Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The Long Journey Home - Part II

Well I was hoping to post a picture up of the long journey home from Panama with the stopwatch on my iPhone just like I did for the journey home from Fort Myers this year, but my iPhone's screen shot function doesn't want to cooperate with me. So I'll just have to write the times down for everyone to see.

1- Bus ride from Sheraton Hotel to Airport        - 00:25:04
2- Time spent in Panama City's airport            - 01:57:09
3- Flying time from Panama City to Atlanta     - 03:34:13
4- Time spent in Atlanta's airport                    - 06:46:33
5- Flying time from Atlanta to Los Angeles     - 04:17:31
6- Time spent in Los Angeles airport              - 02:09:36
7- Flying time from Los Angeles to Sydney     -14:35:31

It was nearly 34 hours worth of travel. On the last flight from Los Angeles to Sydney I had a window seat and had two senior citizens sitting next to me who slept nearly the entire flight. I sat down the entire trip, very annoying. Once I finally got up to get off the plane it felt like I was learning to walk again.

Luckily this is where my journey stopped. Most of the other players still had one more flight to go after landing in Sydney. I think Justin Erasmus had the worst journey of us all. If memory serves me correct, he flew from Panama to Miami to Los Angeles to Auckland to Brisbane. So he was in 5 different airports in 4 different countries in the space of 48 hours. That is no fun at all.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Quote of the Day

This is an archived quote that comes from Jon Deeble after we lost our 3rd game without scoring a run at the World Cup.

"I still think we're a top 8 team in the world, heck, I believe we're a top 5 team in the world, but its no use just me believing, you guys have to believe it to"
I guess we believed.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

World Cup - Day 19 - vs Korea

After a long and tough tournament we were down to our final game. It's not the game we were hoping to be apart of but we still had a chance to equal Australia's best ever finish at a World Cup.

It was an early wake up for us because we had to drive all the way back to Santiago which as you know, is more then a 3 hour drive away. I woke up at 5:45am to get ready to catch the 6:30am bus. One rule about hotels is to not take the pillows outside the hotel, but everyone turned a blind eye to this rule and nearly everyone took a pillow from their room to try and catch some sleep on the ride. For some reason we had a new bus today and the leg room was decreased by about 5 inches. My knees were touching the seat in front of me pretty much the entire trip which was quite uncomfortable.

Finally arrived at Santiago around 9:45am which gave us just over an hour to prepare for the game. Once again it was everyone on their own program to get ready to play. I just went for a run and played a little catch. The game got underway and it was a good old fashioned 'Staff' day where we use the bullpen pitchers to get us through the game. Paul Mildren started, then Kable Hogben threw 2 innings, followed by Justin Erasmus then Steven Kent came in and threw 3 scoreless innings to close it out. Scott Wearne picked up 2 hits today while Mitch Dening hit a home run in the 4th inning.

After starting the tournament on 3 straight losses without scoring a run and then finishing in 5th place, it just shows how strong the Aussie spirit is. We could of easily sat back and relaxed and just go through the motions but after our day off we found some inspiration and a never say die attitude which sent us on a 7-2 run for our final 9 games with only a pair of tough 2-1 losses against the USA and Netherlands stopping us from playing for a gold medal. We were a very young team with the average age being 24 years old and we also had 10 rookies on the team who experienced the World Cup for the first time. There's no reason that in the next few years that we can't be playing in a gold medal game at a World Cup.

As for me, I only threw 1 1/3 innings this tournament which was in game 1 against Cuba. I didn't get much experience on field, but everything I learnt just by sitting on the bench and talking to all the veteran players was just as valuable to me. Some people may be disappointed that they didn't get much game time, but not me. It was an honour and a privilege to wear the Australian colours every day and to be able to stand out on that field and sing the national anthem . I'm still young so I know I will have more opportunity in the future to represent Australia. In the last 18 months I have gone from being the oldest player at the Major League Baseball Australian Academy to the youngest player on the men's national team. Not too bad if you ask me.

