Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Hey World ... Meet Jack & Logan Nadel!

What's even more adorable than a cute baby boy? How about two cute baby boys!

On August 9, Jack Ezra Nadel and Logan Max Nadel entered the world. 

They weren't due until late August, but they were so excited about making their debuts that they demanded their release from Sammi a few weeks early. Thus marked the first of, oh, a bazillion times the boys get what they want from Sammi and Ben!

The twins were born via C-section. Jack emerged first -- a little guy at 4 pounds, 2 ounces. Seconds later, Logan entered the world, at 5 pounds, 8 ounces. 

The fact that Logan had grown so much bigger than Jack in Sammi's womb was one reason the doctors felt they needed to come out a few weeks early.

Lest anybody think that Smaller = Weaker, Jack wanted to make sure everybody knows that little guys are quicker to the punch!

At first, Logan had a little trouble breathing on his own, so he needed some outside help. 

Indeed, the first couple of days, Jack was, by all accounts, "doing better," and Sammi and Ben were thinking that the little guy might be the first to go home with them.

Within a few days, however, Logan was breathing well on his own and was eagerly slurping down all of his food ... while Jack needed to take in some nutrition through a nasal feeding tube.

Apparently, just the thought that he might get out of the hospital first made Logan smile.

The question I've gotten asked most since they were born is whether they are identical twins. Right now, it appears not; they were in different sacs when inside Sammi, and they definitely have some differences. 

Most noticeably -- besides Logan being obviously larger -- is that Jack has a cute little cleft in his chin ... just like Daddy and Grandpa do! (In both photos below, Jack and his cleft are on the left.)

As we have learned, though, small differences now can disappear over time -- and the only way to tell for sure is through a DNA test. Ben and Sammi say they will have one done.

On August 17, eight days after the boys were born, Robbie and I arrived in Chicago to meet our grandkids. I had booked flights in anticipation of a late-August birth ... but we didn't want to wait that long, so we made the 13-hour drive. It was worth it!!!

The day we got there, Sammi and Ben received the great news that Logan was strong enough to go home the next day.

We all went to the hospital on Sunday, August 18, and "loved on" both boys for several hours. Jack took his feeding well but still wasn't quite able to get all the nutrition he needed orally.

At about 5 p.m., Logan went through the process of getting checked out of the hospital, and then it was time for his first car ride -- See Video.

Once home, Daddy and Grandma couldn't get enough of Logan Max!

During our time in Chicago, Robbie and I stayed with Sammi's parents, Linda and Mickey. They were gracious hosts and, despite the potential for a wacky sitcom, we mostly spent our time talking about how lucky we all are to be parents of two amazing young adults, and grandparents to two gorgeous, healthy twin boys.

The only remotely "sitcommy" thing that happened during our stay was Cooper the dog deciding that one of my shoes tasted delicious.

Robbie and I had to begin our drive back to Charlotte on Monday afternoon, so we stopped by Sammi and Ben's apartment to say goodbye (for now) to Logan.

We will be returning to Chicago soon, and Aunt Katie will be making the trip from Seattle, so that will only add to the excitement.

In the meantime, we will be getting updates and photos from Ben and Sammi ... such as this one of Logan's first bath.

Hopefully, we soon will hear that Jack is eating all of his food and ready to rejoin his brother. They obviously belong together!

Can't wait to see Jack and Logan again!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

To Umpire Is To Dream

What happens when 100-plus youth baseball umpires get together in one location?

Well, as much fun as it might have been to regale you with Umps Gone Wild tales ... sorry ... it isn't quite as exciting as that.

A hundred-plus colleagues and I recently had the opportunity to umpire a national 12-and-under tournament at Cooperstown Dreams Park, which is located in the central New York town best known as home to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The 165-acre complex includes 22 well-manicured, lighted fields, each enclosed within green walls to form its own little stadium. Here is a shot I snapped from the grass berm outside the main field, which is used for opening and closing ceremonies, the championship game and other big events.

From the CDP website, here is an aerial view of the entire facility.

You'll note the white buildings in the middle of that photo. Those are the "barracks" that housed the teams and the umpires. 

I was in #30B. The outside wall of each barracks featured a replica baseball card of an all-time star who wore the number, in this case Orlando Cepeda.

The barracks included numerous bunk beds and little else -- not exactly glamorous. Each umpire got one full set of bunks, the bottom to sleep on, the top to store his gear and other stuff.

