Thursday, 1 November 2012

ABL Preseason vs Team Australia

Last weekend we played our first full preseason series against Team Australia. A team of seasoned veterans as well as up and coming Australian prospects travelled to Blacktown for the weekend. This was a great hit out for us as it created regular season intensity. We went down in the series 2-1, but easily could have finished the series with a positive 3-0 record.

Game 1
Costly errors early on in the game were too much to come back from as Australia took an early 4-0 lead. We were able to get within 1 run, but Australia added an insurance run late in the game and we were never able to mount a comeback. Australia ran out winners 5-3.

Game 2
Craig Anderson started and threw 5 1/3 great innings allowing only 2 runs and left with a 3-2 lead. I was brought into the game to throw to the right handed hitters and end the 6th inning. Simple task you may think, but the two batters I had to face were Luke Hughes and Justin Huber. Both have spent time in the Majors and both have been part of Team Australia for the last 7 years. The nerves kicked in and the adrenaline took over as I retired both hitters with swinging strikeouts. I was pretty pumped as it was great to throw in front of a crowd of over 2,000 people again. Tyler Herr threw 2 great innings of relief before handing the ball over to Matt Williams to try and nail down the win. Unfortunately Team Australia strung quality at bats together, which set the stage for 19 year old Darryl George to hit a game winning 2 run single to right field. Australia stealing a 4-3 win.

Game 3
We started off hot scoring 2 runs in the 1st inning thanks to a double down right field line off the bat of Blue Sox import James Robbins. Vaughan Harris kept the Australia bats quiet through 5 innings only allowing a handful of hits before Luke Wilkins took over in relief. Luke started off shaky allowing 2 runs to score in the 6th, but then bounced back in the 7th throwing a scoreless inning. Another import, JD Williams made his presence felt as he hit a double in the 7th, stole 3rd base, and then scampered home on an errant throw by the catcher. I came out to throw the 8th inning, something that I thought was very unexpected since I haven't pitched in many games lately, and I threw the night before. The task wouldn't be easy again as I had to face Mitch Dening, Luke Hughes and Justin Huber. Luckily I was able to finish the inning only allowing three ground ball outs. Matt Williams came out to throw the 9th and there was no case of deja vu. He nailed down the save securing our first win of the preseason.

We head to Canberra this weekend to start our regular season against the Cavalry. I have no doubt this series against Australia gives us a great advantage.

Pitching in game 2

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

First Game Back

I wrote not too long ago about throwing my first bullpen since my injury. Today I'm going to write about my first outing since my injury. My last official outing was on July 1st in Holland, so it had been nearly four months since I pitched in a game. The Sydney Blue Sox had an exhibition game last week against the Manly Eagles who are a top grade team that play in the Sydney State League and I was on the roster to play against them.

I was scheduled to throw the 6th inning of the game. So I started to stretch and get ready around the end of the 4th inning. It was a nice warm day in Manly so it didn't take me too long at all to get ready. After about 12 pitches in the pen, I entered the game in the 6th inning. I had to face the 4, 5 and 6 hitters in the Manly line up.

The first pitch I threw was a strike pulled foul, so I was glad to start my first hitter off with a strike. The next pitch however was a slider that the hitter hit straight back at me that left me laying flat on the ground. Luckily the infielders up the middle made the play to get the out. As I got back up I was thinking to myself "Of course the first batter I face will hit the ball straight back at me". I still don't have full range of motion in my left arm, so fielding come backer's are still a small concern for me to field, but luckily I got out of the way of this one. I then struck out the next two batters I faced to end the inning. I'm not sure if I actually took a breath out there on the mound, but man it felt good to be back.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Back on the Bump

Its been nearly three months since I took that fall from grace after attempting to slam dunk, but yesterday I took another big step in my rehab. As the title suggests, I stepped on a mound for the first time and threw a bullpen. Its taken a lot of hours of physiotherapy and a lot of patience, so it was a very sweet moment for me. I've been throwing about four times a week for the last three weeks to get my arm in shape. Even though I haven't been able to catch a ball thrown to me from over 70 feet, I felt like I was ready to get back on the mound and start to get ready to pitch in a game.

I stepped onto the mound with my heart beating a million times a minute. To say the least I was extremely nervous. You're probably wondering why I would be nervous. There wasn't anyone trying to hit the ball, just the catcher and me, but I was nervous on how I would feel. How my right arm would feel, how my left arm would feel, how good my control would be. I said a little prayer and then I threw my first pitch, my second, third, fourth then fifth. All five of those pitches were balls and were nowhere near the strike zone. My catcher told me to step off the mound and breath, something I had forgotten to do those first few pitches. Once I took the mound again everything started to feel good again. I was throwing strikes and apart from a slight mechanical change in my front arm, I felt great. The ball was coming out of my hand great, I had good control, my change up had movement and I was throwing it for strikes.

This bullpen was far better than what I thought it would be. Everything that I've done up until this point has been worth it. All the hours of physiotherapy, all the time spent sleeping with my arm in a brace, all the time I've spent at home trying to straighten my arm, bend my arm, twist my hand instead of going out with friends have been worth it. I'm still hoping I will be ready by November 2nd for the opening series of the Australian Baseball League against Cavalry. I've come this far, and worked so hard, no reason I can't keep working hard to be ready in three weeks time.

"For nothing is impossible with God" - Luke 1:37

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Corendon Kinheim, Hoofdklasse Honkbal Kampioen!

If you can read Dutch, then you would be able to understand the title of this entry and if you can't, you're about to find out. The team I played for in Holland, Corendon Kinheim are now the champions of the National League in Holland!

I left just before the playoffs and Kinheim had qualified for the playoffs in 3rd place behind Amsterdam and Neptunus, and just ahead of the Pioneers. The way the playoffs work in the league is that each team will play each other 3 times, and the best two records after all those games, goes through to the Holland Series, which is the name of the finals.

After a rough start to the playoffs where Kinheim got swept in the series by Neptunus, they found themselves in a tough hole to dig out of. They dug out of that hole quite easily by winning 4 of the next 6 games to seal their spot in the Holland Series.

That momentum kept rolling as they took down Neptunus in amazing fashion, winning the series 4-0 and crowning themselves the 2012 champions. I really wish I could have been there with the boys to celebrate and be apart of the win, but I knew all along they could do this and I'm extremely proud of all of them. Hopefully I'll be back there next season and we can make it back-to-back championships!

Since I've Been Home

It's been over a month since I've been home and even longer since I've last posted on here, so I thought it would be good to update everyone on my injury. I would love to update more but with the use of only one arm, typing on a keyboard takes quite a long time.

I arrived home from the Netherlands on the 19th of July and I didn't have much time to enjoy being home as I had doctors appointments lined up over the next few days. The day after I arrived home my mum and I went to see the first specialist. The initial diagnosis from him was that there was irreparable damage, and even after surgery my arm would never be back to the way it used to be. Safe to say, I didn't really like this guy too much. Two days later we went to see another specialist and he was much more positive and my mum and I got good vibe from him. He explained what happened to my elbow, how they would operate on it and the process of recovery. Mum and I decided to go with this doctor and that I would have surgery the next day.

