Monday, December 07, 2020

A Brief History of Lozoball

I started my first blog in the spring of 2006. It was based at Fox Sports and wittily titled, “All the Good Names Are Taken.” A couple months later, in early July, I joined Blogger and created a second blog called, “One More Dying Quail.” (That eventually became my gmail address as well, which makes it a lot of fun to tell people over the phone.) For about two years, I rode the excitement of this new forum, writing hundreds of posts, making a bunch of new friends/acquaintances, contributing to other sites when asked (hello, Awful Announcing! How you doin, Epic Carnival? Storming the Floor!), and subscribing to far more than I could ever manage to digest in a day.

One of the blogs I always read was, “Why Don’t We Get Drunk and Blog?” by the incomparable Dave Lozo, whose work was always original and funny. One day, Lozo mentioned an idea that he had been toying with: what if, instead of a typical fantasy baseball league, he started one that featured thirty teams with full rosters and a salary cap, to somewhat mimic the ideal conditions of the game? He asked for volunteers to take part in this experiment, and thirty of us answered the call.

The league was called Lozoball and it almost didn’t make it out of spring training in 2008. Lozo’s idea was great but he didn’t really know how to translate it into an actual, functional fantasy baseball league (that’s not intended as a criticism; none of us knew how to make it work). We started trying to do the draft in the comments of a blog post, which quickly proved unwieldy, and by early March someone noted that one owner had quit, several others weren’t responding with any great urgency, and Lozo himself seemed ready to chalk it up as an idea that just didn’t work out.

It was around this time that one of the owners, Craig DeLucia, stepped in and took charge. He led a merry band (including Lozo) over to CBS Sportsline, the only website that seemed capable of managing what we were trying to do, and drafted a constitution outlining the rules and regulations that governed the league. The first draft took an ungodly amount of time (for years after, new owners would occasionally advocate for a full redraft, only to be rebuffed by old-timers who had been around since the beginning and loved nothing more than gazing off into proverbial middle distance while simultaneously waxing poetic about the good old days and very clearly stating that there was never going to be a fucking full redraft) but we got it done, and that was that. The ensuing twelve years haven’t been easy, but we always made it work behind Craig’s easygoing leadership and a hardcore group of owners who showed up every year and participated, even when the championship was decided by the All-Star break.

This past season was supposed to be my first without Lozoball. It’s not an easy league to stay competitive in even with ample time, and as my family grew and real life commitments began to shoulder pretend ones aside, it became clear that it was time to go. I tried to leave after the 2016 season, sending Craig an email thanking him for the good times and indicating my intentions to move on, but he asked me to give it some more time, to wait until he unveiled some ideas aimed at improving the league. Honestly, he had me at hello; we went back almost a full decade at that point and I had always admired the way he had stepped in at the beginning and turned a fun idea into a game that sort of worked. The fact that he cared enough to ask me to stay pretty much meant that I was gonna stay, at least for a while, even if the stockpile of prospects I had put together back when I sort of knew what I was doing hadn’t quite panned out as expected and was starting to get older while my knowledge base grew smaller and smaller.

I didn’t know how long I would be back for; turns out, it was three more years. After the 2019 season, I waited for a while to see how I felt about returning. My friend Billy had quit prior to the season and my friend Chris seemed likely to follow suit. Part of the fun of Lozoball had always been sitting up late with those guys on our summer road trips, hammering out trades and talking prospects. Without them, it didn’t make much sense to continue. I emailed Craig in mid-January to tell him I was definitely out and he was kind, but didn’t argue other than to say that he hoped I would be able to return in the future. And that was that. I was officially retired from Lozoball.

Until I wasn’t.

At the center of Lozoball was a hardcore group of owners who had been present from the beginning, or close to it, and so carried with them a sense of ownership of the league as a whole. Me, Craig, Bunnell, O’Malley, certainly others I’m forgetting…the league was important to us – we understood that it was flawed in many ways but we always cared about making it better and ensuring its survival.

No one, not one of the dozens of owners who passed through Lozoball over the past twelve years, cared more than Andrew Rosin. Andrew and I had been part of the same circle of bloggers prior to Lozoball’s beginning, that group of guys and gals who wrote incessantly, sent links to Deadspin and The Big Lead hoping to be noticed, and chatted on email and G-chat for half the night. He had tried to get Chris and I to start a podcast, had guested extensively on both my blogs, and was typically omnipresent on chat – the second I logged on to Gmail, every night, there was Andrew, screaming at me in all caps about the Brewers or his 28th round sleeper Lozoball pick or the dialogue in a screenplay he was working on or some other random topic.

