The Big Field

Well, as basketball season comes to a close, baseball is almost underway. Spring recreation evaluations are next Sunday, and I honestly don’t think I’m ready. I haven’t played since July, so I’ll probably be a little rusty. The good part is that it’s only recreation, so it doesn’t matter. It’s basically practice for the summer travel league.

Me and my best friend Avery are always on the same team, because our dads coach together. Between the two of us, we make up the middle infield- he plays 2nd base, I play shortstop. Our teams have been pretty good over the years, yet we didn’t win last year.

My pitching has gotten much worse, even though I have added a curveball to my options when I’m on the hill. This is because of an accident a couple years ago. I was pitching in a rec game, and I threw a fastball.

The batter hit a hard line drive and it nailed me right in the neck. The pain was excruciating and I went to the hospital on a stretcher, in an ambulance. It just so happened that my parents were at a Bar Mitzvah during that particular game. However, my dad met me at the hospital.

jacob on stretcher kid baseball injuries

Luckily, nothing major was wrong, just bruising and a lot of soreness. Ever since, I’ve been playing baseball tentatively, and kind of scared. I’ve kind of gotten into a bad habit:  I wince and turn my head when there’s contact with a metal bat and the ball. It’s very bad when I’m pitching, and holds me back from my potential.

This year, we’re moving up to Babe Ruth. In this league  the distance between bases is 90 feet, and the distance from the rubber to home plate is 60 feet (major league standards). Now, I’m only 4 foot 10.5 inches. That’s pretty short, especially with a bunch of 14-15 year olds playing in your league.

Yeah, so my height is definitely not an advantage. However, being successful on the big field entails more physical strength and power, and I also need to try to stay away from those bad habits. So, big field- here I come!

Have you ever had an experience that affected your game? Tell me in the comments and let me know if you have any advice on getting past it.

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Nike socks: a new Elite level

In my school, lets just say boys are into socks and shoes. Lots of kids always try to impress other boys by getting cool basketball shoes, and basketball socks, regardless of whether you actually play basketball. And these cool socks are referred to as “tough” or “fresh” in the middle school boy world.

As a matter of fact, my friend Jack, who only plays lacrosse, has the coolest black and red socks! I was so jealous when I saw them! Anyway, let me give you a bit of info on these popular socks. They are called elite socks, and they are made by Nike. These socks come in a variety of colors, from pink to light blue, and all the colors of the rainbow!

They are crew socks, so they go a little higher than your ankle normally, maybe shorter. Where the sock reaches the ankle, there is a Nike swoosh on the side. On the back, there’s a thick, dotted line that runs up the sock. It’s pretty cool. I have quite a few pairs: I wear them for hoops games, and just regularly.

Now, you’re probably thinking, what’s so great about them?

Honestly, I don’t know. They have soft, thick, compressing material, but most socks have good quality material. Mostly, I think it’s the style, and it has become an obsession. I would say 85% of boys in my grade at MMS have elite socks.

Elite Socks

And, if you have the socks, you just GOTTA have the shoes! The popular shoes range from $100 to even $1,000! It’s a little ridiculous, but as middle school boys, footwear kinda defines your wardrobe. The most popular shoes are the models made by NBA all-stars Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, and Lebron James.

Each individual player comes out with their own new model of shoes every so often. Personally, I prefer Kevin Durant shoes, and I have KD4’s (his fourth model). All of my friends have basketball shoes, no matter what sports they play. Oh, and one pair is most definitely not enough. I’m having a bar mitzvah soon, so there’s no way I am getting any sort of new, cool shoes before then.

kd-iv-shoes-discount-white-tour-yellow-photo-blue-midnight-navy-473679-102-266(6)-z

However, many people have several pairs of shoes, with a variety of colors. My friend on my basketball team Brandon, owns at least… Lets say at least 7 pairs. It’s kinda ridiculous, but as I said before, it’s an addiction. Most boys cherish socks and shoes, and are attracted to most “cool” basketball footwear, and it’s a pretty awesome, yet expensive trend.

I bet Nike is pretty pleased.

Maplewood Looks to Repeat

As I told you before, my basketball season had its ups and downs. However, we can’t worry about the past now. It’s playoff time. We finished the season 11-3, winning 74-20 and 89-18 in two of our final games as we claimed a spot in the playoffs for the second year in a row.

Unfortunately, like last year, we weren’t able to get home-court advantage. So, once again, we will have to play on the road, without our loud, rowdy crowd. Last year, we beat undefeated Verona and then West Orange, both games on the road. We are currently the reigning champs. However, this year, South Orange became a firepower, and they are undefeated!

Undefeated West Orange and South Orange play each other Wednesday, for the last regular season game of the year. The winner gets the 1-seed in the playoffs, home-court throughout the whole playoffs, and they play Verona in the semifinals.

The loser has home-court advantage in the 1st round, and they play us in the 1st round. Our team wants West Orange to win because we think they are the better team. South Orange has two players, so all we have to do is stop one of them, and we are in good shape.

j playing basketball

West Orange plays aggressive, tenacious defense and has many weapons offensively. There are several ways West Orange can beat us. South Orange, quite different. They have Breizh and Brandon, their two stars, and that’s it.

