Sunday started with a Blintz. A Blintz is a Polish pastry, similar to a giant crêpe, but filled with cottage cheese, and topped with fruit and sour cream. I get it, it sounds disgusting…but dang, is it good. When we talked to Mr. Mackesey, our family friend, the night before and told him we were going to Mr. Pancake (right across from Noah’s Ark), he went on a 10-minute rant about how good the blintzes were and invited himself to breakfast. We were excited to have him and the Mackesey’s there, but it meant that I had more pressure on myself to try the blintz. I ordered the strawberry blintzes, and it came out as three giant blintzes. They were delicious and so filling and it was the first time in probably 15 years that I haven’t finished my meal. Not only that, but I got shown up by Granny Mackesey who ate all three of hers.
We left Mr. Pancake around 10 and headed to Madison to look around on State Street. We started near the Capital building and walked down to the beautiful Union Terrace. Some nice cloud cover helped us dodge the heat. My dad was the jokester of the day and kept yelling to get out of the road when a bike or bus was 200 feet away from us, coming our way on State Street. He also thought every shoe, no matter how ugly, would be perfect for the girls. I found a really funny store called POP Deluxe and I got a coffee mug- pretty happy about it.
We had fun and saw some people learning how to sail at the College Union. I left them and headed to the field because it was a 5 o’clock Sunday game. It was a really cool night because it was our annual Pink in the Park Night. We had pink uniforms, including pink socks, hats, and wristbands, used pink bases, and had pink bats. Everything was auctioned off after the game (except the socks and wristbands) and all proceeds went to the Susan G. Komen For The Cure- Madison foundation. I don’t know how much the total donation was, but each jersey went for about $100 a piece! In my first at bat with the pink bats, I blooped a single to center field, driving in a run. I also had my best game in the field for the season, in front of my family. My family stayed for one more day and since we had an off day, we went to Noah’s Ark. My mom, my two sisters, and I ran around the park and rode every ride, while my dad enjoyed the wave pool. He’s not really into the real rides (chicken!). The Scorpion’s Tail was a favorite again. The lines weren’t too bad and we had a great time at the park. After a hot day at the park we went to the famous Tommy Bartlet Show. Tommy Bartlet, a former radio announcer, started a waterski show 50 years ago and it has grown and changed into what the show is today. The show had a clown waterskiing, a backwards-barefoot waterskiiers, jugglers, and other fun shenanigans. There was a really funny, old, juggling comedian. We had a great time at the show and I highly recommend it for anyone going to the Dells. aB
We had fun and saw some people learning how to sail at the College Union. I left them and headed to the field because it was a 5 o’clock Sunday game. It was a really cool night because it was our annual Pink in the Park Night. We had pink uniforms, including pink socks, hats, and wristbands, used pink bases, and had pink bats. Everything was auctioned off after the game (except the socks and wristbands) and all proceeds went to the Susan G. Komen For The Cure- Madison foundation. I don’t know how much the total donation was, but each jersey went for about $100 a piece! In my first at bat with the pink bats, I blooped a single to center field, driving in a run. I also had my best game in the field for the season, in front of my family.
My family stayed for one more day and since we had an off day, we went to Noah’s Ark. My mom, my two sisters, and I ran around the park and rode every ride, while my dad enjoyed the wave pool. He’s not really into the real rides (chicken!). The Scorpion’s Tail was a favorite again. The lines weren’t too bad and we had a great time at the park. After a hot day at the park we went to the famous Tommy Bartlet Show. Tommy Bartlet, a former radio announcer, started a waterski show 50 years ago and it has grown and changed into what the show is today. The show had a clown waterskiing, a backwards-barefoot waterskiiers, jugglers, and other fun shenanigans. There was a really funny, old, juggling comedian. We had a great time at the show and I highly recommend it for anyone going to the Dells.
The heat wave was still coming on strong when we went to Waterloo, Iowa for our two-game trip. We left extremely early because we planned on stopping in Dyersville, Iowa, the site of the field from “The Field of Dreams,” on the way. After a few dirt roads surrounded by cornfields we arrived at the field. Everything looked the same as it was in the movie: the house, the field, the bench. I have probably seen The Field of Dreams a dozen times and it is my second favorite baseball movie, behind #61. We walked on the field and out to the outfield where the corn was. Just like the ghost players disappear in the cornfields at the end of the day, we took turns taking pictures disappearing into the corn.
