Archive for May, 2007

Trying to keep up

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

The observant reader probably noticed that the dates of the blog postings have been changed.  Thats because my webmaster cleaned out the spam and ‘comments’ left by the adult advertisers.  However, in doing this… the comment section has been shut off because I simply do not have the time to monitor this daily and remove the things that need to be removed on a regular basis.  So I will post when I can and not have to worry about the advertisements for things that would make even Quentin Tarantino blush!

Having said all that, my 2007 officially started this past weekend in San Antonio.  I played for a local team called the Titans and we won the tournament.  I pitched 4 games and I’m sore in parts of my body that I didn’t even know existed.   Still, it was good to kick the rust off and get ready.  Thankfully, my back held up so far and I’m healthy.  Knock on wood.

Blogging again

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged here but, I think it’s time to start again. I’ll do my best to keep it more current but no promises. I’m amazed at the spam this blog generated in the comments. There were some very interesting websites and advertisements!!!!! It’s amazing that people actually take time to send their spam via email and message boards. I mean, do they really think they need to advertise some of these websites? I just can’t see looking at their ad and thinking “Yea, I’ve always wanted to know about that part of the pornography industry”. It just seems to me that people either want to see that stuff or they don’t. I’m not sure how advertising helps with that!

I’m thinking about making a “question” section on here for people to email questions that I can answer via the blog. It’s amazing how many of the same or similar questions I get from various people. Maybe I can just do a mass answer with everyone. Email questions to me and I’ll do my best to answer them.

crocodile tears

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

No, the title isn’t about the late Crocodile hunter.   Sure, that’s a sad story but, what can you expect?  How many times can you tease the Grim Reaper before he gets tired of the game?  I mean, eventually someone loses at Russian Roulet… it’s only a matter of time.

No, my crocodile tears are about the end of the 2006 season.  It’s past Labor Day now and time to concentrate on my fantasy football team and Pittsburgh Steelers.  About this time last year, I was glued to the TV every night with hopes of a Cleveland Indians victory but, I’ve given up that pipedream this year.

The ‘06 season was tough, on many fronts.  My team underachieved for our abilities, and that climaxed at the World tournament through my own bad pitching.   My worst fear became reality: I wouldn’t be ready for the World’s after taking the most crucial part of the year off with my back injury.   I absolutely was NOT in pain while pitching at the end, just didn’t have myself where I needed to be in order to give my team my best. So, it’s not exactly breaking my heart to see the season end.   Having said that, I’m not looking forward to month after month without games.   Doing lessons and clinics all winter keeps my heart and mind on the game but, it doesn’t do anything for the competitive spirit.

I did get asked to head back to New Zealand for the winter season, October to March.  Do you have any idea how tempting that is?   I haven’t been down under for softball in 6 years and it’d be wonderful to see my old friends again.  Not to mention, avoiding winter and playing softball.   But, sadly that little thing called “Life” is in the way from doing that.  I only wished I could’ve appreciated it more when I was carefree going between USA and New Zealand, staying in summer, playing ball, and having the time of my life. I thought it would never end.   “Youth is wasted on the young”.

Instead, I’ll spend all winter thinking about what could’ve been in ‘06 and try to keep myself busy.  With clinics planned from Hawaii to the Virgin Islands already this winter, I guess life isn’t so bad.   Just remind me not to pet the sting rays when I’m swimming.

All too human

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

This time of year is depressing for me.   With only 2 weeks to go, the season is almost over.  I’m scheduled to finish the year over Labor Day weekend in Decatur Illiniois.   Then, it’s a long winter of snow, ice, and waiting until next year.   At the end of last year, I was upset because I had an amazing performance at the World Tournament.  While I was happy with myself and what I had accomplished, it always leaves a bitter taste when we lose games.  So, it was a long winter thinking about how well I had pitched and thinking how much we COULD have won with some timely hitting.   But, last year is nothing compared to what lies ahead this year…. a winter of thinking about a BAD World tournament performance.   If I thought it was tough thinking about a good performance all winter, this off season will be a nightmare.

In my first start of the tournament, I felt like I had picked up right where I left off last year.  I had all 3 pitches (rise, drop and change up) going with pinpoint control and a lot of velocity.  Basically, I felt great.   We won the game easily and the other team had only 1 baserunner… a bunt single in the 4th inning.   I think that was my 8th career 1 hitter at the World Tournament… I always seem to give up one.  Oh well.   Anyways, I felt great and was ready to take on the next team the following day.