Friday, 14 October 2011

World Cup - Day 18 - vs Panama

Woke up today and went to breakfast then went to go pick up my laundry only for it not to be there. I thought no worries, its still over an hour until we have to leave so I'll just go back down later to see if it's there. With about 35 minutes before we left the laundry wasn't there, then with about 25 minutes before we left, the laundry still wasn't there. I began to worry so about 15 minutes before we left I went to check downstairs to see if our uniforms were there, and sure enough they were there in bags. Instead of us taking our clothes from the bags we all just jumped on the bus in casual clothes and had to get ready at the field.

We left at 9:00am to head to Rod Carew Stadium in Panama City. The journey is suppose to take around 30 minutes, but this journey took over an hour which wasn't ideal for us seeing as the game started at 11:00am. Nonetheless we all did what we had to do to get ready for the game. Before the game we do introductions, and it was pretty funny doing introductions when there were about 10 people in a stadium that holds up to 25,000. We joked around as we ran out waving to the 'crowd'.

The crowd was electric today!

We defeated Panama 5-4 in another extra inning thriller. If only every game we played went into extra innings, I'm confident we would win all of them. In extra innings our team seems to find another gear and well in baseball terms, we get clutch and get the big hit and the important out. Stefan Welch was the offensive star for us today going 3 for 5 and driving in 4 of the 5 runs. Tom Brice also went 3 for 4 and drove in our other run. Chris Oxpsring delivered another quality start and left the game with a 3-2 lead but Brendan Wise was unable to shut the door giving up 1 run whilst getting 1 out. Steve Kent then came in and threw the last 1 2/3 innings picking up the victory. Even though we won it still wasn't enough to get us into the bronze medal game, instead we are playing for 5th spot which would equal Australia's best finish at a Baseball World Cup.

When we got back to the hotel I still didn't have a room, so I went back to Justin and Kable's room and sat there for a little while before I went for a walk to the mall just to see if there was anything worth buying. This time every shop in the mall was open, but there was nothing worth buying. Not a bad thing I guess, get to save a bit of money. 

After my adventure to the mall I finally had a room to move into, so packed up my bags again and moved 4 floors down into the new room. Feels nice to finally be able to lay down in a bed after a long day and tomorrow is only going to be longer as we may have to wake up at 6:30am to travel back to Santiago to play for 5th spot. We've already battled hard all tournament, we pretty much came back from the dead to make it to the second round, all we need is to dig deep one more time.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

World Cup - Day 17 - vs Netherlands and USA

We were prepared for a long day today. First of all we had to play a 7 inning game against Team USA at 12:00pm and then finish off our game against the Netherlands at 3:30pm and then get on the bus and travel 4 hours back to Panama City to play our game tomorrow against Panama.

The game against the USA was another old fashioned pitching duel and it was only appropriate we handed the ball to Clayton Tanner to take on his home country. I consider Clayton an Aussie, but you can't go past the fact that he has spent all but 6 months of his life in America. He was also excited for the challenge to face them. Clayton and the USA pitcher traded zeroes for 5 innings before the USA pitcher was pulled from the game in the 6th for a relief pitcher. Clayton then went out for the 6th and the lead off hitter got on base by an error and then he eventually scored to give the USA a 1-0 lead, and then 2 batters later another run scored to put them ahead 2-0. We scored a run in the top of the 7th and then had a runner on 1st with 1 out, but the pitcher caught a line drive hit straight back at him, then doubled off the runner to end of the game. It was quite disappointing to lose this game as both runs the USA scored were both unearned.

After that game we had a little over an hour to get ready for the final 3 innings against the Netherlands. When the game continued the dutch wasted no time in getting ahead as they scored a run in the bottom of the 7th to take the lead 2-1 and that was all they needed as our offense couldn't figure out the dutch relief pitchers. These two losses now put us in a very difficult position to give us a chance at medal. With a win against Panama, and a few losses to the teams above us, we still have a shot at the bronze medal game.

Once that game finished we all showered up and got on the bus ready for the bus ride to Panama. We played 2 movies on the bus but I really didn't pay too much attention to them. I listened to music and try and nap a bit. Surprisingly I sleep quite well on buses, just wish I could sleep as easily on planes.

