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!

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

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!

Baseball And Butthurt (In That Order)

So… My ass hurts. Seriously.

Been awhile since I last posted on here. How y’all been? Does anyone read this? 

Well regardless of whether anyone is reading this or not, I have a story to share.

This story starts waaaaaaaaaay back in 1988. I was fourteen then. Miami Vice ruled the television. Spandex shorts were the cool thing to wear… though very few could make them actually LOOK cool (Spandex truly is a privilege as opposed to a right). Dukakis was riding a tank while George W.’s Dad was riding right to the Presidency of the United States. And believe it or not, Whitney Houston was relatively sane, crack-free, and slightly less dead.

But for me in those days of yore, only four things mattered: Skateboarding, Punk Rock, Comic Books, and Baseball. Well okay, maybe FIVE things mattered since at that age, I’d become very much aware of females, sex, and my budding desire to combine the two. But I digress.

The thing we are going to be talking about today is baseball. But you figured that out from the title I imagine. 

At fourteen, I was a rather awkward youth. I was terrible at pretty much every sport my school had to offer except for maybe soccer. But while I liked soccer, I never LOVED it. I couldn’t catch, run, throw or do anything in football. In basketball, I couldn’t even so much as drop the simplest of layups. And then, there was wrestling. Oh God… we do NOT talk about wrestling unless it involves masked Hispanics. 

But then I discovered baseball. And from the very first moment I took the bat in my hand and banged out my first screaming line drive, it was love. But that love was not complete. I only had love for the batting part.

My teams and coaches tried to put me everywhere in the field they could think, in an effort to get my bat in their lineup (turns out I was good at the hitting part). But every position I tried was a disaster. I originally tried playing shortstop in emulation of Cal Ripken Jr. Sadly, I couldn’t emulate his skill on defense. Same with third base. Same with second. Hell, I even found a way to fuck up playing first base! I played the infield like the bastard offspring of Marv Throneberry and Dick Stuart. And don’t get me started on the outfield; even to this day, I can’t think of a more boring sports experience than patrolling centerfield for hours at a stretch.

Taking the mound as a pitcher was something I’d never even given any thought until that year when my coach put me on the mound as a last resort. My debut as a pitcher wasn’t exactly amazing: I lost the game, walking or hitting nearly as many batters as I got out. But you know what? It made sense to me. Everything just kind of… clicked into place. 

For me, it was perfect. I was in control of the entire game. From the first pitch until I got taken out, It felt like everything that happened in the game revolved on what I did, and how I was throwing that day. It also helped that I had one hell of a strong arm at the time.

Of course, those first couple of seasons, control was a HUGE issue for me. But with practice and time, I began to figure that out as well. As a result, I’d developed a real sense of confidence. And I was happy to have finally found a sport that I didn’t embarrass myself completely in.

So naturally, all that fell to shit in 1991. That was the year I’d shattered the ball joint of my throwing shoulder. That’s another story for another time. But for the purposes of the story, it effectively ended any hopes I may have harbored for progressing in baseball past the high school level. Yeah, I did attempt a comeback of sorts in college. But when your arm dislocates every time you try to throw over the top, your chances are pretty slim to put it mildly.

I proved my minuscule chances last year when I attended a tryout in Milwaukie. Not only did I have absolutely no strength in my arm, but I couldn’t even find the strike zone with a guide dog. When the tryout ended, I was basically told “Thanks for playing. But seriously- Fuck off”. Had I but a single measure of pride, it would have been crushed.

But since I don’t have anything resembling pride, and I don’t know the meaning of the word “quit” (Other words I don’t know the meaning of: “No”, “Stop”, and “Felony Parole Violation”)… I resolved to work on a new style of pitching and try again next season.

Which brings us to my ass. And why it hurts.

So on the 24th of this month, I will be attending a tryout and draft with the Northwest Independent Baseball League. In preparation of this, I’ve begun working out. Nothing too strenuous though. Just some stretching, leg strengthening exercises, and very light weight exercise. But with over a week to go until the big day, I knew that I needed to begin throwing. So that’s what I did yesterday. 

Now, a common misconception about pitching is that all your power comes from the arm and shoulder. And while to a certain extent this is true, the fact is that the arm and shoulder is only a small part of where that power and velocity comes from. Throwing velocity in fact comes from the thigh and glutes in a pitcher’s drive leg (the leg you lead off with, thus driving the body forward with the pitch). Since I am right handed, my drive leg is my left. 

At this point it should be apparent: After throwing for 30-45 minutes straight, that drive leg really HURTS. Funny thing about muscle aches is that I never seem to feel them during such physical activity. I had no problem at all throwing. In fact, everything felt really good!

But when it came time to call it a day and begin walking home, that’s when I felt it: A massive throbbing pain from my left thigh all the way up to my left buttcheek. I tell you, I looked like an old man hobbling up the four flights of stairs to my apartment.

Worst part? I can’t wait to do it all over again.

NEXT ENTRY: Throwing Like A Girl