The Injury Paradox

I made my first start of the season last Sunday, which turned out a bit stranger than most games I remember being a part of. The first two innings of this thing were nightmarish, giving up five runs off five errors in the field. Yeah, only one of those runs were “earned”, but if I wasn’t just lobbing my shit right over the plate, the other team wouldn’t have been making good contact anyway. I wound up pitching another three innings, and things really started to click along for me and the guys; The defense worked out it’s initial skittishness and tightened up behind me, and I stopped just giving away at-bats. And we finally found our whoopin’ sticks in the fourth and fifth innings. We drove in three runs in the fourth, and another five in the fifth. So by the time I was switched out to play second base, things were in line to get the win.

For those who may be wondering why I got switched over to second, the answer is thus: While major and minor leagues have 25 man rosters, this league does not have that luxury. No, our rosters have a 12 man limit. Because of those limitations, our managers are forced to be a bit more creative with where we play. So when not pitching, I tend to find myself firmly ensconced at second. And while I had some reservations about this at first, I’m now quite happy with the arrangement. I get more plate appearances for one thing, and since I’ve always been a decent hitter it’s easy to enjoy the time hitting. And then, playing second base is giving me the opportunity I need outside practice to work on fielding. And to everyone’s credit, I’ve seen a vast improvement in my glove work (As stated in prior blog entries, I’m fucking awful at defense). I still have this weird tendency to over run on high fly balls. But hopefully I can work that out soon.

I made all the routine plays at second, and even turned a couple of double plays. And to top it off, I went two for five at the dish with both hits being doubles.

So we won the game 12-5. I got credit for the win, and was given a bonus for being named Player Of The Game by my teammates. I don’t really know if I earned the honor, since there were others who did a lot better for me at both the plate and mound (Our shortstop for example, hit 5-6 with an inside-the-park homer. And all of the opposing teams runs came while I was doing the pitching). But my manager took me aside afterwards and told me that the guys picked me for the award because I continued to play and contribute even though I was clearly injured during the second inning.

And yes you read that right: I got hurt. Again. Pulled my hip flexor running out of the box after laying down a bunt. At first, it didn’t hurt as much as it would. I just kept trying to stretch and rub out the kink and hoped it would work itself out. Early on it was very uncomfortable, but somewhat manageable. During the sixth inning though, I was running down a flyball when for some reason- I’m not sure if I stepped in a rut in the outfield or what- the leg just gave out. Granted, I was still able to finish out the game, though not without some seriously painful hobbling about.

This experience has reminded me of one very simple fact:

Injuries suck. We’re talking ass-to-mouth suckage here, kids.

First, there’s the simple quandary: As an athlete, do you tell your coach that you’re not sure whether you can keep going or not? What if he asks? After the sixth, my manager kept checking in with me to make sure I was alright. And each time, I said “Hell yeah! Of course I’m okay.”. Did I have doubts? Of course I did. It’s hard not to wonder about your condition when your leg screams at you with every step you take. Then again, what if I said I couldn’t go, and my replacement turns out to be just that much better? Nobody wants to get Wally Pipped out of their spot. Especially not Wally Pipp. That happens to me, and I wind up coming to the ballpark just to watch the games, and I have the MLB Network at home if I just want to watch games.

Then, there’s the question of the team. How an injury plays out with the other guys is also a double edged sword. On the one side, say you tell your coach that you can’t go. How will the guys see it? Depending on the injury, they can either see it as a tough break and commiserate with you. Or you’re a whiny bitch only out for yourself. Either way, you’ll never really know for sure since nobody really tells you those kind of things to your face.

There’s also a trust factor to keep in mind. When you are selected for a starting spot on a team, the message isn’t necessarily that you are a great player. What it tells you is that your manager and teammates trust you to be out there doing all the things needed without complaint. As I write this, I’ve had to be placed on the injured list twice now. I could show up for the game after next and find that nobody trusts that I can meet expectations. When that trust is lost, it’s almost impossible to regain. Then, there’s a pretty good chance that you might have to learn to like being a late-inning pinch hitter or situational arm in the bullpen. To be frank, I’m not sure if I could do that or not.

Finally we have the fans to take into account.

Seriously! Don’t laugh!