We arrived at the hotel around 9:00pm. Everyone is quite happy to be back at the Sheraton, mainly because of the fast internet, and we're right in the middle of the city. When we were checking in the front desk told us that two rooms will have 3 people in them and being a rookie, I just knew I would be one of the guys in a room with 3 people, and sure enough I'm roomed with Justin Erasmus and Kable Hogben. Kind of feels like the good old Australian Academy days with 3 to a room.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

World Cup - Day 16 - vs Netherlands

Today we played the Netherlands, well I can't say played since the game isn't over yet, so I guess I should say today we were playing the Netherlands until rain decided to ruin our parade. Today's game was a good old fashioned pitching duel with the dutch starter going 6 1/3 innings for 1 run, and our own Dushan Ruzic tossed 6 innings for 1 run. Midway through the 7th inning the heavens opened up once again in Panama and the tarp was on the field. Like most rain delays here we were expecting to be back on the field within 30 minutes but that wasn't the case today. We spent 2 1/2 hours in the clubhouse waiting for the rain to stop, but it didn't and they eventually suspended the game. So instead of talking about the game, I'll talk about what activities we got up to in the clubhouse.

First of all, as soon as they pulled the tarps on, everyone got their iPods, iPads and iPhones out to get on the internet but that was an epic fail activity as the wi-fi in the clubhouse wasn't working too well, maybe because 25 people were trying to log in at one time. I was able to get wi-fi for a little bit, but it was very frustrating so I decided to find a corner somewhere in the clubhouse and take a nap. Once I woke up from my glorious nap I  just lurked around the clubhouse for something to do and found myself in the batting cages behind the clubhouse. So what's more Aussie then getting a baseball bat, and playing some cricket while at a baseball game? We played for about 20 minutes before we decided to call it quits. I think Hayden Beard was scared I would embarrass him with my spin bowling. Once all that was done we sat around for another 50 minutes with nothing happening as the rain continued and then around 7:45pm they decided to suspend the game and make us finish it off tomorrow. We waited around all that time just to tell us the game would be suspended. I don't know how to read a weather radar, but even I could of told you just by looking at the sky that the rain wasn't going to stop for a few hours.

The waiting didn't stop there. As soon as the game got suspended two players had to be drug tested and well, we had to wait another hour for Hayden Beard to do his business. Didn't bother us as we started watching a movie on the bus that kept us entertained. As soon as Hayden got back on the bus he received a large round of applause from the team.

Once we got back to the hotel we had to sit around and wait to see what was going to happen with the upcoming schedule. We found out later on in the night that we will play the USA at 12:00pm tomorrow in a 7 inning game, then complete the game against the Netherlands at 3:30pm. We will then have to travel 4 hours to Panama City, where we will be playing Panama at 11:00am tomorrow morning. The next 36 hours are going to be big, but we're up to the task and have a real chance of playing in the gold medal game in two days.

Relaxing in the dugout, about 2 hours into the rain delay

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

World Cup - Day 15 - vs Canada

We're down to the business end of the World Cup now and in the 2nd Round the first team we had to come up against was Canada who finished in 1st place in Group A with a 6-1 record. We knew the next 4 games are going to be tough to make it to the gold medal game but we were up to the challenge today taking down Canada 7-0. It was a team effort to win this game, but I can't go past the outstanding job Ryan Searle did on the mound today. He threw 7 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing only 3 hits and striking out 6. He only got into trouble in the 4th inning when he loaded the bases with 0 outs, but got out of it thanks to a out at home, then a double play to end the inning. The offense was lead by Tim Kennelly who ended the game a triple shy of the cycle. We wasted no time getting on the board scoring early and often again. Scoring six runs on eight hits against three Canadian pitchers in the first half of the game. 

Once we got back to the hotel, we had a recovery session in the pool. When the pool session was over, we all expected to get back into our rooms and relax for a little while on the internet. The internet had other plans as it did not work for 5 hours. So as I write this, this is the first time I have been online since 5:00pm, quite an achievement for me.

Tomorrow we play the Netherlands and have Dushan Ruzic on the mound, who has spent the last year playing in Europe against many of the dutch players. Netherlands have a 7-1 record and we'll be looking to make that a 7-2 record.

