Friday, 30 September 2011

World Cup - Day 4

Today we had a pretty early wake up. I was awake at 6:40am to get ready for the bus that was suppose to leave at 7:45am for our game against Nicaragua, but we left about 20 minutes later. Not too sure why but it didn't really matter since we had our police escort and it allowed us to go 20km over the speed limit to make up for the lost time. I'm sure the driver was having a lot of fun speeding through the windy roads but I was starting to feel a little motion sick, and I'm sure a few other players may have as well.

We arrived at the field and it was pretty much a show and go, as we only had time to play catch, and for the hitters to take about 30 minutes worth of batting practice. We were ready to start the game at 10:00am then realized we didn't have any umpires. Luckily our manager Jon Deeble came to the rescue and played the role of umpires for 3 innings before a coach from Nicaragua took over for the remainder of the game. We lost the game 9-7 but we looked pretty good as this was the first time we had all played together. I threw the 2nd inning for us, giving up 1 hit, 1 walk and allowing 1 unearned run, so I felt like it was a good start to the tournament. We were also suppose to play a 9 inning game, but the rate of play wasn't too good, so we ended up playing 7 innings in 3 hours, one of the much longer games I have been apart of in the last 6 months.

When we got back to the hotel everyone was starving since it was about 6 hours since our last meal so we all had lunch straight away in our dining room. Pretty sure most people went back to get 2nds and even 3rds. After lunch we all jumped into the pool for a small recovery session. One person had to take a break from our recovery session as he became a victim to cramp, something quite unpleasant if you experience whilst in the water.

After the pool session I just went back to my room and relaxed in bed, watched a little bit of baseball, then decided to take a walk across the road to a small sporting good store. Now my ventures to the mall yesterday was quite unsuccessful as all I wanted is for the sporting good story to be open, but it wasn't, and just my luck, the sports store across the road from the hotel was closed as well. Quite an epic fail.

Once I returned from my little walk across the street I got back into bed to watch some more baseball, and a little bit of TV. A few of the boys are planning to go somewhere to watch the AFL Grand Final tonight which starts at midnight here, but I don't know if I will have enough energy to stay up all night to join them, and also I have no interest in who wins the AFL if the Sydney Swans aren't playing.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

World Cup - Day 3

Went to breakfast this morning and Clayton Tanner, Justin Erasmus and myself would thought it would be a good idea to check out the mall. So we walked about 10 minutes to this mall and got there at 9:20am only to find out the mall opens at 10:00am. We thought about waiting around for everything to open, but if we did it would be a race against the clock to check out the shops and get back to the hotel and get ready to go to practice, so in the end we decided to leave the mall at around 9:35am.

We left the hotel around 11:15am to go to practice and the field was about an hour away, but I feel as though we may have got lost on the way because at one point the bus stopped on the side of the road and someone on our bus jumped off to ask a girl for directions. I don't understand spanish so I couldn't be too sure, but the girl was pointing in some direction. We finally arrived at the field at around 12:45pm and got straight to work. Just had a light stretch and throw before we started to do all our fundamentals such as bunt defense and our 1st and 3rd defense. For those of you who don't know what 1st and 3rd defense may be, its just certain plays you may run when there are runners on 1st and 3rd base. After all that was done, the hitters took batting practice and the pitchers threw light bullpens.

As we drove back to the hotel a sudden rain storm came out of nowhere. It rained for a good 2 hours and it wasn't just light rain, it was heavy and coming down hard. Ruined any chance of anyone going for a walk once we got back to the hotel, which wasn't too bad seeing as it allowed me to just lay and bed and relax. Once again I started to get really tired and tried hard not to fall asleep, but I gave in and took a 20 minute nap before dinner.

After dinner Clayton and me decided to take another walk to the mall. This time the mall was open, but the only shop I wanted to go, which was the sports store was closed, so once again I was quite disappointed I made the walk to the mall just to come back empty handed. When we got back to the hotel Clayton and I just turned on the TV to the english speaking channel and watched whatever was on. We're not to picky on whats on as long as its in english. This afternoon we actually watched Dawsons Creek, which shows we will watch nearly anything.

Team Photo after our first full squad workout

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Video of the Day

Locals treated the team with traditional Panamanian dances, and players Tom Brice and Hayden Beard got in on the fun! Great end to the first day here at the 2011 Baseball World Cup

World Cup - Day 2

Today was a pretty relaxed day. I woke up around 8:30am and sat around in bed for a while before I went to get a light feed with David Kandilas. We went to a Subway which was just around the corner from the hotel. I didn't think not speaking spanish would be such a big deal, but it's quite hard trying to communicate. Luckily David knows a little bit of spanish so he helped me out a little when I ordered my sub.