One night, I decided I needed a new song to listen to, “something that rocks,” and asked Andrew for a recommendation – Avenged Sevenfold’s “Gunslinger” is still one of my favorite tunes. More than once I asked for a fantasy football or baseball sleeper (sometimes for a league in which we were both participating) – he always had a good name for me, someone I never even knew existed, let alone would’ve drafted (I went back and looked up “Andrew fantasy football sleeper” in my email archives while writing this – there was one email where he gave me two names and then wrote, “Say them quietly and feel the magic”). And when it came to making a big Lozoball trade for no better reason than to shake things up, there was no one better to approach.

Over a period of a few years I stopped blogging as much, then I stopped G-chatting as much, then I wasn’t as active in Lozoball, then finally I quit Twitter. All of those added up to more of a distance between Andrew and I. We grew apart; it’s a pretty common theme in my life. While Chris and Billy and I would occasionally talk about driving out to Wisconsin to cross a few more ballparks off our list and finally put eyes on the legendary Andrew Rosin, it never happened.

But still, the man was passionate about Lozoball. I’m convinced that no one in the league ever worked harder to create a quality team, or cared as much about the entire process, from identifying prospects to trading in top-tier major league talent. Occasionally that passion bubbled over, which could be incredibly fun to witness if you weren’t the subject of his ire. Maybe my favorite Andrew moment ever was the day he realized that his spot in the waiver order had changed unexpectedly and he was suddenly several spots lower than he thought he was supposed to be, and he absolutely lost his mind in an email to the league. I believe the phrase, “it’s not all of the bullshit, but it’s bullshit,” or something to that effect, was used. It was fantastic. And of course, after some time passed and he had thought about it, he publicly apologized for “coming in too hot.”

Andrew was open about the fact that he had been sick for some time, with cancer, but it didn’t really sink in how sick. I had forgotten that he took the 2018 season off from Lozoball to focus on his health, returning in 2019 to finish second. Everyone knew that he would be back in 2020, and that Craig’s three-year run as champion was in serious jeopardy. To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, “As long as Rosin can open a Prospect Handbook, he’s a threat.” He had never won Lozoball, but just you wait. Just you wait.

A couple weeks after I left the league (Chris also opted out around the same time), Andrew’s sister tagged him in a post on Facebook and said that he had died. It took me by surprise; like I said, I’d known he was sick, but I never expected him to die. I had fully expected him to beat it and just always be there.

I wasn’t sure how to react. His death was, between my personal and professional lives, the fourth in less than a month, all of them between the ages of about 20 and 50, and he was a guy I had shared some good times with. At the same time, we had drifted apart over the years. I was sad, but didn’t really know if I was allowed to be, or if I could do anything about it.

What happened next happened quick. When Craig heard that Andrew had died, he emailed me to share the news. I appreciated his thoughtfulness. At the end of my response, I threw in a paraphrased movie quote that I thought Andrew would have appreciated: “You’ll find an owner soon to take over his team,” I said, “but if you don’t, give me a call. I’ll fly with you.”

The next morning, Craig answered with a long response about Andrew’s team, how competitive Andrew was and how angry he would be if it didn’t compete or if someone new came in and blew it all up…which is exactly what Craig feared would happen if a newcomer to the league stepped in. He took my throwaway tribute line to Andrew and turned it into a hopeful question: this roster needs a steady, veteran hand to run it this season – would I be that hand? Or more to the point, COULD I be that hand? Could I, would I, be able to summon at least some of Andrew’s…Andrewness…and keep his spirit alive a while longer?

I thought about it, and the answer was obviously no. There was no way that anyone could summon up the kind of passion that Andrew possessed for many things, including Lozoball. I could never be the guy who talked in all caps, or had a song recommendation off the top of his head at all times, or would respond for an hour on Twitter with one-liners about various wrestlers that people threw at him. He had never won Lozoball, sure, but that was beside the point. He just fucking cared. I could never compete with that kind of passion.