Monday, 10 October 2011

World Cup - Day 14

Today was our day off before the 2nd round of the World Cup begins. First item on the agenda was to move to our new hotel in the morning and as soon as we arrived and were in the lobby, we could just tell that this hotel was going to be a major improvement on the last one. We didn't spend too much time there as we had planned to visit this island which was about a 90 minute bus ride away,  followed by a 15 minute boat ride. We were all expecting their to be a ferry and a dock, but all there was were some boats on the beach. So we had 5 boats filled with 5-7 people in each. Luckily I was in the faster boat, so the journey to the island wasn't too painful.

Once we go to the island we all jumped off our boats we immediately saw that there were hermit crabs on the beach, so since we are all grown up, we did what anyone would do, have some hermit crab racing.

After our exciting few minutes of hermit crab racing we did a little bit of exploring through, I guess you could call it a jungle. People were referring to the jungle as something from a 'Predators' movie, I thought it looked more like a scene from the 'Anacondas' movies which kind of worried me for a second because I actually thought there may be snakes in there. I still walked through the jungle fearlessly. After our little exploration we all jumped into the water and had a little recovery session. In my opinion, I think we needed to have a recovery session after the recovery session. Trying to do the same exercises we do in the pool in open water are a lot harder.

After spending some time on the island we all boarded our little boats and headed off back to the mainland. We hopped on the bus and drove back to the new hotel and were able to check into our new hotel. Which is definitely an improvement on the old one, for one the internet here is a lot quicker which will keep everyone happy for the next 5 days. We noticed that the Netherlands team had also just arrived from Panama City and a lot of guys on our team are friends with some of the Dutch players. I caught up with Twins team mate Tom Stuifbergen for a little while before going back to my room, laying in bed and being lazy all night.

A little bit of jungle exploring

Sunday, 9 October 2011

World Cup - Day 13 - vs Germany

We did our part today by taking down Germany. We scored early and often in the first 3 innings, putting up 9 runs on 10 hits which was just a continuation on the hitting display we put on last night. Mitch Dening led the offence going 3 for 4, driving in a run and scoring 2 runs.

My room mate Clayton Tanner got the start tonight, although it wasn't his best day he still left the game giving us a chance to win, and that's all you can ask from your starting pitcher. Justin Erasmus threw a scoreless 5th innings then Hayden Beard took over for the 6th. He allowed an unearned run in the 6th, then gave up a 2 run home run to his Canberra Cavalry team mate Donald Lutz. So guess Donald knew Hayden's scouting report better then Hayden knew Donald's scouting report. We then sent out the ever reliable Andrew Russell to close out the game and preserve the victory, and then we played the waiting game.

After the game I caught up with my Elizabethton Twins team mate, Max Kepler

Now after winning that game, our fate was in the hands of other teams. First of all we needed Venezuela to beat Italy, which they did in an extra inning thriller, then we either needed Korea to beat Dominica, or for Dominica to beat Korea by 9 runs or more. As I watched the game unfold on TV, Dominica led all game and were up 4-0 heading into the 9th inning, and then the Korean fightback began. The 9th inning consisted of, 3 straight singles to score a run, then 2 straight pop ups. Korean were down to there last out in the 9th and then! They hit a 3 run home run to tie the game. As the home run was hit, you could hear all the boys yelling from their rooms with excitement. I was thinking, we did our part and won today, Venezuela won in extra inninga, so they did their part, surely the baseball gods are with us. Cuba could not score a run in the 9th, so the game went into extra innings and as I mentioned in a previous post, in an IBAF tournament, extra innings will start with runners on 1st and 2nd. Korean came up in the 10th, executed a perfect bunt that put their runners on 2nd and 3rd. The Dominican pitcher then struck out the next guy he faced, so now it was 2 outs with runners on 2nd and 3rd. They then intentionally walked the next hitter to load the bases up, and set up a righty-righty match up. The match up failed as the Dominican pitcher walked the hitter, which drove in the go ahead run. The next hitter struck out to end the inning.