After we ate we went for a little walk around but weren't too game to venture far away from the hotel, so the walk was quite short lived. When we got back to the hotel we had lunch and then all got our uniforms. I was suppose to be number 37, but only 1 of my jerseys was there so I had to wait until everyone got here before I could get a new uniform number. I went back to get a jersey after dinner and chose number 13, which was the number I wore back in my junior baseball days with the Rooty Hill Blues.

We had a light training session in the afternoon. Just a bit of running, and a bit of a throw just to get loose and used to the weather, which was quite hot and very humid. By the end of our 1 hour session everyone was saturated in sweat.

After dinner I went back to my room and watched a little bit of tv. I was hoping to stay up late tonight so the jet lag wouldn't get to me, but I ended up having a 90 minute nap. When I woke up from my nap I was surprised by my room mate who just arrived. My room mate is Clayton Tanner, who was born in Australia but has lived in America most of his life and played in AAA this year with the Cincinnati Reds so his addition to the team is very welcomed.

Hopefully I won't be up until 2:00am tonight because of my nap, but if I am, I'll just pop some sleeping pills to knock me out.

The boys after our training session

Photo of the Day

It's quite a nice view out of my hotel room

World Cup - Day 1

So the first day pretty much consisted of us travelling, and it was one long day. We first had to deal with the 100 metre line to get into customs because of the strike customs workers were having, even though the line was so long, it did move quite quickly. When we all first saw the line we all thought we weren't going to make our flight, which would of been quite a debacle.

Now I usually sleep pretty well on flights, but this time flying to Los Angeles I only had about 30 minutes worth of sleep. I just couldn't get into a comfortable position. It may have looked like I was asleep for most of the flight since I had my eyes closed and were resting my head on the seat in front, but I can assure you, my attempts to sleep were in vein. Once we landed in Los Angeles we got all our bags and team equipment. The team equipment consisted of 14 boxes, which we probably counted 5 or 6 times to make sure we had all of them.

The flight from Los Angeles to Atlanta wasn't too bad, except for the fact I couldn't sleep again. By this point I was starting to feel like death, my body wanted to go to sleep, but for some reason, the plane was against me again, and I just couldn't get comfortable. So I just stayed up listening to music for 4 hours.

We got to Atlanta, and the first thing I did was get to our gate, and set up camp and fell asleep on the floor. Now when you're extremely tired, you'd be surprised on how comfortable a floor may be. It felt like I slept for about 5 hours on that floor, when really it was probably only about 10 minutes, Nonetheless it was an amazing little nap. Before we boarded the flight I took a sleeping pill to knock me out and on this flight, I actually had a great sleep. Luckily the flight was very empty, so I moved seats and had an entire row to myself. As soon as the captain turned off the 'fasten seat belts' light, I stretched out on the seats and fell asleep for pretty much the entire flight.

When we arrived in Panama we were greeted by a welcoming committee who were playing music and doing some salsa dancing. We got our bags and waited around for someone to tell us something to do. Eventually we all walked upstairs and sat around at a restaurant whilst our bags were being loaded onto a bus. We were at the airport for a little over an hour before we made our way to the Hotel.

Welcoming Committee 

We're staying at the Four Points by Sheraton hotel, and I must say, it is actually very nice, one of the nicer hotels that I have stayed in. Once we got to the hotel, I went to get some food and the only place that was open near the hotel was a small fast food restaurant called Pio Pio. It was pretty hard trying to order since I don't speak spanish, I had to point to what I wanted and even then it was still hard to communicate with the person working at the counter. After I ate I went back to the hotel and jumped straight into bed where I had another great sleep.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Photo of the Day

Bottom L to R - Luke Prokopec, Scott Mathieson, Pedro Martinez
Middle L to R - Rod Carew, Joe Mauer
Top - Graeme Lloyd

Friday, 16 September 2011

Going to the World Cup

After the season ended against Bluefield myself and the team were pretty disappointed that we just played our last game of the year, but that disappointed was short lived because before I left the USA I received an e-mail from the CEO of the Australian Baseball Federation informing me that I had been selected in the Australian team to play in the World Cup in Panama. It was an unexpected surprise and I'm honoured to be given the chance to wear the green and gold of Australia again. I'm the youngest player selected in the team which I've become very used to in the last year, being the youngest pitcher on the team in Elizabethton and also being the youngest pitcher on the team for the Sydney Blue Sox many times I had to carry around the pink candy bag many times during the season. The World Cup should be a great experience for me, being around so many veteran and experienced players, so hopefully I will be able to feed of their knowledge and be able to take my game to another level.

I'll be seeing many familiar faces from the Twins there, with Max Kepler and Marcus Solbach playing for Germany, and also Tom Stuifbergen playing for the Netherlands. So hopefully I'll get to catch up with them at some point during the tournament.

Pitching for Australia at the BCO Championships - 2007

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Photo of the Day

For people that didn't know I have a serious addiction to baseball cleats, this is a collection of cleats I have developed over the last 2 1/2 years, in that time I have also given away and sold a bunch of cleats. Enjoy my madness! 