Basketball in basket

We beat them twice last year by 50 (each time) without Breizh and Brandon.

So, we are pulling for West Orange on Wednesday. Now, our mindset is different now that it’s playoff time. Stephon, our star six-foot center has rejoined the team, and we are working very hard to accomplish our goal: WIN IT ALL. Many people have been posting on social media such as Instagram with phrases like: “Keep Calm, Maplewood is Gonna Bring This One Home.”

Maplewood

We definitely lost our reputation when we lost to South Orange and Cedar Grove, so we have a lot to prove. All we have to do is get to that Championship, and we are home free. We get a trophy, and, if West Orange beats SO, we’ll have gone further than South Orange.

Right now, we have one goal, and one goal only. Each and every person on this Maplewood team is gonna give everything they have to get to the Championship, especially me. We need to prove that we are still “for real”. Actually, right now, as I am writing, my mom is nagging me to eat because I have another practice tonight! Good luck, MMS!

Hail to Indiana’s Victor

Well, I knew going in that Michigan was going to be put to the test playing on the road against a very good Indiana team. And, unfortunately, I was right. Indiana came out amped up, feeding off of the electric crowd. They got a quick 20-7 lead, after not missing one shot. That’s right, they didn’t miss ONE shot in that run. And every shot they made, the crowd got louder.

The atmosphere was ridiculous, but I had a feeling Michigan was going to stay around. When they played Ohio State on the road, OSU went on a 26-3 run to begin the game. Michigan almost won that only losing 56-53. As I predicted, we begin to establish our offense and force turnovers defensively.

We stayed around the whole game, making big shots and playing tough defense. However, as I predicted, Victor Oladipo and Cozy Zeller exposed our defense multiple times. Now, more than half of our players playing in this top-level game aren’t even 20 years old. Mitch McGary is only 18, and he had to guard the best center in the country, on the road!

But, truth be told, despite an 8-point loss (81-73), we played a fantastic game. Mitch McGary played a very tough game down low, recording 10 points and 7 rebounds. I thought he did a great job on Cody Zeller, even though Zeller had 19 points. McGary was physical, and made Zeller take tough shots.

And, of course, my man Trey Burke. I went nuts when he hit that deep, step-back, fade away three-point shot at the end of the 1st half. I thought Burke played with poise and efficiency, finishing with 25 points, 8 assists, and 5 rebounds. I love watching him play, win or lose. He is dynamic, agile, versatile, quick, physical, poised, and smart. Great player. He made many tough shots and key plays, and was the main factor of Michigan continuing to stay in the game.

Timmy Hardaway Jr. also had a fantastic game, hitting many tough shots as well. He finished with 18 points, and he contributed largely to the Michigan attack. However, Indiana had too many weapons, and they fed off the atmosphere. Well, at least we didn’t get embarrassed, right? Honestly, its actually a good loss. Yep, good loss. We experienced a loud, wild atmosphere, and played a great team.

Now, I have to give credit to Indiana. Cody Zeller is a beast, and almost unstoppable down low, although McGary played a good game defensively. Yogi Ferrell, the freshman, played a great game with 14 points and 5 assists, providing a spark to keep the Indiana offense going. Christian Watford had a great game, recording a double-double.

Michigan vs Indiana

And, last but not least, Victor Oladipo. Wow. That’s all I can say. He is a great player to watch. He is ferociously tenacious on D, and very exciting on offense. From big slams to netting threes, Oladipo is one of the best players in the country. He gave Michigan a hard time penetrating, and amped up the crowd with his exciting plays.

Even me, who is so biased, I can’t even tell you… Was smiling, and I just couldn’t root against him. You gotta love a player like that. But hey, we get Indiana again at home, so we’ll see who is boss, then. I really wanted Michigan to win though, so I could prove to my friends Mikey and Ryan that Michigan is better than Duke. Oh well, we gotta make it up against that team from Columbus. Go blue!

And, finally, the Super Bowl. Which Harbaugh will join their sister with a big win this weekend? By the way, if you didn’t know, this is a big weekend for the Harbaughs. John and Jim’s sister, Joani, is married to Tom Crean, Indiana’s coach. The Harbaugh brothers’ brother-in-law got a big win against Michigan this weekend, so who do you think will get the BIG win tonight?

Honestly, I don’t like Jim Harbaugh. He went to Michigan, yes, and was even the starting QB when my dad was in Ann Arbor. However, I just don’t like him. First of all, he made disrespectful, unnecessary comments about Michigan a few years ago, when he was interviewed about the vacant coaching job at Michigan. Also, he complains when he is coaching, and I don’t like his negative, annoying demeanor when he is on the sideline. So, I would like to see John Harbaugh and Tom Crean laugh in his face at Thanksgiving.

So, I will be rooting for the Baltimore Ravens. I am only 12, so I don’t really know what happened with Ray Lewis in the past. However, he is a good, inspirational football player, and I think he deserves to get a nice Super Bowl victory to end his career. Now, who do I think will win? I don’t know. It’s a good game. I want to say the Ravens, but the 49ers are on a roll. But, let’s go with John Harbaugh, 31-27.