Korean came out to defend their 1 run lead. Dominica laid down a bunt, but the runner was thrown out at 3rd base. So Dominica had runners on 1st and 2nd with 1 out which is a perfect situation, that is until the Korean pitcher threw a wild pitch to advance the runners a base each. The next hitter walked which loaded the bases up, which is still a perfect situation because they could still get the double play to end the game. Korea then made a pitching change and sent Ji Woong Yoon to the mound, who is now my best friend. He struck out the first hitter he face looking for the 2nd out of the inning, and then struck out the last hitter to end the game, and send Team Australia into the 2nd round. As the batter swung and missed at that last pitch, you could hear the yells from our team in this block as we all ran outside our rooms celebrating our birth into the 2nd round at the World Cup.

We have a off day tomorrow, and then prepare for the playoffs. You can just feel right now, there's something special in the air for Team Australia, and we aren't going down without a fight.

And we're going to the 2nd round!

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Quote of the Day

Todays quote of the day comes from relief pitcher Andrew Russell. For everyone that's been following the Australian team, and who followed today's game against Venezuela, this quote is going to make a lot of sense.

"For the first three games we couldn't get anyone on base, now we can't get out!"
Even though the first three games of the World Cup were very frustrating for us, we still manage to see the light side of everything.

World Cup - Day 12 - vs Venezuela

The day didn't start according to plan as our bus was 20 minutes late so we had to rush when we got to the field to get ready for a 11:45am batting practice, but once we arrived they allowed us more time to get ready so we could stop panicking. Once batting practice was over we headed back into the clubhouse to relax before game time, which was 90 minutes away, but once game time came around the ground crew put the tarp on the field just before the rain had arrived. Once they got the tarp on, the rain started to come down hard and within 5 minutes the field was absolutely saturated, except for the infield that is. That is until they decided to take the tarp of the field at 2:45pm and somehow the water on the tarp rolled onto the field and turned the area between shortstop and 3rd base into a swimming pool, which meant we now had to wait for them to clear all that water off. After about 30 minutes of them trying to get rid of the water, they told us the new starting time would be 5:00pm so it allowed us to all go back into the clubhouse and relax for a while. A couple of guys played cards, as for me, I decided to take a nap.

A couple of the boys playing cards

Once the game got underway we started on fire with Mitch Dening hit a 2 run home run in the 1st inning. That was only the start of the offensive onslaught as we continued to score runs at a frantic pace, adding 4 runs in the 2nd, 4 more in the 4th, then capped it off with 5 runs in the 5th inning to finish it off. Every runner got on base, and all but two got a hit and drove in a run, so it was major team effort. All this offence was supported by starting pitcher Chris Oxpsring who cruised through 5 innings only allowing a few harmless singles.

Tomorrow we play Germany, and a win will give is a big chance on making it to the next round, depending on other results. We can't worry too much about the other games, all we have to do is focus on our own game and hopefully the other results will go in our favour. I also have two Minnesota Twins team mates playing for the German team, Max Kepler and Markus Solbach. So I definitely want to beat them. I can't give these two bragging rights heading into spring training.

Mitch Dening being greeted at home by James Beresford after his home run

Friday, 7 October 2011

Video of the Day

World Cup - Day 11 - vs Dominican Republic

Today, just like yesterday was a must win game for us and well, we didn't disappoint, we may have caused a few heart attacks but we still came out with a hard fought win against the Dominican Republic. This game had it all, we had lightning delays, the IBAF tie break rule and even a pitcher hitting.

Stefan Welch got the scoring underway in the 2nd inning with a solo shot over the right field wall, I think over the wall is an understatement. I'm pretty sure his home run went over the 2 lane road, and landed in someones front yard. We scored another run in the 4th with an RBI single from Tim Kennelly, then scored 3 runs in the 5th thanks to Justin Huber's bases clearing double. In the meantime Dushan Ruzic was throwing a hell of a game only allowing 1 run through his first 5 frames. In the 7th Huber was at it again, this time hitting a 2 run home run to left field, then an inning later Mitch Dening hit an RBI single to put us up 8-1 in the 8th. Then things became interesting as we went into a 30 minute lightning delay which meant Dushan Ruzic would not come back into the game. He finished the game throwing 7 strong innings, only allowing 1 run on 4 hits and was in line for the win. When the lightning delay was over we started the game in the bottom of the 8th and handed the ball to Kable Hogben who ran into some trouble in the inning allowing 3 runs whilst getting 2 outs. Brendan Wise backed up from last night and shut down the inning. He came out again for the 9th with a 4 run lead and all of a sudden the Dominican bats woke up and they tied the game up on 4 singles, a sac fly and an error which meant we were heading into extra innings.