Yes, we DO have regular spectators at the games. The fact that the number of regular fans is in the teens doesn’t matter. Every week they sit in those stands. And every week, those guys come to watch you play. They aren’t coming to watch you perform Beckett, so they must be there to watch you play… right? Don’t even think about the answer to that question. It should be academic at this point: Of course they’re coming to watch you play! So what are they going to think when they find their place in the stands, and you’re just taking up space at the end of your team’s bench? I’ve been on that side of things. I’ve read roster updates and laughed at people getting placed on the DL for shit like bruises and such. I have written players off as pussies because they can’t go a whole season without spending time on the shelf. So I know this for a fact: I don’t want to be one of those guys so easily written off. I don’t want a single one of our thirteen or fourteen fans to look at me and view me a fragile primadonna because I can’t stay injury free.

So yeah, the whole situation sucks.

But there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it. Sooooo… guess I might as well try and get some practice in.

I Have A Raging Ten Inch Poll…

See, here’s the thing:

I think I touched on this in my previous entry, but I’ll point once more that even though my updates are becoming a rarity, people are still reading my page.

So with that in mind, I’d like to get some feedback and find out what keeps y’all coming back.

Please be as honest as you can, use a number 2 pencil, and be sure to fill in your answer completely!

Updates. I Have Them.

Sometimes I tell myself, “Today is the day! God as my witness, I will write in my blog TODAY!”

Occasionally, I follow through on this decree.

Lucky you, right? I know, I know: You really don’t have to say anything. I graciously accept any adulation you might have for me.

But of course while I joke about it, one fact remains: SOMEBODY is certainly reading this. I know: I get to look at the site stats. So to the about 3 or so folks who seem to keep popping by my site every day: Thanks. That’s actually pretty cool.

 

So with that, here’s some quick updates/explanations/rants/whatever:

 

First, for any who might be wondering, baseball is going fairly… strangely. I’m trying to hang on with another team now. Thing that really sucks is that this would my second team of the year so far. I was picked up by one team, threw one live BP and one practice for them before getting The Speech.

If you’ve seen “Bull Durham” (Or pretty damn near every baseball movie ever), you know exactly what The Speech consists of: The manager begins The Speech with some play on the phrase, “Being a manager/coach is the toughest job in the game/world.”. And then it ends with you getting sent packing your bags and wondering what the fuck you’re going to do now. You might be given contact information for another team that might need you for something or another. You might not. Either way; in the present tense on THIS team, you are not wanted.

I would like to point out that my version of The Speech also consisted of another version of the “But we have former pro players and Division I college guys here” excuse as well. Of course, I didn’t get that when I kept making the coaches’ vaunted ex-pro bats miss my knuckler during live BP. But what do I know?

At least I was one of the ones who DID get more contact information for another team. I placed a couple of phone calls and emails. Next thing I know I get in touch with a really awesome coach who despite having everybody he needed on his team, invited me to come play in a game so he could give other teams a look at what I could possibly do.

And how do I repay him? By getting lost finding the field and being nearly 45 minutes late. When I approached him to introduce myself, the game was already about to start and I was embarrassed and ashamed of myself for being so late. If I’d have been better prepared, it would not have been a problem. Coach was still really cool about it though. “You can go into the bullpen and throw some catch,” he explained. “I’ll work on getting you out there later in the game.” 

I grabbed Chris (Another fringe guy like me only trying to land as an OF) and we went to the bullpen. Before this day, I’d been worried because I couldn’t seem to find the strike zone. For the last few practices leading to this, I’d developed issues finding home plate. After a few minutes of playing really easy catch though, my arm had seemed to work itself out, so I started throwing from the mound.

I’ve realized that one of my biggest flaws is that I carry unreal expectations: I do a thing once, and I expect that because I could do it once, I can easily repeat it on demand. Naturally I fail. And that failure creates an avalanche of ass which consumes and overwhelms me to the point where I feel like an emotional wreck inside.

What I forget in all of this is that even the best of us have to work into that level of excellence because talent alone isn’t nearly enough. And as I am decidedly NOT the best of us, I just have to work that much more and ease into things. 

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that I’m learning that I need to step back at times and just chill the fuck out. Not every pitch has to be perfect; they just need to get there. Knowing this has made things a ton easier for me, I’ll tell you.

