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The Price of Travel Ball

In Monday’s edition of Screencaps, Adam W. in Nebraska asked what kind of money is being spent by travel ball parents these days to keep their spot on the travel circuit where flying across the country is becoming part of the routine.

• Mig doesn’t know about the travel ball world, but he has a son working in travel volleyball:

I can’t speak for baseball but my son is a director and coach for two different club volleyball  businesses (they make a pretty penny). over the last 8-9 years.  The top-tier players’ parents drop well over $7,500  just for their kid to be on the team (if they make it). 

That gets practice, uniforms, travel, entry fees etc.   

Does not include travel for parents and family to watch.  Two tournaments are flying distance and over long weekends so if you want to attend you have travel and hotel costs on top of that.  Practices 2-3 nights a week with some kids traveling over an hour one way.   It’s big business.  All 6 of the starters on the top team will get D1 scholarships to play VB.   That’s the payoff. 


D1 volleyball programs can offer up to 11 full scholarships. The latest data suggests women’s volleyball is the hardest female sport in which to land a piece of the scholarship pie.

The Ts are heading home

This message from Mike T. hit my inbox at 8:29 ET

• Mike T. writes:

Final blog post from Europe.


And just like that, the winter of the Ts in Europe has come to an end and it’s time to head back home to Idaho with great memories and a few months to rest up and plan for the next adventure.

In the post, the Ts included some interesting stats on their six-month trip:

Total miles walked via Cindy’s Fitbit- 1,500, average 8.8 miles per day

Tolls- $400

Miles driven in the trusty Peugeot- 10,000

Thank you to Mike T. and especially Cindy T. for taking us along for the adventure. Hopefully some of you were inspired to follow in the T footsteps and plan your own immersion travel. Remember, the T.’s would be more than willing to answer questions. They’re absolute gems.

Look at that smile on Cindy T.!

Do people in Japan mow?

Google it.” Or I could ask this community of readers to share their knowledge and maybe all of us can learn a little something that Google doesn’t know.

• Joe M. in Houston writes:

Generally, no.  The Japanese government (as detailed in “Dogs and Demons,” a book about Japanese culture post WWII details) are generally obsessed with putting concrete on anything any everything they can, because it’s a representation of some version of progress to them, when there aren’t a lot of markers of real progress to measure against.  It goes way beyond just trying to prevent landslides and protect train tracks, etc.  Then, they often compensate by building beautiful little gardens in the middle of cities like Tokyo, but they generally want to make “natural” nature disappear except in specific cases. 

Part of the issue is the way real estate is capitalized in Japan.  Houses are essentially zeroed out in value after 30 years, unlike most houses in the rest of the world, so there’s no reason to keep the oak tree, the pond, nothing, etc., because it is going to get torn down anyway.    Almost no one in metro areas has a lawn to begin with, and the grass in the broader country seems to keep itself under control without mowers or weed eaters.   

• Peter O. from the United States Navy spent time living in Okinawa, so he knows a thing or two about mowing in Japan:

Writing this from my military account so that you know I’m not blowing smoke.  A fellow Buckeye by birth, I’ve been a fan of Outkick since the earliest days and have enjoyed watching you build a truly unique corner of the internet.

Today, you asked about mowing lawns in Japan.  I was stationed in Okinawa for three years (2018-2021) and can confirm that mowing lawns is indeed an activity, though to call it an enjoyable pastime diminishes the reality of the fight that lawn care becomes.  As a rookie mower your first step is to purchase the right equipment.  Inevitably you buy a lawnmower secondhand, with just a touch of that famous Oki rust. 

Oh, and no weed trimmer for you spooling out delicate line, you’ll need something with metal blades that whirl and cut, maim and destroy.  Armed for battle you’ll soon realize that you’ll never be laying down stripes, and no Instagram model with fake boobs and tan would ever dream of posing with a bang energy drink after a mowing session to send hashtag shoutouts in front of an impeccably manicured lawn.  Not in Okinawa, no, Sir! This is an existential struggle on par with Santiago fighting the Marlin in Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea. The jungle never sleeps and never stops encroaching and your job is never, ever done.   

Mowing on Thursdays, especially during the rainy season became more aspirational than realized.  Okinawan rain is not the gentle precipitation of NW Washington where I learned to mow even when raining as a younger Navy man.  It comes in torrents and when it brings with it the winds of a typhoon, you’ll spend a day cleaning up the wreckage of plant life carpeting your lawn thicker than the gaggle of lib-lib blue-check journos covering a J6 trial. 