Now extra innings in an IBAF competition you play under the tie breaker rules, which means you start every inning with runners on 1st and 2nd base. So we sent Scott Wearne to 2nd, David Kandilas to 1st and sent James Beresford to lead off the inning. Beresford got on from a very lucky bunt base hit that flirted with the foul line, then Mitch Dening came up in the clutch again delivering a bases clearing double to put us up by 3. Steve Kent came out to throw the bottom of the 10th, he struck out the first hitter, then gave up a single to left that scored the Dominican runner from 2nd base. Then the game got even more strange. Due to the Dominican manager pinch running for the designated hitter, then sending that pinch runner into the game, it meant the pitcher had to hit for himself, and well, in the 10th, the pitcher came up and struck out on a very ugly swing. Two pitches later, they attempted a double steal and the runner trying to take 2nd got caught ending the game and handing us our 2nd win to keep our hopes of making the playoffs alive.

It was very nerve wracking and exciting in the dugout, and I could only imagine what it would of been like for everyone back home watching the play-by-play online. Tomorrow we play Venezuala who lead our division with a 4-1 record, so everyone back home should gear up for another heart stopping game. Don't say we aren't making things exciting for you!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

World Cup - Day 10 - vs Nicaragua

Today we played an afternoon game against Nicaragua who we lost to in a practice game before the tournament started, but today we got up 4-3 in what was a much needed win for the team. We had great pitching today and some timely hitting, like I said, we keep doing everything right, and everything will fall into place and that will lead to a win and that's what happened today. We didn't change anything from the last few days, even though we were losing we were still playing good, hard baseball.

We had a few firsts today for the tournament. Mitch Dening scored our first run, Stefan Welch drove in the teams first run and Joel Naughton hit our first long ball, a line drive shot over the right field wall in the 5th inning. Ryan Searle got the start for us and delivered 5 solid innings only allowing 3 runs, 2 of which were earned. He was then relieved by Andrew Russell who threw 3 great innings, as well as making some great defensive plays to help his cause. To close the game out in the 9th we called upon Brendan Wise to nail down the save who threw a solid 9th to seal our first win at the World Cup.

After the game we did the usual routine of going to dinner then sitting in bed all night which is where I write this post right now. I'm watching the Yankees vs Tigers game at the moment, but would be nicer if it was in english instead of spanish.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

World Cup - Day 9

Well today was our day off, which is usually a day of rest and that is exactly what I did. I woke up around 8:00am because my body clock doesn't allow me to sleep in anymore and sat on my computer watching TV shows and talking to friends back home on Facebook. I was so relaxed that I actually missed going to breakfast, so I had to wait until lunch to get my first meal of the day. It was no big deal, I was still pretty full from the dinner I ate the night before.

The team decided to take a bus trip around town just to see what there was to offer, once again nothing really interested anybody, except maybe us rookie players getting strange looks from locals from our outfits when we got off the bus to take a team photo of the rookies. Like any baseball team you play on, the rookies pay their dues and usually have to do something embarrassing and well, the Australian team is no exception as some of the senior boys bought us less then flattering clothing to wear whilst on the bus trip. Some people may feel silly wearing it, but you just have to remember all the senior players have had to do it before, so you can either be a sour puss about it and not go along with it, or embrace it and have some fun. Safe to say this group of rookies really embraced our welcoming to Team Australia.

After our afternoon of team bonding we went back to the hotel, and relaxed all night. In my opinion it was quite a good day off, the boys all had a laugh but now tomorrow its back to business as we take on Nicaragua in a must win game.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

World Cup - Day 8 - vs Korea

The day started off a bad note as the lettering on our jerseys had been wiped off in the wash, so we will now be wearing our batting practice tops for the rest of the tournament. But as we came to terms that we will no longer be wearing our fresh white jersey or our green jersey, we realized we're Australians and we will look good wearing anything.