We got to Waterloo and we hung out in their extremely nice locker rooms until game time. That is not being sarcastic…the visiting locker room is pristine with nice big steel lockers, a flat screen TV, a training room, and a coaches office. When we went out to the field, I got interviewed by a local reporter about the heat and how to prepare yourself for the hot days on the field. I believe it’s all about water intake. If you do not start chugging water when you get up, you will be toast by game time. The game was good. We came back from a 6-run deficit in the 7th and 8th to win the game. We got back to the hotel and I fell asleep at midnight with the lights on. That was my earliest bedtime of the summer!
Breakfast was at of course, Burger King! I usually sit in the back of the bus, but this time I made the tactical choice to sit in the front. If you sit in the front, you get off first, order first, and get your food first. It paid off big. Gotta love 2 p.m. checkout days! We got back to the hotel at 10:30 and I slept.
The game was a bit more frustrating this time around. The one Northwoods League rule that has gotten us in trouble this year is the 35-pitch rule. If a pitcher throws 35 or more pitches in an inning, he cannot come out to pitch in the next inning. Earlier in the year, Nick Sutherland threw exactly 35 pitches and had to come out after the 2nd inning. This time around, Rusty Shellhorn, arguably our best starting pitcher so far this year got in trouble. One hitter had an extremely long at bat and got a hit, and he walked 2 more and gave up one hit. He was about 25 pitches into his first inning without recording an out. We got two relatively quick outs and he had a runner on first with 34 pitches in the inning. We decided that our best chance to keep him pitching was to try to pick off the runner from first. The first throw over was a perfect throw and a bang-bang play that the umpire called safe. After that, we tried picking the same guy off about 14 more times, unsuccessfully. I played first so Rusty and I got a lot of boos from the stands, but that was the situation we were forced into. We even tried to throw away a pickoff move, where Rusty threw the ball 10 feet away from me, hoping the runner would try to advance to second so we could try to throw him out. The ball bounced perfectly off the brick wall, but unfortunately the Bucks did not fall for our trap. Rusty decided to throw his 35th pitch and eventually got out of the inning, unable to return for the 2nd. It hurt to use our whole bullpen from the 2nd inning on, and we brought in two position players (Matt Maribal and Jordan Owen) to finish off the game. Unfortunately we lost the game, splitting the series with the Bucks.
(picture: Noah’s Ark waterpark- Day 2 of the break)
All-Star Break started off with a bang midday on Sunday when I got invited to brunch by Michelle (Jonathon Crawford’s host mom). I left with Jonathon Crawford, Zack Powers, and Denny Clement and headed to the Jet Room. The Jet Room is a neat little restaurant on the backside of the Madison airport, where all the private planes fly. Right outside our window was a little blue and orange colored jet. Besides the view, it was the best breakfast I’ve had this summer. Don’t get me wrong, I love my peanut butter and banana waffles I make everyday, but I had some awesome Eggs Benedict. On the way back, I drove through town and saw a big commotion on State Street. Apparently one Sunday in the summer (Maxwell Street Day) all of the stores and some local vendors set up outdoor shops. There had to be at least a thousand people on State Street, so I took the opportunity to “people watch.”
After a while of watching, I had to drive back home to watch the Women’s World Cup Final. U.S.A. vs. Japan. The U.S. had girls twice the size of the small Japanese, but we gave away two goals and they tied up, 2-2, and forced overtime. I had a busy day and had to leave for Sean’s (my host brother) baseball game. We left as soon as the U.S. scored their first goal in overtime and thought that would be enough to hold them. It was so painful listening to the U.S. implode on the radio. It was such a shame we lost, but at least Japan got something to be happy about after a devastating year. Sean’s game was fun and it was the first time I watched him play all summer. He plays in a local wood bat league where the players are 18-40. The other team had some really good guys in their 30s and beat Sean’s team by 12.
