Today was our first day of of the season… PHENOMENAL!. We have played every single day since June 1st and have gone 16-8, a pretty good start to the season. So the off day was well deserved. The team split up into two main camps for the day; some went to one teammate’s lakehouse on Lake Monona and others went to the Brewers game. I have never been to Miller Park so it was a no-brainer when I found out one host family had an extra ticket. I went with Ryan Bores (Kent State), Jonathan Crawford (Florida), Chris Burgess (Blackhawk), and Ryan and Jonathan’s host family. We went out for Jerry’s birthday. Thanks Jerry!!!
The sun was out and the roof was down on the stadium and it was a perfect day to watch a baseball game. We tailgated and ate some brats before the game.
My favorite hitter is a tie between Evan Longoria and Ryan Braun. Today I got to see Ryan Braun in action and we sat down the third base line, near where he was playing in right. After tossing in between innings, he actually tossed a ball that was heading towards us. I saw the whole flight of the ball, but it was a bit out of my reach, so it was up to Chris Burgess to haul it in. At the last minute, a dad came out of nowhere and boxed out Burgess and snagged the ball. He gave it to his son, so it was all good.
Today was really fun because I got to see Jim Thome (now almost 41 years young) knock in an RBI for the Twins, got to see Joe Mauer pinch hit and crush two balls, LaTroy Hawkins pitch an effortless 95, and Yuniesky Betancourt go 3-4 with a hard line out. In the 6th inning, it was so hot where we were sitting we decided to walk around the stadium. While walking around, we heard screaming while we were in the tunnel. The fans were pumped because my co-favorite hitter had just ripped a go ahead 2-run home run to center field. I was not happy with myself that we missed it live, but I got to see his beautiful swing immediately after. We also missed the Brewer mascot sliding down the slide, which happens after every Brewer home run. Nonetheless, we saw some great baseball and Navelson pitched great and even got an RBI double. We also got to see the sausage race, which was a relay race to smaller kid sausages. The Italian sausage team took the prize.
Overall, my off day was a success. I had the time of my life, relaxing at the beautiful Miller Park. I have gained some respect for the Brew Crew. I really hope I get another chance to see Braun go yard (live) soon. Going to Wausaw for a day trip to play the Woodchucks at 1130. There are 9 games left in the first half. Hopefully we can come off fresh from our off day and get another win. My coach always said, “Don’t follow an off day with a day off.” The key will be refocusing and pick up where we left off.
song of the day: “Mercy” off the new Matt Nathanson CD. (Free single off iTunes)
(Photo by: Jim Addis. Maynard Duck zip-lining from right field to home plate before the game)
Loggers 1 (8-15)
Mallards 6 (16-8)
When my family used to go to Disney World when we were growing up, my dad claimed he only disliked one ride in the whole park- “It’s a Small World.” Looking back on that ride and its simple, annoying lyrics, and out-of-date thrills, I can see why he disliked it so much. This post has nothing to do with that ride. But, I had another “this is such a small world” moment today.
The baseball community, especially in summerball, is so closely connected. When we first arrived in Madison, dozens of guys drilled others about players on their teams because they have played with them in the past. On almost every team we’ve played so far, I have been connected to one of the represented schools, which makes for good and endless conversation. My small world story from today starts two weeks before Madison.
Ashley Hearn, a girl from my high school in Georgia, graduated in my class and now attends the University of Wisconsin. When talking with one of her close friends two weeks before coming to Madison, I told her friend that I would be playing for the Mallards in Madison, WI, and her friend responds, “I am pretty sure Ashley Hearn is working for that team this summer.” There are probably a few hundred college summer league teams, and the fact that a girl from my high school in Cumming, GA is working for the team I am playing for this summer is so neat. Not only that, but she has an internship with ESPN Madison this summer. I got lucky and had the opportunity today to do a recorded interview for her summer sports radio talk show. I sat down with her and her co-host, Peter Swanson, and talked about the Mallards, Davidson, and about high school. If you live in Madison and would like to check it out, it will be aired 4 p.m. this Monday on 91.7 FM (WSUM- the Wisconsin student station). I had a great time and was so glad I got to do that.
Going into today’s game, we were still .5 game back of Eau Claire. We have won 7 of our last 10, but we have not gained ground because Eau Claire has done the same. Our goal is to win the first half of the Northwoods League season and we have about 10 games left. It looks like it will come down to the wire, with a big last series against the Express July 4-6. We won again tonight behind another great start from Joel Effertz (Madison College). Our offense struggled tonight against La Crosse’s starter who threw 100% cutters (the famous pitcher of Mariano Rivera), but we knew we would score more when they went to the bullpen. That’s exactly what happened and we turned a 1-1 game into a 6-1 game and won by that score. The two big promotions for tonight were fireworks (whoohoo!) and playing catch on the field after the game. The team passed out around 200 baseballs so that families could play catch in centerfield. That was a huge success and the fans came to get their ball signed after they were done. It was a bit overwhelming, but Willie Argo (Illinois) said it best when he said, “As long as people still want my autograph, I am happy to keep signing.” And sign we did. I believe the 6,750 fans who packed the ballpark (and the Duck Blind) left happy.
Congrats to the newlyweds who came to the game tonight in the bachelor and bachelorette parties! The groom-to-be took a few cuts during bp today and whiffed a lot. Then, his soon to be wife dug into the box and started crushing line drives all over the field. Did I also mention that his soon-to-be wife was in her wedding dress and high heels! Hilarious.
Eating, sleeping, dreaming about baseball 24/7- that’s what life this summer has been. Right now, I wouldn’t want to do anything other than that. Tomorrow is our first day off and it is well deserved. Since nearly everything I do revolves around baseball, I’m going to a baseball game tomorrow! It will be my first trip to Miller Park as the Brewers complete their series against the Twins (which is becoming a big inter-league rivalry). There will be pictures. I lifted at midnight tonight so I would not have to lift on my off day. Great decision. Now it is the 3 a.m. and I’m waking up at 8 to eat breakfast. Sorry readers, I know it’s long.