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28 June, 2011

The HR game

  by Gus Ramsey  (6/28/11)

   I mentioned on Twitter tonight how I look at the box scores every day looking for a day when players combine to hit their 1st through 10th homers of the season (tough to explain in 140 characters).
  To my knowledge, it hasn't happened yet this year. What I mean is this. Look at the box scores and look for this (these are examples from the games on 6/28)

Mets/Tigers- Thole (1)
Giants/Cubs- Tejada (2)
Mets/Tigers- Bay (4)
Bst/Phil- Brown (5)
Pit/Tor- Patterson (6)
ChW/Col- Ramirez (7)
Tex/Hst-Hamilton (8)
Bst/Phi-Victorino (9)
Mil/NYY-Swisher (10)

  So we have 1-10 except for the 3. And it's end of day totals. As I write this, Ramirez is still playing and he could hit his 8th and we would be without a 7.
  It's a little dopey but the first day I notice it happened I'll be fired up.

(***update. It happened last night. We actually made it all the way from 1 to 13. And I was, in fact, a little fired up***)

CM Punk

  by Gus Ramsey

  Compelling: Evoking interest, attention, or admiration in a powerfully irresistible way.

  When I watched CM Punk deliver his promo on Monday Night Raw this week, that was the word that came to mind. 
   I've worked in television for 22 years, both in news and sports. The highest compliment pretty much any piece of television work can be given is for it to be compelling. 

   I've been a wrestling fan as long as I can remember. Aware of it in the 70's, I grew up with it in the 80's and stuck with it until Stone Cold and The Rock moved on. 

   I've been pulled back into it in recent months by my two older boys, who have discovered it with that wide-eyed innocence that makes it so great. On Saturday mornings I often awake to the sounds of my boys "ooohing" and "ahhhing" downstairs as they watch Smackdown on the DVR.

   I'm 44 now. I shouldn't really get wound up by anything I see in or around the ring. But Punk's shoot on Raw grabbed me. I was already in bed, doing something on the iPhone and RAW was background music. But when Punk started talking, I gazed up at the tv. In short order, he had my full attention.  As he spoke,  I found myself having this internal discussion, "Wait, is this real? That whole "my contract is up angle" is just an angle, isn't it? (I don't read up on this stuff so I am in the dark with the behind the scenes news.) Nah, it's part of the show. Good for Vince for letting him say all this stuff. But what if it's not? Man, that was awesome!" 

   The answer lies somewhere in between. And that's the beauty of wrestling. Just when you think you have the answers, they change the questions. My favorite part of the Punk promo was when he looked at the camera and said "Hi! Oops, I broke the fourth wall." That was the clue. Those big walls the wrestlers all come running out from behind on their way to the ring? Punk was giving us a glimpse behind them. My memory is fuzzy, so maybe there are other instances, but this was the first "hey, I think they're off the script!" moment like that I can recall since the epic Vince/Brett Hart moment. 

   I hadn't really jumped all the way back in to the WWE. I enjoy the crazy R Truth character. Randy Orton is fun to watch. Cena is Cena. The athleticism of the the wrestlers today is spectacular. But it seemed like the talent on the mic was lacking. Big time. I didn't feel like there was anyone compelling. CM Punk changed the game (sorry, HHH) on Monday night for me. Besides the fact that he isn't a muscles-on-top-of-muscles cartoon character, he can command the mic. He actually comes off as really smart. How many wrestlers can you say that about? Ever? Now Punk has a chance to break out in a Stone Cold Steve Austin kind of way. 

   But the clock is ticking. It appears the contract squabble is real and in a few weeks, Punk could be gone. Vince McMahon is a smart man and knows the business better than anyone. It doesn't make any business sense to let Punk walk now. For the WWE's sake, and mine, I hope Punk stays. Creating compelling TV is hard to do. And you can't spell compelling without C.M.P.

Here's a cool column about wrestlers reaction to Punk on Monday night.

and here is the promo

22 June, 2011

Teenagers having sex at home

by Gus Ramsey

big discussion today on GMA about parents encouraging their teenagers "if you are going to have sex, have it here at home." as opposed to the back seats of cars or wherever. Bottom line for me, I don't want to know that my kid is getting some more often than me in MY house.