Thursday, 8 September 2011

The Long Journey Home

Let me ask you if this sounds like fun. Flying from Elizabethton to Detroit, having a 3 hour layover in Detroit then getting on a plane to Ft Myers. Then spending 2 days in Ft Myers, flying from Ft Myers to Chicago, with a 2 hour layover in Chicago, then sitting on the plane in Chicago for 90 minutes because of technical difficulties which means I will miss my connecting flight to Sydney, then eventually fly to Los Angeles to rush to my new connecting flight, then flying nearly 15 hours home to Sydney. If that sounds like fun to you, then I think you should have accompanied me on my trip home.

Once we left Ft Myers and began the journey home, I started timing each leg of the trip.
Lap 1 -Flying time from Ft Myers to Chicago
Lap 2- Time spent in Chicago
Lap 3- Flying time from Chicago to Los Angeles
Lap 4- Time spent in Los Angeles
Lap 5- Flying to from Los Angeles to Sydney

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Photo of the Day

Some team mates had to sleep in the clubhouse on the last night

And everyone here is just plain tired

Video of the Day

This is Corey Williams completing a Rubix Cube in 1 minute and 27 seconds, guess this is part of the curriculum at Vanderbilt University.

Friday, 2 September 2011

The Final Word

Here it is, the end of the season, a season that I'm going to remember as the most fun I have ever had playing baseball. It's amazing how time flies when you're doing something you love. Last year during Spring Training I forgot how much fun baseball was and this season with the Twins has reunited my passion for the sport I love. At the start of the year I was very sceptical on my position with the Minnesota Twins as they had not invested any money in me and were giving me a second chance so I had to show them quickly why they should keep me around. So I set a goal for myself , which was make the starting rotation for the GCL Twins. I exceeded my goal to my wildest expectations by making the Elizabethton Twins and being the youngest pitcher on the team, and then I was named the opening night starter against the Bluefield Blue Jays, which was an honour and something I will treasure forever. What made it even more special is that I had my mum in the crowd cheering for me that night, and I know my dad was there as well.

Making that first pitch of the season, a strike on the outside part of the plate, then getting that hitter to ground out to 2nd to record the 1st out of the season I thought this is going to be a good year, but then in the next 3 hitters, I gave up a solo home run, a walk and another home run. Those would be the only hits I allow all game as I threw 5 innings. At that point I knew I would have to overcome a lot to get through this season and I wasn't in for an easy ride. I had many ups and downs throughout the year, I enjoyed a 4 game stretch where I won 3 games, then went through a 3 game stretch where I allowed 16 runs in 12 innings. I had nearly lost my spot in the rotation after those few games, but an outing against the Johnson City Cardinals brought out the best in me as I threw 6 innings for 2 runs, and showed a lot of emotion out on the mound that people had probably never seen from me. It's moments like that, the adrenaline rush in a clutch moment that makes this game so great. No matter how good or bad the situation was, I always went out the next day and did my best, worked as hard as I could and had as much fun because unlike a lot of people in the world, I am blessed to be able to wake up every day and say "I love going to work".

For a lot of the year we were in a tight race for a playoff spot, either it going back and forth between 1st and 2nd place, or trying to keep our distance from the team in 3rd place. Not only was it nerve wracking during our games trying to pull out a victory, but we always had to see if Kingsport had won or lost to see if we have pulled away from them and given ourselves some breathing room. With 11 games to go in the season we were tied in 2nd place with Kingsport, with 7 games to go we had a 2 game lead. We clinched our playoff spot with 4 games to go in the season with a sweep of the Bluefield Blue Jays, which is the team we ended up playing in the first round of the playoffs. After losing the 1st game at home, we travelled to Bluefield and won game 2, then went down to them in game 3. It's always hard falling 1 win short of going to the Championship Series, but it gives me and I'm sure it gives the team more drive to get ready for next year and go one step further.

This season I also made a lot of great new friends who have brought me a ton of fun memories filled with laughter. I will never forget the day we went out on the boat and pulled a terribly organised prank on team mate that almost had catastrophic consequences, but we can laugh about it now. The day we spent at the waterhole and a team mate did a leisure dive and a plank, then later that night he completed a great day by coneing at a McDonalds in Johnson City. The day I spent at another team mates apartment and he began to serenade me with Taylor Swift songs which I thought was very flattering seeing as he went online to learn how to play the song on his guitar. The night a few team mates etched their names into the history books by throwing a combined no-hitter against the Greeneville Astros. All these memories are things that I will never forget.

So its been 184 days, there have been long days and short days, rainy days and hot days, easy days and tough days, fun days and not so fun days, there have been long bus rides and short bus rides and a broken down bus ride, there have been many new friends and many new memories, whatever kind of day it was, I was living my dream, 1 day at a time.