Saturday, June 21, 2008

Homeschooled two-armed pitcher

This story of a homeschooled boy who was ambidextrous supports my theory that homeschooling is better for allowing children to excel at things they would not be encouraged to do in public school.

NYC Switch Pitcher Confounds Batters, Umpires
Saturday, June 21, 2008
NEW YORK — Ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte can confound hitters — and umpires — when he's on the mound.
The umps working a game Thursday night between the Class-A Staten Island Yankees and the Brooklyn Cyclones had nothing to go by when Venditte made his professional debut, less than two weeks after getting drafted in the 20th round by the Yankees.
He pitched the ninth, and after retiring two batters and allowing a single, a switch hitter stepped to the plate for Brooklyn. That's hardly unusual. But it becomes intriguing against Venditte, a switch pitcher.
Things got a tad dizzying when designated hitter Ralph Henriquez, who had taken his on-deck circle swings as a lefty, entered the batter's box from the right side.
Venditte put his specially made glove (it has six fingers, two webs and fits on both hands) on his left hand, and got ready to pitch right-handed.
Henriquez then changed his mind and switched sides of the plate, because a batter sees the ball sooner when it is thrown by a pitcher using the opposite hand.

So Venditte shifted his glove to the other hand.
Then it happened again.
And again.
And again.
Apparently unsure of how the rules handle such an oddity, the umpires didn't stop the cat-and-mouse game until Venditte walked toward the plate and said something while pointing at Henriquez. Umpires and both managers then huddled and the umps decided the batter and pitcher can both change sides one time per at-bat, and that the batter must declare first.
The ruling favored the pitcher, since he gets to declare last.
About seven minutes after he first stepped in, Henriquez struck out on four pitches as a righty against a right-handed Venditte and slammed his bat in frustration. Staten Island won, 7-2.
"It's probably been a long, long time since he's seen a right-hander as a righty," Venditte said. "I think in that situation, I had the upper hand because he wasn't used to that. It's been a long time since he'd come in the game as a switch hitter and faced a righty as a righty."
It wasn't completely new to Venditte, who went 9-3 with a 3.34 ERA and seven saves as a senior at Creighton.
"That same thing happened my sophomore year against Nebraska," he said. "But in that situation he got to hit off me right-handed, and I faced him lefty. He hit a line drive to center but it got caught, so I lucked out."
It's unclear what the MLB rule book says on the matter. While it's clear that both a batter and a pitcher are allowed to change sides once, the umpire's decision that the batter must declare first remains debatable.
"We're waiting on an official ruling on it," Staten Island media relations director John Davison said.
Pat Venditte Sr., who raised his son as ambidextrous from the age of 3, said the Missouri Valley Conference had rules in place for such a situation. There, the pitcher had to show which arm he was going to pitch with.
"My first thought was, isn't there a rule to cover that?" asked Venditte Sr., by phone from Nebraska.
Justin Klemm, executive director of the Professional Baseball Umpire Corporation, said his organization was working with major league baseball to remedy the lack of a clear rule.
"We don't want to rush to any interpretation beyond what is in our manual," Klemm said, referring to the minor league umpire manual. "Obviously what's in our manual doesn't cover every situation. We want to be as fair as possible, but we're going to do that in a timely manner."
It's all happening because Venditte Sr. decided to experiment with his son at age 3, having him first kick footballs with both feet, then punting with both, and finally throwing with both hands. He and his 3-year-old son played long toss — pitchers mound to plate — with each arm.
Because his son was home-schooled, Pat Jr. wasn't dissuaded from doing something that might have been seen as "unnatural," his father said. By the time he started playing organized baseball, his son was already better with both hands than most kids were with either.
"By the time he played at 7, people were in awe," Venditte Sr. said. "It spurred us on. He was doing things that people found unique and different."
Some scouts have noticed that Venditte throws harder from the right side — near 90 mph as opposed to about 80 from the left side — and have decided that means he's naturally a righty.
Not so fast, his father said.
"The reason he's not as fast from the left is he drops his arm from the left side to get more movement, he throws a sweeping slider," he said. "The coach at Creighton thought it was more difficult to hit. He has equal arm strength. He can stand at home plate and throw it out of the ballpark from both sides."
The Yankees have enough faith that Venditte can bring his ambidextrous pitching game to the majors to draft him not once, but twice. They drafted him in the 45th round after his junior year as well, but Venditte chose to return to Creighton.
Venditte is not the first professional pitcher to throw with both hands, although he may be the first in the modern era with the potential to regularly switch arms.
Greg A. Harris, who pitched for Cincinnati, Montreal, San Diego, Texas, Philadelphia, Boston and the Yankees from 1981-95, was a righty throughout his career. He pitched from the left side for two batters in the second-to-last game of his career

Thursday, June 05, 2008


An article from

The sobering fact is that serenity and joy are natural states for us all. Fear not. Practiced regularly, these strategies vastly improve our odds of attaining despair.

