Monday, 25 July 2011

Video of the Day

This is a video on the walk we have to take from our dugout to the clubhouse at the field in Burlington. Feels like you're walking through a dungeon.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Photo of the Day

As I started to walk into the stands tonight at our game in Burlington to do my chart, I saw out of the corner of my eye a very familiar hat and a very familiar face. It was Matt Cooper who works in the front office for the Sydney Blue Sox. He had a few days off from his internship with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans so him and a friend decided to go on a road trip and check out some of the ballparks, luckily he ended up in Burlington the day I was there.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Overnight Road Trip

We left Elizabethton two days ago for our first overnight road trip. We would be out of town for 6 days and headed to Princeton first for a 3 game series, and then we drive off to Burlington for another 3 game series. The whole overnight stay thing is new for me in the Minor Leagues so it was a little exciting embarking on this 6 day road trip.

The bus ride from Elizabethton took only about 2 1/2 hours, but I managed to get a little bit of sleep, and we also had the movie Major League playing while on the bus, one of the best baseball movies of all time in my opinion. Once we got to Princeton we checked into our hotel, The Days Inn. I was roomed with Tim Shibuya who I was originally paired with when we first arrived in Elizabethton.

Since we arrived in Princeton around 1:00pm, we didn't have much time to get totally settled in so I went to get some lunch real quick. Luckily the hotel is in a prime position, close to restaurants, fast food joints and a 7/11. I chose to get Subway for lunch, which is a meal I am getting quite used to, since at last count, I have eaten 87feet of subway this year. Quite an achievement.

It's much different sitting in the hotel all day compared to being back in the house in Elizabethton, feels a lot like being back in Florida where you just lay in bed all day so I try and keep myself occupied by watching movies or tv shows on my laptop, or just take a nice nap to waste the time before we head to the field.

So far our road trip hasn't got of to a good start as we have lost our first 2 games against Princeton, but hopefully we can put those games behind us and start another winning streak today before we head to Burlington.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Quote of the Day

Today's quote of the day is very comical and meant to be a bit of fun. We all know people with red hair, or "ranga's" get a lot of grief for the colour of their hair. Well, we have a new player coming tomorrow who has red hair and he will be living with a few other players, one of those players includes catcher Matt Parker, and as a joke, he said this will be the first thing he says to the new guy when he arrives.

"I only have one rule, and that is when you're inside the house, you wear a hat!"
I laughed out loud after this one liner, and I'm sure anyone else that had to live with a ranga, would enforce this rule as well.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Down Time in Etown

When I first started writing this blog, I wrote an entry on down time whilst in Florida. Well since I'm playing in a new league in a new town with game times being different to those back in Florida, what we do in our down time is much different. Nearly all of our games start at 7:00pm so that means we have the entire morning and a little bit of the afternoon to ourselves.

On the two days after I pitch, I have to go to the gym at 10:00am. So those are the days I have to wake up earlier then I would want to. On most days I would wake up around 10:00am and go make some breakfast, which is usually just any sort of cereal. By that time Madison and Steven are already awake, and since we don't have cable TV, we always put in a movie to watch. Steven has a folder with around 70 DVDs in it, so we always have something to watch each day. After the movie or during the movie we usually make our lunch. I'm quite boring when it comes to making food, so I use my George Foreman Grill and cook up some chicken, steak or pork chops and eat that with a side of pasta, noodles or mashed potatoes. After the movies over and lunch is done, I usually just sit on the computer or lay down on my lovely air mattress before getting ready to go to the field. The pitchers stretch at the field at 3:05pm everyday, so we usually try and get to the field around 2:00pm, just so we have time to settled in, get dressed and relax.

After the games over its around 10:00pm so we may go get food some nights, but we usually just head back to the house and put on a movie, sometimes if we get back to the house we will watch 2 movies like we did last night. Not too long ago Steven and me had a little Harry Potter marathon and watched the Harry Potter movies one night at time in preparation for the final one. A few nights ago Madison started to anaylze some dreams that Steven and me have been having, and I might say, his interpretation of our dreams opened some eyes. So we usually have some fun at night.

I tend to not get so bored here, since I have pretty fun room mates and we find something to do most days, even if it is the same thing over and over again, but this is apart of being a minor league baseball player, and I wouldn't change it for anything in the world.