I underwent elbow reconstruction surgery on the 24th of July. The surgeon cleaned out the shattered bone, fixed the radial head using some of the shattered bone, which is now held together by a screw and a tiny anchor, and also he repaired the torn ligaments. The surgery took nearly two hours and when I finally woke up I was in no mans land. My left arm was completely numb and in a cast and I was so drugged that you could have held a gun to my head and I would have laughed at you. I spent one night in hospital before I was allowed to go home. My instructions from the doctor were to relax and do nothing. It was perfect timing as well because I could relax and do nothing, whilst watching the Olympics.

One week post surgery
Two weeks post surgery I went back to the doctors for a check up. The cast came off and I was put into a brace. The brace is used to stabilize my arm while it gives it a restricted range of motion. My first thought of when he put the brace on my arm is that if Forrest Gump needed a brace on his arm instead of his legs, he'd look exactly like me. The main problem with the elbow now is not the bones that have been repaired, but getting rid of the stiffness in the elbow. Since my arm was sitting in a cast for two weeks, the ligaments tighten up and need to be stretched out. That's where all my rehab time will go to, straightening out my arm and being able to supinate and pronate. Since I got out of the cast I have been to the physiotherapist 3 times a week and we've been making slow improvements. Like I always say, slow improvements are better than no improvements! I'm very lucky because my physio has a background in baseball and was the team physio when I played on an U17 Australian team. Not going to lie, the physio sessions do hurt a lot, but like the old saying goes, "No pain! No gain!". One good thing about the brace though, is that I can take it off and I no longer needed to wear a rubbish bag on my arm when I shower.

My first scar

My brace, makes me look bionic
Well, today I went back to the surgeon for another check up and received some very encouraging news. I took new x-rays to him of the repaired elbow and he said everything looks great and the progress I'm making has been good. The best news he said was that if I push myself, I may be ready to resume baseball activities in a months time! This is perfect because Sydney Blue Sox Spring Training begins on the 18th of September and the season begins in the first week of November. I set myself a possible return to baseball in maybe mid December, but I'm extremely excited now that I could be ready to start the season with the Blue Sox.

I would like also like to thank all the support I've been receiving from my Twitter family, all your kind words really help!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Going Home

So my European adventure has come to an abrupt end. I injured myself in an off field incident that will require surgery. It was decided by team officials and my mum that I would travel back to Sydney to have the surgery and do my rehab in the comfort of my own home.

Now to the embarrassing explanation of how this injury occurred. I usually take good care of myself off the field but this was just a big accident and a freak injury. I was playing basketball with Luke Wilkins who traveled from Belgium for the week, and I decided to jump and grab the rim, something I have done over a hundred times before. Only thing is this time when I grabbed the rim my hand slipped and I fell to the floor. I tried to brace the fall with my left arm but the impact was too much and it caused my elbow to dislocate. Luckily I had Luke there to help and he kept calm and was able to call people from the my team to come help.

I remained on the floor on the basketball court while help arrived and once they got there it took a while for me to find my feet and be able to walk properly. Up until this point in my life I had never broken a bone, fractured or dislocated anything so everything was a bit scary to me. As I started to walk I felt like I was going to pass out but with the help of others I was able to get in the car. Once I got in we went straight to the hospital.

I haven't had many experiences with hospitals but all I remember is in Sydney hospitals having to spend hours waiting to see a doctor. This wasn't the case here as I went straight into a room, was quickly assessed, given medication, had an x-ray and got a cast put on all in under two hours. I don't remember too much from my time at the hospital. I don't even remember having my elbow put back into place. All I do know is that the x-ray also revealed I had also fractured the elbow in three places which meant I was going to need surgery.

As bad as I felt for myself at the time, I felt even worse for my team that I am leaving. Even though I have only been here for six weeks I have made some awesome new friends and it hurts that I won't be here to play alongside them once the playoffs begin next week. Everyone here has made me feel welcome and comfortable during my time here and I'm truly grateful for their hospitality.

So over the next few months I will have to get myself healthy again, prepare for the Australian Baseball League season, and once that ends, hopefully I'll find myself back here in Holland playing for Kinheim because I have some unfinished business to take care of.

Sad panda. Picture taken just after I got back from the hospital.
PS - if you want to see a picture of my dislocated elbow, comment on this post. 

Monday, 2 July 2012

Dontrelle Willis Announces Retirement

Now you're probably all wondering why I would want to write about Dontrelle Willis. Yes, his career was plagued by inconsistency after his early years in Florida but that's not how I will remember him. I will remember him as the fun loving guy who always had a smile on his face and a hat that wasn't worn quite straight. I'll remember the 22 games he won in 2005 and in the same year became the first pitcher in 32 years to bat 7th in the hitting lineup. I'll also never forget the two home runs he hit against the Mets in September of 2006 to go along with the 8 innings he threw that night.

I have modelled my game around the way that Dontrelle played. I played each game like it was my last. Leaving everything out on the field and having fun while doing it. Many people, especially many of my Blue Sox teammates would be used to my signature "smile while poking the tongue out face" I make while on the mound was something I would do when I felt like I stuffed up or got away with a mistake. Even though I'm in the heat of the moment, I still find a lighter side in everything. Something I always enjoyed seeing Dontrelle do. The way he would slide head first into 3rd base while running out a triple is exactly the way I would do it. Even though the coach wouldn't approve of his pitcher sliding into base, it didn't stop him from playing hard. Playing the game it was meant to be played, just like you're a little leaguer playing on the sandlot with your friends.

One day I even decided I'm going to start pitching like Dontrelle Willis. I wore high socks, I had a high leg kick, twisted my body, hands were raised above my head and I threw across my body. People asked me why I did that and I simply told them, because it's what the D-Train does. That's when I received the nicknames T-Train and VanTrelle. I had that pitching action for five years. I even wore number 35 because of him, then changed to 21 when he moved to Detroit.

I'm definitely going to miss him and the way he played the game, but wish him the best in retirement. He is truly my favourite player of all time, no one else will understand why except me.

@D_Train35 retweeting one of my tweets
My game use Dontrelle Willis bat

@D_Train35 replying to one of my tweets

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Series vs Sparta/Feyenoord

Yes, if you were wondering if I was excited to play a team with Sparta in the name, I was. Too bad the team were not anything like Gerard Butler and his army of 300 Spartans. Sparta/Feyenoord are the last place team in the league and had a 5-27 record before playing us this week.

Game 1 - Part 1
All day it threatened to rain and as the game started a little drizzle started to fall. We were up 4-1 before the rain really decided to make its presence felt in the bottom of the 3rd inning. The umpires decided to call the game and we would have to restart the game the next day.

Game 1 - Part 2
So on what would usually be a day off for us, we were back at the ball park to try and play the first game of the series. Like we did the day before, we scored runs at a frantic pace and finished up winning the game 14-2 after 7 innings due to the mercy rule being enforced. David Bergman started and threw 6 innings giving up 2 runs to pick up his 7th win of the season while Ramiro Ballentina and Rachid Engelhart paced the offence going a combined 5 for 7 with 4 RBIs and 3 runs scored. To put into perspective the vast age differences in this team, Ramiro is 38 years old, while Rachid is only 16.