When the next day came, it became one of those where I wished I hadn’t gotten out of bed.  Absolutely NOTHING I threw had any movement and I didn’t feel like I had 1/2 of the velocity from the previous day.  Bang, bang, bang… 3 Homeruns in the first 2 innings had my team down 4-0.  I was then taken out of the game.  Then, to make matters worse… my team came back and scored 4 runs later.  We ended up losing the game rather badly but, I lamented that night about how I never seemed to get run support then, when I do get it… I can’t hold the other team down.  That was a bitter pill to swallow!    That loss put us into another game the same night vs. Czech Republic National team.   I started that game again and felt like a whole new person from earlier in the day.  I had snap on all the pitches and they were moving away from their bats with ease.   Taking a 5-0 lead into the 5th inning with a lot of K’s…. the wheels came off.   All of the sudden, no matter what I did.. everything I pitched was hit.  I mean EVERYTHING.   It wasn’t as though they were hitting screamers off the fence or Homeruns out of the park.. they were just simple basehits.  We had the odd error and walk thrown in too but… the bottomline was, what I had in the first 5 innings left very quickly.   Once again, given a lead I could not hold.   That loss knocked us out of the tournament.   I almost had to call Dr. Phil to get some mental health advice.

I still had a pretty good year, all things considered.  Despite battling through my back injury I threw well.   I don’t know my stats but, I’m sure my ERA was quite low and I had more wins than losses but, none of that matters right now.  I’m sure I could find 100 excuses for my performance; back injury, umpires, etc. But none of that would be true.  I simply didn’t do the job I was supposed to do… hold the other team down to 1 less run than we score.

About the only thing keeping my sanity in all of this was after the games, regardless of if I pitched my best game or worst game of the tournament… Alexander would come running into the dugout yelling “Hi Da Da” and give me a big hug when the game was over.   He couldn’t care less if I pitched well or not… he wanted to run, play and have fun.  It kind of makes me feel silly about being depressed over a softball game when there is so much more that is REALLY important.

The crown jewel of softball

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

Before I blog on the topic at hand, I just want to acknowledge my bewilderment at the comments I get on this blog.  Whenever a comment is posted, it is actually emailed to me.  I read them all and let them stand on the site for EVERYONE to read.  But, more and more I’m getting spam on there.  SPAM!  It’s not bad enough they fill our inbox with emails?   Someone actually takes the time to comment on this stupid blog with a spam ad?   Moreover, I’m getting an increasing number of “Clinic Requests” which are nothing more than Viagra ads.   It’s incredible that someone is actually doing this.

It’s Thursday Aug 10.  That means tomorrow starts the crown jewel of men’s fastpitch softball, The ISC World Tournament.  ISC stands for International Softball Congress.  And for men’s fastpitch, this is more important than anything else.

The ISC tournament is a club tournament for club teams.  30 teams from across North America and 2 from outside North America compete.  The US based club teams are full of international players, virutal all star teams from National team players worldwide.  The #1 ranked team in the world is from Wisconsin, and I believe they have 3 Americans on their entire roster.  That’s not a misprint.. 3.  The rest are from New Zealand, Canada, Australia, and Argentina.  The core group are New Zealanders and this team is arguabley the best ever assembled in men’s softball history.   US club teams like this require sponsorship of anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 a million dollars per year.   And, there are about 5 teams in this category… then there’s everyone else.   Similar to how the #1 complaint of baseball is.. big market teams are the only ones playing in October.. it’s the same on the final day of the ISC.   It virtually always comes down to the same 5 teams in all the major invitationals and world championship.

This promotes 2 types of teams:  those that want the challenge of playing the best, and those that are disgusted by the structure of it and refuse to participate.   No matter what, there is always going to be a dominant team.   I would never say that my team stands NO chance against this team because you never know.  I just pitched (and lost) a 2-1 heartbreaker to the world’s #2 ranked team last week.  Anything can happen, especially at tournament time.   But, it’s very rare that the cream doesn’t rise to the top in the end.   These teams are like machines and are built for winning.   While I can hold my team in a game against anyone, the reality is we don’t have the firepower to score runs against these top guns.

This year is the 60th anniversary of the ISC World tournament, and it’s being held in Kitchener Ontario.  As I said, for men’s fastpitch fans, players and teams… this is the equal to the Women’s World Cup, ISF World tournament and Olympics rolled into one.  In fact, some players actually turn down opportunities to play for their National teams because certain events conflict with the ISC world tournament.   That’s not a misprint.. sometimes Canada and USA go to the Pan Am games WITHOUT their top men’s players because the ISC takes priority.

I can only hope to keep my team in games and have a good showing.  We are shooting for a top 10 finish but, based on our draw, that’s not going to be an easy feat.   If the gods smile on us, and we win our first 2 games… we’ll run right into the #1 team in the world.   And if the good Lord owes you any favors and you’d be willing to share, we’ll need his help.

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