Highlight of the night was beating Spyro the Dragon, finally. Ryan and I worked so hard on it and finally the work paid off. Next up on our list of retro games we need to beat: Gauntlet Dark Legacy (PS2). After beating the game I went to the gym and kicked my butt at squats. It was a good off day.
Wisconsin Dells is a very touristy place, which my dad describes as a “mini-Vegas.” There are hundreds of hotels and it seems like all of them, like The Great Wolf Lodge and The Wilderness, have their own water parks. One hotel, The Carousel, even boasted that they had 9 pools inside!
On Day 2, about twelve members of the Mallards set off for the largest waterpark in America, Noah’s Ark, in Wisconsin Dells. If you go to Noah’s Ark, make sure you get the $10 discount after filling up at Shell Gas Station. After a 45-minute drive to the Dells, we were there, ready to ride some watercoasters! There was one problem- there was a thunderstorm. Water parks will stay open if there’s rain, but not for thunderstorms. One really dumb lady when she heard that the water coasters were shut down temporarily asked, “Is the lazy river still open?” After a 30-minute delay, it was hot and sultry again and it was time to ride. We stayed there from 10 a.m. to the 8 p.m. close- a really long day. We left the park twice to eat two terrible meals- at Burger King and Taco Bell.
The best ride at the park was the Scorpion’s Tail (giant blue ride with the loop, right of center). You step into this telephone booth-like chamber and when the door closes, you hear a voice counting down “3,2,1…” At the end of the countdown, the floor drops out of the telephone booth and you virtually freefall for two seconds, building up speed for the eventual loop. The worst ride there was The Curse of the Crypt. Nick Sutherland, one of our pitchers, said he had ridden on it last year and said it was horrible. We interpreted that to mean that the ride was scary, so despite being scared, our bravado told us to check it out. It ended up being the dumbest ride I have ever been on. You walk through this cold basement for 10 minutes to get to the ride, and when you finally get there, you sit in a giant motion sensor room. The ride is based on optical illusions, but it was not at all scary, or good, for that matter. So, when he said horrible, he meant horrible. The Plunge (the two smaller blue slides) had the most bang-for-your-buck. The line was extremely short and you could race each other. Also, off the second jump, if you lift up, you can get some serious air.
The tallest drop, The Point of No Return (tall tan slide) was only okay. It is an older slide and scratched your back up on the way down. The ride should actually be named “The Atomic Wedgie,” and it was far from my favorite. The Stingray (tan half pipe on the left) was a great 2-person ride and Time Warp (not in picture) was another really fun one. We were exhausted from the sun beating down on us the whole day, so we drove back that night.
I slept in and went to Lake Mills with my host brother Sean. I went to Lake Mills in the first week in Madison because we have family friends who live on the lake. Even though I was a bit waterlogged from the day before, I am always up for a little tubing. I got into the boat with Sean, Leo (family friend) and a kid who plays for the St. Cloud River Bats, named J.R. Reynolds. He goes to Ohio University and was at Lake Mills visiting his cousin on his last off day of All-Star Break. Small world that we would both know someone in a town of less than 3,000 and be in the same boat on the same day. Sean and J.R.’s cousin tubed for about 20 minutes and it was time to switch. We turned off the boat, switched life jackets, and got in the tubes. The boat wouldn’t start. We determined that the battery was dead and we were in the middle of the lake. A nice family towed us back in and we swam in the lake a little and got burnt.
I would’ve loved the opportunity to playin the All-Star game but overall, it was a good All-Star Break. Note: “Break” is a relative term. I didn’t really stop moving the whole break, which is why I’m now posting about it a week later. But, it was a good time to step away from baseball, get two lifts in, and have some fun in the water.
We rolled to LaCrosse on Friday and anticipated a large crowd at the #2 fan-grossing summer ball stadium in America. There was one problem. It was pouring! Looking at the radar, there were giant red thunderstorm blobs across the MidWest. We still had to mentally prepare ourselves to play though. We ate at my favorite place, North County Steak Buffet and I had two tiny, but good, steaks and a salad.
