Hollands strangest holiday

You might want to read before checking out the pictures, they'll make a whole lot more sense then.
Business of a town core during the day.
The garage sales... this x 98723498. On every square inch of sidewalk space in the city.
The orange getup's are freakin sweet.


Alright, so Holland celebrates their Queen Beatrix, that's cool, but the way they go about this, is just so wierd to us. Today is Queensday, meaning that everyone is pretty much required to wear some sort of orange, most dutchies own a bunch of random orange stuff like massive clown hats, rediculous glasses, and very very very flashy orange pants and shirts.

If we we're to head 5 minutes away to downtown Rotterdam, we would see the equivallent to the biggest garage sale in the history of mankind. Queensday is the only day of the year dutchies can sell anything on the streets without needing a permit. This means that many many families stuff their little cars full of their 2nd hand crap, drive it to the city, claim a spot on the sideway, and park all their stuff on the curb. I remember walking around downtown last year the evening after this massive garage sale took place, and downtown was a freaking mess, crap everywhere. Bums here and there rummagging for whatever they can (probably their favorite day of the year). I think it's a good idea, the only shitty part about this for the sellers, buyers and bums, is that it's raining today.

Another characteristic of today is that everyone gets hammerred, and early. Shorty and I have both been warned by fellow teammates to stay out of the core of the city tonight, because the soccer hooligans, drunk college people, and just plain smashed people come out. This isn't the first time we have been around a situation like this though. We went to University together in the St. Patricks day capital of southern USA in Savannah, ga. We experienced the whole downtown core being closed and it being legal to roam the streets with a beer or two in hand, as long as you're wearing green.

Needless to say, we're chilling at the apartment today. The plan is to do some running at the field this afternoon, throw a bit with one another, then rent a movie or two, and spend the night listening to the crazy drunk people walking down our street outside. Should be relaxing.


Stumping Sparta

Kinheim was on my mind last week, and this week it's Sparta. We play them thursday, saturday and sunday, and saturday should be my game. Leading up to the game I go through the week putting myself of the mound (mentally) and seeing myself winning, improving weekly, throwing how and what I want when I want.
Pitching can play games with the pitcher. It's easy to lose focus during a game, and psych yourself out before it even begins. I like to think I've pitched enough, and gone through every mental state possible on the mound to learn from my mistakes.
I really look forward to the weekend, getting back into the pre-game rituals, and being and playing baseball, the greatest sport in the world.
If you're a baseball fan, you know that baseball players are known for being quite superstitious. I'll go through some normal and rediculous rituals.
Friday evening Shorty and I walk down the street and pick up the same delicious Chinese food from the same place. We eat half, save half for breakfast on saturday morning (gameday normally). Gameday morning shower, and fruit drink. Warm up with the team (most starting pitchers go on their own schedules when they are pitching, but I like to keep the team player mentally). Then, game time.




Rainouts blow. There's one thing for the game to actually be rained out (rain all day, and during warmup and pregame), and there's another thing for the game to be literally rained out 3 hours before the game is scheduled to start. We have about 5-10 people who are there to fix our field, and dry it up, and today before our game they weren't doing jack-shit. We could have played today, no doubt, it was an unnecessary rainout to me.

No loss to me though, we are slated to play this team 3 games this weekend, including tuesday now. Saturday is my start day, and this just means that Bergman (their #1 starter (also a national team pitcher)) will face me this weekend, should be a few good games.

Can't wait.

Also, I haven't been completely on my game the past 2 weekends, so I'm planning on getting back to my roots, and re-establish the "pitch perfect" mentality (hit every location when I'm pitching) into my gameplan.

I will be facing the best offensive baseball team in Europe this weekend... my time to shine, fuck rainouts.


Saturday, April 19

Sorry they are so small, freakin webpage won't let me save these pics at a larger size.