Saturday, 16 July 2011


Today I was lucky enough to witness something special, a combined no-hitter in the minor leagues. This was the 3rd time I was part of a team that has throw a no-hitter. The first one was when I completed a combined no-hitter playing for Petersham-Leichardt in the Sydney Winter Leagues, the second one was when David Welch throw a no-hitter against the Adelaide Bite in the playoffs of the Australian Baseball League and today I was in the stands charting the game while Tim Shibuya, Garrett Jewell and Steve Gruver combined to no-hit the Greeneville Astros.

You try not to pay too much attention to the no-hit bid until about the 5th inning when the starting pitcher is half way through the game and even when you do talk about it, you do your best not to mention the words 'no' and 'hits' too close to each other. Being in the Minor Leagues nearly all starting pitchers have pitch counts, so thats what makes a complete game no-hitter so special down here. Unfortunately for Tim Shibuya, he got his pitch count up to 86 pitches by the end of the 7th and he was pulled from the game. Tim was in complete control of the game, with only two runners getting on base via catchers interference during his 7 innings. He worked ahead of the count all night, and threw a high percentage of strikes, mixing his fastball and offspeed well and keeping hitters off balance all game. At the end of the 7th inning our Manager Ray Smith and pitching coach Jim Shellenback looked into the stands and with sign language asked us how many pitches Tim had thrown. I signalled back with my hands that he had thrown 86, Ray and Jim looked at each other, then back at us in the stands, and saw fellow pitcher David Hurlbut and me signalling to the coaches to let Tim go out for the 8th. They laughed and I guess they wished they could of sent him out again, but with his pitch count already being at a season high, it would of been tough to risk injury by giving him a workload he wasn't used to. Garrett Jewell came on the throw the 8th, and then my house mate Steve Gruver finished off the game by striking out the last two hitters. Not all credit goes to the pitchers of course. Jairo Rodriguez who was called up from the GCL not too long ago was behind the plate for tonights game, and its important for the pitcher and catcher to be on the same page and work together and I think it's fair to say, the battery worked well tonight.

I couldn't be happier for Tim. When we arrived to Elizabethton we were paired together in a hotel room and thats when I first met him. He works harder then anyone else here and the results are credit to his great work ethic. Don't be surprised if you see Tim in the same situation in not too distant future.

Picked up his 4th win of the season

Friday, 15 July 2011

The Dangers of being a Spectator

When you go to any baseball game in the USA and back home in Australia, you will always see signs around the stadium that may say "Be aware of flying objects entering the stands" or something very similar. If you aren't watching the game or paying attention you may be struck by a bat that has slipped out of the hitters hand, or a foul ball driven into the stands at over 100mph.

Today I heard a sound I never want to hear again. During the game tonight, one of our hitters fouled a ball went into the stands and struck a young girl in the head. The pitch of her scream was deafening and could be heard throughout the entire stadium. Parents rushed from everywhere to see if the girl was their daughter that got hit. I pray she is doing much better now and wasn't hurt to severely.

I stress the importance of always paying attention to the game, because I have seen to many people get hit by a foul ball. It's all fun to go for a walk during the game, but make sure when you hear the crack of the bat, you check in to the field, because you never know when that ball could be heading your way.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Photo of the Day

Twins prospect Eddie Rosario received this picture in the mail all the way from a fan in Korea. She must really like him.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Photo of the Day

This is the game chart from yesterdays game. For those of you that don't understand it, whenever a diamond is coloured in black, it means that a run was scored. We scored plenty of runs last night.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Our Day Off

Today we were able to enjoy our first day off while in Elizabethton. So a few of the other players and me decided to rent a boat at the lake and relax out in the sun all day. It was definitely one of the most memorable off days that I have had this year, since most off days whilst in Florida were spent in the hotel or at the mall.

There were 9 of us that headed out onto the lake. That being Nick Lockwood, Rory Rhodes, Roy Larson, Max Kepler, Corey Kimes, Garrett Jewell, Sam Spangler, Derek Christensen and of course myself. Before we went to the the marina we got some supplies, such as water, snacks and other beverages for the older guys to enjoy. We really didn't know where to go once we got onto the lake, all we tried to do was find a nice cove where we could just let the anchor go and float around in the water all day. It was hard to find such a place, since the water was so deep, the anchor never hit the floor. So we kept going from location to location trying to find a place to set the boat down, and jump into the water. After eventually finding a place, we swam out to the shore and beached ourselves for a while, that was until a few of the boys decided to act like 5 years olds and start throwing mud at each other. We then set off for a new spot, but instead decided to put the boat into neutral and let it float. While one guy sat on board, the rest of us jumped into the water. This is eventually what happened after about 5 minutes of everyone floating around with the boat unanchored.
Look closely. There are 5 heads floating in the water.