On our first day, Saturday, June 15, we were placed into 5-man crews. Mine was headed by our crew chief, Gary, who has been umpiring at CDP for many years. 

Our crew also had the youngest umpire of the entire week, 19-year-old Kody, as well as 82-year old Ken. 

Age-wise (and experience-wise), Brandon and I were in the middle of those extremes. We spent a lot of time together on and off the field.

Just as teams came from all over the country -- from California to New England and from Florida to Utah -- we umps were from everywhere. Brandon lives in Tennessee, as you might have guessed from his Vols hat.

On that first night, they ran the skills competition, featuring running, throwing, fielding and hitting contests. Our crew worked the "Golden Arm" event, which rewarded points for the accuracy of throws from 125 feet away.

The games started Sunday, June 16, with each team scheduled to play twice over three days.

"Scheduled" is the operative word. Heavy rains moved in Sunday morning, and things got pushed back by several hours. My first game, which had been scheduled for 1 p.m., didn't start until 11:30 p.m. After showering, my head didn't hit the pillow until 2:10 a.m.

Thanks to the composition of the fields, the equipment they use and the dedication of the grounds crew, CDP does an amazing job getting fields ready quickly after rain stops. 

Still, they aren't miracle workers, and Sunday's final two games couldn't be played. So one game was added to each of the next two days' schedules. I worked three on Monday and two on Tuesday.

Here I am on the bases for one of my Tuesday games. 

The above photo (and many others) was taken either by my sister-in-law Sandy or my brother Al. They made the trek from their hometown of Philadelphia to get a little vacation time in a less-hot, picturesque part of New York state. 

Given that coaches and parents aren't always pleased with our calls, it was nice having my very own "umpire groupies"!

One of the popular activities of the week is pin-trading. Each team produced its own pins, and kids from all over the country exchanged pins with each other. Umpires also were given pins to hand out.

Below is the pin of the team from the Matthews Athletic & Recreation Association -- the MARA Cobras -- who sponsored my trip to Cooperstown. The photo also includes the official CDP tournament baseball, as well as our umpire pin.

Each team selects an umpire, usually from its region, to go to Cooperstown Dreams Park. I'd like to thank the MARA Cobras, coached by Chad Bost, for choosing me. (To avoid conflicts of interest, umpires do not work games involving the teams that sponsor them.)

Wednesday, June 19, marked the start of the single-elimination tournament. Here are a few shots of me at the plate in the first game of the day.

Waiting for a pitch

Strike 2!

Recording a lineup change

Here are Sandy and I outside the field after one of my three Wednesday games.

The tournament concluded Thursday, but in general those games were handled by the most experienced umpires. That was fine with me, as I wanted to get going to Easton, Pa., where I was to meet my wife for a few days with friends. 

Before leaving CDP, I picked up my American Youth Baseball Hall of Fame ring. 

And before leaving Cooperstown, I met Al and Sandy for a quick stop at the Hall of Fame. I had been there years ago with my son Ben, but it was nice to check it out again for a couple of hours. 

This time, I took special note of displays involving umpires ...

... and the media.

Being a lifetime Baseball Writers Association of America member, I'm guessing that I was probably the only umpire at this tournament who also has a Hall of Fame vote.

All in all, my week in Cooperstown was an outstanding experience. 

I got to meet a lot of interesting people, work in an amazing facility, and share a love of baseball with both kids and fellow kid-like adults. 

I also took advantage of being surrounded by folks with decades of umpiring knowledge. I like to think I improved at my craft, and it was great getting to know so many others who answer to "Blue" at ballfields all across the country.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Oh Boy, Oh Boy ... Look Out World, Nadels Are Reproducing!

Robbie and I had a great trip to Chicago from May 3-6, visiting Ben and Sammi. So what the heck ... this is as good a time as any to share some great news with The Baldest Truth's tens of readers ...

Sammi, our marvelous daughter-in-law, is pregnant. Due around Sept. 1, give or take. Here she is, looking radiant!

I would have said she is "with child," but that wouldn't have been accurate.

She actually is with ... children.

Here is a dramatization of Sammi and Ben discovering a couple months back that they were having twins:

They recently learned they will be having boys, and I'm sure little Kirby and Harmon ("Twins" - get it?) will be amazing additions to our family.

Twice the love, half the sleep!