But I thought about it all day, and in the end arrived at a conclusion: if I alone couldn’t conjure up that level of commitment, maybe we could spread it out a little bit.

That night, I sent an email to Chris and Billy, passing along the news about Andrew, giving a rundown of the correspondence Craig and I had shared, and asking them to join me in taking on his team as a tribute. It took just a few hours for them to agree: we were in, and we were going to win Lozoball for Andrew Rosin.

This isn’t a mystery story, so I’ll spare the suspense: we did not win Lozoball for Andrew Rosin. But I don’t think anyone can say that we didn’t put up a fight. Oddly, Covid-19 helped (you gotta find the silver linings where you can) – all three of us were overwhelmed to varying degrees by life, liberty, and where the fuck did I put my personal happiness, but a 60-game season ultimately helped us focus our energies and dig in for a relative sprint.

Once the season got underway (without Andrew’s vaunted research; we completely bombed on the draft, even after Craig gave us a pass for initially bombing on the draft, and I think the three of us exchanged, “Okay, we should probably look at our team now,” texts the day before Opening Day), we quickly slid into the top five based on the strength of the team he had built, and a run atop the entire league was enough to get me cooking. I had wanted this for Andrew; now I needed this for Andrew.

That was the downfall. I have never been good at in-season transactions, and it showed. I consulted the other guys on deals, but pushed to make too many trades, too many free agent acquisitions. I came in too hot. I advocated for trading Brad Hand after a bad start; he led the league in saves. We traded him for Frankie Montas, a young pitcher on my nephew’s team; he promptly had two or three bad starts. At the trade deadline, I impulsively swapped Montas for Yu Darvish, who was having a great season but could only be a rental due to his salary. O’Malley refused to trade us Clayton Kershaw; I have no idea how Kershaw finished the regular season, stats-wise, but this slight will haunt me for the rest of my days (that’s a lie, we all love O’Malley; he’s one of the good guys). It just wasn’t a good run.

Still, our offense (aided by a number of holdovers from Andrew’s tenure) stayed hot all season, keeping us in the hunt for a respectable finish even as our pitching cratered, we slipped out of the top spot, and it became apparent that either Craig or Bunnell would once again carry the day. In the end, it was Craig who ran away with it. We ended up finishing seventy points behind, tied with Bunnell for second, which I can’t complain about too much – the guy did win four consecutive championships a few years ago, so anytime our team name can be included in the same breath as his is a win for me.

Through it all, I tried my best to channel Andrew in passion if not in performance. My proudest moment may have been the night near the trade deadline when, desperate to improve our chances, I looked over the roster of my former team and emailed the new owner with two demands: one, he would trade us Mike Clevenger, and two, he would change his team name immediately – he was still using the name I had left it with (Im On Fire, from when I was considering selling off players during my team’s final season) while being in possession of Bobby Witt, Patrick Wisdom, and Bubba Starling. “The Witt and Wisdom of Bubba Starling”! It sounds like a screenplay that Andrew would’ve written. (Surprisingly, not only did he not acquiesce to either demand, he didn’t even humor me with a response; the latter point arguably makes me sadder.)

I don’t know where this goes from here. Chris, Billy, and I treated this season as a one-off, a single shot at glory before we all rode back off into the distance. But I don’t know if that will happen. Here Comes The Wilkerman (nee Zombie Steven Hawking) is not the team Andrew left behind, and another season of someone else’s leadership – be it mine, ours, or a currently uninvolved third party – will only widen that gap. And, not for nothing, I suck at fantasy baseball. But I can’t help feeling like my work here isn’t done, like I can do better in my pursuit of a championship, and that whatever result I achieve will belong to Andrew too.


Saturday, August 17, 2019

Cups of Coffee During the Original Best 32 Days of the Year

My wife is a month older than, and since the early days of our nearly two decades together, I have celebrated what I like to call, “my favorite 32 days of the year.” (She does not find this amusing.)

One of my favorite random factoids is that because she was born in September 1979 and I was born at the end of October, she was alive the last time the Pittsburgh Pirates won the World Series, while I was not. (She also does not find this amusing.) The other day, something else occurred to me: maybe there were players who played their entire careers in that gap between her birth and mine. Wouldn’t that be fun!

