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!


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!


Alas, with change also comes with it sacrifice…

mms_picture_2 (1)

My sink will never be the same…

My Take On JP Arencibia’s Special Gift.

Earlier this evening, I was reading a story from 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?



Tryout Day!

Right, so some of you are wondering how that went I guess. Well, sit back because I have a story for ya!

First off, Just as I said I would the night before, I did in fact show up a couple of hours early to check out the field we’d be working out on. Needless to say, it had a few problems. The first of which was that it’s February in Northwest Oregon. For those of you not native to this part of the country, allow me to explain that the late fall to late spring is pretty much the rainy season. And by “rainy” I mean to say “You better have evolved some flippers and gills, otherwise life’s gonna pretty much suck”. Thankfully it didn’t rain last night. But it had been pretty much pouring non stop for the last couple of days beforehand, which leads us to the next problem. 

You see, Westmoreland Park (The place we had the tryout) is pretty much built right alongside the Willamette River. Because of this, the ground is already moist and heavy with river/ground water. Now, if you combine this with the already constant flow of rain we experience here during the cooler seasons, and you begin to wonder who’s brilliant idea it was to build a baseball stadium atop a swamp. Whoever it was, if you are reading this, then allow me to say congratulation- a retard is you!

The final problem were the ducks. I swear by all that’s holy, there were HUNDREDS of the little fuckers. They were all over the field, doing whatever it is ducks do. As my luck would have it, one things ducks definitely do is shit. This is something they do a lot of. And they do most of that all over baseball fields it seems, since the ENTIRE area was covered in a thin green layer of mud and shit. Now mind you, it doesn’t reek or anything like that. But still… we’d have to be running around, diving after line drives, sliding into bases and such in  something that came out another creature’s butt. Awesome.

Another thing I learned about ducks: They’re strangely territorial. As I approached the field, most of them stood their ground. But there were a couple that thought it’d be a brilliant idea to charge toward me, wings all spread out and quacking maniacally. I’m also pretty sure they understand English too: When I muttered to them that it might not be a smart move to get pissy with a guy holding a thick wood baseball bat, they quickly quieted down and went back to the others. Hmm…

So with all that out of the way, I figured this to be as good a time as any to warm up a bit, get loose before festivities really get underway, and get my pitching mechanics to where they needed to be.

Except for one thing: Barring the flock of ducks on the diamond, the pitcher’s mound had somehow taken on the likeness of a miniature replica of Crater Lake. There was no way I was going to attempt throwing off that without water wings. And since I was led to believe there wouldn’t be a need, I left my set at home. Oh well. I figured I’d check out the bullpen mounds. And then I find that the entryways to both bullpens were locked. Okay… guess I’ll be throwing from flat ground. Good fucking luck trying to find a patch of flat ground that I didn’t sink three inches into. I opted for the sidewalk instead.

After doing some tossing off and on for an hour or two, I noticed that people began slowly filing in. At first, there were maybe one or two others. But then right around noon, people began to just appear out of the blue. It looked as though things were gonna really start happening. I went ahead and got ready. As I was putting on my cleats, a younger fella asked me if I wanted to long toss with him after he jogged the field. “Sure!” I said, my most game smile plastered upon my face. But inside, I was shitting myself with fear.

See, as I’ve explained in the past, it’s rather tough for me to throw overhand without pain, dislocation of my arm, or a complete loss of control. And when you long toss, that’s what you’re doing. When the kid came back, I let out a deep sigh and went out onto the field with him, figuring that as soon as I uncorked that first painful wild throw, I was going to be sent home.

But then, something happened. And by something, I mean nothing bad. My first throw was not only smooth, loose and pain-free, but it was actually dead on target. So was the second. And the third. And so on. The only thing that actually hurt was my left hand from catching this kid. He had a gun arm, for sure.

And so it went for about twenty minutes or so, until the both of us decided to do some jogging and warmups. At this point, I was feeling pretty damn good about things! And then, finally, the guy running the league called everybody in.

This guy and the league’s respective managers stood together in a group as the league president explained how the format of the tryout would be: Some (more) long toss, and then he’d call all outfielders to the field to do some fielding drills, the infielders would go to the second base area to work on grounders, while the catchers would throw to one another. Another group would take ten swings of batting practice. Which is great and all, but what about those of us who are pitchers?

Somebody asked him this, and his response began with “Oh…..”. Yeah. Real good sign there, Boss. 

“Well… alright. Pitchers line up at their secondary positions” he finally managed to say. And you know what? That makes perfect sense. Let’s wear out the guys who make their mark pitching before they even get a chance to throw bullpen. Guy’s a regular George S. Patton all up in here! Judging from the quiet groans in the crowd, I wasn’t the only one thinking this. Or maybe it was Zombies among us. Whatever. As long as I get to pitch I thought as I jogged to the outfield.

I lined up with the rest of those waiting to do fielding drills. And as we waited, I could overhear bits and pieces of conversation in the line.