Instead, you mow when you can, as often as you can. There’s no off-season, and during the summer you’ll find yourself mowing twice weekly. Your feet will crunch the cockroaches that skitter about, roused from their slumber by the vibration of the lawnmower while you keep your eyes peeled for the massive webs slung between the trees by the lovely banana spiders.

Thankfully the Habu snakes prefer the night so they generally aren’t a concern, though a curious mongoose might watch you from a distance.  Oh, and the ants – the ants will fight back and bite your ankles while the gnats and flies snack on your sweaty arms and the sun beats down upon your head and neck. Such formidable foes call for strategic warfare and you find yourself wearing long pants and sleeves in 90-degree weather with 90 percent humidity.  It’s not a fair fight so you’ll break out enough chemical sprays and traps to take a year off the earth’s life and cause Greta Thunberg to personally protest your existence.  Thankfully geography (or any other science) is not her strong suit, so you are safe from her ever finding you.

When it is all done, you’ll park the mower and, drenched with nasty sweat that leaves pools on the ground, for just a moment you’ll connect with your midwestern ancestors who left Germany for the forests of Michigan to build a new life as farmers.  You too will know what it is like to scratch out a place in the wilderness to call home and the memory of their pioneer spirit will inspire you to mow again tomorrow. 

Postscript: I’m stationed stateside again and bought an old-school human-powered push mower that my four kids use to keep our small lawn shipshape.  No gas or batteries for us – my children need to learn the satisfaction of doing hard things!

P.S. For more than 20 years I have had the pleasure of shepherding our nation’s finest patriots and if I’ve learned one thing it is that we have men and women in this country who still believe in the high ideals of our Constitution and will give their very lives in the service of others – even those who vote differently from them or who disparage them from the safety of their ivory halls and coffee shops.  Because of them I still have hope that we are a country not too far gone.

Mowing at 65

• Steve C. from Midlothian, Virginia writes:

Newly-65 as of a couple weeks ago. Been mowing for 50+ years. Started early on with our family spread in rural Virginia. 1968?  Our parents insisted that our 5 acres would be all grass, and would be mowed to approximate the usual residential lawn appearance.  Myself and my 4 siblings were then each assigned a parcel of the property for mowing duties, complete with area map and weekly schedules.  (Dad was military, having attended VMI, and was rigid with schedules.). Our equipment consisted of 2 lawn tractors and 2 push mowers. 

Life Lessons Learned:

1.  Lawn tractor engines require oil.  What 12-year-old would know this?  All we knew was to throw gas in it and off we go!  Our new Sears tractor seized up halfway through the season when the oil ran dry.  The tractor was replaced, and we were diligent about oil from that point.  Dad was apoplectic. 

2.  Do NOT mow over top of in-ground hornet nests. 

3.  5-gallon gas cans are HEAVY when full.  The gas fill inlet was always located on top of the tractor.  Young kids trying to heft these cans to fill the tractor always ended with much spillage. 

4.  You can smoke while mowing.  Our tractors came equipped with cigarette lighters. Parents only. 

Now ready to begin the 2023 season!  

1.  Mowing shoes may last for another year. Third set of laces. 

2.  Am all sticker’d up in the garage fridge. 

3.  Completed the annual mower tune-up, oil change, and blade change. 

How did you find Screencaps?

• John from SD writes:

You asked the question: Why did you recently start reading Screencaps? Had a family member in the hospital for several weeks which required rotating days spending time in the hospital. Screencaps came across one day during a random Google search for something else and the rest is history.

Haven’t missed a day since. (Don’t need anyone criticizing being on the internet while a family member is in the hospital, there’s so much downtime and medical things going on.)

It’s always nice to hear from my fellow SW Ohio natives

• Chris in Virginia writes:

Really enjoy reading the variety but especially anything related to the hometown area.  I was born in Englewood and spent my first 7 years in the area. Some memories are vague now that I’m approaching 60 but still have vivid memories as well.  My grandfather and I shared a love for the Reds. Doesn’t get any better in all of baseball than the Big Red Machine!