And of course there were, and of course it is! (There are two, actually, and as an added bonus I just noticed that one played for the Pirates and the other played for the Baltimore Orioles, the team the Pirates beat in the World Series.)

The first was Pittsburgh’s Gary Hargis, on September 29 against the Chicago Cubs. With two outs in the 13th inning and the Pirates trailing 7-6, shortstop Tim Foli flared a single to right against Bill Caudill for his second hit of the day. Hargis, the team’s second round pick in 1974, was brought in to make his major league debut as a pinch-runner for Foli. I didn’t understand why this happened so I tried to find a game story or something on Google; nothing doing there, but I DID find video of the game broadcast on YouTube (apparently it was NBC’s Game of the Week). Play-by-play announcer Joe Garagiola didn’t mention specifically why Foli was lifted except to note that he had a bad leg; I also didn’t catch him saying anything about it being Hargis’s major league debut, but did point out that first baseman Bill Buckner made a show of looking at the name on the back of his uniform as if to figure out who this guy was. He eventually moved up to second on Dave Parker’s fifth hit of the day but was stranded there when Hall of Famer Willie Stargell struck out to end the game.

And that was it for Hargis in the major leagues. He was just over a month shy of his 23rd birthday, still a young man, but was done with baseball after two more seasons in the minors. It’s kind of wild to think that all he did as a major leaguer was run 90 feet.

The next day, September 30, was the last day of the season. The Baltimore Orioles visited the Cleveland Indians, with Dennis Martinez getting the start. Martinez had given up three runs, two earned, on six hits when he headed out to the mound to start the sixth. A leadoff homerun by Cliff Johnson and a Ron Hassey single later and he was headed to the showers with the Orioles trailing 4-3.

Enter Jeff Rineer, a 24-year-old lefthander making his major league debut. He stopped the budding rally before it could get started, getting Ron Pruitt to fly out to left and inducing a ground ball from Dave Rosello to start a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.

And that was that. Two batters up, two batters down, and Rineer’s major league career was over. Two Baltimore runs in the bottom of the sixth put him in line for the win, at least, but Don Stanhouse coughed up the lead with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and the Orioles lost in eleven innings.


Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The Human Side of Baseball

I attended the induction ceremony at the Baseball Hall of Fame for the third time this past weekend. The speeches are usually the least memorable part for me - in all those years, I think the best moment was the reaction Pedro Martinez got from the crowd - but this year something stuck.

In Lee Smith's speech, he mentioned that when the Cubs told him they were moving him to the bullpen in 1979, he took it as a negative and wanted to quit the game. Only the intervention of Billy Williams, the former Cubs great turned coach (and eventual Hall of Famer) changed his mind. Williams explained that the game was changing and that relievers were going to be valuable in the future. Smith decided to come back, he made his major league debut the following season, and the rest was history.

This caught my attention because just a few days ago, I began rereading Joe Posnanski's "The Soul of Baseball," his account of a year spent on the road with legendary player, scout, coach, and overall ambassador to the game Buck O'Neil. It's a fabulous book, full of stories about O'Neil and insights into the way he put a positive spin on aspects of his life that would bring most of us to our knees.

One of the great stories in the book was from O'Neil's days as a scout. A young minor leaguer he had signed quit and went home, and Buck was sent to bring him back. He did, visiting the family for dinner, taking the player to soak in the adulation of local youths and remind him how good he really had it, and eventually driving  him back to his team in Texas himself.

The player? Billy Williams.

Who knows if Williams was thinking of that ride with Buck O'Neil when he intervened with Lee Smith, but I love the way humanity interjected itself into the business side of the game and two Hall of Fame careers were the result.


Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The Ballad of Stephen Strasburg

It was the fall of 2007 when my friend Eric and I decided to start a blog about minor league baseball. We were both bloggers already – Eric’s specialty was college basketball and mine was “esoteric bullshit,” at least according to a commenter on Awful Announcing, the blog where we met as commenters and ended up becoming fellow contributors and friends – but the goal here was to just kick back and have fun writing about a sport that was meant to be exactly that.

The timing of Bus Leagues’ debut was pretty typical for the way we approached life in general – for the uninitiated, the bulk of minor league baseball action ENDS in the fall; it was like we showed up to a game in the ninth inning – but we still took to it with a delight that never fails to surprise me when I think back on it. We were just a couple of random dudes, writing about random teams in a random sport, and we had a blast.