19 June, 2011

Happy Father's Day

 by Gus Ramsey 

Greenwich, Connecticut. Circa 1975.

Bright sunny day... sky of blue and summer exploding all over.
In the front yard, full of joy and delight.

My father was born in Pennsylvania, raised on baseball, the Dodgers and Red Barber.
Life was good for me, no conflict, no worries, just baseball, my dad and the Mets.

Many trips to Shea. Many Mets hats, shirts, and pennants. Don’t forget the knish and the pretzel after the game.

On this day, this glorious summer day, he’s filling the sky with tennis balls.
The repetition was simple yet pleasurable as I caught as many as I could.
“Two hands...atta boy... in, in, in...”
The words of encouragement never ceasing, the desire to impress growing larger by the moment.

and back I went, over the driveway’s hot summer asphalt toward the garbage can bin.
Eyes never leaving the yellow ball, back up against the wall.
Stretching...reaching... and then catching, with arm extended as far back as possible.

Joy, delirium and wonderment. I hold the ball up high and wear the large, unmistakable grin of a young boy who pleased himself.
At the other end of the driveway, my father smiles the smile of disbelief and pride that only a father can feel for his son.  

One day, one moment, one father’s smile... one memory for a lifetime.

I love you, Dad.
Happy Father's Day.

17 June, 2011

I think...

 by Gus Ramsey

"you can take that one..."
   LeBron deferred to D-Wade MORE in the post-game press conferences than he did on the court during the finals.

  I'm going to start an investigative unit whose sole purpose will be to disclose the locations of all the secret meetings and workouts that seem to be happening in sports lately. They're all at these "undisclosed locations."
Also, all my reporters will be from parts unknown.

  I agree with my friend Nick when he
says there is a reason (Mark Cuban) championship bracelets are not a tradition. If Cuban wants to take his bling prizes to the next level, how about gold plated, diamond studded championship headphones that all the Mavs could wear on the planes and into the arenas? How cool would that be to walk into other teams gyms sporting 18-carat Beats?

  If golf were the WWE, Tiger would show up at Congressional this weekend and follow McIlroy around the course, scowling at him all the way. 

   It’s important for your kids to learn the classics.
   That is why I bought Looney Toones and Muppet Show dvds for my boys to watch.

   The highlight of my professional career was getting Tim Kurkjian to take a big hit of helium and then talk. Funniest thing I’ve ever seen and heard. Sounded like one of the Chipmunks on speed.

   Despite Rick Carlisle’s contention that Erik Spoelstra has “the toughest job in basketball” I’m saying that job goes to Kurt Rambis. Or Deshawn Stephenson’s PR person. Or the Sacramento Kings tickets sales staff. Or Brendan Haywood’s free throw coach. Or the guy responsible for finding available skin room on BirdMan Andersen for a tattoo.

 I'm still a little bitter about the Mets losing on a balk-off. And many versions of the balk are stupid rules. But for my money the worst rule in the history of sport remains the NBA having the "3-to-make-2" rule for foul shots. Once teams were in the bonus they were given 3 chances to make 2 foul shots. In the NBA! You know, where the world's best players play!? This wasn't the carnival, this was an actual professional league's rule. "Aww, you missed. Here, try another."

  The Mets are going to win 10 of their next 15 games. Unless of course they find some excruciating ways to lose a few of them. But that's not their style...

  A lot of things in life are hard for me. Sitting down and polishing off a whole sleeve of Chips Ahoy while dunking them in milk, is not one of them.

  Ralph Kiner has said a lot of great things, but nothing will ever top his Father's Day salutation of "On this Father's Day, to all you dads out there, Happy Birthday!" 

