When You are a Kid:
Having little brother who is great at everything is pretty tough pill to swallow. When your little brother is better than you at the things you are supposed to be good at you get sick of him pretty quick. In all honesty you're jealous, but you don't really know that. You just know you are bigger than him, he bothers you, and you decide to beat him up. But the funny thing about Kirk, is that he never once backed down. He stood up and fought back. We threw each other through Walls, Televisions, Doors, you name it we broke it. We would even have a contest to see how fast we could run across the backyard, most of the time it more than half an hour because we would wrestle the entire time. We broke everything.
Kirk was and is the kind of person that, if you give him a set of rules, he will learn them, practice incessantly, master the game, and then destroy you. From baseball, to cards, golf, candyland, horseshoes, darts... anything you can think of. He will teach himself, quietly, and beat you like big blue playing chess against a monkey. Once you compound this, with the fact that he won't turn down a challenge, you get a pretty fierce competitor. Then you mix in the fact that he couldn't care less about winning. Winning is not a big thing to him. In fact he has grown to expect it. I've seen him win some pretty big events in his life, and he seems pretty stoked, but is really more concerned about where we are going to go eat. Most of the time he would be the person over the game area pumping quarters into a hot shot basketball game.
But what you may not know.
Is that what Kirk really hates, is to lose. He hates to lose more than he likes to win. He hates losing 10 times more than he likes to win. People who like to win, like that buzz, then they feel satisfied. People who hate to lose, will go back and work harder as soon as the win is complete. Because the win is forgotten, the losses remain. "the tree remembers, the ax forgets"
And if he does lose, he wants to lose because it was his fault. I think that is why he gravitated towards pitching as a career. It is really the only individual sport within another sport. Pitchers can't score runs, they can only stop them. With sheer odds I have beaten my brother a few times, at a few things, usually it ruins the day. Because I am a bit of a terrible winner, against him, and he takes a loss to me like a knife in the chest.
But having a little brother like this makes you better. It made me better. It could be said that Kirk is one of the driving forces behind why Saarloos and sons exists today. I wouldn't be half the man I am today without a little brother like Kirk. The Saarloos work ethic, the driven competition, the ax and the tree, the win together lose alone mentality, the be ready for when you get the call to the big leagues preparation... All of it, comes from growing up with a little brother that was better than me. We still have a very healthy competition between each other.
I still sign every bottle anyone asks for, because I want more bottles than baseballs signed by a Saarloos. But he has stolen my signature, so now you can't tell.
Every single time I have the honor of signing a bottle.
I think of him.
The youthful jealousy in me has been long replaced by pride in my brother. He is a great husband, a wonderful father, a great son, and when baseball season rolls around gets dad our of my hair for a bit. He will be known as one of the greatest coaches in collegiate baseball.
Mark my words, He will be the John Wooden of baseball.
He will be, because he wants to be.
Happy Birthday Kiko
p.s. for your birthday I signed a bottle for you - come and take it from me.