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!

 

 

 

 

 

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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

 

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?

 

 

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. 🙂

Random Crap I Type As I Slowly Wake Up

The other night, I had McDonalds for dinner. Last night, it was Burger King. My bowels are now thanking me in the loudest, smelliest way it can. It’s already gonna be a LOOOOONG day. I swear, I’m fucked if we eat Taco Bell tonight. And so is everyone else.

Speaking of last night, while at the BK drivethrough, got stuck behind a van full of retarded folks (There is a group home located very close by). As we were behind them, I absolutely couldn’t get this song out of my head. Yep. If there’s a hell, I got my reservations. And considering my picture on here is me wearing a pink piggy hat, should I REALLY be talking crap about the mentally disabled? I mean, really?

Wow… for all the shit I also talk about Starbucks, I sure go there an awful lot. Just now, I realized why. First is the obvious: In Portland, you can throw a rock and you’re guaranteed to hit one of three things- A strip club, a microbrew pub, and a Starbucks. And since I’m way too lazy to walk to a good place for overly caffeinated goodness at 7AM, the Starbucks just down the block from my place works. Besides, if I’m there at the right time, a certain employee gives me my five dollar espresso, chocolate, and whipped cream coated monstrosity for free. I’ve no idea why she does this, but hey! Free coffee.

Some of you might be wondering why I haven’t rambled on about baseball in a few days. Well, that’s because when I tried throwing off a mound last Tuesday, I pulled the fuck out of my hamstring. My right one this time. It’s feeling better today, so I’ll probably give it another shot. Not at the last place though- The mound there is a deathtrap. I’ll have to show you next time I’m in that area.

So just to let y’all know, Wizard World (Like the Wal-Mart of conventions, only much more appealing) is coming to Portland this weekend. Among those in attendance will be none other than one of my best friends and the illustrator/writer of Naked Man Comics, Illya King!

By the way Illya, I totally see what you did with the comic. Especially LMAO at The Black Knave.

You want to hear something scary? I want a kid now. Like, badly. This is a feeling that has been kinda creeping up in the back of my thoughts for a couple of years now. But it hit me this morning as I was walking for java and passed by the day-care center along the way: I’m going to be 39 years old this June. I look at most of the friends I had growing up, and they’re all married and have children. And they seem to enjoy it. Also, despite the fact that I’m something of a wreck in terms of my personal life, I can’t help but feel I’d make a great dad. Oh well. There’s a bridge I’ll blow up when I get to it, I suppose. But I’d better get to it quickly, because I think I’m running out of time.

Anyway, I think that’s it for me. Time to run some errands and stuff. Maybe I’ll be back by later. Maybe not. Who knows? 

Until then, go and enjoy your life!

Throwing Like A Girl… I’m Doing It

So, let me just begin by saying that as of yesterday, anyone reading this can follow me on Twitter! Yeah… I finally got sucked in. But as an added aside, it’s SO MUCH EASIER to troll Celebritards now! You can follow me here in case you cared.

And with that, let’s move on to the main attraction, shall we?

So last I left you kids, my left ass was in serious pain. I’m delighted to tell you all that this is no longer the case. I no longer hobble like an old man whenever I go up and down the stairs leading to my studio. Of course, I hobble like a middle-aged man, but that’s to be expected when on the bad side of one’s thirties.

So what I wound up doing was waiting a day or two for the pain to subside. I kept in shape with stretches and more light weights (The latter of which is very hard to do when you’re too poor to buy proper dumbbells- I substituted a heavy frying pan). And then, when I felt decent enough, I went out to do some practice throwing. 

I found the PERFECT spot for it too. It’s tucked away under the lovely Hawthorne bridge. And the best part about it is that for some reason, perhaps its proximity to a city employee parking lot, it has yet to be seriously tainted with hobo piss, malt liquor bottles, used syringes and crack pipes, and so on.

Also, since the target I was throwing at was a bridge pylon, all I needed to get a good practice session was a glove and a rubber baseball and not only could I get my throws in, I could also do some fielding work at the same time. Yay me!

So now, you’re no doubt wondering about the title of this entry. 

If you recall, in my last post I mentioned that because of my past injury (shattered ball joint), I couldn’t really throw the more traditional overhand style of pitching found in baseball without popping my arm out of the socket. It does this very easily and while it really doesn’t hurt, being that I’ve had over twenty years to get used to it, it does make things rather inconvenient when I need to actually put some muscle into a pitch.

And with that established, the question was raised: What was I supposed to do about that? Kick the ball over? Use The Force? Shoot the ball out of my ass? Well… that’s one way to throw with gas, I guess. But that won’t play here. Besides, NOBODY is gonna wanna catch that. Maybe I should just quit now and settle for years of playing the MLB: The Show series whilst pining over what could have been?