13 June, 2011

My Favorite Box Score Ever

  by Gus Ramsey

   June 14, 1974.
   It happened in my lifetime so it's not THAT long ago, but in the world of Major League starting pitching, it requires two time machines to go back there.
   The pitching match up itself was good enough to get the average fan excited. Nolan Ryan vs. Luis Tiant. California Angels vs. Boston Red Sox.
   Tiant was coming off a 20-win season and was on his way to another.
   Ryan was coming off a 20-win season and on his way to another. He was also in the midst of a 3-season run where his strikeout totals were an amazing 329, 383, 367.
   Tiant entered the day on a stretch of starts where he logged 9 ip, 8 ip, 9 ip, 9 ip, 10 ip, 9 ip, 9 ip, 9 ip. He allowed no more than three earned runs in any of those starts.

   Ryan, as he often was at that point in his career, was pitching erratically, but capable of throwing a no-hitter every time out.
   The Express threw 222 complete games in his career. El Tiante,  187. So it's not a shock that they would lock up in a game where they both went nine innings. But then they went ten, and eleven, and twelve and so on...
   In a world where pitch count is shown on game broadcasts like some ticking clock of doom for the starter, and where complete games are fawned over, this box score is remarkable. Again, this isn't from 1904, it's from the fairly modern era of less than forty years ago.
So here it is. Look at this box score. Start with the pitching lines and go from there.

In an article done by the LA Times on the 30th anniversary of the game, Ryan said his pitching coach had kept track that day with a clicker and that Ryan threw 235 pitches. 235! 10 walks and 19 strikeouts will do that to a guy. Throw in the eight warm-up pitches between innings (104), plus another 50 or so pregame warms-up pitches and Ryan was pushing 400 pitches that day!
   Tiant threw 14 1/3 innings only to earn himself a loss. Rob Tracy of the Elias Sports Bureau told me a legitimate formula to use to figure out Tiant's pitch count would be 5.5 pitches per walk, 4.8 per strikeout and 3.3 for everything else. Based on that Tiant's in-game pitch count would be in the 200 range.
   The Red Sox lead off man, Cecil Cooper, went 0-8 with 6 Ks. What's the opposite of "setting the table?" Cooper struck out 74 times in '74, so 1/12th of his season total came in this game. It took him 66 at bats after this game to record 6 more strikeouts
   Only three Boston players had hits. Hall of Famers Carlton Fisk and Carl Yastrzemski and some guy named Mario Guerrero. Yes, The Mario Guerrero. A career .239 hitter who was 5-12 with 3 walks against Ryan in his career. Who knew?
  Carlton Fisk had 8 walks and 12 strikeouts in 36 career at bats against Ryan. None of them came in this game. He was the only Boston starter who didn't have at least one walk or whiff.
  Yaz hits a 2-run homer off Ryan in the 9th to tie the game. Where was the closer, you ask? Ryan was the closer. 41 starts that year. 26 complete games. The Angels team leader in saves in '74 was 40-year old Orlando Pena. He appeared in 4 games for a total of 8 innings and lead the Angels with 3 saves.
   In the 4th inning, Ryan walks the bases loaded (Yaz, Carbo, Petrocelli), fans McAuliffe, walks Hughes to force in a run, and then punches out the next two (Guerrero and Cooper) to end the inning. Seven batters came up, a minimum of 25 pitches were thrown (but more likely 35-40) and not one ball was put into play!
   Top 10, two on and two out, and Ryan fans Yastrzemski to end the inning, one inning after giving up the game-tying homer to Yaz.
   With 2-out in the bottom of the 11th, Stanton steals second and takes third on a throwing error, but Tiant gets Hall of Famer Frank Robinson on a foul out to third base to end the inning. Today most managers probably walk the guy with the 550+ home runs and pitch to Joe Lahoud.
   Ryan had 16 K's through nine innings and ended eight innings with strikeouts. Only five of his K's were looking.
   The game ends when future Tiant teammate, Denny Doyle, hits a walk-off double to score future Tiant nemesis, Mickey Rivers (Rivers hit .364 off Tiant in their Red Sox/Yankees clashes of 1976-1978).
   Barry Raziano, who, like Nolan Ryan, was drafted by the New York Mets, won one game in his career. This was it.
   11,083 was the attendance. Time of game was only 4:02. I wonder how many were left when it ended.
   I wasn't at this game. I've never seen video of it. But looking at the box score tells me the story of an incredible pitching duel from thirty-seven years ago, the likes of which we will never see again.