The owners at LaCrosse expected a huge crowd and they did not want to lose money on tickets and concessions. LaCrosse’s coach even told us that we would wait all night to play this game if it came down to it. Game time was scheduled at 7:05. We showed up to the field at 4 for BP and then sat on the bus until around 8:05. Finally, they called the game because the field was flooded. They rescheduled the game for the next day, when we would play a 7-inning double header.
The temperature was 95 with a heat index of 100 to 105- Man, was it humid! My theory is that I have become a sissy when it comes to weather since being in Wisconsin. The first few weeks here were in the low-50s and this week it has been over 90 everyday. Coming from Georgia, 90s weather should not be bad, but since I have become a sissy, it was hot. We got to the field at 2 for BP for our first game at 5. I played first, which is usually an easy position, but I found myself panting. I am not out of shape. I work out 4 days a week and play everyday, that air was just thick. We won the first game by 1 and had 30 minutes before the next game. All I wanted to do was lie down on the bench and pass out. My jersey weighed 10 pounds due to the sweat.
LaCrosse brought some food over so we could fuel ourselves for the next game. They brought over Granola Bars, bananas, oranges, and grapes. Some of the team was hungry for more, but that fruit was just what I needed. It gave me some great energy for the second game and my first at bat I hit one off the fence in center. I played third and only got one ball. Somedays third is boring- but not usually. We got on the bus and I passed out. It was a long day of baseball and we had a 3-day All-Star Break coming up starting the next day.
We have not played well so far in the beginning of the second half. We are 1-3 so far and have made over 14 errors in our last 4 games. Nick Sutherland (Minnesota State) thinks it is connected to the mustache he is growing.
We have lost some players this week. Niko Fraser (Elon) and Trey Watkins (LSU), both outfielders, went home this week, as well as Brent Kuper (Parkland CC) due to a concussion. That left us with only 3 outfielders and 1 catcher. We picked up an outfielder, Andrew Wasmund (Madison College), and two catchers (Matt Mirabal- Illinois State & Kyle Moody- St. Scholastica). All three of these guys can hit and will bring a lot to the team in the next month.
Four Mallards got nominated to this year’s All-Star game. Two pitchers (Rusty Shellhorn and Matt Milroy) and two position players (Nate Theunnisen and Jordan Owen) will represent our team on July 18th in Wisconsin Rapids.
Last night my host brother, Ryan, wanted to play some video games and we decided to switch it up and not play FIFA. We instead busted out his PS2 and played Spyro the Dragon PS1 game. It was so much fun- and pretty easy. The graphics were horrible and I remembered most of the game from when I played it 8 to 10 years ago. We spent 2.5 hours straight playing the game and are now 26% (according to the game) done. Pretty good night.
We are on the bus to Wisconsin Rapids, the team that has beaten us the last two games. Hopefully we can break through and get the hitting and fielding back to its previous level. We are watching Major League. Great bus movie. I’ve also recently found Moon Chaser (the Droid version of Angry Birds) on my phone and have been playing that a lot on the bus- probably too much.
Today we get to wear some throwback Madison Muskies jerseys with trucker hats. Fun fact, Jose Canseco played about 50 games for the Muskies a long time ago (probably before the ‘roids).
Can’t wait until my family comes out to Madison in a week and half!
This picture was from right before we left- I like taking pictures of barns. There will be more.
I am on the bus right now, reflecting on the trip. It was a disappointment overall that we lost the last two games of the first half and ended up losing the first half, which would’ve helped us secure a playoff spot. Here are the events that went down:
I stayed up the night before doing laundry, packing, and writing several letters (yeah, snail mail rocks!). It wouldn’t have been a problem, but I woke up early to lift so I only got about 5 hours of sleep. I got a good upper body/ab workout, got to the field in time, packed and we rolled out at 11:30.