Game 2
We travelled to Sparta/Feyenoord's field on Saturday to try and wrap up the series and we did it in fine fashion. Nick Veltkamp threw another quality outing going 7 shutout innings before myself and Pim Walsma completed the shutout. There were a number of offensive standouts for us today but a big shoutout once again goes to Rachid Engelhart who blasted his first career home run in the top grade here in Holland.

We were suppose to play the final game of the series on Sunday but rain decided to ruin the party and the game got postponed to be played on Tuesday night.

Game 3
We took care of business as usual and defeated Sparta 10-0 to complete the sweep. Luke Sommer threw 6 shutout innings to pick up his 9th win of the season. I was suppose to come into the game in the 8th inning but the offense decided they didn't want me to throw. We wee up 5-0 heading into the 7th then scored 5 runs with 2 outs to enforce the mercy rule and end the game. It was kind of bitter sweet, because I love winning, and I love pitching and I didn't get to do one of them today. But that's the life of a relief pitcher!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Weekend Series vs Door Neptunus

Door Neptunus travelled to our field on Saturday for the second game of the series. My roommate got the start for us today and was solid through 3 inning before running into a bit of trouble in the 4th allowing 4 runs to score. The wind was howling out to right field and that helped the balls get into the gaps safely instead of being routine outs. He allowed 1 run again in the 5th before coming out of the game in the 6th and handed the ball to Steven Van Groningen.

During this game we proved you don't need to get hits to score runs. After putting together quality at bats we were able to score 1 run in the 5th, 3 in the 7th, and then 1 in the 8th to tie the game. Four of those runs came in via a bases loaded walk or a hit by pitch once again proving that baseball is one funny game. All of a sudden we were tied at 5-5 heading into the last inning.

Steven came out to throw the 9th inning and got the first two outs quite quickly and then the elements played a big in how the game was decided. The Neptunus batter hit what looked like a routine fly ball, but it got caught in the wind which carried it just over the wall to give Neptunus a 6-5 lead. We came back out to try and tie it up in the 9th but went down in order as Dushan Ruzic closed out the win.

On Sunday we had to travel back out to Rotterdam and avoid the sweep. Things didn't go to plan as Neptunus scored first but we instantly replied by scoring 2 runs on an errant pick off attempt to 2nd. The pitcher attempted a pick off, but threw it away. As the center fielder ran in to pick up the ball, he missed it which allowed the runner from 1st to score as well. Those were the only runs we would score all game as Neptunus put on runs slowly to run out 6-2 winners and finish off the sweep. I came into the game in the 7th inning and allowed 1 hit in 2/3 of an inning.

This week we take on Sparta/Feyenoord who are the last place team in the league. Hopefully we can take all 3 games from them and get closer to clinching that playoff spot.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

First Appearance for Kinheim... On The Mound

Tonight I made my debut as a pitcher for Corendon Kinheim and apart from one mistake I was quite happy with it. The mistake I made was quite a costly one for the team. I came into the game in the 6th with runners on 1st and 2nd and 1 out. I struck out the first guy then gave up a 2 run double on a pitch that I should have thrown inside, but instead threw it over the plate. As a reliever giving up the starters runs is a tough pill to swallow especially when he's thrown such a good game for us. A lot of people would say "don't worry, those aren't your runs", but I don't worry about whether they are my runs or not. The runs are on the board and I feel like I should be held accountable for them. I've grown to love being a reliever, being called upon in tough situations to get the tough outs. That's why its so vital to bare down on every single pitch, because one mistake could have huge consequences in how the game is eventually finished. We ended up losing the game 3-2 in the 10th inning, and apart from the loss, it was really fun to be apart of an intense atmosphere. Something I haven't felt in a baseball game since the ABL season finished.

My final line in tonight's game

My New Roommate

Whenever you join a new team full of players you don't know, you're going to end up with a roommate who you don't know. What you don't know is how many friends you have in common. My new roommate is Luke Sommer who has spent time playing in the Minor League system with the Chicago Cubs as well as playing for the Somerset Patriots in the Atlantic League which is an Independent League. When Luke and I first started talking he started to tell me all the Australian baseball players he has played with. One by one he told me he had played with Ryan Searle at the Cubs as well as meeting Cody Hams and Adam Spencer. He also played with Justin Huber and Chris Oxspring in his time with the Somerset Patriots. It's actually quite amazing that even though baseball is a sport that takes all over the world. The baseball world is actually very small.

His professional career started off as an outfielder in his rookie year with the Cubs before converting to a pitcher in 2008. As a relief pitcher he enjoyed success at all levels of the Minor Leagues from the Rookie Arizona League all the way to AAA in the Pacific Coast League. After an inconsistent start to the 2011 season with the Tennessee Smokies, he was released by the Cubs organization and then went on to sign with the Somerset Patriots where he played alongside Chris Oxspring and Justin Huber. He was used primarily as a reliever with Somerset but at the back end of the season he was asked to assume the starters role which he handled comfortably. He now is one of the starters with Corendon Kinheim where he has delivered quality outing after quality outing to be a workhorse on this team. He was the starter last Sunday and went 8 innings allowing only 2 unearned runs on his way to picking up the win.

Off the field he's a really nice guy and has helped me a lot since being here in Holland. He's showed me around town a bit as well as informing me of all the bike rules so I don't get into any trouble. He also has a sweet handlebar mustache that even Chopper Reid would be proud of.

Luke pitching for Tennessee in AA

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Downtown Haarlem

Today I went on another bike ride. This time heading to downtown Haarlem. Needless to say I decided to go to the right part of town. There were countless small cafes, so many shops and so many amazing buildings. The centerpiece of downtown Haarlem is the St. Bavochurch which is quite amazing once you get up close to it. Here are a few pics I took today.

St. Bavochurch

Monday, 11 June 2012

Getting Around Town

Since everything in so close here in the Netherlands the main mode of transportation for most people is on bicycles. The other reason why people get around on bikes is because gas here is so expensive. The cheapest I have seen gas prices here was €1.55 a liter. For those of you busting out your calculators to figure how much it would cost in your country, that is about $1.95 a liter in Australia and around $7.03 a gallon in America.

I recently acquired a bike from someone that works for the club I'm playing for so I thought it would be fun to go on a little ride around town today. I was riding for about 30 minutes before I decided to turn around and head back to the apartment in fear that I would get myself lost and never be able to find my way home. My roommate Luke was telling my the road rules for bike riders. There are a lot more than you would think and if you don't follow them, apparently other bike riders get extremely unhappy. Such things like if you hear someone ring their bell behind you, move to the right of the lane also don't get caught riding on the wrong side of the bike lanes, or once again the other riders will of course, be extremely unhappy.

Just like cars on the road, the bike riders have their own special lanes as well as their own traffic lights. Its quite a novelty to see things like this since riding a bike back home is quite uncommon. I think the last time I rode a bike back home everyday would probably be back when I was in the 6th grade and I'd ride to my friends house to play Digimon and have Pokemon Card battles. It may take some time to get my bike endurance up, but at least it will be a fun way to stay fit and get around town.

