Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Generations

I saw an interview with Cal Ripken earlier this week where he was asked about his son, Ryan, who is now playing youth baseball. Cal made the comment that his son normally wears his number, 8, when playing sports and that the choice is all Ryan's. I would have been the same. I always wanted to be like my Dad, and I made a lot of decisions based on the example he set.

Fathers and Sons. It's an age old relationship that can go many different ways. Most of us pale in comparison to our old men, and are better served by trying our own thing. I think the President is a good example of this, but there are some politicians who have done their Dad's names proud. Bob Casey Jr. and Richard M. Daley come to mind.

While it can be very hard for a young man to follow in his father's footsteps, it can be quite rewarding to those who knew the father, and see simalar traits in the son. I think of family business for this scenario (eg Ford, Anheuser Bush, or Yuengling) where generations of the family's have lead the company. There is a sense of stability involved in this, which once can liken to the Royal Dynasty's of the middle ages.

Sports is the other arena where people can appreciate a familiar name. Of course there is more pressure, but there is also bound to be more immediate acceptance. Ken Griffy Jr could do no wrong in Cincinnati even when he was getting hurt every year, because the city loved his dad. The same was true when Barry Bonds first went to San Francisco, where his dad Bobby was a star. I think that preexisting relationship is what has made it possible for the people out there to love his so much when the rest of the country hates him. The one big problem is that the system is flawed, in that it does not allow for a player to play for his father's team until he becomes a free agent because he is subject to the draft.

Leave it to the Aussies to come up with a great solution to this problem. As I detailed in a post I did last year there are circumstances when a player can go right to his father's old club straight out of school. The father-son rule states that once a player has become a lifetime member of a club, usually after 150 games then that club is able to take any of his sons before the common draft starts.

The player has to agree to be taken, thus allowing a player who wants to blaze their own trail to do so, and the team must forfeit it's third round pick if a son is taken. In 2005 Marc Murphy opted to pass up on the chance to play for the Brisbane Lions (His father played for the Fitzroy Lions) and was taken first overall by Carlton in the draft.

Other teams, such as the Geelong Cats who I follow, have been more active on the father-son front. Geelong has 6 players on their roster who's dads also pulled on a Cats jumper. Matthew Scarlett, Mark Blake, Tim Callan and the Ablett brothers, Nate and Gary Jr., all play in the same town their dads did.

Gary Ablett Sr was one of the greatest players of all time, and still his son's wanted to be Cats, which must be great for a guy who been a Geelong supporter for long enough to have seen them both play. The sixth son on the Geelong Side this year is Tom Hawkins who at 18 made his debut with the Cats earlier this season.

Hawkins is a big boy standing 197 CM and tipping the scale at 108 KG (that's 6-4 240 to you Yank) and he may be just the thing the Cats need as they start the 2007 fixture 2-2. And I know of what I speak, cause the O's could really use a tall left handed pitcher in 2015 and it would be nice to be able to have Ryan in Baltimore.

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