The drive to Eau Claire was about 3 hours, I want to say we watched two really short movies. It was July 4th and Eau Claire usually brings out pretty good crowds- so because of the holiday, it would be packed. Whoever made the schedule made it right. The final 3-game series of the first half went down between the #1 and #2 teams and started in front of a sellout July 4th crowd. I had the day off, but I wished I had played. We crushed the Express the first game, 11-2. Our hitters totaled 16 hits on the night, and it should’ve been 17. The official score keeper called a play on the pitcher who came off the mound to the right, made a full extension dive, twisted, threw from his knees, and threw the ball away an error. It was definitely an infield single, but it doesn’t really matter. Anyways, Willie Argo (Illinois) hit a bomb and we silenced their sell-out crowd. Now we were only 1 game away from clinching the first half (we were 1.5 games up with 2 games left).
After the game, we got food, I forget what it was but it wasn’t enough. Around 11, some of the guys were still hungry so we decided to walk to Hardee’s. I was craving another one of those milkshakes. We got there…it was closed. Went to Wendy’s across the street so we could get Frosty’s, but we were 5 minutes late. So we had to settle for Taco Bell. They have the Fruitista for desert.
We walked through the drive-thru at Taco Bell. They were not happy with us. We tried to order but the four of us didn’t weigh enough to set off the sensor to the voice box. We all jumped up and down and nothing happened. We asked a car full of college kids behind us to pull up, they agreed, and we ordered. When we got to the window, they refused to serve us, but our food was made and we had money for it. Apparently it is a security problem we could’ve reached in and taken things. Well, with a car, you can open the door, step out, take things, and then drive away at a really fast pace. I finally got my Cheesy Gordita Crunch and a Fruitista (my 3rd choice).
We woke up and got on the bus at 10 for mandatory trip to breakfast. We drove back and forth several times through Eau Claire for 33 minutes and eventually got to Burger King. That was a huge let down. But I got the Ultimate Platter, which is actually a pretty good amount of food, and we ate for free. We went to Whiskey Dicks for lunch- I can’t make that up. We had 6 different options for lunch, which was a nice change- I went spaghetti.
There weren’t many fans at the game, which was surprising because of the implications of the game. If we won, we clinched with one game left. If we lost, Eau Claire still had a chance. I cannot and will not say that the umps cost us the game, or even that their calls were wrong (I am bound by texted agreement), but I will say that there were a lot of really close calls in the game that went the other team’s way that could have drastically altered the result of the game. Baseball is a game of inches and there were a ton of bang-bang plays. Unfortunately, they got some key calls and they won the game.
I went to Applebee’s with the Eade’s (my best friend Eric’s parents), who made the drive from Minneapolis. I talked baseball with them and about Eric who is in Spain, and they hooked me up with some awesome brownie cookie things. I had about six from when I walked in the hotel to the time I got to my room.
I finally finished The Girl Who Played with Fire, great ending. The rumor was that we were going to drive to a closer Burger King. We made a different turn, passed one Burger King and got excited. We ended up just taking a different route that took 26 minutes to get to the same Burger King. Next time I will wake up a little earlier to eat at the hotel’s free breakfast buffet.
We passed the time by going to Action City, an arcade place outside of Eau Claire. They had go-karts and the trash talking began. About 12 of the Mallards players raced at one time, bumping into each other, and having the time of our lives. Everyone was having a great time, except for Justin Scanlon (Michigan State). He was by far the worst driver and wrecked 3 times in the 4 minutes we had on the track. We had to stop each time and wait for the attendant to turn around Scanlon’s car. I will give him that he has a hurt shoulder if he wants to make an excuse.
The game was a tough one. Both teams went back and forth and they beat us 7-5. There was a lot of energy in the dugout and we gave everything we had, just fell short. It is rough that we lost the last two games and lost the first-half. All we needed was one game. Even though Eau Claire won, Battle Creek ended up winning the first half due to a head-to-head tie. The one positive is that we still have the opportunity to win the second half. Second half starts tomorrow.
S/o to my little sister, Lizzy, who has earned $12 so far in agreement with my parents to clean her room everyday for $1. Keep it up!
Songs of the day:
“Outstanding” by The Gap Band (oldie but a goodie)
“Lips of an Angel” by Hinder (sorry Steven Hummel- music expert- if you ever read this…you might de-friend me for liking this song).
Everything by Ace of Base (all songs by them). Possible walk-up for next year.