And with things feeling pretty good and Knuckles moving nicely, I settled into a little groove on the bullpen mound. So much so in fact, that the coach and one of the other pitchers was commenting on it. After a few minutes of observation, coach told me that I was to come in the game at the bottom of the sixth. Pretty cool!

So there I was, standing on the mound in a real game sort of thing. I got my swagger and I’m feeling pretty awesome at this point. The opponent’s first batter steps in against me, and I just uncork it: Knuckles right down the middle for strike one. I love that first pitch: Batters just give it to you for the most part. Second pitch came in low and on the outside. 

Then, with the count at 1-1, I let loose with a seriously knee buckling knuckleball and the batter chops it right into the gap between the first and second basemen. Guy playing first dove after it and missed. So I ran to back up the base as the second basemen also dove after the ball and snagged it. The relay throw was wild and to my left, so I had to turn into the basepath to catch it.

To be honest, I’m still not clear about what happened after that. All I can remember is the wild relay throw, turning to catch it, and then next thing I know I’m face down in the dirt near first. What other folks told me was that in turning to catch the wild throw, my upper body was right in the way of the baserunner, who immediately proceeded to run through me, causing my glasses to fly off in one direction, my hat to fly off in another, and leaving my ass laying.

But the coolest part is: I held onto the ball and got the out. Never mind the fact that I could barely think and it felt like the tone from the Emergency Broadcast System was playing directly into my brain. I made the play, and for me that’s something.

Coach ran out after me, and asked if I was okay. I tried to tell him that everything was fine and that I could keep going. But he took a long look at me and he said, “I’m sorry, bud. That was a hell of a play, but you don’t look good. You’re done.”. I was not entirely thrilled with the decision, but as I sort half-walked, half-stumbled my way back to the dugout, the first wave of dizziness hit me and I figured maybe coach was right to get me out of there.

As I sat on the bench shaking things off, one of the other coaches gave me a once over and told me that while he wasn’t sure, he thought I might have a mild concussion. After the game, I went to my doctor and had that prognosis confirmed.

So believe it or not, this is my first concussion ever. I guess this makes me a real athlete now!

After the game though, Chris and I were taken aside and given… different news. I was told that while the Coach liked what I was showing, and he thought Chris had good legs and hustle in the outfield, he didn’t have a spot on his team for either of us. We were however, offered spots in the league as “free agents”. We were then given our player’s contracts (My first time signing one of those too!) which we of course signed.

One of the benefits of the contract is that even if I don’t land on a team right away, the league holds what they call “Free Agent” Games in one of their parks every weekend. So even if I’m not on a team, I can still get real work in actual games. And the clubs watch these games too, so who knows? Maybe I can really impress someone.

In conclusion, I have to admit that everything written above is just a really convoluted way of explaining why I took a job at Starbucks. Even if it’s all true.

 

So, another thing I’ll be doing starting this May is volunteering with a local non-profit that does various sporting activities with mentally and physically disabled children. My role will be to help coach and play ball with the kids. This might even be a greater challenge then just playing in local leagues. Now I have to be patient, humble, gracious, and kind. And believe me when I tell you that I am NONE of these things. I say it’ll take three days of this before I snap and charge little wheelchair kids with a baseball bat. Any takers?

 

Okay, that’s it. I have more things to write. But I’ll try and space them out for you. Keep reading!

 

 

 

 

 

I Got Clocked At 91 MPH… With A Baseball (UPDATE)

First before I get started, let’s give everyone an update:

 

Today is Saturday, April 6. Tomorrow, I will be attending my first formal practice with the Aloha Mets of the MSBL (Site not entirely updated). I thought we’d be getting our uniforms tomorrow, but they’re going to be ordered in a week or two. And it looks like I’ll be getting either number 22 (Jim Palmer’s number! WOOT!) or 13 (Ralph Branca’s! Again, WOOT!). To be honest, they could have given me number 1/3 (Ummm…. Eddie Gaedel’s number. Yeah), and I’d still be thrilled. I did pop something in my neck a few days ago however, and there’s still some discomfort from that, but I think that it should go away by tomorrow.

 

But here’s why I’m here today. 

 

Before tomorrow comes, I just wanted to get an idea of where I was pitching-wise. I grabbed the old lady, her iPhone, and a radar gun (believe it or not, my next door neighbor has one. Hooray for having hoarder friends!), and went to my special spot under the bridge to get a quick practice in.