Since we had a night game today, we had the whole day to ourselves to do something so a few of us decided to check out the mall and waste a few hours doing some shopping. We arrived at the mall and from the outside it looked quite promising, but once we got inside, it was far from inspiring. There were not many shops and after about 10 minutes everyone had already done a lap of the mall and they saw nothing at all. So we ended up just having lunch at the mall then hopping back on the bus to the hotel. It ended up being an epic fail activity.

We got back to the hotel and I was actually exhausted from doing nothing so I went to my room and attempted to have a nap. The nap only lasted for about 20 minutes but I guess it gave me enough energy to make it through the day. We had lunch again at the hotel then we had enough time to go back to our rooms and relax before heading to the field.

We arrived at the field and went through the usual routine. Being a baseball player for a living, your life starts to feel like groundhog day. Before the game started we noticed an Australian flag in the crowd. We already have Justin Erasmus dad following us on tour, but he was joined by 5 other Aussies in the stands tonight which was quite a nice surprise. We played Korea today in what was a game we really needed to win. We went down 8-0 but the scoreboard once again did not reflect how hard we are playing. Clayton Tanner looked good tonight on the mound. His stuff was filthy but Korea got to him for 1 inning, and that's been the story so far this tournament for us. I'm sure its easy for everyone checking the updates online to see the scores and think we are playing badly but that is not the case. Our pitchers are battling out there, we fall into trouble from time to time which leads to a big inning but other then that we are pitching our butts off. Our defense has been outstanding, the hitters are having quality at bats, and hitting the ball hard but straight to gloves. We have had a few questionable calls go against us but that is out of our control. Like I said in my post yesterday, as long as we keep doing everything right, everything will fall into place and that will lead to a win.

Tomorrow we have a day off, and it will good for the team to get their minds of baseball for a day and just relax and hopefully get a chance to enjoy Panama for a day.

The small Aussie fan base in Panama

Monday, 3 October 2011

World Cup - Day 7 - vs Italy

We had to leave a bit earlier today to get to the game as we were playing in Santiago today which was about 1 hour away. We were meant to leave at 10:15am but just like the last few days, we didn't exactly leave on time. Just like every longer bus trip we have a movie playing, and today was no exception even though we wouldn't be able to finish the entire movie before we got to the stadium. We watched the movie Hall Pass, and if anyone has seen it, they would know how funny it is. I think our team enjoys watching comedies since that's all we have really watched on the bus trips.

We arrived at the field and did the usual, run, stretch, throw and then batting practice. By the end of batting practice it started to rain a little, and once we got back in the clubhouse the heavens had opened up and before you knew it the tarp was on the field and we were looking like heading into a rain delay. The scheduled game time was suppose to be 2:00pm but it was highly unlikely we would start anywhere close to that, I'm not too sure but I think we started the game close to 3:00pm.

Once the game got underway our starting pitcher Chris Oxspring and the Italian pitcher traded zeros through the first 3 innings, and then in the 4th Italy's bats woke up and they drove in 4 runs with 2 outs. We had dug ourselves into a hole, it wasn't too deep to get out of, but every time we got runners on base, the Italian defense either made a great play, or a very lucky play to end the inning. We just could never really get more then one runner on base until the last inning, but by then it was too late as Italy had got out to a 7-0 lead. It was quite a tough loss because now we have to win 4 out of the next 5 games to advance to the top 8 and give ourselves a chance at a medal. I believe we have the ability to win our next 5 games, and I'm sure everyone else on the team believes that as well. I know this is very cliche but we just have to take it one game at a time and win every battle, just have quality at bats, execute pitches and play good defense and the rest will hopefully take care of itself.

After the game we just headed back to the hotel, ate dinner then I think everyone just went back to their rooms to relax because I know that's exactly what I did. Tomorrow we play Korea and my room mate Clayton Tanner is starting on the mound for us, hopefully he can get us back on track and give us one in the win column.

The tarp on the field whilst the rain was coming down

Sunday, 2 October 2011

World Cup - Day 6 - vs Cuba

So today was the day of our first game against baseball powerhouses Cuba. We got on the bus at 11:00am to head to the field and the field was only 5 minutes away so that was a good change from the last couple of days when we've had to travel up to an hour to get to our practices. We got to the field and took batting practice and once it was all down we got back into the air conditioned clubhouse to get out of the heat.