Today was a better saturday than last. We won, I pitched, the team performed gracefully, and well enough to donate me with the WIN. A stat that is for some reason very important to statisticians, but very very unimportant to the pitcher who deliver them. Why must we throw 5 innings, and be ahead when we come out of the game just to recieve this WIN? Don't you think it would be more important to these statisticians for us pitchers to keep the opponents to no runs or as few as possible, wouldn't that be a more important stat?? I wonder... Anyways, I got a win this weekend, 6 innings, we won 3-1 versus one of the better teams in our league, so it's quite satisfying for myself. Also, the satisfaction is built up from last weekend, when I threw 4 innings (up by 14) and didn't recieve the statisticians stat, the WIN.

Whatever, we won, and that's all that should really matter. Despite that, my line= 6 innings, 80 pitches, 6 hits (all singles), 1 bb, 3 k's, 1 earned run. Hopefully my roommate/teammate can produce tomorrow on the mound, he's our #2, but can easily be our #1, he's a badass lefty, who throws cheese, and has been to triple A with the blue Jays and Cardinals.

Anywho, we are now tied with the scrappy, piece of sh*t pioneers for top spot in the league, and we don't play them for a while either, oh well, let's just destroy all the little guys while we can.


Anticipation of the tulips

Today Shorty and I are heading out to see the world famous dutch Tulips fields at Keukenhof, Lisse. We're heading out in about 30 mins to drive for an hour to walk for 4. From what we've heard, and read, this is supposedly the nicest time of the year to see them (right in the middle of the 2 month long open period of the park) and the main tulips are blooming right now.

Also, this week they have a tulip tribute to the Olympics, so we might check that out, if we can find it. The park looks huge online, you can take all these bike tours through it, and one of them is 26 km long! We're not walking that effing far, or won't have anything left for practice tonight.

Shorty loves flowers. Simple as that, we walked throught the market here on tuesday and they have whole rows of vendors just with flowers, and that always takes longer then the cheese of bread or fruit rows for sure. Since we've been back here in holland, our vase hasn't been empty, we are on bouquet number 4, filles with light pink roses and crazy pink and white daisies, We're going with green, black, and blue next time... a manlier bouquet.

Dogs are allowed in certain areas of the park... Come on Roo!!


The weekends games

Saturday was my game. The coaches normally tell us tuesday whose going to be starting and relieving pitchers for the upcoming weekends games, and since I started pitching for Neptunus last year it seems I have been starting the saturday games thus far. this saturday was very bitter-sweet. Don't get me wrong, I am happy and pumped that we won, 15-1, but... well there's this thing. Baseball is a game of stats. Starting pitchers go for wins, closing pitchers go for saves. My offence did a great job and got me a 13-0 lead by the 4th inning, awesome, no complaints, but my coach figured he may as well same my arm, and I was nearing my pitch count limit, so he took me out after 4 complete innings.
In baseball, you need to throw 5 complete innings to receive a Win, which is a very important stat. No I didn't give up any runs, and yeah we won by 14 runs, but damn, I wanted that win so bad. A good friend and current teammate of mine who started today (we won 5-3) was making sure I knew how bad I was being screwed by being taken out, and how at the end of the year, likely this this non-win will come back to haunt me in the race for pitcher of the year in our league. Last year I missed 4 starts in june due to a back injury and that cost me the pitching title, but despite missing that time I was still one of the top 3 in pitching for the top league in europe, and that makes me very proud.

My team has come out of the gates hot, just as we did last year (starting 11-0 last year will be hard to duplicate), let's hope we keep it up... after 2 games there is a 3 way tie for first in the league. Our owner is also planning on getting another pitcher from north america in the next couple of weeks, we'll see what we get.

So far so good.


Suprising accolades

We had a press conference tonight before our practice. I was just expecting the same as last year, meet the boosters (old fella's who pay the bills) and the sponsors, mingle some, inhale lots of second hand smoke and old-man-beer-breath. Then, out of nowhere our teammanager starts talking in english, with all dutch people around, that only meant one thing, it was directed at me. So he went on a bit about stats and passports and Netherlands team and whatnot, and then presented me with an award, Leon Boyd Best pitcher of Neptunus 2007 for my club, a very neat suprise, and totally unexpected. After me, my catcher got the MVP award of the team. He had an unbelievable breakout season, and was runner up for the league MVP award, and a truly genuinely awesome guy to boot. Nice everning with a good practice and nice bullpen after also.