 

So after I did some quick warmups, I was ready to go. I reared back and threw a rather half-hearted fastball. I checked the reading and saw it was 71 mph.

 

I was surprised at that! I was thinking I was doing pretty awesome if I hit 65. And yet, there it was- six miles over my best estimation… and not even at 3/4 strength. I then screwed around with my offspeed stuff, and then attempted a slightly harder fastball.

 

The Missus looked at me and said “78″. I misheard her, I thought. “68, right?” I said. She shook her head. “No,” she came back. “Seven. Eight. 78.”

 

Well… holy shit! I figured I’d give it a full-on go this time. Let’s see how much harder I can go! The very next pitch came in at 85 mph. I thought that was going to be as good as it was gonna get. But still I kept going. 

 

The next pitch I threw, I turned to look at the woman. She looked at me… then she looked at the gun. Then back to me. “91″ she finally managed to say.

 

That can’t be right, I thought. No fucking way that can be right!

 

But I still kept hurling… and I still kept going. 89 mph, 88…. and so on.

 

I threw enough to get good averages on all of my pitches. And here’s the list:

 

4 Seam Fastball: 87 mph

2 Seam Fastball: 82 mph

Palmball: 73 mph

Screwball: 78 mph

Knuckleball: 64 mph

 

As an added bonus: Here’s a video of me pitching. Here, I throw at three angles- Over, sidearm, and underhand. I’ll let you all figure out which is which.

 

Wish me luck at my first team practice tomorrow

 

Anyone Still Here?

Yeah, it’s been awhile since I updated this bad boy. There are a number of reasons for this, which I will list now:

First, it has to be said; my marriage hit something of a rough patch. Granted this has happened before as marriage is not all rainbows and unicorn farts (Which smell like cinnamon, for some reason). But as of the time of this writing, I’m still not in a place where I can say for sure that things are going to work out. We shall see…

Also, things have been hectic here as well. I was recently laid off from my job (don’t ask), so I’ve had to devote much more time to finding ways to make money that don’t involve the distribution of blowjobs. This is harder than previously thought since I’m not nearly as young or sexy as I once was.

And finally: I’ve had a LOT of baseball practice.

Remember when I wrote earlier about hearing from another league in town looking for players? Well, I decided to keep in touch with them and I was invited to an audition of sorts… which I KILLED! Until circumstances change, I’m now the number 2 starter on the team’s pitching rotation.

Our season starts on the 5th of May and plays through September. Also, unis get handed out at practice this Sunday. Stay tuned for more updates!

Metamorphosis

In every aspect of everyday life, the phenomenon of metamorphosis can be witnessed all about us. From the way the blooms on a tree flourish in spring and summer only to die off during the cooler seasons, to the way a tiny caterpillar emerges from a cocoon as a lovely butterfly, all the way down to that little wrinkle you’d never noticed before just now: It is a force that drives us all- Change.

Today, I announce that I have undergone such a change.

This morning, when I awoke I noticed that I looked eerily similar to that crackpot on “Ancient Aliens”…mms_picture (16)

…And now, I look like the shower rapist in your black sheep uncle’s cell block!

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Alas, with change also comes with it sacrifice…

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My sink will never be the same…

My Take On JP Arencibia’s Special Gift.

Earlier this evening, I was reading a story from MLB.com about JP Arencibia’s surprise gift of tickets to autistic fan Matt Harvey. Harvey, a 31 year old Blue Jays fan from St. Catherines, Ontario, is a constant source of support for his team over Twitter, and is unceasing in his support for the Jays. 

So, when Arencibia had learned that Harvey has suffered from bullying most of his life, the Blue Jays catcher took it upon himself to surprise Harvey with tickets for Toronto’s season opener versus the Cleveland Indians. “got 2 tickets for u!” Arencibia tweeted to Harvey. “The bully’s can watch it from home, you won’t have to!”

Reading that, and reading about what Matt Harvey has had to go through in his life… Being picked on for being “weird” or “different” or a “freak”… Going through childhood KNOWING something made him different from his peers, but not understanding what it was, or even why until he was in his twenties. Well, something about that just resonated within the coal black void that is my heart. Okay, a couple of somethings.