“They’re not even gonna have us run a 40?”, came one voice.

“Is the guy running this even watching us?”, came another.

“It doesn’t make sense to have pitchers line up and work at another position. Our arms are gonna be fucking jello by the time we’re done!”, a younger kid who looked fresh outta high school exclaimed.

“Gonna be?”, said the guy standing next to him. “Mine already is”

I didn’t say anything to this, but I had to admit to myself, if not anyone else: After almost an hour and a half of long toss, my arm was feeling really wobbly too.

Here’s what I DID say aloud though, to nobody in particular: “I’m way too old for this shit, I think…”

The guy standing next to me asked me how old I was. When I told him I’d be 39 this coming June, he looked wide-eyed at me. “Goddamn! I thought I was old!”. When I asked him his age, he said he was thirty-two. Yeah that’s me: Methuselah Hudson, Lord Of Greybeards! Now get the hell off of my lawn!

And then, it was my turn to shag flyballs. And yeah, here’s another great idea: Let’s go ahead and show off the WEAKEST part of my game first. Wanna thrill to the sight of an old fart overrunning deep flies? I got that! Wanna ooh and ahh at the spectacle of this man as he loses balls in the sun? I can give you that too! Bloody hell…

There was only ONE positive thing I could take away from that. After every turn I took, whether I actually caught the ball or not, I’d hear somebody comment to the effect of “Holy shit! Old dude’s got some wheels!” Which means that while I may be a shitty outfielder, I’m at least quick about it. It’s the little things.

After this, we were all called back. This time, we were told to rotate; My group of outfielders would now be taking batting practice. We were also informed that due to the condition of the field, we wouldn’t actually be playing a game today. So after the respective drills, we’d either be picked to play on a team or sent home. Would it have really killed these people to put up some tarp on the field beforehand? I mean, we’re not in Nevada here. We’re in FUCKING NORTHWEST OREGON! You know… that place where it RAINS 200 DAYS PER YEAR ON AVERAGE!? I’m not saying y’all are incompetent or anything. But this has already been a clusterfuck of a day. And ya know, a little bit of foresight coulda helped.

Honestly, I think my frustration stems from the fact that me and the other boys are doing all of this work, and it’s all going to come to nothing since we can’t show what we know where it counts: In a game.

In any case, I grabbed my bat and helmet and lined up to take my swings. And I can tell you this: Whatever was left of my arm that didn’t slough off from hours of longtoss followed by thirty minutes of fielding flyballs and throwing them to a cutoff man finally just went as I swung away. And I wonder if this is normal or I’m not nearly in as good of shape as I’d thought. I don’t ever seem to remember it being this hard when I was young…

I wasn’t too terrible though; I smacked a couple of decent line drives. Nothing too major or anything. But hey, it’s better than swinging, missing, and falling on my ass. Right? 

Finally, the coaches told us pitchers to go to another spot on the field to throw bullpen. But we were more like an afterthought. The attitude was more like, “Alright, you guys go over there and do something while we look at the REAL players”. I realized my presumptions were correct when I lined up to take my turn and noticed that NOBODY was watching us. It was pretty depressing too. I mean, if they were watching at the exact moment I was thinking the above to myself, they woulda noticed that the kid pitching ahead of me (The kid who was echoing my sentiments about the logic of having pitchers drill in the outfield) had a pretty decent curve. 

And so, it came time for me to start. My heart started pounding, and my thoughts turned to panic. My arm felt deader than Cobain. I wondered just how much I’d have to give. But then I took a deep breath and remembered that I’m working on a knuckleball. I’m not exactly trying to be Nolan Ryan and burn that shit in at 100mph. And indeed, if I’m throwing a knuckler at speeds like that, I’m doing it wrong.

From my perspective, I didn’t see anything wrong with my first few pitches; All were in the strike zone. And all were really, really soft. But after pitch number two, the catcher exclaimed, “Holy shit! What the fuck IS this?”. He had trouble catching up to the pitch. By the time the fourth pitch started off high, only to wind up bonking him atop his helmet did he stop and stand. He took his mask off and asked me if I was pitching a knuckler. I confirmed that indeed, I was. “Well… could you just throw some fastballs? I can’t catch any of these” he asked. And I figured I might as well. If the coaches couldn’t be bothered to give a shit, I certainly wasn’t going to. And it’s at this point where my arm fatigue showed. I was overthrowing everything, and my pitches were sailing entire timezones away from the strike zone. But then after a deep breath, and some time to collect myself I was able to get it back. Velocity wasn’t the greatest, but my pitches still had nice movement, and they were in the zone. And then, on my last couple of pitches, I decided to experiment with a curveball (Something that believe it or not, I’d never really been able to throw). And to my surprise, it worked perfectly, with that beautiful loopy diagonal break to it. My catcher was pretty impressed too, judging from his words of encouragement.

But alas, it was time for my session to end. I went back to the bleachers to stretch out the kinks and just chill before things wrapped up. And it was here while I was snacking on granola and chugging gatorade that I’d noticed that my bullpen catcher had taken a seat next to me and struck up a conversation.