We tried to look at the game from a fan’s perspective, since that’s what we were (later, we gained experience as “insiders” and while that was fun as well, and led to a number of remarkable memories, it didn’t spark the same organic joy), which meant that one of the first things we focused on was the players. And ironically, one of the first players to catch our eye wasn’t a professional, but a promising college pitcher named Stephen Strasburg.

In 2019, Strasburg is a ten-year veteran with a career 3.16 ERA and more than 1,500 strikeouts, all with the Washington Nationals. In 2014, he led the National League with 34 starts and 242 strikeouts en route to a ninth-place finish in the Cy Young voting. In 2012, he was infamously shut down while the Nationals were still very much in the mix for a championship, the team putting long-term arm health ahead of short-term competitive goals (they still haven’t reached a World Series). In 2010, he turned in one of the most remarkable debuts in major league history, striking out 14 Pirates and walking none in seven innings to pick up his first career win. And sometime in 2009, Eric dubbed him Lord Vishnu, a nickname that was both completely nonsensical and one of my favorite things in Bus Leagues history.

But the moment Strasburg first appeared on our radar was in 2008, when as a San Diego State sophomore he took the mound one night in April and struck out 23 Utah batters. That was what started it all, both for us and the baseball world in general. That was when Stephen Strasburg announced his presence for all to see.

The reason I thought of this wasn’t Strasburg’s 1,500th career strikeout, which came on May 2nd this season against St. Louis, or his 100th career win, which he recorded on June 4th against the Chicago White Sox. It wasn’t even anything Strasburg did, though he is certainly putting together a nice Hall of Very Good career and looking back on his first decade makes me unreasonably happy. What made me think of Strasburg was a performance over the weekend by Vanderbilt freshman Kumar Rocker, who took the mound for his team in an elimination game and completely dominated Duke, striking out nineteen batters and pitching the first no-hitter in NCAA Super Regional history.

This performance scratches so many personal itches. The name, Kumar Rocker – even if this young man doesn’t reach the major leagues (and his performance this seasons – 3.50 ERA, 97 strikeouts in 87.1 innings – would seem to indicate that he’s well on his way), he should donate his name to someone who does, because that name BELONGS there. It’s like Madison Bumgarner. His size – at 6’4”, 255 lbs, he’s built more like an NFL defensive end than an elite pitcher (and according to his Vanderbilt bio, his father was a standout college football player who went on to play in the NFL). The age – he won’t turn 20 until November; my college “athletic” highlight when I was his age was running the table to win a pool tournament in my school’s game room. All of it together gives me Strasburg bumps. (That sounds weird but I don’t care.)

Kumar Rocker (I want his fastball to be named Harold, the pitch he desperately needs but spends all night trying to get a feel for to be named White Castle, and his out pitch to be Mary Jane’s Last Dance; if he doesn’t have three quality pitches, then GET MORE PITCHES) may be great, or he may amount to nothing. (If he enjoys even a portion of the success that Stephen Strasburg has, he’ll be doing alright for himself.) Most likely it will be somewhere in between, like the rest of us. But at the very least, he brought a nearly forty-year-old mostly former blogger a bit of joy and a flash of memory and awoke that old feeling of “this is great – I want to write about it!” And I appreciate that.


Thursday, June 29, 2017


Today, I installed an air conditioner, even though it took longer than expected.

I sat in a meeting and actually felt confident that I knew the information inside and out, even though I was careless and forgot to check one small but important piece of data.

I successfully stopped an upset person from making their situation worse, even though I wasn't the first one to react and others handled the more difficult aspects of the intervention.

I made sure a client will have enough meds to last his full vacation, even though it took two trips to the pharmacy and my involvement basically consisted of approaching a sympathetic tech and saying, "This is my problem, please fix it."

I helped a coworker who wasn't expecting it.

held my two youngest boys while they fell asleep, both after choosing to climb into my lap and snuggle in.

Today, I wasn't perfect. I made small mistakes, and I made small impacts. In other words, I was me, and today, I was enough.


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Forty is the New Thirty: End of an Era

Back in the day, I ran this series here and at Bus Leagues called "Forty is the New Thirty." I forget how I first thought of it, but the premise was simple: call attention to the teams that experienced the longest droughts without a 40-homerun hitter.