Traffic lights for bike riders

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Photos of the Day

One of my faithful twitter followers @flemo_k created a few memes to commemorate my signing with Kinheim in the Netherlands.I thought they were all quite funny and hit the spot perfectly.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

First Appearance for Kinheim

Now you're probably going to ask me how my first outing went and I'm going to give you an answer you will not expect. I went 0 for 2 with a walk and a run scored. Is your mind blown yet? You're probably wondering why a team would fly me out, a pitcher, to hit in their national league. The answer is quite simple, and funny actually. Due to a league rule, all international players must play in 3 consecutive innings before the 5th inning of a game, before June 15th to be eligible to play the rest of the season. Since my arm isn't conditioned to start a game and throw 3 consecutive innings it was easier to get my eligibility out of the way by putting me in the DH spot and hit me in the  hole. Now you're probably thinking again, how did I get 3 at bats hitting 9? Well, simple really, our team went on an early offensive onslaught and we were ahead 13-0 by the end of the 3rd inning and ended up winning 15-0 after 7 innings due to the mercy rule. I never expected to get 3 at bats at all and I don't think anyone expected me to get 3 at bats, but I did and it was a memorable way to make my debut for Corendon Kinheim. We have another game tomorrow. Hopefully I will get to pitch and make it another memorable day.

Lineup card with my name penciled in at No.9

Friday, 8 June 2012

Travel Time to Netherlands

Like I always do, I used the stopwatch on my iPhone to time the trip.

Lap 1 - Flying time from Sydney to Guangzhou
Lap 2 - Time spent in Guangzhou
Lap 3 - Flying time from Guangzhou to Amsterdam

The Trip to the Netherlands

After falling asleep at 3:00am I had to wake up at 5:45am. You're probably wondering, why would I go to sleep that late when I have to be up so early. It's simple, I have this theory if I don't get sufficient sleep the night before I have to board an overseas flight, I will feel terrible once I get on the plane and sleep most of the journey. So far, my theory hasn't failed me.

I had a 9:50am flight to China first up, and like most flights I have to take internationally, it was delayed, but only for 30 minutes, so it was no big deal. That delay just meant I would spend less time in Guangzhou Airport which didn't bother me at all.

Once we boarded the flight I noticed two babies were ijnmy vicinity. I thought this was going to be a problem when I heard one of them crying, but the parents were able to control their child, so I started to relax a bit. When the plane took off I got my iPad out and started to watch the South Park episodes I had recently bought off iTunes. I got through four episodes before I decided to sleep, and a good sleep it was. I slept for about five hours straight which was more than half of the entire journey. That's a win in my book. After waking up I started to watch th Fresh Prince of Bel Air season that I bought and it got quite awkward as I was laughing out loud many times. People must have thought I was crazy, but I have a bad habit of laughing in public. Once again I was getting a little tired, so I tried to sleep again, and did quit successfully as I woke up about 45 minutes before landing. Pretty epic win if you ask me.

I got off the plane and even though we didn't have to walk on the tarmac I was met by this overwhelming heat and humidity. Something I haven't experienced since Extended Spring Training last year. Needless to say, my jacket came off pretty quickly. I made my way through immigration quite quickly and walked to the international transfers gates. I was stuck in this airport for a couple of hours so I was hoping there would be restaurants or at least a fast food joint to get some food from, but nothing. There was a cafe but I was too scared to go see what they had, seeing as the menu was written in Chinese. So I found a duty free shop and bought a chocolate bar and a bottle of water. Quite an athletes diet if you ask me. After I purchased my big meal I made my way to my gate which was quit empty. I made myself at home and layed on the ground, set up my iPad and started watching some more Fresh Prince episodes. Seeing as there was no one around me, I could laugh out loud as much as I wanted.

It finally became time to board my last flight and I only watched one episode of Fresh Prince before I fell asleep. I didn't wake up for nearly 10 hours, which is quite amazing. After I woke up I just watched Moneyball on my iPad and that was it. The flight was over. Apart from the boring delay in Guangzhou it was quite an easy trip to Amsterdam.

I got my bags and met up with someone from the team who took me to my apartment in Haarlem which is 20 minutes out of Amsterdam. I'm living with one American who's had professional experience with the Cubs, so I'll talk about him a little later. So far all I have done on my first day in the Netherlands is go to the supermarket and sleep. Soon I'll be heading out to check out the town before settling in and relaxing for the night before my first game tomorrow afternoon

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Off To The Netherlands

After spending a semester at college hoping that an opportunity to play baseball would come around, it did. I am now at the end of my 1st semester and a few days ago I was offered the opportunity to go play professional baseball in the Netherlands. I couldn't accept the offer straight away because I have school exams to do.  The team, Corendon Kinheim wanted me there before June 9th and my exam was scheduled on June 15th. After speaking with my lecturers and the Dean at college, they are allowing me to take my exam early so I can accept the offer to play overseas. A similar offer to play in the Netherlands was brought to me a few weeks before this one, but I couldn't have accepted since I still had more than 3 weeks of semester to go and seeing as I had gone that far, I thought it was only right to complete my semester.

It all happened quite quickly actually. Vaughan Harris, who is a pitcher on the Sydney Blue Sox played over in the Netherlands a few years ago and his old coach came to him about a week ago asking him if he knew anyone that was interested in playing for his team Corendon Kinheim. Vaughan contacted me and obviously I was interested but had to sort out everything with college first.

I contacted the staff at my school telling them I've been given an opportunity to play baseball in the Netherlands and they were very cooperative with me in allowing me to take my exam 9 days earlier than the rest of my course. That just means I'll have to cram a whole lot of studying in, in a short amount of time.

I will take my exam on June 6th, then fly out the next day to Netherlands. It may not be the Minor Leagues, but it gives me a chance to do something I love once again on the other side of the world. Like my mum always tells me, God has a plan for all of us, and his plan has taken me all over the world to play a sport I love. I can't complain about that can I?

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Uni Games

I know I haven't posted in a while, but if you follow me on twitter you would know that I've been getting stuck into college trying to earn that degree. Now when I first started at the Australian College of Physical Education, the tutors and older students told us to get the most out of your college experience you should join in extra curricular activities. Since I've started at college I've played in the Oz Tag team and I am also in the mixed netball team to play at the University Games.

In America college sports is huge, but here in Australia its not taken as seriously. The University Games in a 5 day tournament where all the Universities come together and compete in different sporting events. We don't have a baseball team at school so I decided that I should try out for the netball team. At the tryout I didn't do too good, but I think I only got it because I was taller than most people. You're probably wondering what netball is, and the easiest explanation I can give you is that it's a bit like basketball but you can't bounce the ball or move once you have possession of the ball. It's also designed to be a women's sport but I'm playing on the mixed team with guys and girls. Today I had my first practise with the team and after quite a while I think I may finally understand some of the rules but with a little less than two months to go until we go away for the University Games, I'm pretty sure I'll know the finer points of the game.

Highlights from the ANZ Championship, the professional netball league in Australia

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Back to Petersham Oval

Anyone who has ever played baseball in Sydney will surely be familiar with Petersham Oval. Petersham Oval is sacred ground to cricket and to baseball. For those of you who didn't know, Sir Donald Bradman scored his maiden 1st class century there and walked down the same path I walk down many times to enter the field.