First, in this day and age where we look at athletes and admire from a distance; Where we can appreciate the skills and contributions they make to our beloved teams, but do so with the full understanding that we’re little to them but amorphous blobs of revenue, we become jaded. We don’t expect an athlete like Arencibia to just do something so kind out of the blue like this. In an age where total douchecanoes like Alex Rodriguez can pocket the revenue generated through his charity, such generosity as seen by Arencibia almost doesn’t compute. 

For me, reading of such a thing is enough to think to myself that it’s really damn cool to learn that not all pro athletes are as Rodriguez. It’s also enough for me to say that no matter what a guy like Arencibia does for the rest of his career, he will always be one of my favorites.

And for a guy like Matt Harvey, my own heart goes out to him. I am envious of the support he receives from his family, his girlfriend, and even guys like JP. I feel for him as well, as I know what he went through on a daily basis (and still possibly does).

You see, I was different too growing up.

Ever since I could remember, there were… things… that set me apart. When I was first learning to speak for example, I did so with a pronounced stutter. Also, I’d suffer through bouts of palilalia (when you involuntarily repeat yourself. For example, I’d ask somebody, “What’s your name? What’s your name?”). And there were also the tics: Suddenly, with no real explanation, my arms would flap about at full strength. If not those, then it’d be my legs. I had no way of knowing what caused it. And despite all my efforts, I couldn’t make these things stop.

The first bully I remember to point all these idiosyncrasies out to me was my own Grandmother. She had little to no qualms about hitting me whenever my arms would start twitching about, or when my tongue would suddenly fall to stuttering. The fact that I was only four or five years old during all this was irrelevant in her eyes. If I stuttered, or twitched, or repeated myself spontaneously, I knew I could expect a clubbing from bits of firewood.

The worst of it though was when she’d tell me and everyone else who cared to hear, that I was mentally retarded. Or that all of this was my fault. You know, because I totally chose to do these things since they were so super fucking neato.

When it came time for me to go to school, I was hoping it would be a reprieve from the tender mercies of my grandmother. I was wrong. Instead of dealing with one actual Grandma, I was sent to interact on my own with a seeming army of smaller versions. Coming home with a bloody nose or torn clothes was a pretty regular thing. And I knew that my family wouldn’t get it. To them, I brought all of this on myself by not being able to control my actions. Somehow, this was my fault.

I think that for me, this all came to a head after the divorce of my parents. After Dad left, he could hardly support himself let alone a “retarded” son. And my mom’s boyfriend had decided that if I were around, they couldn’t be together. So I was sent to a residential school to live when I was six.

I’ll tell you: If you thought that it was bad before? Just think of how much worse it became when I was placed in a facility with REAL problem cases. I’d been brutally beaten at this school. I’d been stabbed. Or put in restraints. You name it: This “school” was really a prison with teddy bears… and cartoons. And I did four years in it.

It was when I was ten that a particularly observant social worker had an idea of what was really wrong with me: I was born with Tourette Syndrome. I wasn’t retarded. I wasn’t autistic. I wasn’t just “doing it for attention”. I was born with this, but beyond that I was just like everyone else.

Except by that point, I wasn’t. It took me years to acclimated to being “out”. It wasn’t until my late teens that I realized that responding to slights by beating people nearly half to death was not the normal method of conflict resolution. I had been bullied, and as such, I became a bully in response. 

One thing I’ve learned from all of this is that the world is a cruel hard place to live. And it’s crueler still for people like Matt Harvey and to a lesser extent, myself. Without the love and support of one’s family and friends, it becomes all too easy to become the cruelty you experience. I’m glad this is the case for Matt. I’m glad that he has these things, because growing up, I did not.

And to JP Arencibia: In a tweet you wrote in response to supporters (like myself), you said that “its not about me”. I beg to differ.

In case you haven’t figured it out, I’ll tell you: People like Matt Harvey… people like myself; We NEED people like you. We need people to tell us that were okay. That despite our flaws and despite our troubles, we’re not terrible for them, and we’re not failures because our disorders set us apart from the mainstream. We need people like you, because unlike so many of the people in my life, you seem to give a shit.

Furthermore, I need to know when you’ll be playing Seattle. I’m just a couple hundred miles south of Safeco. I might be able to swing the trip.

Also, if you and RA Dickey (one of my other favorites) could maybe go a little easy on my beloved Orioles… Please? What do you say?