12 June, 2011

The Year of (24) Years Ago: Catching Tom Seaver

   by Gus Ramsey

(note: This week marks the anniversary of the official end of Tom Seaver's career. I decided to break from my 25 years ago concept because I didn't want to wait another whole year to write this post.)

   Tom Seaver. John Elway. Julius Erving. Those are my sports idols. Those are the three guys I grew up adoring; oohing, aahing and genuflecting over every athletic maneuver they made. Seaver was first. Baseball was the sport that first captured my attention. In 1973, when I was 6, my friend's grandfather was a minority owner of the Mets, so we went to a lot games. One day, my friend and I went to a game in our Mets "uniforms" and had our picture taken with a bunch of the players and their manager, the one and only, Yogi Berra. It was first class all the way, so my love of the Mets was deep at a very early age. Seaver, of course, was the primary object of that love. He was The Franchise, everyone's favorite player. When the Mets traded him in 1977, it broke my heart. I was 10. There was no Internet, no Baseball Tonight, no talk radio, hence, no warning signs that this was coming. At least in today's world even neophyte Mets fans have an inkling that their favorite players may soon be gone. When news of the Seaver trade broke, it hurt more than any pain I had experienced. When he returned to the team in '83, it was a joy unlike any I had experienced. And I was a 16 year old boy. That's a lot of joy! And then, the following season, poof!, he was gone again. Off to the White Sox for two seasons and his 300th victory.
It was easier that time because he was getting older and I was older. I understood the dreaded "business side of baseball" much better. We avoided the emotionally apocalyptic Seaver vs The Mets World Series in '86 when Tom injured his knee and was unable to pitch for Boston. He retired at the end of that season. 311 wins and a ticket punched for Cooperstown.

   In May of 1987 I was 20 years old. I was home from college, working during the day and hanging out with friends at night. The typical college kid summer. Well, except for the part where Tom Seaver was coming to my house once a week. During his time with the Mets in the '70s, Seaver lived right down the road from us. He would would stay in shape during the off-season by playing hoops with his buddies,  and some of the faculty members, at the school where my dad taught. My dad was the athletic director, so Seaver would always have to go through my dad to get into the gym.
   Jump back to '87. My dad is into baseball memorabilia. He reaches out to Seaver about doing a deal where my dad advertises access to Seaver, people mail in items for Seaver to sign, Seaver comes to the house and signs them, they split the money. So once a week Seaver is coming over to sit down for an hour or so and sign all the stuff that has been sent in.
   In 1987 the Mets pitching staff was a mess. Doc Gooden began the year in rehab. Bob Ojeda was lost for the season. Sid Fernandez was erratic. So the Mets picked up the phone and called Tom Seaver. They wanted to know how his knee was and if he was interested in pitching for them. As I would soon learn, he was interested.
   One day in May, I had just made it home from work when Seaver walked in the house with a baseball glove in his hand.
  "Hmmmm. What's up with that?" I wondered.
   Tom didn't waste any time. He said to my father the words I will never forget, "The Mets called. They want me to try to come back. I need someone to throw to. Can you catch me?"
   My dad was 55 at the time and probably still capable of handling Tom's stuff, but my dad has always been one to put others, especially his kids, first. "That may not be a good idea. How about Gus?"
   Tom looked at me, "How about it?"
  "Gee, Tom, I'm not sure. Let me check my very busy 20-year-old-kid-home-from-college schedule." Well, that's what I wanted to say. It came out either "hghkadfbkanfafnlph" or "uhhhhhhh, OK, yes, sure, um, now? like right now? I'm ready. I'm ready!"
   Tom said he wanted to sign the memorabilia first and then would be ready to go. That was good because it gave me time to do three things. 1) regain consciousness 2) find my first baseman's glove, which was the closest thing to a catchers glove I had. 3) call my friend, Bill, and say "In about 30 minutes I'm going to be catching Tom Seaver in my front yard. Feel free to come over."
  I think Bill pulled into the driveway before I hung up the phone.