I joined the Petersham family back in 2007 when I was 16 years old and have nothing but good things to say about the club. I say Petersham family because it really does feel like family. When I joined I didn't know many people at the club but they welcomed me with open arms and make me feel apart of the Petersham tradition. In my first year at the club I played in what is called 3rd Grade which is essentially the 3rd division team. We won the tournament that year and ever since then, I have bled 'Tersham' blood. Although I had a minor stint with another club in the same league, Petersham will always be my true home for winter baseball.

Last weekend I decided to go watch the opening round of the Sydney Winter Baseball League and it felt special being back to Petersham Oval. I initially wasn't going to play, but when I arrived I was persuaded to strap on the cleats and throw an inning in 1st Grade. It ended up being a good inning as I struck out the inside in the 8th inning. Safe to say at the end of the game, it felt good to be wearing my number 21 Petersham jersey one more time.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

What now?

As most of you would know I was released by the Minnesota Twins in January. After being unsuccesful in my attempt to re-sign before Spring Training began I had to find something else to do with myself in the meantime. The options were find a real job, or go back to school. I chose the latter option and am now going back to school.

I am now enrolled at the Australian College of Physical Education located in Homebush where the Sydney Olympics were held. As you can probably tell by the name of the school and the location the school is very sports orientated and only offers degrees in sporting fields. I am doing a Bachelors of Health and Movement course and then do 1 more year of study after that to get my qualifications to teach in High School.

It may not be the course I wanted to go in life, but for now, I will be attending school and doing my best to complete this degree.

Playing touch football during our break, that's me far right in the making the tag.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

ABL Playoffs - Elimination Playoff vs Adelaide Bite

So after a 45 game regular season it was now time for the playoffs. Since we finished 4th in the regular season we had to travel to Adelaide for the first round of the playoffs. It was a best of 5 series, winner goes on, and the loser goes home.

Due to it being Australia Day on Thursday, we had to fly the team out on two separate days. I left with about 14 other players on Wednesday. Once again, caught the train into the airport with Joey Hage and Tyler Collins.

When we arrived in adelaide we had so much time to kill, so I decided that time was best killed in my room. I made the terrible mistake of taking a nap at 7:00pm, and I didn't wake up until 9:00pm so i was up all night. Luckily my room mate made the same mistake so we found ways to entertain ourselves like watching movies on the iPad and playing Monopoly on the iPad. We finally fell asleep around 4:00am and that means, we had an epic sleep in. I woke up about midday while Jacob woke up around 1:30pm. We were just relaxing in our room until Aaron Sookee called Jacob at 1:50pm telling us the bus to go to the field leaves in 10 minutes. So Jacob and me both jumped up and got ready, and we were downstairs in the bus with 5 minutes to spare.

Game 1
Like we always do, we gave Craig Anderson the ball and he delivered a workmans like outing going 6 2/3 innings giving up 3 runs, all of which were unearned on 5 hits. The rest of the pitching staff did an equally good job as they came in to throw 2 1/3 shutout innings. David Kandilas was the offensive star of the night. He went 1 for 4, drove in 3 runs and scored a run himself.

After the game I just went back to my room to relax and hopefully get to sleep early but once again, that plan was an epic fail. I was up to about 2:00am again. I finally fell asleep, but was woken up at 4:00am by a crazy drunk guy banging on my room door. For some strange reason I thought Jacob was outside so I was just going to get up and open the door, but the banging got more aggressive so Jacob got up and called the front desk, while I tried to talk to the drunk guy through the door trying to convince him that this wasn't his room. He thought we were telling him lies, he also thought our name was Jeremy. He came back a few times but eventually left us alone around 4:40am. It's funny what alcohol can do to people isn't it.

When I finally woke up I didn't have much time to do anything so I just had lunch and packed my stuff to get in the van to go to the field.

Game 2
We went down 8-3. We scored all our runs in the 3rd inning as Paul Mildren went the distance to record a complete game for Adelaide. I pitched from the 6th to 8th inning. I had success in my first two innings facing the minimum amount of hitters, but ran into trouble in the 8th after a few defensive miscues led to 3 runs being scored. My velocity was around 89-92mph consistently over the 3 innings so that's one positive.  Funny thing happened when I came out for my 2nd inning. The umpire behind the plate actually apologized to me for making a bad call in what would have been the 3rd strike to the Adelaide hitter. I struck him out on the very next pitch, so the bad call didn't really affect the outcome of the at at, but it was nice to know that umpires themselves, do admit to making mistakes.

I woke up quite late again, so all I did was eat lunch and get in the bus to go to the field.

Game 3
After one of our biggest offensive outbursts of the year where we scored 8 runs through the first 3 innings the rain started to come down, and it came down in a hurry. We waited for the rain to stop before we resumed play, but as soon as the rain stopped, there was a power outage and the lights at the field didn't turn back on. We waited around until about 10:00pm before we left the field, but we managed to keep ourselves entertained in the dark. Adelaide had small toy baseballs that lit up and changed colors so we thought it would be the perfect time to try and play cricket in the dark. It turned out to be a great success as both teams joined in on the fun. The bad thing about this rainout and power outage is that we would have to restart the game tomorrow with the scores tied at 0-0.

Day 4 in Adelaide was set to be a long one. A double header was on the cards and it was going to be a very humid day.

Long story short, we won both games and ended Adelaide's season just like they did to us last season. We won the back of great starting pitching as Aiden Francis took the win in game 1 throwing 8 innings giving up only 2 earned runs, while Vaughan Harris returned to his midsession form throwing 6 1/3 innings of shutout ball.

We've won 3 games, now only 5 more wins to go.

Monday, 23 January 2012

End of Regular Season Statistics

Since I'm a stat rat, I decided I had to post up my final stats of the regular season. Apart from my first outing against the Perth Heat, I feel like I had quite a successful season. I even made the top 5 in a few categories for relief pitchers. I led the league in strikeouts per 9 innings, 2nd in the league in opposing batting average, 4th in fewest walks per 9 innings and 3rd in walks/hits per 9 innings.

ABL Week 11 - vs Perth Heat

We had a crucial series against the Perth heat. It was important to win as many games as we could to ensure ourselves a play off spot.

Aiden Francis stayed at my place and we caught th train in the morning to the airport. Since we had to be at the airport at 6:45am we caught a 5:35am train. Wasn't very fun. Pretty sure I fell asleep on the train and was awoken by an old lady sneezing

I was lucky to have a spare seat next to me on the flight which was perfect so I caught up on some sleep. I slept for about 2 1/2 hours and when I woke up I started to watch the third Transformers movie, which in my opinion, is the strongest of the trilogy. A funny thing happened on the flight. Since I fell asleep before the plane took off I forgot to turn my iPhone to aero plane mode. About 10 minutes before landing I received a text message in the air. I thought it was quite funny, and the plane landed safely despite my phone not being on aero plane mode.

When we arrived at the hotel I took a nap and then went to meet up with one of my friends Rebecca. I only get to come to Perth once a year so I make sure I try and catch up with all my Perth friends.

Game 1
We went down 4-3. The game was ours to win but we made some bad mistakes at the wrong time that really hurt us. It was basic fundamental errors that ended up being the death of us in this game.

