I finally beat Sara, my seven-year-old, in a game of Wii baseball today. It was a pitcher’s duel, still 0-0 in the bottom of the last inning, when I managed to swat a homer that barely cleared the outfield wall. I’ve got ice on my elbow right now to reduce the swelling from swinging out of my shoes, but the victory is worth the pain. 

There are two reasons I won the game. First, Sara had a lousy day at the plate. She swatted a lot of long fly balls, but they fell just short of the fences — and for once, my Wii players didn’t drop any. Second, I spent hours taking batting practice this week while the girls were in school, all in hopes of figuring out the difference between YOU SWUNG TOO EARLY and YOU SWUNG TOO LATE. The result of all that practice was announced by Wii during today’s contest:

You swung too early!
You swung too late!
You swung too late!
Foul Ball!
You swung too early!
Foul Ball!
You swung too late!
You swung too late!
You swung too late!
You swung too early!

And so forth, until the last inning, when HOME RUN appeared on the screen. Exactly one hit, probably nothing more than the laws of randomness catching up with me, but it was a game-winner.

Yes, I practiced my Wii batting so I could stop getting shellacked by my daughter. This no doubt says something about me as a father, and whatever it says, it’s not a compliment. My rationalization was that someday she’ll be a teenager and I’ll have to discipline her for various infractions … staying out past curfew, drinking underage, lying about where and when she got that tattoo, etc. It’s not going to do much for my father-intimidation mojo if her nickname for me is “Whiff Boy.” I also want any pimply, hormone-addled teenage boys she dates to be afraid of me. That’s not going to happen if she introduces me as, “This is my dad. He swings like a girl.”

After my last post, a reader left a comment suggesting that Wii is equipped with a dad-detector, the purpose of which is to make sure the dad always loses. I’m beginning to think the reader is correct. During today’s baseball game, Sara was throwing 94 mph fastballs. I couldn’t bring anything close to that kind of heat. By putting my entire body into it and risking a rotator-cuff injury, I managed to throw a 71 mph fastball once — which she promptly swatted for a double. The rest of my “fastballs” were in the 60s. If our playroom were bigger, I’d put a pitcher’s mound in there and let my weight generate something resembling momentum. On the other hand, the dad-detector may just limit a dad’s pitches to 71 mph, period.

I also practiced my bowling this week, once again in hopes of figuring out how to overcome the dad-detector. Two nights ago, Sara and I played a round of 100-pin bowling. It’s a way-cool game. Nothing like watching 100 pins go flying and scoring a strike … well, if Sara’s the one bowling, that is. During this particular game, she rolled nine strikes in 10 frames. She began the game with seven straight. No, I’m not making that up.

I was so happy for her, I stood behind her and took mental notes, trying to steal her technique. I watched where she lined up her Wii bowler (pretty far to the left), how hard she threw, and how she turned her wrist to generate that wicked curve to the right. Then I mimicked her throw exactly. I swear I did. But while her version of the throw sent all 100 pins flying, mine always left one or two pins standing. If it was two pins, they’d be as far apart as two pins can be. It had to be the dad-detector at work.

The only game Sara’s no good at is Frisbee golf. She throws a Frisbee just fine, but she’s never played real golf and doesn’t think like a golfer. She doesn’t yet grasp, for example, that it’s not a good idea to go for a green that’s 200 yards away with water in front of it. During my 20 years of playing actual golf, I’ve put enough balls in the water to cause a slight rise in worldwide sea-levels, so I know when to lay up.

Alana, my five-year-old, can beat me fair and square at Wii bowling now and then, but that’s it. I let her win most of the time at tennis and ping-pong, two of her favorite games. It’s easy to let her win. I just play left-handed. Instant incompetence.

However, her newest favorite is Wii boxing, which she can play by herself. She’s such an enthusiastic boxer, my wife had to put a big strip of blue tape on the carpet as a DO NOT CROSS line. Otherwise, Alana keeps dancing in to deliver body-blows and ends up smacking the TV.

I was pleased she was enjoying the boxing until I noticed the Wii character she chooses to box is named Tom — the character I created for myself, glasses and all. Now I wonder what she’s thinking when she’s in there punching away.

No cookies after school? Is that what you said, big guy? (WHAM!) I’ll decide when I get cookies from now on, got it? (WHAM!) Next time you say “No cookies,” you’re getting one of these. (WHAM!)

Two players can also box against each other, and both girls have asked me to play. I’ve refused so far, telling them I don’t like boxing. The truth is, I’m not going to risk getting punched out by my daughters. Their teenage years will be challenging enough as it is.

