Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Savannah Update...And Life As Well

"Baseball is like church. Many attend; few understand." - Leo DuRocher

We just finished our 20th game of the season last night. That means we're 1/7 of the way home for the year. Ya, it's a long season. We've managed an 11-9 record up until now and that puts us atop the southern division of the SALLY (South Atlantic) League.  We rarely do the spectacular to win games. A lot of good solid pitching efforts both by our starters and bullpen combined with typically adequate defense and timely hitting usually wins you more than you lose. At least that's the case so far with us pesky Gnats. A couple of guys are standing out on the team for their good CONSISTENT play. Wilmer Flores (ss) and Jimmy Fuller (lhp) are playing above their pay grade right now...which isn't too hard to do with what me make. They are hitting and pitching extremely well respectively, so well in fact, that they shouldn't be around much longer. However, even the Old Testament prophets couldn't foretell who goes up and who stays put, so no promises.

Life is good here in GA. The weather is mild so far and the gnats are biting...typical. It rains just enough to rinse the pollen off my car and return it from its early summer jaundice. We get home late, eat late, stay up late, and sleep late. Luckily for me, I have an amazing wife who I really enjoy spending time with and who, in return, doesn't mind twisting her schedule around to spend her time with me too. We watch a lot of TV on DVD (no cable) and she likes to cook a good bit, so we keep ourselves entertained. Ashley got a job the first day she got here (because she's awesome) working at No. Four Eleven boutique in the Design District downtown. On top of doing some great monogramming and custom sewing work there, she also has her business up and running. Buzzy Craftery is her design blog with some great ideas for fun and cost efficient craft ideas. On the blog you will also find her invitation and stationary samples that she has custom designed for people...they're really great work and in your price range. Away from the field I find myself playing some video games (ugh, it sounds terrible...but they're addictive) and trying to keep up with my friends' lives back home via Facebook and Twitter.

Most of all I'm content. I'm playing a game that I love. I'm getting paid (loosely used) for playing it. I get to spend all my free time with my best friend. I work with 30 other men my age who may very well be the funniest/most ridiculous group of men on the planet. And, though their antics can get out of hand at times, I hear some great stories from them. I don't know if I'm gonna get moved up or around this season, but I am not worried about it. God is bigger than baseball politics and his agenda runs deeper than the Mets' farm system. I'm in good hands.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Variations In The Key Of Pitching

"Show me a guy who's afraid to look bad, and I'll show you a guy you can beat every time." -Lou Brock

Despite our extraordinary egos, we as baseball players are fragile delicate specimens. We spend our whole lives playing a game where, if you're good, you'll get a hit in less than 1/3 of your plate appearances. If your team is great you'll still lose 60 games a year. And as I learned from pitching coordinator Rick Waits, the greatest pitchers of all time felt great and had their best stuff only 10-12 times out of 35 starts/yr.  We go 3 inn. with 3 runs and a bomb, and because of the teetering edge that we walk on our coaches and loved ones drone on about "it's only one game" and "hey it's just not your day today" or the worst, "Reality is, it's a game of failure." The truth is that they have to feed us this eyewash encouragement because we have to get right back out there the next day. Get back on the horse even when, figuratively, we get bucked off over 75% of the time. It's not their fault though. We have been trained to thrive on confidence. If our egos aren't fully satisfied then we have already failed. "Reality" is we have no chance. 

Well to my credit, I didn't marry one of those lemmings. She will see me after a bad game and, most of the time, just walk up to me, smile, and give me a hug. She doesn't come from a baseball background, so she doesn't understand that I "need" constant confirmation that I am the greatest. In fact, this past week she turned the tables on my completely. I came home from my first outing. Terrible outing. I mean, really bad. I expected the same smile-kiss-hug combo and a nice bed to sleep off the defeat. I got no such thing. She was sitting in the couch almost scowling at me as if i had done something wrong. She let me talk it out; you know, about why I didn't pitch well or what was wrong today. It ended with "you know, somedays you have it and some days you don''s reality". At this, she furrowed her brow and quipped "reality is not an option, Collin."