On day 2 in Perth I woke up pretty late so I just laid in bed for a while before deciding to go for a walk to the shops nearby as well as picking up some lunch.

Game 2
We came out on top 4-2 thanks to another one of our early offensive outbursts. We scored 4 runs in the top of the 1st and that was all we needed as Chris Oxspring delivered a quality start going 7 strong innings giving up only 2 runs. Tyler Collins led the offence going 3 for 4 but the big blow came from Alex Johnson in the 1st inning when he hit a bases clearing double to give us the 4-0 lead.

Day 3 in Perth I decided to be really lazy and just relax in bed watching movies. I got up once to go get lunch but as soon as I finished I was back in my room watching movies again.

Game 3
We've had plenty of heartbreaking losses during the season but this one seemed to hurt a little more seeing as we were so close to winning and clinching our postseason birth. Brad Thomas started and gave us 6 strong innings and gave up only 2 runs as he opposed another big leaguer, Virgil Vasquez who was equally impressive going 6 innings for 1 run. I came into the game in the 7th inning after our offense managed to tie the game up against Perth reliever Cameron Lamb. I went 3 innings giving up 1 hit and striking out 3. The hit I gave up was to Tim Kennelly and I can honestly say that is was the hardest ball ever hit off me. Personally, I was extremely happy with this outing because of how badly Perth beat me up when they came to Sydney at the start of the season. Tim Kennelly wasn't done with hard hitting balls as he made the final blow in the bottom of the 15th inning hitting a walk off home run to send the Perth fans home happy. During the game I noticed that were a group of softball girls cheering for us, I'm not sure if they were from Sydney but it's always nice to have a bit of support on the road. Also my friends Tenielle and Rebecca were at the game, and it was definitely nice to hear someone yell out "Go Todd!" when you're on the road.

Day 4 in Perth was quite enjoyable. Tenielle came and picked me up from the hotel and I went to her house to meet her puppy Freya, who is now my most favourite puppy of all time. After many attempts to try and get her into the pool, Freay only got her feet wet. Once we were done trying to get Freya to swim we went to pick up Rebecca before going to Hillary's Boat Harbour for lunch. It was a pretty good view for lunch, that's for sure.

Tenielle trying to get Freya into the pool

View from lunch
Game 4
Aiden Francis started and despite going 7 inning we were unable to score any runs to back him up as we were shut down by the Perth pitching staff. We went down 3-0 in what was a very frustrating game. Perth starter Warwick Saupold continued his good form and went 6 2/3 innings and didn't allow multilple base runners get on base in any inning.

Last day in Perth we were getting ready for a few possible scenarios. If results went our way and we beat Perth we would have finished the season in 2nd place and stayed in Perth for the next week. The other scenario was that results don't go our way and we end the season in 5th place and miss out on the playoffs. Luckily results did go our way and we found out we had made the playoffs before our game had begun. Now all we had to do was win to finish in 2nd place.

Game 5
Unfortunately, we didn't win and went down 7-2. We were never really in the game as Perth scored runs in the first 3 innings and our bats were kept silent once again by the Perth starting pitcher.

So, as the last week came to a close, Perth ran out with 1st place, while Melbourne finished in 2nd, only 1 game ahead of 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th place. Safe to say, it was a pretty close season and the playoffs should deliver some great baseball.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Photo of the Day

This picture comes from our series against the Canberra Cavalry. Picture was taken moments before the benches cleared, safe to say Canberra and Sydney have a pretty fierce rivalry in the ABL.

Come at me bro!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

ABL Week 10 - vs Adelaide Bite

We didn't have much of a break between the Canberra series and this one. We played our last game in Canberra on Sunday, and we were back at it on Wednesday at home to play the Adelaide Bite. After being swept by Canberra there was a 3 way tie for 3rd place. So every game from now on til the end of the season is extremely important.
Game 1
Our woes continued to haunt us as we fell 1-0. It seems as though when you're in a losing streak and we do something really good, it feels as if the other team is doing it just better. Craig Anderson bounced back well from his previous 2 outings to go 6 1/3 innings giving up only 1 run. That was the only run that the Bite needed as we weren't able to capitalize when you got runners on base. Pat Maat's hot bat remained hot as he collected another 2 base hits to stretch his hitting streak to 11 games.

On Thursday we had day 1 of Training With The Pros. Training With The Pros is a baseball clinic run by MLB and we run the young baseball players through different sets of drills. I ran the home run derby, which is a bit of fun for the kids after they do the hitting station. I just fed them soft toss as they tried to hit the long ball on a small field. The clinic finished around 3:30pm so I had time to go back home and relax before our 5:00pm report time.

Game 2
We started off a bit shaky as Adelaide scored 3 runs in the 1st, but that lead didn't last for long as we scored 7 runs in the 4th inning to take a commanding 8-3 lead. I came into the game in the 8th inning when the score was 11-7. I struck out the first hitter then got the next hitter to pop up. Unfortunately I walked my third hitter and came out of the game as Dae-Sung Koo came in to close the game. They had the radar gun working at the game today and my velo was 90-91mph, and one person said I hit 92mph, but I'll be happy with 90-91mph for now.

We had another Training With The Pros clinic before game 3 of the series but I was lucky enough to be part of the pitching station instead of the home run derby. Safe to say I know a lot more about pitching than I know about hitting home runs.

Game 3
We fell to the Bite 6-1 in game 3. Mitch Dening gave us an early lead with a solo home run in the 1st inning but that's all the damage we could do as Adelaide starter Paul Mildren went 8 strong innings. It was also Kids Day at the ball park where dozens of kids ran the bases after the game, and a lucky few played the role as announcer for a couple of innings during the game.

Game 4
Thanks to an early onslaught and some great starting pitching we ran out winners 10-3 in this game. We scored all our runs in the first 4 innings with 2 runs in the 1st inning, 5 runs in the 2nd inning which was highlighted by two run home runs by both Andrew Graham and Boss Moanaroa and then 3 runs in the 4th inning. Brad Thomas started and threw 5 shutout innings for 1 hit and 0 runs picking up his 1st win of the season.

Game 5
Thanks to some clutch hitting and a 4 for 4 day by Pat Maat we won game 5 6-4 and won the series against Adelaide to send us into 2nd place on the ladder. Tyler Collins and Jacob Younis each helped out by getting 3 hits a piece. I came onto pitch the 6th and 7th inning getting 3 strike outs and not allowing a runner get on base. My velocity was 89-91mph again so pretty happy I have been consistently getting my velo in the 90's lately.

Since it was our last regular home game of the season, all the fans were allowed to come onto the field to get autographs and take photos after the game. Most Sundays we go out into the concourse to meet the fans but this once they were allowed on the field.

Fans on the field collecting autographs

This was a huge series for us as we now head to Perth for the final round of the regular season in 2nd place 1 game ahead of the 3 teams behind us and 2 games ahead of last place Brisbane. If you thought the end of the Major League season was exciting, better prepare yourself for the last week of the Australian Baseball League.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Visit To The Hospital

One of the best things about playing professional sports, if not the best thing is being able to go out into the public and put smiles on little kids faces. Today a small group of us paid a visit to the Westmead Childrens Hospital where we met some amazing kids.

