then, when they fail at that task (one of several the multitasking propoganda machine prescribes), we can sell them books on how to overcome the depression of failing to multitask. Then when they fail at overcoming their depression we can sell them prescription drugs that make them forget about how they couldn't multitask. Then once they get addicted to those drugs we can sell them books on overcoming addiction. Once they overcome addiction, they'll realize they should be multitasking and buy a book on how to do it more effectively.
The fact that I'm suffering at work, suffering at play, and suffering at poker at the same time lead me to believe that Mt. Willis is in a transition phase. During that phase, I should likely protect myself and my bankroll and play less frequently and only at times when I'm sure I won't be interupted.
I need a plan. And since I rarely stick to plans if I'm the only one that knows about them, I'm going to lay out a few guidelines for poker play for the next thirty days.
1) No tournaments unless I am guaranteed the ability to play the full tourney without distraction (that is, the house is empty except for me, the dog, and cold drink).
2) Ring games will be allowed, but only during times when Mrs. Otis has banished me from the room for some Otis Time and won't need my help (we've been sharing kid duty and occasionally banish each other when it looks like it's necessary).
3) Stop believing that I have to play every day to stay fresh.
4) Use Otis Time to find some real humans who want to play cards. I think I may venture back toward The Mark soon. I need interaction that involves more than chatbars.
So, that's the 30-day plan. We'll re-evaluate on October 8th.
A thought for the day: If rocket scientisits can plan for months and months to collect space atoms in a funky space fridge, employ Hollywood stuntmen in helicopters to snag it from its space fall, then watch the fridge crash into the desert at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars that we'll never get back, should I really be too upset for myself for misplaying the Hilton Sisters a few weeks ago?