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