I have two lists that I try to keep updated: the last player to hit 40 for each team and streaks of more than 10 seasons without a 40-homerun hitter. Usually I wait until the end of the season to update, so I don't get confused and miss information somewhere, but something happened a couple weeks ago that made me decide to write about it the next time I pulled out the laptop (and that happened to be tonight):

Brian Dozier of the Minnesota Twins hit his 40th homerun.

Now, this is noteworthy for two reasons: one, he is only the fourth second baseman to hit 40 homeruns in a season (off the top of my head: Rogers Hornsby, Davey Johnson, Ryne Sandberg...boom - assuming wherever I read that was accurate about the number? NAILED IT). That's a cool fact, but not the one I'm most excited about. I'm way more pumped about number two: he is the first Twin to hit 40 homeruns in a season since Harmon Killebrew in 1970.

The Twins had gone 45 seasons (1971-2015) without a 40-homerun hitter before Dozier took Detroit's Daniel Norris deep on September 12, the fourth longest streak of all-time. That's a fair bit of history to cast aside with one swing of the bat, but Dozier managed to do what Hrbek, Puckett, Mauer, Morneau, and others could not.

The longest active streak still belongs to the Kansas City Royals, who have never had a player hit 40 homeruns in a season in the team's 48-season history. The closest was Steve Balboni's 36 in 1985. The Pride of Brockton, Mass, had seven 30-homer seasons in his professional career, fittingly ending with 36 at the age of 36 in 1993. (He and Rob Deer were basically precursors to Russell Branyan - guys who were put on earth to hit homeruns, no matter what level of baseball they were playing). The Royals have a ways to go to catch the Chicago White Sox, who hold the all-time record with 73 consecutive 40-homerless seasons from 1920-92 (I'm not positive, but guessing I used 1920 as my start point), but are within striking distance of second-place St. Louis, who experienced a power outage for 57 seasons from 1941-97.

(My third favorite thing about the Royals' lack of power historically? The Kansas City Athletics never had a player hit 40 homeruns either, which means no one has ever done it for a Kansas City-based MLB team despite a franchise existing there since 1955 (except for a gap year in 1968). Also, for the record, my two favorite things about the Royals' situation is Steve Balboni's mustache and the fact that I used this to springboard into a small paid research opportunity for ESPN The Magazine several years ago.)

The second-longest active streak (and fifth-longest of all-time) now belongs to the Pittsburgh Pirates, who have not had a 40-homerun hitter since Willie Stargell in 1973, a span of 43 seasons. The only other team without a 40-homerun hitter this millennium is Miami; the last (and only) Marlin to hit surpass 40 was Gary Sheffield in 1996. I keep waiting for Giancarlo Stanton to change that, and he keeps letting me down.


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

My Favorite Movie Quotes, Version 2.1

I used to do a lot of posts here with quotes from my favorite movies. Stuff that spoke to me in some way. Haven't done one in a while - haven't done anything here in a while, if you haven't noticed - but I was watching "A River Runs Through" it tonight* and an exchange between Craig Sheffer's Norman and Brad Pitt's Paul (the brothers Maclean) caught my attention.

*I decided this week that I was going to work on getting to bed earlier, since my children are no longer waking up in the middle of the night and it doesn't make sense to be up so late. So of course, I fell into "A Beautiful Mind" on Monday (with mental health issues a major professional concern of late) and "River" (a longtime favorite) tonight.

Paul: I thought we were supposed to help him?

Norman: How the hell do you help that son of a bitch?

Paul: By taking him fishing.

Norman: He doesn't like fishing. Doesn't like Montana. Sure as hell doesn't like me.

Paul: Yeah. Well, maybe what he likes is somebody trying to help him.

There was also an incredible, subtle moment near the end that I had never noticed before. Judt before the boys go fishing with their father (played by Tom Skerritt), Norman tells the family that he is planning on accepting a teaching position in Chicago, halfway across the country. Later, on the river, he tells Paul that he plans to ask His girlfriend to marry him, before leaving the water to sit with their father. When he sits down, his father reaches behind him to pat him on the leg, but comes up empty because NormaN is too far away. He looks, sees where his hand was, and touches his leg paternally. He leans over slightly, wanting to be closer to his son, while Norman, content, doesn't move an inch.