That plan turned out to be an epic fail. As it took Roy Larson about 15 minutes to swim back to the boat. We couldn't drive out to him because there were other boys still in the water near the boat. So it was up to Roy to muster all his strength and will power to make the long swim back. As he was approaching I thought he needed some motivation, so just like a feel good sports movie, I played the Chariots of Fire theme song aloud, and just like a feel good sports movie, Roy fist pumped in rejoice as he got back on the boat.

After a few long hours in the sun, we thought it was time to go back to the marina, that is if we knew how to get back. It took us about an hour to find our way back to the marina, with the help of the compass on my iphone, and google maps on Roy's phone. This was the scene as we were going back, everyone seemed to be very tired.

After we returned the boat, I drove back with Nick, Rory and Max to their house and relaxed there all afternoon. The plan was for everyone to go to the restaurant Beef O'Bradys for dinner and watch the MLB Home Run Derby. Instead of all of us going, it ended up as Sam Spangler and me going since the other boys were fast asleep at the house. Sam and me ate dinner and watched the entire Home Run Derby at the restaurant, which may I add was one of the best I have watched in a while. We ended up being the last ones to leave Beef O'Bradys. 

After a very exciting day on the lake, filled with fun, lots of laughs and a prank that didn't go exactly to plan, and the relaxing night at dinner while enjoying the Home Run Derby, this was definitely one of the best off days I have had. Now it's time to go back to work tomorrow as I'm starting against the Pulaski Mariners. Wish me luck everyone!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Photo of the Day

Yesterday at Joe O'Brien Field some Twins players participated in a cow milking competition. The results were quite entertaining.

Warming Up
Bart and Nick celebrating their victory

Friday, 8 July 2011


Today after batting practise, I witnessed something quite strange. During batting practice a few pitchers go beyond the outfield fence to retrieve the foul balls. Today I was out there with Matt Bashore and Sam Spangler. Now if anyone has been to Joe O'Brien Field, they will know that a river runs right next to the field. As we were walking back to the clubhouse after batting practice, Matt decided he needed to cleanse himself of negative thoughts and feelings after having a rough outing against the Kingsport Mets the night before and Sam decided he needed to do the same after also having a rough outing. So guess what they did? they both walked down to the river, stripped down to their sliders, and walked into the river. They didn't just go knee deep, they went all the way under the water. It was definitely one of the wildest things I have seen a pair of pitchers do. The easiest way I could explain how it looked was as if they were being baptised in the river. I guess we will have to wait until Matt and Sam pitch again, to see if they have really been cleansed.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Bullpen Fantasy Baseball

 While you sit in the bullpen during games, the relief pitchers like to keep themselves entertained by playing games. These games include bocce and the name game, but in the last few weeks our bullpen has been playing fantasy baseball during our games. Now you're probably thinking that these guys should be concentrating on the baseball game, and not be playing games, but I see this fantasy baseball as another way for them to know what's happening in the game as well as it being a bit of fun.

The way this fantasy works is, there are 3 teams, and 4 pitchers on each team. Before the start of every game, the teams select 3 players from our starting lineup as well as picking 3 innings from the game that they believe will be the most productive. This is how the scoring works:

1 point - Total Bases
1 point- Stolen base
1 point- Run Batted In
1 point- Run Scored
-1 point - Striking out
-1 point - Caught Stealing

4 points - Win
-4 points - Loss
1 point- Strikeout
-1 point - Walks
2 points - Save
-2 - Blown Save

An example of the scoring system would be like this. Say a batter goes 2 for 5 with a double, 1 strikeout, 2 rbi's and a stolen base. He would get 3 points for his hits, because they total 3 bases, get 2 points for the rbi's, 1 point for his stolen base, and then get 1 point deducted for his strikeout, which leaves him with 5 points for the day. Now since the bullpen pitchers don't know who will be pitching that night, they can't draft pitchers, so instead if a pitcher does good or bad in one of the innings that they choose, then they will get points for that inning. If a team chooses the 5th inning, and the pitcher gets the win during that inning, strikes out 2 and walks 1, he would get 4 points for the win, 2 points for the strikeouts, and you would deduct 1 point for the walk. Which leaves the team with 5 points from that inning.