12 Responses to “Wii, Wii, Wii All The Way Home”
  1. TonyNZ says:

    “During my 20 years of playing actual golf, I’ve put enough balls in the water to cause a slight rise in worldwide sea-levels”

    Climate change debunked.

    I tried to explain to Al Gore what actually happened, but he wasn’t interested.

  2. Elenor says:

    Tom Tom Tom — take her outside (well, once ‘outside’ thaws out!) and teach her some REAL baseball! She’ll discover — and you’ll be able to crow! — that “yeah sure you can do that computer-gamey-thing really well but in the REAL world… DAD is the king!” (You can start practicing with a baseball now, on your walks without her! [wink} Cal it pre-spring training.)

    She’s the computer generation — all computers prefer the youngsters to us: WE remember a world without computers! (We’re glad that world is gone, but we remember it! SkyNet doesn’t like that!)

    Based on how well she throws a real football, I’m half-afraid I’ll toss her a pitch and she’ll hit a line drive into my head. Baseball will have to wait for the thaw, but they’re sledding outside today, taking advantage of what may be the last snow until next winter.

  3. Chris says:

    The Wii’s motion sensors are easily fooled. You can always “cheat” and simply flick your wrist to get the 90+ MPH fastball. It makes the game much less entertaining, so I save it for when I’ve worn out my arm. Also, see, http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2006/11/13/

    That must be what my daughter is doing. If not, I’m sending her to baseball camp.

  4. John hunter says:

    It’s a bit counterintuitive but you might actually try “throwing” the ball and “swinging” the bat just a bit slower. My wife and I were having problems with the wii game warioware. It has a bunch of random mini activities that they give you like 5 seconds to do. One of the activities was using a sword to slice a log. We could never get that one to work. After much trial and error we figured out that we were swinging the wiimote too fast for the sensors to keep up. We slowed it down just a bit and now every time that one pops up we have no problem at all. I highly recommend that game though many young and old alike find it somewhat frustrating as the a activities are random and you have little time to complete them but to me it really works your memory and motor skills to build fast reactions.

    You’re probably right. I know from playing real golf that if I try to murder the ball, it doesn’t go very far.

  5. Pat says:

    You’re making the right choice not to box- it is EXHAUSTING.
    And Chris is right about using the wrist; it’s the key to tennis and baseball. In bowling you need to lock your wrist and make sure the wiimote points straight forward so it goes straight.

    I wondered how a 45-pound girl managed to throw such heaters. She’s probably got the loosey-goosey wrist happening while I’m actually winding up and throwing.

  6. LXV says:

    My parents got a Wii not too long ago. I got a light saber dueling game to play with my mom. I had to stop playing with her because she kept trying to hit ME with the dang wiimote.

    Yikes. Either mom doesn’t get the concept, or the two of you need a heart-to-heart.

  7. Becky says:

    This brings back wonderful memories of my father. When I finally talked my dad into getting a computer, we had Tetris wars over who could get the higher score. He would play and play while I was at school trying to beat my score, till one day he figured out how to clear the high scores. I came home to him having ALL the high scores and was totally miffed till I figured out what he did! LOL

    That’s hilarious. My daughter actually created a second Mii character for herself so she can practice games without any low scores being attributed to her main character.

  8. Lori B says:

    At a lot of retirement homes have Wii bowling teams. Gotta love it!

    Once we showed my mother in law how to change her character’s position and angle, she took off. She’s gotten high scores of around 280, and I bet she bowls a 300 someday. Hope I’m doing as well when I’m 85.

    That’s a great idea, Wii bowling leagues for seniors. Fun, a little bit of exercise, no strained joints.

  9. Elec0 says:

    “I also want any pimply, hormone-addled teenage boys she dates to be afraid of me. That’s not going to happen if she introduces me as, “This is my dad. He swings like a girl.””

    Now while you don’t want your daughters introducing you like that, do you really want your daughters’ dates to be scared of you? As in would you really want someone dating your daughter that was scared of you? Being intimated is fine, but scared?
    (I’m sure you probably meant this as an example, but whatever. :p)

    I’ll settle for intimidated.

  10. Anna says:

    “ice on my elbow right now to reduce the swelling from swinging out of my shoes”

    Weren’t all those hours of farming, walking, and Frisbee golf supposed to turn you into a rock-hard Dad-thlete? You better throw in some “Just Dance” before you roll on Fat Head, the Sequel, or you’ll let down your fans.

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