New dad Stanek brings new perspective to mound

June 15th, 2022

This story was excerpted from Brian McTaggart's Astros Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

If you see Astros reliever  out and about this week, be sure to wish him a Happy Father’s Day. Stanek will be celebrating his first Father’s Day on Sunday following the birth of his and wife Jessica’s daughter, Joelle, on Sept. 21, 2021. Stanek said becoming a father has given him a new perspective on life and baseball.

Earlier this week, Stanek took some time to share some of his first-hand new dad experiences with

“It’s been good. Personally, I think she’s made me a little less obsessive over everything that happens on the field. Like, I can turn my focus onto her and my family as soon as I’ve gone from the field. So, like the ability to flush good and bad things and not like fixate on them has been something that’s been good for me.”

Stanek’s parental instincts are a credit, he says, to his parents, Mark and Lisa. He’s very close with his parents, who live in Kansas City, and says he talks to his mom every day and his father on most days.

“I was really fortunate to have awesome parents that were super involved and wanted to be a part of everything. Obviously, I've grown up and become a man, but it showed me the kind of father I wanted to be and how I wanted to be involved with everything. I think I try to pattern myself after my parents.”

Of course, being a first-time father is bound to bring some new challenges, which Stanek quickly found out.

“I didn’t realize there was so many different kinds of baby formula. There’s like 50 of them. … Formula tastes horrible, by the way. I didn’t realize that was a thing. Little things like that, you really don’t talk about it with other people. A lot of stuff you don’t discuss just kind of becomes something, like ‘Oh, I wasn’t expecting this or how much formula and diapers you go through.’ Just like a dozen diapers in a day, a heavy day. It’s just wild. After the baby shower, I thought we had diapers for a year. I was like, ‘Oh, we’re good.’ They lasted a couple of months, and I said, ‘What do you mean?’”

Stanek’s daughter is about nine months old, so she’s not quite walking yet.

“She was standing up before she was crawling. She doesn’t quite have the balance part figured out. She’ll do it for a while and I’ll say, ‘Oh, you’re standing!’ and she’ll fall down immediately. Now, she’s crawling all over the place. She’s saying basic words – mom, dad, bottle, stuff like that. But yeah, besides that, she’s already got a couple of teeth. And there’s more coming.”

Stanek said watching your baby cry in pain because she’s teething is difficult to have to go through.

“That might have been the biggest surprise, how much pain. They’re pissed and there’s nothing you can do about it. They’re mad because their mouth hurts. You can give them some Tylenol and hopefully it makes them feel better, but sometimes it doesn’t and they just scream. Besides that, it’s been pretty smooth.”

Stanek said his wife and baby travel on the road with him occasionally. They attended the World Series last year in Atlanta and they’ve been to Los Angeles, Seattle and Kansas City, where his parents live.

“It just kind of depends on if my wife has any help. I feel bad if she has to travel and fly and pack everything by herself with her. It just adds a lot to her plate trying to pack everything, especially formula. That takes up so much space and if it’s open, it goes bad in an hour. It’s just not the most convenient thing to travel. They come when they can, when she feels up to it.”

Being a father is still something Stanek is getting used to because he says he still feels like he’s a big child.

“I feel like since we had her, you grow up a lot from that point on just because you have to. Not everything is just about you anymore. It definitely changes your outlook. I think [Father’s Day] will be fun. It will be a good day.”