Release Story + Baseball Update...

We're stacked.

I've been back in Rotterdam, NL for the past 6 weeks getting back into the swing of things with my club Door Neptunus. For those of you who don't know about European baseball, every country has a league, all have different names, and Holland and Italy are the top 2 baseball caliber wise. This is my 3rd season playing for Door Neptunus in the Dutch 'Hoofdklasse' out of the past 4 years.

This year, like I said, we are stacked. Tons of talent, and so far, we're putting it to use. 3 of our 4 outfielders are on the national team, 4 of our 6 infielders are, and 3 of 4 starting pitchers are (the other is on the Australian national team). Oh, and our main catcher had to retire from the Oranje (national team) because of work issues. So, yeah... we have kicked off this season at a 16-1 mark so far. We have played well, played hard, had to battle for a few wins, but most of all have played good, fun baseball.

I don't think I've bloged about my release, but it wasn't anything special. Here's the story in a nutshell. There were a couple reasons why the Jays came to their decision to release me. First off, something I didn't see coming even though I knew it was going happen, happened. When the Jays traded Roy Halladay, their ace for the past 10 years, they didn't get a big league pitcher in return, only a couple minor league hitters and a minor league pitcher. Because he left, the starting rotation for the Jays was very weak, so they ended up signing about 20 triple-A caliber pitchers, and a few big league guys too, which is the part I didn't see coming. When those guys don't make the big league team out of spring training, they get shuffled down the system, as do all the pitchers below them because of that. I was in the unfortunate spot in double-A where there were 3-4 higher end bullpen prospects coming up from single-A, forming a bit of a pinch of the non-prospect double-A guys. It's kind of hard to explain, but teams take care of guys they have money invested in, and I wasn't one of those guys, after signing for 0$ just to get my shot. They have released all the guys that I was in the bullpen with last year now, except a couple of the prospects who came up later in the season. On the other hand, my walk total hurt me too. Throwing submarine wasn't my cup of tea, I could do it, but struggled mightily to hit the zone every time. My ERA wasn't bad for the minors, but again, my walk total hurt that. I gave up an average of 1 hit per inning which is, decent, and my strikeout total was decent, but I was in there to get groundballs, and I knew that. Well I guess that wasn't really in a nutshell, but it's a bit of a intricate story I guess.

It's all good though, I am happy to be where I'm at now, having fun with the boys back here, and I get the opportunity to play in 3 tournaments this summer and fall with the national team which is important to me.

this weekend we play Ado, a team from Den Haag, or 'the Hague', and I have the start on Sunday. Should be a good weekend, but we gotta come out ready!


A sister's artfulness and awesomeness....

If you're a fan of abstract pictures, art and or anyone in my family.... check my sister's blogsite out. She takes, sometimes messes with, abstracts, and then posts all kinds of pictures.

From beautiful colourful flowers, to black and white animals, to cartoonish versions of old pictures to pictures taken through a dirty window while driving... It's all art, and I find it quite interesting and beautiful. This isn't a pitch to sell her stuff, but, she does, and it's good stuff. She has an ETSY page (what's ETSY? Wikipedia explanation) where you're able to buy all sizes of prints, cards, and even matte prints.

Just have a look at her blog to see what I'm talking about, no purchase necessary.


Sightseeing Rotterdam without the plane ticket...

A couple of days ago I had the chance to just go out and bike around some. The gym was closed for the 5th of May (I think because of the nationial war memorial), so I took the afternoon to discover some more of what the modern yet partially old style dutch city of Rotterdam had to see. I took about 50 pics, and here are the best with some words to go along with them...

I can see this cleat hitch (the thing the boats tie up to when docking). You can see the Euromast in the right back ground...

The Erasmus Bridge (Easmusbrug)... and the KPN telephone company building with is pretty much directly across from my building. Quite the unique tilted building.

From the bottom...

About 1 boat looking like this passes in the river right outside my window every minute. They are packed with sand. The Netherlands (Holland) is 35% reclaimed (man made) land, and they build this land with something... zand (sand).