Many people innocently believe that all they have to do is sit back, coast through life, and misery will come to them. Nothing could be further from the truth! The sobering fact is that serenity and joy are natural states for us all. Just observe a child at play, yourself on a favorite vacation, or anyone absorbed in creative activity. As our minds clear of clutter and negative thinking, a profound sense of peace and contentment often emerges. Does this mean there's no hope? Absolutely not! The strategies outlined below, practiced regularly, vastly improve our odds of achieving misery.
You are perfectly entitled to feelings of entitlement. It is your birthright to expect unfailing attention, loyalty, respect, and subservience from others. Contemplate the inherent, self-evident unfairness of anyone having something you want. Strive to see compromise, accommodation, patience, and responsibility, as somehow relevant only to "the other guy." In general, be aware that life owes you and that you were put on this planet to collect.
Malicious intent is always present if you just look carefully enough. This is particularly true regarding family members. Suppose your spouse overlooks one of your preferences. Seize the opportunity to view this as conclusive proof that you don't really matter to them and probably never have. If your children dawdle at bedtime, see them as viciously spiteful and yourself as a sorry excuse for a parent. It's really very simple. Ignore nothing, and always assume evil intent. Remember, if you don't take things personally no one will do it for you.
There is really very little sense in having problems if you don't focus on them. It's crucial therefore to keep careful track of all your problems and constantly review them. Nurture the attitude that you can't really move on to anything unless everything is resolved first. Remember also that there is no solution without a problem, if you look closely enough. Always resist the temptation to ponder where problems go when you don't think about them.
Too often people cheat themselves out of misery by maintaining perspective. This is both needless as well as extremely counter productive. Why would anyone ever want to think of themselves as "just human" when "fatally flawed" and "irredeemably warped" are available? Similarly, when recalling past mistakes, why stop at instructive regret when paralyzing guilt is within reach? Sure it requires a bit of effort, but the payoff can be enormous. Just imagine the benefits of eventually believing that your negative thinking actually reflects reality.
It is critical to remember that really terrible things can occur at any moment. Let's start with the body. Begin by paying close attention to changes in bodily sensation, no matter how trivial. Next, let your imagination run wild. Anything involving flesh-eating bacteria or intestinal parasites will usually do the trick. People sometimes protest that their bodies feel perfectly fine. Not to worry! Think "Silent Killers." Feeling perfectly fine places you squarely at risk for these. Of course, there is no reason to stop at personal health issues. The range of potential catastrophe is vast. For example, there are suitcase bombs, encroaching asteroids, global recession, pandemics, killer bees, and so on. Simply use your imagination to craft a realistic sense of impending doom. Savor the pride you'll feel on your death bed knowing that nothing ever caught you by surprise.
Gratitude is to misery what Kryptonite is to Superman. All the hard work you've invested in misery will go down the drain if you start fiddling around with gratitude. A zero tolerance policy is very much in order. This is very challenging, however, as life runs rampant with opportunities for gratefulness. Begin, therefore, by thoroughly discounting all the good in your life as a "given." Next, focus your mind on the many ways in which life continues to disappoint you. At an advanced level, you can even learn to see the bad in the good. For instance, should you get a big raise you could immediately focus on the tax implications. Eliminate gratitude from your life and misery will be right around the corner.
A final word. The beauty of misery is that the more you share it with others, the more you wind up having. So share generously. After all, misery loves company.
Published: Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Original Sin

Most people agree that the original sin was when Eve at the forbidden fruit. But Dr. Sedler, in his book "When to Speak Up and When to Shut Up," sets forth the theory that Adam was present when Eve decided to sin and he did not speak up to advise her against it. He says that this is the original sin--the fact that Adam said nothing when his companion was making an unwise choice.

It is our responsibility as Christians to speak up when our friends and family members are making wrong choices. We must, however, do it with an attitude of love and humility.