Our nephew Russ and his wife Tara recently had their second son, too. And of course, I'm the youngest of 4 boys.

Boy oh boy, do we Nadels make boys!

Sammi is doing well, as are the future grandkids (according to all medical reports so far). She has a lot of energy, as she showed in the long walk we all took on the lakefront.

A few days after we got home from Chicago, soon-to-be-Aunt Katie visited us in Charlotte for Mother's Day weekend.

Here are Grandpa Mike, Grandma Robbie and Aunt Katie celebrating our pending family additions in advance.

Katie and Robbie better enjoy that photo. Pretty soon, all the Nadel girls will be vastly outnumbered by boys!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

All I have to say is ...


The Baldest Bracket

March has been a rough month for basketball, with my Ardrey Kell Lady Knights falling in the 3rd round of the state tournament to a Butler team that I honestly felt we should have beaten and my Marquette Warrior Eagles struggling to close out games and falling to a 5-seed in the NCAA tournament. And don't even get me started about the Hornets. Please.

One thing we know about March, though ... it is full of opportunities for redemption and for amazing surprises.

It's too late for my Lady Knights this season, and it's been too late for the Hornets for awhile. But Marquette ... my heroes are still a dangerous team because we can play defense and hit 3s.

In online brackets and among hoops pundits, the most popular 12-5 upset is Murray State -- led by future NBAer Ja Morant -- beating Marquette. I actually am buoyed by that group-think, and will enjoy seeing so many people be so wrong.

I, on the other hand, am predicting Marquette to go a long way. Yes, I am a fan. And I could be proven so wrong in a matter of hours.

Anyway, here's one guy's bracket. I will not reimburse any followers' foolish bets!

I know it's kind of small, but that's the only way I could make it fit the page. Click on it and you can actually see it.

Oh, and no fair laughing.

Have a great rest-of-March, everybody!

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Conference Champs!!

It wasn't easy, and that's OK.

Important sports victories aren't supposed to be easy. You're supposed to have to work for them, fight for them, go after them with every ounce of energy you have.

AK's Michelle Ojo (right) battles Berry's Jordan McLaughlin.
(Photo by Jeff Siner, Charlotte Observer)
So, so proud of our Ardrey Kell Lady Knights for doing just that -- winning 3 games in 4 days, including Friday's 44-43 triumph over Berry, for the SoMeck7 title.

Front: Riley, Kennedy, Meghan, Lucy, Trinity
Middle: Nia, Michelle, Evan, Stephanie, Grace, Emerson, Torrie
Back: Coach Nadel, Coach Buseick, Melissa (manager), Coach Queen
(Photo by Roberta Nadel)
It's AK's 6th consecutive season with either the regular-season title or conference tournament championship (usually both).

We have excellent team chemistry, we work hard, we have fun together, we have talent, everybody knows their roles, we're tough, we have heart. That's how a team wins!

Evan Miller and  Meghan Rogers
celebrate as final horn sounds.
(Photo by Jeff Siner, Charlotte Observer)
After a 1-2 start to our conference season, we finished with a 12-game winning streak in league play. We take a 22-5 record into the North Carolina 4A tourney, which starts next week. It's AK's 9th straight season with at least 20 wins.

I've only been around for the last 2 of those seasons, and I'm honored to be associated with this outstanding program, thrilled to work with these dedicated athletes and privileged to do anything I can to help Coach Jeff Buseick and our other assistant, the incredible Queen Smith.

Coaches huddle during time-out to discuss strategy
before Coach Buseick talks with team.
(Photo by Roberta Nadel)
Onward and upward ... let's see how long we can enjoy this crazy, exhilarating, wonderful ride!


Congrats also to the Ardrey Kell men's team, which also won the conference title with a dramatic, one-point victory over heavily-favored Olympic.

It was an exciting game that, like ours, came down to AK getting a defensive stop on the very last play.

Way to go, guys!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

All basketball is fun, and winning basketball - as at Ardrey Kell and Marquette - is most fun of all

Our seniors -- from top, Steph, Riley, Nia, Kennedy and Deeya (manager) --
make a pyramid with Coach Buseick.
On Jan. 4, our Ardrey Kell Lady Knights opened the 2019 portion of our schedule with a loss to our archrivals, South Mecklenburg High. We blew a 12-point fourth-quarter lead. It was our 3rd loss in 4 games, a highly unusual stretch for a program that has been consistently ultra-successful. And it gave us a 1-2 conference record, with both losses coming at home.