Mallards 5 (final 13 innings)
What a game. In the past week, I think we have come back from a deficit in the 8th, 9th, and 13th, and won those three games. It has been an exciting week with a lot of exciting baseball. Pinch hitting in the 10th, Mike McQuillen (Iowa) hit a two-run triple and later scored to tie the game up 4-4 and move it to the 11th. In the 13th inning, Niko Fraser (Elon) laid down a perfect bunt to score the winning run. Walkoff! We all sprinted out and tackled him in short right field. So much fun.
On arriving to the field today, around 12:30, the preparations for Rhythm and Booms were about done. There were food stands, a concert stage, a carnival, and lots of people ready for a day of hanging out. During batting practice a concert went on- a cover band that botched a lot of songs. After the game, the team showered and got ready for the largest fireworks show in the MidWest! In the down time before the show, fans packed into the stadium to watch The Rookie on our JumboTron (I don’t know what to call it, because it’s not that big) scoreboard. The picture above is when the fans were watching the movie. Also, another cool promotion we took advantage of tonight was the 1 cent movie coupons from Charter Communications. If any Mallard hits a triple at home, everyone gets one cent movie coupons, so the fans were happy about that. After my shower, I talked to Mr. Cole (my dad’s boss) who drove over from Chicago with his son Elliot. The awkward part was that I was signing autographs and I had to sign another college-aged man’s boob, while talking to my dad’s boss. Crazy fans.
I walked over to Jonathan Crawford’s (Florida) host family’s house because Michelle, his host mom, was throwing a block party for the fireworks show. His house was three blocks walk from the field. We sat there and ate some delicious pulled pork and cheesy potatoes and watched the fireworks. There was one GIANT tree that was in the way of our view of the show, but fortunately, most of the fireworks went above the tree. Suprise of the night: former Wisconsin Badger and Heisman Trophy Winner Ron Dane showed up to the party after the fireworks show. We got a picture with him- pretty cool.
My first Rhythm and Booms experience was amazing. We won the game, watched The Rookie, saw a fantastic fireworks show, and met Ron Dane. It was a night I will never forget. My only regret is that I did not get any pictures of the fireworks show because I forgot to charge my camera the night before.
The win last night pushed us to 2 games ahead of second place. We will continue to do shirtless BP today and hopefully win, getting us closer to clinching the first half. Five games are left. Home game tonight at 5:05.
^^this is an example of a “pimp job”^^
Bullfrogs 2 (16-11)
Mallards 3 (18-11)
The win last night gave us sole position of first place with six games left in the first half. Going into last night’s game, three teams were tied for first (Madison, Green Bay, and Eau Claire), and Battle Creek was 1 game behind. Since we beat Green Bay and Battle Creek beat Eau Claire, the three other teams are now 1 game behind us. The winner of the first half gets an automatic bid into the Northwoods playoffs at the end of the season.
The day started early with Kids Camp. We showed up to the field at 8:45, so it was an early morning for the players who usually go to bed around 2. The camp ranged from ages 6-12, and like all camps, some kids were good and others were not so good. The one thing the kids did not lack was energy. They were so pumped to be there in front of the Mallards’ coaches and players. I was assigned to go work with the 6 and 7 year olds, an age group I am used to working with because of teaching Sunday School in Georgia. They were distracted a lot, but we worked on the basics (playing catch, groundballs, pop flys, and hitting). Nick Sutherland (Minnesota State) worked with the kids on pop flys and with the 6 year olds he used tennis balls. After they missed a ton in a row, he told them the ball either needs to hit them in the glove or on the head, so we know that they are trying. We signed autographs and sent them on their way.
I had 3 hours to kill, so I went home. I lied down in bed, exhausted, and thought about taking a nap. Then I decided the best thing to do would be to go workout. I went to the Princeton Club and got a really good workout in, then went to the field.
Without the nap, I was even more tired when I got to the field. I found some new energy though when I found out BP was going to be shirtless. Everyone (players and coaches) had to go shirtless before we could start. It was a lot of fun and we got better and got a tan. The only time we had done this before was during early work, so no one but the team knew about it. This time, the other team showed up and saw us having fun shirtless hitting. Personally, it was one of the best BP rounds of my life. I don’t know for sure if there was a correlation.