David, Kevin, Brandon, Tyler, Joey, Jacob, Michael and Me

One of the boys we met was Xavier who is one of the bravest boys I have met. He has been in hospital since June 2011 after having surgery to remove a brain tumor. He wasn't the only patient in this room as his little toy monkey named Trevor who also had surgery to remove a butt tumor. So him and his monkey were recovering together. His mum had told us he has been writing a list of all the dangerous activities when he gets out of hospital such as going fishing on a boat. We told him he should add 'attend a baseball game' to that list since at times, it can be dangerous sitting in the crowds. Even though he had been in hospital you wouldn't have known because you could still see a smile on his face.

Xavier with his toy Monkey

Another young boy we met was Justin Lee, who was one of the most talkative and definitely one of the smartest 8yr olds I have ever met. As soon as we walked in the room he was asking us questions about what we do, and what movies we like. We found out that he absolutely loves Lego and he had already built a pretty impressive Lego castle in his room. He made sure to tell us the box said that the castle he built was designed for teenagers 16yrs and over. He was so interested in us, but I think we were even more interested in him and all the fun things he had to tell us. He did make us laugh when the hospital staff member that was chaperoning us walked into the room and he looked at the little badge that she was wearing. He read what it said and then said "Oh, you're only an events manager?" and then said to our Blue Sox staff member "Are you the picture taking girl?". He was quite fun to be around and pretty sure he brightened up our day more then we brightened up his. I also think he was a little excited since today was his birthday.

Joey, Jacob, Justin, Me and Tyler

It's definitely a very rewarding experience. It puts your life into perspective and makes you think, if these kids are in here, going through hell and back to be healthy it definitely motivates me to be the best that I can be. I'm so blessed and thankful for everything God has given me in life, and all my prayers go out to these kids in hospital hoping they get well soon, and hopefully attend a Blue Sox game!

Monday, 9 January 2012

ABL Week 9 - vs Canberra Cavalry

We had to head to Canberra this week to play the Cavalry and since Canberra is pretty close to Sydney we had to take a bus down instead of flying. It was a pretty relaxing drive and took a little over 3 hours including the one stop we made. The night before we left I loaded a whole bunch of movies onto my iPad so I wouldn't get bored on the drive. I watched the Captain America movie which in my opinion, is one of the best superhero movies of all time.

When we arrived in Canberra there were thousands of people lining the streets. At first we thought it was funny that all these people were welcoming the Blue Sox into town, but they actually were lining the streets to see the cars that were apart of the Summernats which is a big car show and festival that they hold once a year. We arrived at the hotel and I was roomed with Todd Grattan, Aaron Sookee and Dae-Sung Koo. We had full cooking facilities once again so I headed off to the supermarket which was only a 10 minute walk away. I bought breakfast, lunch and dinner for 4 days so I was able to save a bit of my meal money again.

People lining the streets for Summernats, and no, they just weren't waiting at the lights

Back at the hotel I was pretty tired so I took a shower, got into my practise gear and got into bed to have a little nap. Even though it was only a 20 minute nap I felt a lot better once I woke up from it.

Game 1
We went down 7-1 in the first game of the series. At times it was a very frustrating game for us. We would hit balls hard straight to fielders, outfielders would make good catches in the gaps to rob us of base hits and we just couldn't get a really going throughout the game. Craig Anderson started and didn't have much luck against the Cavalry as they scored 6 runs in 4 1/3 innings against him. I came on and threw 2 1/3 innings of relief giving up 1 run on a solo home run in the 7th inning. The next hitter of that inning got on base by what I could only say was a controversial call. The ball was hit to Michael Lysaught in what was a routine play. He made the throw to Boss Moanaroa at 1st who had his foot planted on 1st base. After he caught the ball, his foot came off the base a little bit but the umpire saw something different and called the runner safe at 1st saying that Boss's foot was not on the base.

When I woke up on day 2 in Canberra I received some bad news that I had been released from the Minnesota Twins organisation. It just shows how cutthroat the Minor Leagues are. There wasn't much I could do about the situation so I just went on my day as usual.

Game 2
We lost this one again in a very heated game 4-2. The only offence that was provided came off the bats of Pat Maat and Michael Lysaught who both hit solo home runs. The real drama began when Brad Thomas threw a fastball in the back of right fielder Kevin Kiermaier. Like any team would, the Cavalry sent a message back and they threw a pitch over Pat Maat's head. Now when you're trying to retaliate in that situation, you don't throw at a players head. Even though you're trying to hit the batter, there is a right way to do it. Pat didn't appreciate the ball being thrown towards his head, so he retaliated in the best way possible. By disposing the next pitch thrown over the left field wall for a big home run. It was like something out of a movie, it would have mad a great script. We still lost the game, which isn't a good thing, but at least the game may have been entertaining for the fans.

Day 3 in Canberra we had a double header. Double headers are quite dreaded in this league. Playing two 9 inning games in tough on anyone. Even if you're a bullpen pitcher you have to prepare yourself to sit around for a long time.

Game 3
We couldn't get much going in this game, even though we hit the ball hard, it was always to a fielder. Brandon Barnes hit 2 home runs to take his season tally to 6 while David Kandilas and Joey Hage each got two hits a piece. Chris Oxspring started and had a tough one only getting through 5 innings giving up 6 runs, 4 of which were earned off 9 hits and 2 walks. Cavalry bats remained hot as they scored early and often putting runs up in the first 3 innings.

Game 4
We lost this one on a walk off single but we had plenty of chances to keep the Cavalry out of the game. The box score says we only made 1 error, but we definitely made close to 3 or 4. I think the scorer may have been a bit generous to the Cavalry hitters. Pat Maat hit a grand slam in the 1st inning to put us on top early and we lead the entire game up until the 8th inning when the Cavalry tied it and then lost it in the 9th.

On our last day in Canberra we had an afternoon game so we had to check out of the hotel and headed off to the field at 11:00am. When we got there it was quite cloudy and a bit of rain started to fall but it was nothing to write home about. The hitters hit in the cages which is always good news for pitchers since we don't exactly like standing around in the outfield for 40 minutes catching and chasing the balls getting hit.

Game 5
Vaughan Harris started for us and had a pretty shaky start giving up 3 runs in the 1st inning. He settled down to throw 3 scoreless innings before giving up another 2 in the 5th. Pat Maat's bat remained hot as he provided our only runs thanks to a 2 run home run in the 4th inning. I came into the game in the 6th and had one of my best outings of the year. I threw 3 innings, for 1 hit, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts and 0 runs.

The new mechanics I've been working on seemed to paid off quickly as I feel my velocity has increased and it has added a bit more bite to my breaking pitches. Just need to go back to practice on Tuesday and continue to work on making myself a better baseball player and control what I can control.

Released by the Twins

On Friday morning I was told some pretty bad news, and was that I had been released by the Minnesota Twins. It's hard to be mad or upset about it, since the Twins did give me a chance to play professional baseball again and also, I wasn't too upset because I know I gave it everything I had. I honestly don't believe I could have worked any harder than I did.