“You really ended the day on a good note, bud.”

“Thanks,” I said.

“Yeah… too bad we’re not going to be picked.” He sighed and shook his head.

“Why do you think that?” I asked, though I had my ideas as to why.

“We’re too old. The guy running this thing was talking to me about it. He said we can practice and have fun, but it’s too competitive for us.”

Wait…. WHAT!? So, lemme see if I got this straight: Even though baseball is a sport, and therefore inherently competitive, it’s TOO competitive for us!? How does that even make sense? Just because I’m old, I can’t compete? Wow. And how the fuck would he know anyway? From watching me shag flyballs? From watching me hit? Newsflash, Einstein: I’m a pitcher. Yes, I may occasionally be called upon to hit in a tight spot. And yes, there will be times where I’ll be needed to field a flyball or comebacker to the mound. But make no mistake: In order to effectively gauge a pitcher’s worth, you ACTUALLY HAVE TO WATCH THEM PITCH! 

“Well, I’m going to stick around.” I told the catcher (whom I’d soon learn was named Ken). “Who knows? Maybe he can offer us something. I mean, isn’t there a 30 and over league too?”

“Yeah, that’s what I was thinking I was trying out for!” he retorted.

At that point, the mind-boggling foolishness of it all struck me and I said to myself: “Fuck it. I’m going to have a smoke right here” And smoke up I did.

Almost immediately after my smoke, as though waiting for my cue. The League Owner/President/Whatever called us all back. He told everybody that those who were getting drafted will be taken aside by the individual team managers. And for those who didn’t get drafted, if they could pay a league fee today, he’d get them hooked up with a team. But to four of us, he immediately said “You guys would be at a disadvantage.”

At a what now?

He went on to elaborate: “There are young players here. We got ex-pros (True: I saw a guy work out in full Lansing Lugnuts gear), we have young college players, and stuff. You guys need a league that’s more suited for your (read: Old) style”

Long story short: He gave us some info about another indy league in the Pacific Northwest region, told us the name of the guy we’d need to contact, and then he said he’d put in a word for us.

I contacted the league first thing when I got home, and I got a response this morning saying that I’d definitely be contacted when tryouts began.

Why am I doing this again?





Less Than 24 Hours To Go…

Until my tryout and draft day tomorrow. 

Something I haven’t said until just now: My nights have been sleepless, to put it kindly. It’s been pretty much a common occurence since this last Tuesday. I’ll wake up every hour on the hour, or worse yet, I’ll sleep maybe two to four hours and then wake up with the oppressive presence of blazing hot fear still lingering in the thoughts. Fear is a strange sensation; It’s both hot and cold at the same time. You sweat, but at the same time the goosebumps tingle along the skin as if caught in a stiff ocean breeze.

In case none of you have figured this out yet, I’m scared. I’m pants-shittingly, heart stoppingly, face-twitchingly scared. 

And I shouldn’t be this way. It isn’t like my entire career is riding on this or anything like that. It’s pretty simple: Either I make it, or I go back to my normal life and job. Big whoop. I really don’t have anything to lose here. Also, it’s not like I haven’t tanked one of these before. So I know what to expect.

Honestly, I think the difference here is that my expectations have been raised now. Before, I came into these things with absolutely no confidence in my ability or talent. Recently though, I’ve seen enough progress with my new pitching style to believe, no matter how false this belief may be, that I have plenty of ability now. And for the most part, my confidence in this ability has risen dramatically. The knuckleball I’ve been working on has been incredible to see coming off the fingers, and I’ve little doubt as to it’s ability to get batters out, especially from my new underhanded pitching style.

Still… I know that practice is a different beast from the actual games. In practice, I can give myself enough time to find my pitch, to find my mechanics, and find the strike zone. In games, hitters won’t give you that time. It’s not like they step back and say, “Hey, I’ll just wait right here, and you let me know when you’re comfortable throwing!” Sure, I WISH they would. But you know the saying about wishes and shit. I think I covered that in a previous entry.

You know, I forgot what a bitch goddess baseball can be. She giveth in one hand, and cockpunches you with the other. Its cute like that. What I’m worried about is whether I’ll get more gifts than cockpunches. I’m quite allergic to the latter.

There’s a part of me that knows on a purely logical level, that this is ridiculous. I know that I’m being a drama queen needlessly. But I can’t help it.

So I know what I’m going to do.

Later today, I’m going to do one final practice. Nothing intensive. Just a nice game of catch with my catcher. And after that, I’m not going to do anything baseball related. I’ll play videogames. I’ll watch films. Maybe I’ll read a good book. I might even watch porn on the internets and cry furiously into my free hand. Who knows?

Tomorrow, I plan on getting to the tryout/draft early. Like 3-4 hours early. Give myself some time to stretch, do some running, and check out the mound I’ll be working from. 

For now though… how are you guys? Hit me back. 🙂