I finally got to take my first shower of the day around 6 because I had another off day. The game was awesome. Down 1-0 in the 6th with runners on 1st and 3rd, Justin Scanlon (Michigan State) laid down a perfect two-out drag bunt that no one played and it tied up the game. Green Bay pushed ahead with a solo home run, and then in the bottom of the 8th, Nate Theunissen hit a towering two-run home run to right field. He knew it off the bat, and “pimped” the home run that eventually left the stadium. “Pimping a home run” is when the person knows they hit a home run, so they watch it fly before they start running (picture above). Prince Fielder does it a lot. My dad would kill me if I ever did that- but Theunissen made it look good.
Can’t wait for Rhythm and Booms tomorrow night! There will be more than 100,000 people in Werner Park during the day and our game will be sold out. After the game, the largest fireworks display in the Midwest will take place. Apparently it takes 3 hours to get out of the parking lot, so I will try to find an alternate parking situation. Shirtless BP will be a must for tomorrow.
^^cool car in front of our field^^
We left for Wausaw around 1130 on Monday and drove 2.5 hours there. We showed up extremely early because the bus needed work to be done on it, so typically we would go to a mall and hang out. I don’t know much about Wausau (if there is a mall there or we just didn’t look), but we ended up going to Gander Mountain, an outdoors store. North Carolina native, Zach White, checked out the hunting rifles, while other members walked around the giant store. I found a giant tent, pulled out a sleeping pad from a shelf nearby, and read, while others sat in chairs, kayaks, and slept in other tents. It took a good 10 minutes to round everyone up, but we made sure we had everyone before going to lunch.
We went to Burrachos, a burrito place, for lunch. I was so confused. This Burrachos looked IDENTICAL to a Chipotle. Everything in the interior (signs, tables, chairs, food, prices) looked exactly like those in Chipotle. It was weird, but since I like Chipotle, Burrachos hit the spot. In my last post I said our goal for the first game was to not “follow an off day with a day off,” but that’s exactly what we did. We didn’t pitch, hit, or field well, and the Woodchucks took Game 1 of the series. After the game, we got back on the bus and I sat there sending emails almost the entire way home. Jordan Owen (UT-Martin) listened to my iTunes the whole way back, and others got on Facebook or just slept. Having free wifi on the buses is a nice luxury of being on the Mallards and something I have never experienced. It would come in handy in the spring when you are riding back from a Tuesday night game and your paper is due at midnight, and then you have to sprint to the nearest computer lab to email it in two minutes before the deadline (I have never been in that situation…but it has happened to some of my friends).
I got home at 2, put in a load of laundry and went to bed. Today was bound to be a long day of baseball and I needed sleep. Today we had a doubleheader which was a make-up game for the rained out game the first week of June. To save some pitcher’s arms and to save time, we played two seven-inning games. BP started at 2, so I left the house at 1. The construction in downtown Madison was terrible today and it took 45 minutes to complete my usual 20 minute drive- good thing I left really early. The first game went by so fast, I now remember how quick high school games were. We lost Game 2, despite really good hitting by Jordan Owen. Going into the final game at home, we were down, but in order to win the first half, this game would be crucial. Michael Handel (Minnesota) crushed an RBI triple which put us on the board, and my teammate from school, Chris Lamb (Davidson), pitched pretty well for his first outing as a Mallard. The story of the game was in the bottom of the 7th (final inning), Justin Parr (Illinois) gets up with one out and hits a sky-scraping shot to right center to win the game! Coach was right when he said it takes some serious talent to hit a walk-off homerun, with the pressure and the fans and everything else, and Parr had it tonight. I was really happy for him- everyone on the team knows that Parr hits the most amount of linedrive outs on the team, so it was really nice to see him hit a 400 foot bomb that no one could catch.
Tomorrow we have some kind of camp with 500 kids at Warner Park in the morning. It will be a relatively early morning for me because the camp starts at 930, so I will get up at 830. The key phrase is that “early” is a relative term. More good news from tonight, first place Eau Claire lost, so I think we are only .5 games behind them with 7 games to go.
(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.