  I'm standing in my front yard, playing soft toss with Tom Seaver. After a few minutes, Tom paces off 60 feet 6 inches, marks where the rubber would be and gets ready. I take a towel and make a home plate out of it. As I lower into my squat I am more nervous than at any point in my life. I've played in high school hoops championship games. I've done some public speaking in front of large crowds. I've taken my drivers test. I've lost my virginity. But nope, never more nervous than right now. I'm about to catch the person I grew up idolizing. Surreal doesn't begin to describe it. Tom starts firing fastballs in my direction with his classic "drop and drive" delivery. The sound is unmistakeable, "pssssst-POP, pssssst-POP!"
   24 years later the dichotomy of the moment is not lost on me. With each pitch, 20 year old me is thinking "I'm catching Tom Seaver! I'm catching Tom Seaver!" 60 feet, 6 inches away the 41-year old legend is thinking, well, I'm not sure what he's thinking but it wasn't "I'm pitching to Gus Ramsey! I'm pitching to Gus Ramsey!"
   I do know this, Tom is giving my father a dissertation on pitching. My dad is standing right next to him and Seaver is going through all the finer points of his delivery; what he's looking to accomplish, what his mental approach is, showing him his grips. The moment is as great for my dad as it is for me. "He spoke about dividing the strike zone into quadrants, " my dad recently recalled. "and how he knew from experience which quadrant was best to pitch to based on his knowledge of the hitter."
   "I'm going to throw some sliders now," Seaver says to me.
   "OK.... what does that mean?" I ask.
   "The ball will break from your left to your right," Seaver says matter of factly. And so it did. The pitch would come in directly at my left knee and I would catch it in front of my right ankle. If Tom had not told me what the pitch was going to do, he would have broke every toe on my right foot because there is no way I would have reacted in time to catch it.

   Bill is standing off to the side. He's taking it all in. He's trying hard not to interfere.
  "Hey Tom, how about if Bill stands in here like a batter and gives you a strike zone?" I ask.
   Tom takes a second to towel off his face and waves Bill in. After a few more fastballs, Tom starts to throw his lollipop curve ball. He had begun throwing it with the Red Sox. It was a big, looping pitch that was probably no harder than 65 miles per hour.
   After a few of them, Bill pipes up, "I think I could hit that pitch."
   Tom pauses, looks up from his thoughts and says, "Really? OK. You dig in and look for that pitch."
   Tom rocks back and fires a fastball. For Bill, it either seemed like 110 mph or it was moving in slow motion. Either way, it was coming in the general vicinity of his head. I jumped and reached for the ball but couldn't grab it. It was a good 15 feet behind or over Bill's head. As I ran off chasing the ball, laughing all the way, Bill took time to consider the 18 years of his life that had just passed before his eyes.

  Shortly there after Tom proclaimed himself good and we were done. The palm on my left hand looked like I had held it against a stove top for 20 minutes, but I wasn't feeling anything but giddy.
 "Do you think you'll be free to do this a few more times?" Tom asked me.
  Of course I was. The next three sessions were at Tom's house. Among the highlights: seeing his 3 Cy Young awards hanging in his office and him getting mad that Frank Taveras, not Bud Harrelson, was the shortstop on my all-time Mets Microleague team. That summer I was playing Bill in a 162-game season against his all-time Red Sox team on his computer baseball game, and I had told Tom that my starting lineup did not include Harrelson.
 "It's an offensive game, Tom. It doesn't take defense into consideration. Taveras hit .279 in '80," I explained.
 "Doesn't matter. Harrelson has to be your shortstop. Change it."
 "But Tom, I..."
 "Change it," he demanded.
  I changed it.