We were hurtin'.

Our fine coach, Jeff Buseick, had talked about the Buster Douglas-Mike Tyson fight earlier in the season, and I decided to expound on that theme after one of our practices.

Remember how Coach talked about the Douglas-Tyson fight? Well, he was only a few years old when that took place while I watched it live, but he still did a great job talking about all of the highlights. The one thing he left out was this: Tyson actually knocked Douglas down in the 8th round. The ref was counting ... 1-2-3-4 ... if it gets to 10, Tyson wins by knockout ... 5-6-7 ... Buster is in trouble ... 8-9 ... Douglas got up at 9 and then the bell rang. He literally was saved by the bell. And then, 2 rounds later, Douglas knocked out Tyson to complete probably the greatest upset in the history of sports.

Well now, we've been knocked down. At AK, we're not used to it, but it has happened. How are we gonna respond? Six of our next 7 games are on the road, including games against the 2 teams we just lost to. What are we gonna do? Are we gonna quit, or are we gonna get up off the mat and fight? Let's get up off the mat, ladies, and show the world we're still AK!

The girls all cheered and it was a feel-good moment for us. As an assistant coach, I don't usually get to give rah-rah speeches.

Fast-forward to the present. Last night, we finished the regular season by rallying for a great win over Olympic on Senior Night. It was our 9th straight conference victory since that 1-2 start, and we're near the top of the league standings again.

I'd love to say that my speech had a single doggone thing to do with it, but I know better. These girls are tough-minded and talented, and they deserve all the credit.

Besides, given the way we've dominated the conference the last many years, one could argue that WE are Mike Tyson in this analogy!

Whatever, it's fun to be winning again.

We take a 19-5 record into next week's conference tournament. The state tourney is the week after that. This time of year is so much fun.

Go AK!

One of our players called this photo
"Ending Segregation."

And speaking of basketball ...

Huge win Saturday for my Marquette Warrior Eagles, the No. 10 team in the nation!

A few days earlier, we had lost at home (to St. John's) for the first time all season, and now we were playing the defending national champions.

We got 38 points from our star, Markus Howard, and solid contributions from several other players, and defeated No. 14 Villanova 66-65.

Getty Images
It was what we call "National Marquette Day," when folks from all over the country gather in their cities to watch the event on TV.

I was "volunteered" to run our event in the Charlotte area.

We had a nice turnout and a lot of fun!

Followed that up last night with a decisive victory against DePaul. It was fun going to a sports bar with Robbie to watch that game right after the AK girls had defeated Olympic -- a great double-header for me.

We're ready to take the Big East title and have a great run in the NCAAs.

We Are Marquette!

Monday, January 28, 2019

Marquette Wins & Family Fun -- How I Spent My Winter Vacation

Got back a few days ago after spending most of a week in the icy Midwest. While in Milwaukee and Chicago, I was fortunate to see a lot more than just my breath: I also visited with my son and daughter and their wonderful spouses; my little brother and his fiancee; college buddies; former neighbors; Marquette's incredible student media set-up; and last but definitely not least, 2 (more) wins by my Marquette Warrior Eagles.

Wow ... what a trip!


With about 6 inches of snow falling in Milwaukee, Robbie and I weren't sure our flight was going to take off. After all, such a snowfall in Charlotte would have shut down the airport for about a month.

Thankfully, Milwaukee is used to handling wintry conditions with ease, and our flight actually landed early. My brother Dave and his son Connor picked us up at the airport and took us to their house in Mequon, where we met Dave's future wife Heather. We also posed for this picture as proof that we were, indeed, officially in the frozen tundra. Brrrr!

After dinner with Dave and Heather, we went to a bar in downtown Milwaukee to meet up with my old college buddies Tom, John and Jim. (Jim also brought his wife Mary Ellen and son Brian.) Tom drove in from Detroit and the others from the Chicago burbs.

It was great catching up with the boyz. At various stages of my MU life, the 3 were my roommates. Junior year, Tom, Jim and I shared one of the diviest dives ever with a fourth guy. (Wherefore art thou, Mike Greene?) John was my roommate senior year. I hadn't seen John in several years, so it was great to finally spend some time with him. He was the best man at our wedding, but he isn't the greatest at keeping in touch. (And I'm not blameless, either.)