I was REALLY leaning toward that last option. I came ever so close to doing just that very thing. But you know something? Over my four years of sobriety, I’ve had to take a good long look at my life. And amidst all the soul searching, it occurred to me: Everything in life I’ve ever wanted, I could have had. It was never that I lacked for talent; Quite the opposite in fact. No, the only reason I never succeeded at anything worth noting is because I never followed through. I always got to a certain point in an endeavour and said “Fuck it. I’m done”. Nothing was ever seen through to the end.

Not this time. Not again. This is what I tell myself, anyway.

So once more: What was I supposed to do in this case? 

The answer was honestly rather simple, and probably didn’t need all the above exposition to get to. But here it is: I had to completely rebuild my pitching style. And I had to do that from the ground up. And I knew exactly how I was going to do it: I was going to reinvent myself as an underhanded pitcher.

Now those of you who know what I speak of are probably thinking, “Why is that such a big deal? There are plenty of underhand pitchers in baseball”. But here’s the thing: Most of them, if not all, are not in fact throwing underhand. In fact, if you take a look at guys like Chad Bradford, Craig Breslow, Darren O’Day and so on, you see that they actually throw sidearm, but the angle in which their torso tilts to make their pitches gives the appearance of being underhand. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But I’m not limber enough to throw like that, and I ain’t even going to try.

No, when I say underhand, I mean like in softball. In other words… throwing like a girl. Hey, if Disco Hayes can do it, why the hell not? Besides, that style of pitching has some very distinct advantages.

First thing softball style pitching has going for it is that because underhand is the body’s natural throwing style, it causes a LOT less wear and tear on the rotator cuff. Less wear equals more endurance, which equals more quality innings per start.

And second, because from a lower arm slot you have freedom of movement in your wrist and elbow, you can put a LOT more spin on your pitches, which translates to more movement on your throws home.

And finally in my case, I learned that throwing underhand has helped me regain the control I once had, so I no longer have to wind up, throw the pitch, and pray it doesn’t wind up beaning the third baseman.

About the only thing I really notice a drop in is velocity, but as long as you have the control and movement, velocity isn’t a terribly big issue. Besides, it’s been decades since I touched 90mph on a radar gun anyway.

So how did I learn to do this, you ask? Simple. I learned by watching YouTube, of course! Namely I’ve been studying Amanda Scarborough’s pitching tutorials she did for Team Express. If you’re going to learn, I figure it’s worth it to learn from one of the best. And Ms. Scarborough’s record sorta speaks for itself.

Armed with this new knowledge, I went to my spot to work on what I’d learned. Nothing too fancy; just the standard fastball types (four seam and two seam, respectively) and the palmball (the only change-up I could ever make work for me). But you know what? It was fucking AMAZING! Everything I threw was right on target. My throws had movement I have never seen before in like, the history of everything, especially the two-seamer- That pitch faded in just like my old screwball in high school. And the best part? This success was not in my head. At one point, I began to notice a small crowd of people watching me work. They musta thought I was crazy or something. And they wouldn’t be too far off from the truth. But judging for the occasional clap or approving nod, they liked my brand of crazy.

And then, because why the hell not, I decided to try to throw a knuckleball from the underhand delivery. That too was right on target, and fluttering like a decent knuckler is supposed to. I actually started giggling, it was so funny to see.

Of course, it went to shit shortly after that. 

I noticed that after about 45 minutes, every pitch I threw began just rolling on the ground, as though I were bowling, or playing Bocce. I should have seen that my arm was tired from nearly an hour straight of throwing and fielding, but hubris set in. Like Icarus, I was going to fly as high as the sun. I kept going, figuring that I’d be able to right this little hiccup. It didn’t happen. If anything, it got worse.

So finally after about the sixth or seventh pitch being rolled along the ground frustration set in, and with a stream of variants on the words “Shit”, “Fuck”, and “Mother”, I charged the ball and gave it a MIGHTY kick.

Remember where I told you I was practicing? Can you guess what happened? 

If you somehow haven’t figured it out yet: My kick sent the ball sailing right over the pylon- And I’m still wondering how it did that with only a few inches of clearance- And bounced right into the cold poo-filled waters of the Willamette River. Then, with a sigh and a bemused shake of my head (Hey, you gotta be amused, yeah?), I went back home.

It’s the 18th of February now as I write this. The tryout/draft is in six days. I still have some work to do, but so far, everything has been very positive. My next challenge will be throwing off the mound. And who knows? If I can score a cheap (or loaner) camera, I might even have some video and/or pics to put up.

Until then, go home! We’re done here. What more do you want?