After moving from the area, when I would talk with my grandfather, it would always include either how the Reds were doing or what the outlook for the upcoming season would be.  When we visited in the summer and before games were regularly televised, we would sit around the radio and get a “visual” of the game from Marty and Joe better than probably even the TV could produce. 

Nothing like hearing, “And this one belongs to the Reds!” and “this is the old left-hander rounding 3rd and heading for home”.  Since we shared a love for baseball, my grandfather (who dropped out of school at an early age to help run the family farm and eventually retired as a school custodian) would drive us around to local Little League fields to watch game after game after game.  Clayton, Brookville, West Milton, just to name a few.  It never got old.

My parents would drive over to Vandalia and sit and watch planes take off and land – cheap entertainment but as a young kid I was in awe.  When we would visit the area during Christmas, a trip to Ludlow Falls to see the the lights was a must.  And finally, any visit without a trip to Greenville for some Maid Rite sandwiches was a bust! (You definitely need to give your readers some insight on this place!)

I really appreciate you taking me down memory lane.

The recent talk about vintage Pizza Hut reminded me of the vintage Shakey’s Pizza.  I consider them the OG of the modern-day brewhouses – good food, pitchers of beer and live music!  Would be interesting to see what your readers remember about Shakey’s as well.  Obviously, Pizza Hut made the leap to the Big Show of pizza franchises but as you know sometimes the minor leagues is where you get the most authenticity!


It’s emails like this one from Chris in Virginia’s message that hurt because the Reds open the 2023 season Thursday and I’m just not feeling it. They’re going to be absolutely pitiful and I’m not even sure if I can find a way to watch the festivities that used to be a rite of passage to spring for those of us in Ohio.

It’s a real gut shot to feel like this when the Reds were life growing up. Sell the team, Bob. And your loser son can go to hell.

These people have ruined Reds baseball for so many.

Speaking of Dayton, a fellow Daytonian needs a TNML ruling in Savannah, GA

• Bob H. writes:

First time – long time here in Savannah GA (by way of Dayton OH.)  Great job on your guys weekend down here!  There are of course different things to do with the family but for a guys Banana Ball trip you nailed it.

Writing in for a Commissioner’s TNML ruling.  I golf on Thursday evenings and usually mow Thursday late morning.  When the TNML was formed I joked to myself that I was the early game scheduled for Thursday.  I have wonderful memories of sneaking down from Dayton to Cincinnati for the Business Man’s Special – a Thursday noon start so the Reds could get a jump on west coast travel that happens several times a season.  Nothing better than some cold Hudepohls at Riverfront when you were supposed to be at work.  Anyhow, I mow late morning so I am free for evening golf and my weekend is free for other essential activities.

If the Commissioner sanctions my early start I would love to slap a TNML sticker on my reel mower.  Why the reel?  Because the mowing doubles as a good workout and I know later that day (starting approximately 3 minutes after I finish mowing) there are going to be some cold suds in my future.  Now in my mid-50s those brews tend to make the golf shorts a little tight so I try and sneak in a workout.  The reel is terrible for laying stripes but does make me work up a good sweat. 

Attached is a pic of the mower that will hopefully display a TNML sticker, my mowing shoes (Brooks sneakers circa 2008) and a gas-guzzling truck in the background to prove I am not an eco-warrior.  If an extra sticker happens to find its way into the envelope it will be proudly affixed to the beer fridge in the garage.

Thanks again for all you do for the Screencaps Community.  Keep up the GREAT work!


YES, Thursday morning mows, afternoon mows and evening mows are 100% league-certified. The key remains to get that turf looking great for the weekend. Bob, I will have to mow in the late afternoon on 4/20 (Opening Day) because I have a baseball practice to run that night.

We adjust our lives but never turn our backs on Thursdays.

The final Tuesday of March is in the books. You guys hammered me with somewhere around 100 more sticker requests as the drive to finish off the final 500 stickers gains steam.

The sun is kinda out this morning. The patio birds are chirping. The dog is chasing squirrels and life is off and running. Go have an incredible day.

Email: joekinsey@gmail.com

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Written by Joe Kinsey

Joe Kinsey is the Senior Director of Content of OutKick and the editor of the Morning Screencaps column that examines a variety of stories taking place in real America.

Kinsey is also the founder of OutKick’s Thursday Night Mowing League, America’s largest virtual mowing league.

Kinsey graduated from University of Toledo.

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