While we were flying from Charlotte to Milwaukee on Saturday, my daughter Katie and her husband Ben were flying from Seattle to Chicago. They also made it in and stayed the night with my son Ben (yes ... lots of Bens) and his wife Sammi in their place on the North Side.


The kids (and kids-in-law) drove up from Chicago to join us in Section 224 at the Fiserv Forum -- the new home of our Marquette Warrior Eagles. All in all, we had 13 in our group.

Here's the family, looking very blue and gold ...

And here's my Class of '82 gang ...

Our heroes treated us to a nice come-from-behind victory over Providence on Dwyane Wade Day, a great experience from start to finish.

Afterward, we said our goodbyes to our friends and then the 8 of us headed to the greatest frozen treat emporium in the world ... 

Ben (the son) couldn't limit himself to a double-dip of Leon's amazing butter pecan frozen custard, so he got a triple. Not to be topped, Ben (the son-in-law) went back and got a second double-dip. I'd call 'em pigs ... but it's hard to blame 'em!!

After snarfing down our Leon's, we said goodbye to Dave and Heather. We then drove to the Marquette campus for a tour of Johnston Hall, where Robbie and I spent a huge percentage of our time as students. In addition to being home of the College of Journalism (now called the College of Communications), Johnston is where all the student media is housed. 

Robbie and I both worked at the Tribune (newspaper), and I also wrote for the Journal (magazine). In fact, in 1981-82 -- when I was Trib managing editor as a senior and Rob was sports editor as a junior -- we were part of the very first Tribune staff to use computers to produce the newspaper. Quaint, eh?

As you might imagine, things have changed a little since then. 

Mark, who is in charge of student media, and student editors Sydney and Tara gave us a personal tour of the state-of-the-art newsroom, TV studio, radio station, server room and lots of other cool spots that weren't even a twinkle in Marquette's eye back in the early-80s.

Here we are in the middle of the newsroom ...

After going to the Marquette Spirit Shop to buy some new gear to wear at future events, we got on the road and drove to the Chicago burbs. There, we met up with Sammi's parents Linda and Mickey and sister Jenna to catch up on everything going on in our extended family. We hadn't gotten to spend time with them since Sammi and Ben got married some 10 months earlier, and it was nice seeing them again.

Following our meal, we drove to Sammi and Ben's place for a couple days/nights of Nadel family fun.

Much merriment ensued, including libations, food and, naturally, board games. I'd love to say I emerged victorious more than the others, but that would be lying.


One of the highlights of the trip was the big lunch we had Monday with our great friends from our old Bell School neighborhood -- the Brundidges. It's always wonderful getting together with Darcia and Mike, and this time was even better because their sons Troy and Chris were able to join us, too.


Katie and her Ben had to get back to Seattle, and Rob eventually made her way to the el to start her trip back to Charlotte -- I mean, somebody has to support me, and I can think of nobody better at it than my Sugar Mama!

I decided to stay a couple extra days to hang out with my Marquette bud Tom, and we had primo seats to see the Blackhawks beat the Islanders in a shootout.


Tom and I drove back up to Milwaukee for the Marquette-DePaul game. Another resounding success for our 12th-ranked heroes.

First, I had to get a shot of me chilling with Bango ...

My friend Rob Judson, special assistant to MU coach Steve Wojciechowski, was kind enough to get us a couple of amazing seats -- 5th row center court. Here was our view from the best seats I've ever occupied as a non-journalist "civilian" at a major sporting event ...


The problem with great trips is that they have to end. Tom dropped me off at Midway Airport and I flew home to Charlotte, where Robbie picked me up.



Thankfully, my wonderful week didn't end with the trip.

On Friday, it was nice to re-join my Ardrey Kell Lady Knights for our big conference game against Providence. They had upset us at our place back in December and we not only wanted a little payback but we needed to win to stay in the conference race. 

In an exciting game, we kept building small leads and Providence kept cutting into them, but we finally held them off at the end, 57-53. 

I really appreciate Coach Buseick (and the girls) for giving me a little time to spend with my family and close friends, and I was glad to be back for that wonderful, hard-fought victory. We're now 14-5 overall and 5-2 in the league.

And then on Saturday, Marquette wrapped up a stellar 3-0 week by rallying for a gutty road win at Xavier, improving the record to 18-3 overall and 7-1 in the Big East. What a season for the guys!

Life is good, baby! Hope all y'all can say the same.