   Even though Tom wanted to keep our throwing sessions under wraps, I couldn't help but tell a few friends. (Can you imagine if Twitter was around back then??!) So, after a few meetings, a friend asked,  "How's he throwing?"
   "Well," I said with all sincerity, "He's the best I've ever caught."
   On June first, the story broke. The back page of the Daily News blared, "Mets Give Tom the Call!" I read the article breathlessly, wondering if Tom would mention the outstanding job a young Gus Ramsey was doing in helping him get ready for his triumphant return. Nope. Oh, well. That's OK. My reward is the experience.
  During our first session, my mom had been smart enough to take out her camera and snap some pictures of me catching Tom. I took that photo, and a full page picture of Tom from one of my Mets yearbooks, had him sign both and framed them together. "To Gus-  hope I didn't hurt your hand. Tom Seaver" is what he wrote.
  Eventually Tom started going into Shea Stadium and throwing there, in front of the Mets brass. They sent him to Port St. Lucie to pitch a simulated game. As a Mets fan I was emotionally and personally invested in this, so when news came that a less-than-accomplished backup catcher, Barry Lyons,  had gone 6-for-6 off Tom and the comeback was over, it stung. The June 22nd edition of the Daily News had a picture of Seaver walking away from the cameras, team jacket over his shoulder, with a caption of "It's over!"
  The next summer, Tom was nice enough to send me two tickets for Tom Seaver Day at Shea Stadium.
I've had the good fortune of running into him over the years, including a handful of times in Cooperstown when I was up there for the annual inductions. Even though Tom always called Jerry Grote "his catcher," I like to think that I was his first choice for Grote's backup.

  One other side note to the aftermath; that year for Christmas my father gave me the jersey Tom wore in his simulated game, which Tom's agent had given to my dad. I put pictures of it at the bottom of this post.

   Recently, on SNY's Mets Weekly, Seaver gave an interview and was asked "other than the World Series, what was your favorite moment of your career?"You can see it here at the 1:15 mark.
   His answer caught me off guard but when thinking about it, it made perfect sense. Seaver always referred to the pitcher's mound as his "office." When he attempted to make his comeback, he was working. My small part in it was a dream come true. A bizarro reality moment that I could never have imagined. For him, it was a step in trying to get back on that mound, the beginning of the process of trying to get back to work in his office. He took great pride in the time and effort it required to accomplish all that he had, to build a Hall of Fame career. So it doesn't surprise me now that he buzzed Bill's tower a bit when Bill proclaimed he could hit Tom's curveball. Pride. It doesn't surprise me that he fought for "his shortstop", the guy who had made countless plays behind him, to be the shortstop in some silly computer game. Pride. And it doesn't surprise me that he looks back at win #301, a complete game effort, and tears up.  Pride.  It's a powerful emotion.
   24 years later, I look at the experience and am still amazed that the baseball gods altered the stars in a way that resulted in Tom Seaver pitching to ME in my front yard. While my amazement of that occurrence never wanes, my appreciation of it grows by the day.

the tag on the jersey which shows the year/
the number of times issued/the jersey number

Me, Tom and my dad in front of
Tom's plaque in Cooperstown in 2007

04 June, 2011

Fatherly Advice

by Gus Ramsey

   With Father's Day just around the corner, I wanted to share some "wisdom" with those of you who may be getting married soon or will soon be a father for the first time. Not all of this is world class material but when I've shared it with others they have said it was helpful.

  Let's start with being a fiance. Guys, if you are engaged you only have one real job; stay out of the way. Volunteer a few times to do "whatever you need me to do," but for the most part that's going to mean stay out of the way. The wedding is all about the bride. Understand that, embrace that. Everything looks beautiful. You love any ideas she has. If she wants to register at Dawn's House of Funky Fake Nails, you let her. Remember, just about everything you register for is for HER, not you. If it's something you can use, great! There will be a few exceptions where the bride is super cool and she will register for stuff for both of you to use. But for the most part, understand china, towels and small kitchen appliances are part of your future. Now here's what you do. You tell your future Mrs. that you get to return all the duplicate gifts for something YOU want. It's a simple gesture your bride can make to show that she wants you to be happy too, but she's not really sacrificing anything. It's a win-win. When I got married in 1992 I was able to parlay our duplicates into a new TV and recliner. I got about 10 good years out of each and we've still only used the china about 5 times in 18 years of marriage. I ask you, who got the better end of that deal?