The most disappointing thing was how I found out about it. I received a text message from a friend who read on the Baseball America website that I had been released and he was sending his apologies for the finding out the news. I didn't write back to him straight away, and instead I immediately wondered whether this was true or not. I was quite puzzled so I sought out the advice from a senior player on the team and he recommended I contact me scout. So I called my scout in Australia to see what was going on. I spoke to him for about 20 seconds and he told me that I had been released and that I should have received a call from the office informing me of my release. I'm sure this situation should have been handled differently, after all, how is it I don't find out about my release before anything is posted online for the world to see?

Conversation with my friend the day I found out about my release

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

ABL Week 8 - vs Melbourne Aces

After enjoying a little Christmas break we were back at it this week against the Melbourne Aces down in Melbourne. A lot of the pitchers weren't looking forward to the trip since the Melbourne Showgrounds has been known to be a bit of a homer dome. On the other hand, the hitters couldn't wait to get out there and add some home runs to their season tally.

Once again Tyler Collins and me caught the train to the airport but this time we were accompanied by Brandon Barnes and Joey Hage who were getting ready for their first road trip of the season. After a relaxing train ride we arrived at the airport to the Qantas terminal where they had our boarding passes all there ready for us.

When we arrived in Melbourne as usual we got our vans and made our way to our hotel. I was roomed with Wayne Lundgren and Dae-Sung Koo which would be a bit different for me since I'm used to rooming with the rookie players. The time spent rooming with them was quite good as I learnt a fair bit about pitching.

After I got settled into the room a few of the boys took one of the vans to the supermarket to get groceries. Since our room had an oven and microwave I bought a pizza and a few microwaveable meals and saved myself a bit of money. Most places we go to we don't have a microwave or oven so we always have to buy fast food everyday and the cost of that tends to add up quite quickly. Once everyone got all their groceries we made our way back to the hotel in the vans and I had enough time to relax so I took a little nap.

We got to the field and went through the usual routine of stretching, batting practice and then waiting for game time. As I was walking out to the dugout I was greeted by a fan who gave me one of my baseball cards from the 2011 Minor League season. I thought it was crazy that an Australian fan had my card but it's definitely a first that a fan has presented me with my own baseball card. A moment that I won't forget.

Game 1
The offence was led by Brandon Barnes who went 3 for 5 with 2 home runs and 5 RBIs including the go ahead home run in the 9th inning. The first home run that he hit was one of the biggest home runs I have ever seen in my life. As soon as he hit it I saw the ball for its first 2 seconds in flight and then lost it, it felt like it just kept going. Joey Hage also chimed in with his 1st home run for the season which was a 2 run shot that knocked the Melbourne starter out of the game.
As always Craig Anderson started game 1 of the series and got through 5 1/3 innings of work but wasn't able to escape the dreaded home runs that get hit at the Melbourne Showgrounds. He fell victim to 5 home runs in his outing. To put into perspective how small the showgrounds really are. In his first 7 starts he had only given up 1 home run in 39 1/3 innings and that home run that he gave up was in Adelaide which is also another one of the smaller fields in the ABL.
Wayne Lundgren took over and was welcomed back throwing 2 2/3 perfect innings after spending some time on the disabled list over the last few weeks. Dae-Sung Koo came in as always and sealed the vicory with a scoreless 9th inning.

Day 2 in Melbourne I woke up really late and was still in bed close to midday. I didn't have anything to do so I went to lay by the pool for a little while which was pretty relaxing.. It was a good way to waste some time before we had to head off to the ballpark.

Game 2
We were in for a tough game today having to face Shane Lindsay who pitched in the Major Leagues this year but out hitters were up to the challenge and knocked him out of the game after 3 innings. We started our own big leaguer in this game sending Brad Thomas to the mound who threw 4 solid innings giving up only 2 runs. We won the game 15-5 and even though all the hitters contributed it was David Kandilas who stood out as he hit for the cycle. What makes that more impressive is that this is the second cycle that David hit in 2011 since he hit one during the Minor League season with the Casper Ghosts. 

After the game I was treated to dinner by Dae-Sung Koo. It was definitely one of the best dinners I have been to in a long time for two reasons. The first reason was that the food was absolutely amazing and the second was I felt like I was dining with a rock star. Koo took Chris Oxspring, Wayne Lundgren and me to a little Korean BBQ. Our waitress didn't know much about baseball but when Chris asked her if she knew who Koo was she had no idea. That is until Koo introduced himself to her and she literally took a step back and nearly fell to the ground. We asked her how she knew who Koo was if she didn't follow baseball and her explanation was "You don't know much about politics, but you know who Barrack Obama is, well in Korea if you don't much about baseball, you still know who Dae-Sung Koo is". Also a Korean couple walked passed the restaurant and as they looked through the window they recognized Koo and for lack of a better word, they freaked out. They jumped up and down before the male walked in, bowed to Koo, shook his hand walked out. Also as most of you would know Chris Oxpsring spent some time playing in Korea and as we left a group of guys recognized him and they happened to be LG Twins fans, which was the team Chris played for in Korea, and they stopped him to take photos as well before we left. It was on crazy dinner experience that's for sure.

Koo signing autographs

Our Korean feast
On our 3rd day in Melbourne we had a double header so we had no time to sleep in. We had 11:00am buses to the field and played our first game at 2:00pm

Game 3
Unfortunately our 9 game winning streak came to an end as we fell to Melbourne. We outhit the Aces 12 to 11 but we also made 5 errors which was our downfall. We lost the game 15-7 but only 6 of Melbournes runs were earned. Once again this result shows the importance of playing good defense and not allowing a team have more than 27 outs. 

Game 4
We got back on the winners list with another good, hard fought win. We took the early lead in this one scoring 2 runs in the first but Melbourne bounced back in a big way scoring 6 runs in off Aiden Francis in the 3rd. Those would be the only runs that Aiden would give up as he went on to throw 6 innings to pick up his 4th win of the year. We were able to score 3 runs in the 4th, 4 in the 6th and added an insurance run in the 9th before we sent Koo out there to save the game and preserve the victory.

After the game the entire team decided that we would stay at the hotel for new years and watch the fireworks on tv. Like good Sydney siders we are, we watched the Sydney fireworks instead of the Melbourne fireworks on TV. It was a fun night, lots of laughs were had and it was a good start to 2012. 

On our last day in Melbourne we had a 3:00pm game. Since it was New Years our Manager Kevin Boles decided to let us head to the stadium a little later, so we had 1:00pm vans to the field. I was quite excited for this game since my cousin was in town with his girlfriend and friends and they were planning on coming to the game. It's been a while since he last saw me play so it was fun to have him in the crowd.

Game 5
We lost the last game of the series 12-5. Vaughan Harris started and was really unlucky as he was unable to escape the small dimensions of the Melbourne Showgrounds and surrended 7 runs in 2 innings of work. I was brought into the game in the 3rd inning and had one of my better outings of the year. I went 4 innings, allowed 2 hits which were both home runs and struck out 6. If we played on a regulation size field one of the home runs would have been a double in the left field corner, and the other home run would have easily been run down by the left fielder. So there are a few positives I can take out of the weekend, but there is still a lot of work to do before spring training.

After the game we had to shower, get dressed and head off to the airport. Like most New South Welshman would say, the best part about Melbourne is when you get to leave.