Cleat hitch #22... used and abused over time. It's just down the way from where I live.

This place has THE best ribs I've ever had. 18 Euro, all you can eat... simple, and delicious. oh, and this one is about a 4 minute walk from my place, dangerous.

Old dutch buildings and new buildings on Whilhelminaplein (see lower about Wilhelminaplein).

Across the water... some kind of industry with a solid dutch mural on the water.

Every 2 years Rotterdam hosts an international baseball tourney called "The World Port Tournament". Rotterdam is known for the having the biggest port on the west coast of Europe... I can see all these cranes from my window.

Wilhelminaplein... it's the little sort of spit/island (see "where I live" above). I had to take a pic of this and post it because, Wilhelmina is my mom's actual first name. The tree pot in the pic says Wilhelminapier, taken at the end of the spit. I don't know what exactly her and this area have in common, but she was most likely named after it since she is from 15 minutes from here, and now I live here so, yeah!

This picture is for my sister. She would love the area right next to my apartment. This old warehouse is actually connected to my building... and it looks likes it's been closed and shut down for the past 40 years. Check out my sister's blog by clicking the link above to see what kind of artwork she makes... amazing.

One of the main Rotterdam bridges.

Pic taken from the midpoint of the Erasmus bridge, towards downtown.

My gym. It's about 6 km's (4 miles) from my place. It doesn't look like much from the outside, but inside is a very private, but fully equiped gym, where strength and conditioning coach Hans Kroon kicks my ass. Google his name and you'll find some pics of him, he's absolutely jacked, and about 50.

There are a couple of these around Rotterdam. Full-on store quality vending machines. They have fresh bread, some even sell bottles of liquor. Milk, pudding, yogurt... something you'll never find in north america.

This one is for Shorty. We are big fans of 'Meer Coots', these birds, which are found all over the place in Holland. These two are a couple, and the one on the top is just leaping off the little dam-ish thing they made. They are priceless, and vicious!

A very dutch looking area, the boat in the middle is a terrace for a little cafe. I bike past this area every day on the way to Neptunus.

If I panned to the left just a bit you'd see the above picture's terrace boat. This is a canal that is designed just for working boats to get from Rotterdam to Den Haag (The Hague) and the ocean, about 20 minutes away by car, about 50 by bike, and I have no idea how long for boats, probably 2-3 hours, they crawl. Looks kind of like Venice, but at the far right you can see the red bike path a travel regularly.

This one is for my folks, they should recognize the music making... I don't even know what it's called. Some guy pulled this thing in, and it's like a mini-show with very loud dutch music blasting the whole time. You can see only about 5 people taking it it in front of the war museum. Shorty and I also got to take in one of these... things at Keukenhof.

Swan on a suicide mission. Haha, naw, I saw him doing a little tap dance right before I took the picture. My dad (who happens to be a research scientist, with a focus on birds) taught me a thing or two in the past about some birds. So, I understood what the swan was doing with his little tap dance. He was pounding the mud below him trying to get any worms, or food to be visible so he could chow down on it when he dug his head into the water,

It wouldn't be a complete photo album of any part of Holland without a bevy of bikes somewhere. I see this everywhere.

Do you see the red arrow in the middle of the picture? Yeah, well that me working with microsoft paint and a picture at the same time, for the first time. That's where I live. You can see the KPN building just to the left, the two massive construction cranes just to the right (which pound poles into the ground so freaking loud from 7:30 am until 6:30 pm) to the right. Middle of the pic far right is where Gaucho's (see above) is. And you can see the bike path to the left of the pic.

That's it for Rotterdam, hope you enjoyed a small peak into what I get to see everyday. There is so much more, but I didn't want to stop on my bike that often.
Tomorrow is gameday, I'm starting against the Amsterdam Pirates for my second start of the year, I'm pumped and ready.
Til' soon.

In-game action...

