baseballs and crystal balls
Ken Hoffman quizzes Post Oak Little League's coach and unleashes another bold Houston TV prediction
The Post Oak Little League team is home from South Williamsport, the boys are back in school, dads and moms returned to work, and normal life has been restored — not counting their once-in-a-lifetime memories of playing in the Little League World Series.
Like many baseball fans, I watched the games on TV and cheered on our local guys. It was the first time a Post Oak team won the State title, first time the Southwest Regional title, and first to punch a ticket to Williamsport, the biggest youth sports event in the world.
Post Oak won its first game game against Rhode Island before dropping a pair of 1-run nail-biters to Staten Island and Georgia. The Georgia game was a 9-inning heartbreaker.
Still, for the boys it was a summer they'll never forget, and for manager David Rook, pure joy and excitement for a dad.
"The thing I'll remember most is the commitment these boys made to stay with Little League and all the work they put in," he says. "They worked really hard to set goals and then accomplish them. Kaleb [Rook's son] was battling tendonitis and wasn't able to pitch. We went to the trainer up there who worked with Kaleb until his wasn't feeling pain. In the last game, knowing he wasn't 100 percent, Kaleb still asked for the ball. That was pretty emotional for me."
I ask Rook, was it weird wearing a microphone and knowing everybody at home was listening to every thing you said during games?
"I'm not sure about that," he says. "I manage 400 people at work [he's chief operating officer for the Weaver accounting firm] and I talk to groups a lot. I'm used to it." Okay, but your accounting firm isn't on ESPN with a worldwide audience of rabid baseball fans eavesdropping on you.
"The first time I was miked was at the Regional tournament in Waco," Rook notes. "One of my coaches told me to just be myself and not to change anything. But at the first game, the kids did tell me that the tone of my voice was different because we were on TV. We laughed at that and it relaxed us," says Rook.
Rook says the only surprise the team encountered in South Williamsport was the rigid schedule handed to them.
"We expected a tough week of baseball, but the grind of the non-baseball stuff was pretty rough," he says. "There were a lot of additional requirements. They pretty much made us get up at 7:30 each morning, eat breakfast, do an ESPN deal, a Chick-fil-A deal, even on off days.
There was the some self-inflicted pain to the coaches and parents' wallets, too. Rook says he bought about $2,000 worth of souvenirs and estimated the team's tab at "10 grand or more."
Rook said he expects to have withdrawal anxiety next summer with no Little League team to coach. Son Kaleb and all the boys from the 2018 Post Oak team will be 13 next year — they're done with this Little League age group. And even if they stick around to play in the older Junior Division, Rook won't be their coach. Parents are not allowed to coach Little League divisions 13 and up.
"Maybe I'll be able to get more work done next summer. I was away from work most of the summer, through tournaments in Houston, Tyler, Waco, and Williamsport," he reflects. "I'm sure I'll help with the younger groups and next year's 12s. But mostly I plan to stand on the fence line and cheer on our younger teams."
Dusting off my crystal ball
Two weeks ago, I predicted that a veteran Houston newscaster, thought to be retired (not his idea), would return to his old station. Lo and behold, Dave Ward is back with ABC13. His "Dave Ward's Houston" segments start next month.
Last week, I predicted that a local network affiliate soon would start a 3 pm daily newscast. Done deal on August 26: ABC 13 tweeted "the cat is out of the bag" and announced it will debut its 3 pm newscast on September 10. The early afternoon newscast will be anchored by ABC 13's current weekend team, Chauncey Glover and Mayra Moreno. They'll be joined by weathercaster Elita Loresca. (That's a big step, weekends to weekdays.)
Replacing Glover and Moreno on the weekend shift will be Erica Simon and Steven Romo. Collin Myers stays on the weather beat.
Another bold prediction
Before my crystal ball gets foggy, let's unleash this week's prediction:
Wouldn't it be interesting if some veteran media personalities left their traditional homes and moved to non-traditional platforms that are growing in popularity?
Have an answer for Ken or a bold prediction of your own? Let him know in the comments or on Twitter.