She went on to say that if reality was always an option in our minds then divorce would always be an option. I mean 50% of marriages in end in divorce, why not us? Reality cannot be an option for us. We have sunk time, effort, money, and most importantly, our desire into being the best. If reality says that we probably aren't going to be the best, that we probably won't make it, we have to look reality in the eye and say...Whatever man. I always figured that the key to pitching was having great stuff with great command and never being injured. No, the reality is that the key to pitching is taking reality out of the equation. On the day we wake up to pitch in a game there is no "my arm hurts" or "I feel tired" or "my stuff just isn't what it was the other day". We have one focus; we have to try to be the best. Anything short of going out and being as good as we are capable of being cannot be an option in our minds. This game is 70% mental, that means what we do out on the mound is less than 1/3 of the whole game. Control what you can control. Make your mind a slave to yourself. Discipline your thoughts so that you can and will be at your best most of the time. Will we fail? Maybe. But is that an option for you? Don't let it be.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Savannah Update

There is no sports event like Opening Day of baseball, the sense of beating back the forces of darkness and the National Football League. - George Vecsey

So it's been a little bit since my last post, but cut me some slack...I had to move, again. Ashley and I are now down in Savannah, GA playing for the Sand Gnats (A- affiliate for the NY Mets). We're three days into the season and we're 3-0 with two shutouts. Nice! However, anyone can read the rundown of stats, scores, etc. etc. at any of the countless blogs dedicated to, well, us. This blog is more along the lines of "tell me something I don't already know." 

Ok a couple stories...First, our apartment situation is settled. Finally. It was a three week process of searching though every available piece of real estate in/near Savannah. No one seemed interested in giving a newly married couple a cheap place to stay for 5 months, at least not in a decent area of town. Found a couple places, but was deterred by the phrase "there haven't been that many muggings here." Needless to say we were willing to pay a little more, take on a roommate, and thus maintain our security (so far). 

Opening night, baseball aside, was an absolute CIRCUS! They call it Thirsty Thursday, I call it a frat party loosely centered around a ball game. By the second rain delay I'm guessing 80% of the crowd was incapable of walking the first baseline. This includes the two mouth-breathers who openly encouraged my wife to flash me in the middle of our conversation. The night was unlike anything I've experienced thus far in pro-ball, but I didn't hate it. My wife, however, had a different viewpoint and thus a different opinion. She has gotten the cold shoulder from just about everybody involved in this move. Apartment management, furniture company, ticket booth attendant, and abrasive inebriated southerners. She's a trooper though and she's ridiculously talented, which has made getting a job a pretty simple journey for her. She starts monday at a custom monograming and sewing shop...badass, i know. 

So I pitch tomorrow in our first afternoon game, and I get the opportunity to start the season with a four game sweep of the West Virginia Power. And I'm sorry to say other affiliates, but we have the best starting rotation in the system. Mando, Jimmy, Mark, B-Mo, Gorski, Whit, and myself. Call it friendly competition, but we all want to win more games than the next guy. "As iron sharpens iron..." you know how it goes. 

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Life of a Minor Leaguer: What We Eat

So we're making our way towards the last couple days of Spring Training and I thought it was important (more like just interesting) to examine what kind of eating habits we as baseball players have formed. Coming off an offseason where I got married and thus ate better that I have in the previous 4 (single) years, I wasn't sure what to expect. I thought that the 10 pounds I gained from Ashley's chicken souvlaki, brick fried chicken, and other great chicken dishes would simply melt away in the heat of Florida...that was not to be.

The Mets take great pride in their emphasis on nutrition. They provide us all of the right foods we need to stay healthy. They cannot, however, regulate the combination of foods we choose to eat. As you see in the photo here, the Mets have roast beef, potatoes, some sort of rice and beans, and vegetables...good food right? Apparently, not unless you smother it in Ketchup (not catsup, ugh).

Breakfast, lunch, late lunch, early dinner, dinner. Sometimes I feel like all I do is eat and play ball. Tough life. We get our dinner catered at the hotel 6 days a week. Creative Catering is responsible for our meals and they typically do an outstanding job. see Alonzo Harris for confirmation.

Anyway, as much as I try to eat right and stay fit, I have my flaws. I hold Coca-Cola personally responsible...with the help of Hot Tamales. Some guys drink protein shakes, I drink soda. Who are we kidding, I'm a pitcher.