The bullpen seems to have fun playing this fantasy baseball, so I'm all for it. Now when I'm pitching, I'm not only pitching for my team, but I'm also pitching for each fantasy team every time I start, which is just a little bit of added pressure. I don't think the teams that picked my innings of self destruct in my previous starts were to happy with me.

Relief pitchers doing their Fantasy Draft before a game against the Kingsport Mets

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Playing in the Rain

Back home while playing in the Sydney Major League, a game might be called at the first sight of rain, but here in the minor leagues, it has to be pouring before a rain gets suspended. Tonight we played a game with constant rain fall from the 4th inning onwards. The rain wasn't enough to send the game into a rain delay, so we played on through the rain. It was quite unpleasant for me, as I was sitting in the stands charting the game in the rain. Another team mate of mine went back to the clubhouse real quickly to get a jacket, which we used to cover ourselves up, and our charts to avoid them from getting wet.

While I was at the Major League Baseball Australian Academy in 2008, on the first day it was raining so we all thought we would get the day off. That wasn't the case as Dave Nilsson made us all go to the field, and practise in the rain. We all wondered why he would make us go out into the wet on the first day, but he had a very good reason behind it. He told us that in professional baseball, we aren't only playing for ourselves, we are playing for the people in the stands who paid good money to come watch a baseball game. Of course there comes a point when the game can't be played because of heavy rain, but with light showers the game will always continue.

A very famous rain delay came during the 2008 World Series. The Phillies were up by 1 run in the top of the 6th inning and the Rays had the tying run on 2nd base. The rain was coming down extremely hard, but because the Phillies were up by 1 run, and if the game got called the Phillies would of won and become the World Series Champions since the game was past 5 innings, which makes it an official game. The commisioner of Major League Baseball didn't want the World Series to be completed early because of rain, so they waited as long as they could, until the Rays scored the tying run with 2 outs in the top of the 6th. This means the game would be suspended and have to be continued at a later date. Two days later the Phillies completed the game and became World Series Champions.

BJ Upton stealing 2nd base in the 6th inning during game 5 of the 2008 World Series

Tomorrow night I will be starting against the Kingsport Mets, so hopefully its not raining, since I don't have much experience at all pitching in the rain, and if it is raining, it's going to be one very interesting night to say the least. So wish me luck everyone!

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Shout out to Bart Carter

During our game tonight against the Greeneville Astros in the 8th inning, one of our left hand pitchers Bart Carter almost accomplished something I have never personally seen, a 4 strikeout inning.

Play by Play from the 8th inning

If it wasn't for the catcher throwing out the runner trying to steal, I'm certain Bart would have finished off the hitter after already having 2 strikes on him. 

Bart pitching in a game against Johnson City Cardinals

There's Always Tomorrow

There's a famous saying in baseball, and that is 'There's always tomorrow', because honestly, there is always tomorrow. I've been in the Appalachian League now and we have played games on 12 straight days. The reason baseball is such a beautiful game is because you can always get back out tomorrow and make yourself a better baseball player and perform better then the day before.

In a recent series against the Johnson City Cardinals we played 2 very different baseball games. One was full of errors, and one was fundamentally sound baseball. After our 1st loss where we made 7 errors, our manager Ray Smith wasn't angry or upset, all he said before we got off the bus back at Joe O'Brien Field was "Don't worry guys, we'll get them tomorrow" and we did.
Now in the game played on June 29th, we didn't get as many hits, but we did what we needed to do, we got runners on base, and we drove them in, and we also didn't make any errors allowing Johnson City to get more runners on base. If we make 1 error in that game, that may have given Johnson City the chance to tie the game, or possibly win it. That's why it is so important to value every single out.

In our next series against the Kingsport Mets, we played another two completely different games of baseball, against I guess you could say, two completely different teams.
Now after being shutout on June 30th and only getting 3 hits, Kingsport came back the next day and pounded out 14 hits and 15 runs. After the June 30th game, you would think that the Mets might have their heads down after being shutout for the first time this season, but they came out on July 1st and produced their highest run total of the young season. 

There's one thing baseball has over most sports, is the inconsistency and unpredictability, not knowing who is going to do well on each day. You could put your money on Roy Halladay and CC Sabathia to win a each one of their starts but even they can't win them all. So after every bad day, and every good day, you always have to remember, there's always tomorrow.

Photo of the Day

Post game mound maintenance performed by pitchers Sam Spangler, David Hurlbut and Matt Bashore