Living life in the Hood

So there was a shooting on our block today. Kind of funny, because it didn't suprise either Shorty or I to find this news out. We were biking back from the gym to a police taped off block. Swat teams here and there with shields and guns and door-smasher-open things.

We live in the very nice city of Rotterdam, but in a more.... Turkish/Morrocan neighborhood where we are definetely the minority. It's sometimes sketchy walking to the store with suspicious groups of these guys here and there, but they normally keep to themselves in their loud, slick-haried, soccer loving, praise allah-ing ways. No offence meant.

Anywho, I guess we need to get out and get some bullitproof vests.


Random drug tests

I've gone through 4 years of collegiate baseball, and 3 years now of semi/professional baseball. Every single year we are told about how there will be random drug tests, so be prepared, stay clean, do what you need to do to be ready to be in peak health to play. I've always been completely clean for these periods, no problems, and strangely, no tests, ever. I've played in 3 world class level baseball tournaments where after every single game 2 players from each team have to pee... me, never. Luck of the draw I guess.

Yesterday was my first test. I was kinda excited. I'd imagined and heard all the rumors of what it was like behind those closed doors, and finally got to experience it. First off a few weeks back all the national team players had to go online and putdown, in a rediculously frustrating adobe format, where we will be every single day for the next 3 months. The guy came not only for me, but our centerfielder also to our practice. It's not really a big deal to me that some guy had to watch me (literally) pee into a cup, seal it, pour it out into 2 separate sealed glasses and a bunch of other stuff that by law he cannot aid with.
It was professionally run, but still quite strange. Oh and I'm clean so there's nothing to worry about.

The other shitty part is that I pee'd about 5 minutes before I found out it was my day to pee, so I had to make the guy wait until about halfway through practice and I literally drank 2+ liters of water in 35 minutes. I had to go so bad when I got in there to go I could have filled up about 20 of those little cups.

Sorry, there's no picture to add to this one.


Soduku and a weekend of rain, baseball and softball

Recently, Shorty and I have been really getting addicted to this game called soduku. For those of you who don't know what it is... Imagine a crossword, for numbers, where you get few hints, and need to find many many numbers to fill holes in the game. We bought a book of soduku games last week, and shorty's finshed about 1/2 of them already, I've done 4 or something, I prefer the tv or a good solid issue of men's health.

Baseball. I love it. And don't mind rain, but when rain decides to pop it's head out when I'm supposed to play, I wish it would never rain, snow or storm ever again in the history of the world. If I'm in line to pitch, I get myself mentally ready, and go through all my rituals (future blog topic) in the day leading up to pitching, so I want to freakin pitch when I am told I would.

This brings us to yesterday. Game time 10:30 am (effing early, but it was a tournament, so I expected it), we wake up....rain. drive to the field, rain, sit inthe cantine with the team looking at the soaked field, rain. "No chance" I say. Someone in the front office goes online and see's that there's potential for a break in the rain for a couple hours, so instead of cancelling the tournament like all the others in Holland we're this weekend, we wait it out. 3 hours later they tell us we are about to play. I'm in uniform, and have to be told to go warm up because we are playing in about 10 mins. Anywho, game went well, we won 5-1, I went 3 innings, struck out 3, gave up 2 hits, and 2 walks to one of the better hitting teams in the Europe, the Amsterdam Pirates.

Oh yea, we won our next 2 games, by the scores of 2-1 and 2-1, so we are the winners of our little tourny, for the 5th straight year.

Shorty played softball today, she went 5-7 with a few RBI's, and they won 2 games and tied one, woohoo. Also, this past week her reputation has spread and grown throughout the dutch softball league as the american who tags girls on the head and makes them cry. HAHahaha... I laugh at this, because she told me the whole story from last weekend. Some girl got in a rundown and ended up sliding into 3rd with a helmet which was previously split down the side. Well she went in head first, and her helmet came down and pretty much stabbed her in the eye at the same time Shorty applied a tag, so everyone thiks she smoked the back of her head. Whatever.

Time to chill for a day, send out our wedding gift thank you's, go to the gym, and spend tons of time with my wife, I think it's starting to settle in, we're married!