  Now let's move on to parenthood. These are in no particular order.
  Just because your baby is an awesome sleeper in months 0-3, don't fool yourself into thinking it's all gravy. Sometimes months 4-6 are much worse. Teeth start coming in. There's a sense of "hey, where are those people who hold me all day?" kicking in. Don't fall into a false sense of security.
  When you think your baby is crying because she misses you, take one of your wives t-shirts that she recently wore and stuff it into the corner of the baby's crib. The baby picks up the scent, thinks mama is near by and settles back down to sleep.

  If you plan to take your kids to pro or college sporting events on a regular basis, save the tickets. I've probably been to 300 Mets games. I would love to know what my all-time record at Mets games is. So now I save the ticket stubs for all the games I take my boys to. Someday they'll be able to take those tickets, go on-line and look up their record and the details from the games they've gone to. 

 If you celebrate Christmas, put the kids stockings outside their bedroom door. This buys you an additional hour of sleep while the kids occupy themselves with what's in the stocking.

  Everything happens on Tuesday. For a good stretch of time, kids have no clue what the days of the week really mean, how long 24 hours is, etc. So when they ask a "when are we going to...?" or "what time can we...?" question, just tell them "Tuesday." It satisfies their need for an answer and saves you about 30 minutes of losing brain cells.

 Watch your kids do "their thing." Whether it's playing an instrument, acting, playing sports, whatever it is, watching your kid perform is so much better than you can ever imagine. It's fun when they play in their little YMCA soccer or tee ball games, but I'm talking about the real thing. The first time my eldest son competed in a legit swim meet, I was overcome with pride and emotion. I walked out of the building, called my dad and asked "Why didn't you ever tell me how cool it is to watch your son compete??!"
  It gets better too. As they find their niche and really start to get good at whatever it is they do, never take for granted the chance to watch them do it. Make the long drives, get up early, do whatever is necessary. Don't be the obnoxious, over-involved, my kid is the best so everyone stand back parent, but make sure you watch them, support them and let them know how proud you are of their performance and effort.

  Just like no plane has ever crashed because of turbulence, no kid has ever died from crying. They cry. Comfort them. Be patient.

  Those slides at the playground that are completely enclosed? Be very careful with them. When my oldest was almost two I decided to take him down one of those slides. I lay down on my back, put PJ on my chest and held him down, neglecting to hold his legs. When we hit a little bump, his leg popped up and his sneaker quickly stuck to the roof. He broke the bone just below his knee. So if you want to let your kid go down one of those, I'd wait for them to be at least 5 and don't go down with them.

   Make sure the door to the baby's room is well oiled. Nothing will wake up a semi-asleep child faster than a squeaky door. This comes into play in two ways. First, if you want to check on the baby and you need to open the door just enough to poke your head in, you don't want any squeakage. Second, sometimes you'll end up on the baby's floor after trying to get the baby back to sleep. I've had many nights of lying on the floor, with my hand in the crib, and then tried to crawl out of the room only to be nailed by the squeaky door. (in case you're wondering, the door is closed or mostly closed to keep light out.)
   Also, position the child's bed in a place where the door is not in the line of sight. Make sure you lay them in the bed or crib with their head not looking directly at the door, if possible.
This will allow you to peak in at times when they are just lying there, talking to themselves or singing, without you being seen. Trust me, some of the best moments as a parent occur while doing this.

  Laugh. A lot. Laugh at yourself. Laugh with your kids. Laugh at all their jokes and laugh at your own foibles. It builds their confidence. My dad has an awesome laugh. Whenever Bill Simmons is talking to him on the phone he tries to get my dad to do his patented "put down the phone and walk away while he howls" laugh. It's great because you hear him in the background trying to compose himself as you sit there waiting for him to pick the phone back up.
  When I was young, getting my dad to laugh was the highlight of my day. So laugh for your kids. It's one more way to say "I love you."

  Know this; It gets better every day. As cool as your kids are when they are 5, it's even better when they are 6. As great as that is, it's even better when they are 7. And so on.
  So if you are about to embark on the journey of parenthood, I hope you embrace it. Whenever a friend tells me they are going to have their first child I say the same thing, "Welcome to the greatest club in the world, parenthood."

  (if you have some tips that you've learned as a parent over the years, throw them into the comment box and help some future parents find their way.)