A couple weeks ago on a clear Thursday evening game I did the unthinkable. I took pictures from the dugout during a game. Actually, I've done this a lot in the past couple years, just trying to capture memories I know I'll want to be able to re-live through pictures. So, I popped outside the dugout in the 5th and shot a couple quick hidden cam style pictures. Of course taken without a flash, to ensure I didn't bring any attention to my baseball etiquette breaking move. Well, I took a couple shots and, you can obviously tell I'm no pro at this photography stuff (even though I took it as an elective in high school), but better than nothing I guess!

If you're willing to search a bit, find some albums with either Neptunus or the national team games, you might find some good pics. And who knows, you might pickup a little dutch on the way ;) Here are 4 photographers who frequent the dutch league games, the top two being mainly Neptunus.
Rob Jelsma
Eye of the Tiger
Alfred Cop

The dugout. There is very good chemistry on our team. Even though, yes, the Antillians sit on the left side... it's because talking in Papiamento (official Carribean islands language (Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire)) is easier for them. It doesn't matter though... as usual there are 3 languages spoken regularly in the dugout. Our coaches have our team meetings in english for Our Austalian pitcher and somewhat myself, even though I can follow the Dutch.

Just a little peak at the scoreboard and back drop. For north americans, on the bottom line on the lit up scoreboard the have P: BBFS... they track the pitches. B=Ball, F=Foul, S=Strike, I=In play... it's a dutch thing.

Oh, uhh... they were giving away invisible syrum at the gates.

If it's clear, we get some beautiful sunsets at our night games.


News and my new flat (dutch apt)..

So I've settled into my new pad. I've thrown up a couple shots I just took from the inside of my 2 bedroom apartment here on the south side of Rotterdam. The past week has been good, I was awarded my first start this past saturday due to a slight injury to Diegomar Markwell, who tweaked his hamstring in his previous start. This next weekend is shaping up to possibly give me my second start of the year, only because of a rainout yesterday, and today. The makeup game for yesterdays rainout was cancelled before I even had a chance to get to the field to catch the team bus today. That means Kevin Heijstek (no link available for him) who was supposed to start yesterday, will be likely pushed to the next available start, being our next game on thursday. This makes his almost guarenteed (we don't find out until tuesday practice) next sunday start less and less likely, throwing in the need of another starter. We'll see.

Life's been going. I chat with my wonderful wife via a 'pay as you go' cell phone, which ends up costing a lot, but skype isn't possible for us, so we do what we can with what is available. Her first season of coaching just wrapped up, it was a struggle to win games, they lost 12 1 run games, which is always frustrating. But, as I expect from Shorty, she was satistfied when the girls played hard and gave maximum effort, which unfortunately seemed to be the case less often than more. Either way, she's going to wrap up the last couple weeks of school now, get her A's, then drive home, and fly out here in less that 3 weeks.

My good friend Zach Dials, who was my room mate at home and on the road in both single A and double A was recently also released by the Blue Jays. But, I am happy to report he has been signed by the Washington Nationals and will report to their High A team in Potomac in the next week. He's easily one of the best guys I've ever met, and has good stuff too. 91-95 sinker, cutter in the upper 80's, and a devastating slider... oh year, his changeup is a plus pitch too.

Well here's the couple pictures I promised.

A picture from my last game, and my first start of the year. I got into the 8th inning without giving up a hit, then got touched for a broken bat single with 1 out. Oh well... I felt great, and it was so comfortable to be back in a starting role, even know it doesn't seem permanent.

It's not an optical illusion, my kitchen gets smaller all the way to the balcony. I'm on the 4th floor, so the view is pretty solid. See the previous post.

Tonights dinner. In dutch - Kipfilet blokjes, met pinda saus, en a kleine groene salad'je. In english - Chicken pieces with peanut sauce, and a small green salad.

My awesomely plain shower room, I would show you the WC (toilet) which is in another room, but I will save you the sheer awesomeness.

I'm a big fan of condiments... and these 3 are used regularly. Don't worry, the knoflook sauce (garlic sauce, the closest thing to ranch in Holland) isn't opened yet, it'll be in the fridge once cracked, no worries.