Commentary

Bittersweet first road trip

Updated: March 11, 2008, 11:55 AM ET
By Mark Schlereth | ESPN.com

I've heard my name called as I ran onto the field to play in three Super Bowls. I've hoisted the Lombardi Trophy three times. I played 12 years in the NFL and was named to two Pro Bowls. I've heard the roaring sound of 80,000 people in my ears as they scream for my team to win. I've seen them go crazy when we've won.

Yet nothing fills me with as much excitement as when I hear my son's name announced over the loudspeaker and see him running onto the baseball diamond.

My son, Daniel, is a redshirt junior relief pitcher for the University of Arizona and this season my wife, Lisa, and two daughters, Alexandria and Avery, will be traveling to see as many of his games as possible. Daniel and I will be doing a mini-diary on the season and our travels. It's going to be a long, hopefully fun-filled season and we're glad to have ESPN.com's readers along with us to experience the highs and lows.

One of the great perks of traveling a lot for ESPN is that I have a ton of frequent flier miles. Luckily I was able to use some of those miles to upgrade us to first class for our first big baseball trip of the season. We had the entire crew on this trip as my oldest daughter Alexandra met us in Denver to fly down to Georgia for Arizona's first games of the season against the Georgia Bulldogs.

I was so excited that I refused to go to sleep during the flight. I was like a kid in a candy store -- I was so amped about the first weekend of the college baseball season and getting the opportunity to watch Daniel's team play.

One of the reasons I was so excited was because it was the beginning of a new season. It is an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and start all over and that breeds excitement and anticipation.

Another reason why I was so excited was because my entire family was together. I believe that the families that stay together and flourish are the ones with something that bonds them together and for us that thing has been baseball. The girls have been dragged around to baseball games for as long as I can remember and they've been great about it and have a great appreciation and love for the game and what their brother has accomplished.

By the time we landed in Atlanta, Ga., it was pouring down rain and the weather affected the drive to the point where it took several hours to get to Athens, Ga., where the University of Georgia resides.

The weekend was a mix of emotions for us. The team did well, winning two out of three games against a great Georgia team, and we were very happy for them. There was some sloppy play in the wet conditions and a lot of errors for two teams that normally play extremely clean baseball.

For the family it was a low moment because Daniel struggled out on the mound. In two years of collegiate play, he had given up two homers. This weekend he gave up two more homers.

It's tough to see your kid struggle, but it's also a good thing because Daniel will learn something about himself by how he responds to this temporary setback. I know my kids are tough because I demanded it from them. So I know that as tough as it is and as bad as he feels about his performance, I know he won't pack it in. He will rectify that performance and continue to help his team win games.

Sadly, I won't be able to make it out to this weekends' games to watch Daniel pitch because I will be at ESPN the Weekend. But I will be watching the webcast on Arizona's Web site and will be cheering loudly in my hotel room as I watch Arizona take on Sacramento State.

Mark Schlereth, a three-time Super Bowl-winning lineman, is a regular contributor to ESPN.com.

Former All-Pro guard Mark Schlereth joined ESPN in 2002 as an analyst for NFL 2Night, now NFL Live. He brings 12 years of NFL playing experience to the role. Schlereth has also filled in on numerous ESPN radio shows.