We lost the game 14-0 but the scoreboard doesn't really reflect on how we played. If we make a few better pitches in certain situations and if a few hard hit balls land in the gaps instead of outfielders gloves it would have been a much different ball game. I got the chance to pitch in this game as well. I came in the game in the 6th with loaded bases and got out if it without allowing a run thanks to a great play at 3rd by Stefan Welch. I then came out for the 7th and wasn't quite as lucky. A ball was hit to 3rd that hopped up off Welch's glove into left field for a hit, then the next hitter hit a ball just out of his reach, then gave up a bloop base hit down right field line. Long story short, I ended up giving up 4 runs in the inning. I did hit a batter though and I don't think he was too happy about it. When I looked at him walking up the line to 1st he was giving me a death stare, so I politely smiled at him.

After the game we loaded the bus and headed back to the hotel and got into our rooms, only for the internet to be out. Clayton and me didn't know what to do with ourselves. He walked around the hotel with his laptop trying to find some internet.  When he came back from his walk he said he went to the front desk and they said it will be about an hour before the internet comes back. Now a lot of people think I'm the only one on the team who spends time on the internet, but I can guarantee most guys were as concerned and worried as I was when our web pages weren't opening up.

We play Italy tomorrow and we'll have Chris Oxspring starting on the mound, so we'll be looking to bounce back and get a win next to our names.

Pitching against Cuba

Photo of the Day

Cast your vote, who do you think is taller? Graeme Lloyd on the left, or Dushan Ruzic on the right

World Cup - Day 5

Today we had a scheduled practice session at the same place we trained on our first day in Panama, but as we arrived the Italian national team had just begun their practice. When we got off the bus we all spotted Mike Piazza, who is regarded as one of the best hitting catchers of all time. We shared the field with them for a little while, as they were on left field line and we were on right field line but they ended up only throwing and running which gave us the field to take batting practice.

Once we got back to the hotel we all jumped in the pool again for a recovery session then had lunch at the hotel restaurant. Clayton and me decided to try the sporting goods store one more time, and this time it was a great success, they were actually opened! I was able to buy some Under Armour and a pair of shorts, so I was quite happy.

We didn't have much time to relax at the hotel once we got back from the sporting goods store as we had to pack our bags because we were moving to a new hotel after the Opening Ceremony. We packed all the bags onto a truck which took our bags straight to the hotel while we attended the Opening Ceremony. We got to the stadium quite early and instead of standing out in the heat, we all just stayed on the bus in the air conditioned comfort, but we sat there for about an hour and everyone started to get restless and we all jumped off the bus.

We had to stand around for about 30 minutes so I went for a walk hoping to find my Minnesota Twins team mates, but team Germany and and the Netherlands were nowhere to be found. I did in fact see one of my old coaches from my time at the Phillies so it was nice to catch up with him. Once the Opening Ceremony started it was quite a show. From what I've been told by guys that have been to previous World Cups, this Opening Ceremony was very extravagant compared to the others. There were at least 13,000 people in the stadium and there was music, fireworks and live performers on the field. It really felt like a celebration. I was actually quite overwhelmed by the crowd as I have never been on such a stage like that, but I could definitely get used to it.

After the Opening Ceremony we hopped on the bus and began what we all thought was a 3 hour journey. It ended up being close to 4 1/2 hours, including a 30 minute stop off to get dinner. On the bus we watched the movie Horrible Bosses and by all the laughs on the bus, it seemed everyone enjoyed it, then we put one of Carl Barron's stand up shows on, and I can safely say everyone was in stitches from laughter. No matter how many times I watch a Carl Barron DVD I always laugh at the same jokes.

We eventually arrived at the hotel well past midnight and we all pretty much got our keys and headed to our rooms. When Clayton and me got to the room the air condition wasn't on so it was quite unpleasant to be in our room for a little while but it eventually cooled down to a comfortable temperature, good enough so we won't be sweating in our sleep. Speaking of sleep it's time to get some since we open up our World Cup campaign against Cuba tomorrow afternoon.