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.
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 got in at 2 a.m. Wednesday from Eau Claire at had to leave for Green Bay at noon on Thursday. So, we only had ten hours at home, but I still managed to get in a lift before we left. I’m trying to get bigger/ work off all the horrible food we eat on the road. As soon as I get back to school we will start lifting 3 days a week, with a fourth, beach-body workout on Saturday morning with my buddies Dwayne and Chaz. It is key that I keep a regular schedule of 3 days a week to maintain strength. Jordan Owen (UT Martin) has been lifting 6 days a week- nuts!
On the bus we watched Never Back Down- I slept since I’ve seen it a dozen times. That is pretty typical of bus movies. Anchorman is always a favorite even though everyone can quote every line.
Last night was the first game of the 2nd half and we played a definite contender in the Green Bay Bullfrogs. We were frustrated about not winning the first half, so the 4-3 victory against the Bullfrogs was a great way to start the second half. All three times we have played at Green Bay I have been the Beer Batter. In our second meeting, last week, I struck out in the second inning and the fans were ecstatic. Only one week later and the same exact thing happened. You are welcome Green Bay fans.
The only bad part of the game was the mosquitoes. Unreal! Before the game I had two bites on my neck and face and, by the end of the game, my legs and arms were covered with bites. They were persistent despite me constantly killing them in the dugout and me using OFF! They even bit through my socks. Not a huge fan of Green Bay now because of the mosquitoes, but apparently Wisconsin Rapids this time in summer is worse.
After the game I watched Family Guy with my roommate Parker Schrage and then I went down to check out the pool. At our last hotel in Eau Claire the pool closed at 10, so by the time our games were over, the pool was closed. At this hotel in Green Bay though, the pool was open until 12, so I got in and swam laps. Swimming is one of the best workouts you can get and it is really good for strengthening baseball players’ arms and for working out soreness. Needless to say, my arm felt great today after my pool workout last night. The best part of the pool was there was a basketball hoop! I relived my glory years of JV basketball shot around for a while. I also threw down some sick dunks- something that I could never do.
Today was the first day on the road we didn’t have mandatory breakfast, but we were allowed to eat at the hotel. I went to the hotel and ate some egg patties, sausage patties, cereal, oatmeal, and a banana. Not too bad. When I got back to the room, I planned on blogging, but I looked over at Parker Schrage who didn’t wake up for breakfast and was still asleep. I decided I wanted to be like that guy, so I passed out until we had to check out.
We rolled out at noon to the movie theatre- the default time killer. The two movies guys went to see were The Bad Teacher and Transformers 3. I went to see Transformers 3, and it rocked my world. There were so many beautiful girls and explosions, the perfect mix for a guy movie. The bad news was that there was no Megan Fox, the good news was that there was Rosie Huntington-Whitely. Pure beauty with an accent. Shia LaBouef has it figured out. The old Even Stevens (great show) star is now on screen with the most beautiful women. As for the movie as a whole, the plot and the action made Transformers 3 the best movie I’ve seen this year. I can’t wait until next week when HP7 Part 2 comes out!
On the Green Bay trip we went to Hardee’s for lunch twice. You know what that means- 2 for 2 with Hardee’s milkshakes. I am pretty sure I am addicted. I tried to resist ordering it today and the next thing I knew I had already finished the tasty treat. Good thing I worked out before I left and I will be working out tomorrow morning.
A lot of the team had Hardee’s milkshakes, never a good idea before games. My freshman baseball team once went to Waffle House, and Hardee’s has the same effect. We played awful today and lost 10-0. To make matters worse, while I was sitting in the bullpen during the game, Jeremiah, their 7 foot tall Bullfrog mascot, pointed at me, motioned for me to come over and then hit his hand to his forearm (motioning he wanted to have a smack down with me). I refrained from a verbal or physical altercation with the ugly mascot, but I do believe our new, meaner looking, Maynard G. Mallard mascot could kick his butt. It was my friend and teammate’s, Daniel Gerow (Davidson), last game for the Bullfrogs. He will be going home to Texas to play in a Texas Collegiate League, lift, and spend time with his family. We also saw our friends Michelle, Ann, and Ryan who drove from Madison today. Thanks for coming!
Song of the day: “Counting to 100” by Matt Wertz
Fun Fact by Parker Schrage: New-ish hit band Bon Iver is from Eau Claire, WI. They are featured on the recent Kanye West album and just came out with an album of their own.
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.
Photo Courtesy of: Todd, Geri, Maddie, Ann & Michelle (troopers that came all the way out to Green Bay to watch Jonathan Crawford pitch)
We left at noon for the 2.5 hour trip to Green Bay, although Big Dog, our team manager, swears the trip is only 2:20. And he’s really good with directions. Anyways, we get to Hardee’s early for a sit down lunch. Yes, the burgers are good there, but the thing I like the most about Hardee’s is their milkshakes. Plus, they taste a lot better than they usually do because they are free (to us). I would say more than half the team got one, and I ended up with a Strawberry. While drinking my milkshake, I was thinking, “This has to be the best decision ever,” but five minutes after until the game was over I was thinking, “That was probably a stupid decision.”
We finished Hardee’s, walked around a fireworks shop which featured some $500 giant fireworks display. I really wonder how many people get that one. We left at headed straight for Lambeau Field (again). The last time we went to Green Bay, we only drove around the stadium, but this time we actually got to go in it. I do not have any pictures of that because we only had 30 minutes there and a tour was going to last an hour- so we unfortunately did not get to see the field. But, we walked around the giant main floor and went in the pro shop. I doubt anyone got anything though, just browsing. And, they did have Brett Favre jerseys, hidden in the very back of the store. We were all suprised there.
During the game, Green Bay must have been out of pitching because they pitched mostly position players. This was to our advantage because position players who do not pitch are usually not as accurate, and they walked us a lot. We ended up beating the Bullfrogs 12-1. Despite them throwing position players, they did have really good arms and I didn’t have the best game of my life. I broke two bats, moving my total to 9 on the year. That is a ton of broken bats for just a small amount of time, but I am working on it. My assistant coach always gets mad that I break so many, but they are free, so I don’t know why he gets upset. The good thing about breaking bats is that the Mallards made a deal with Barnes, Inc. and the Madison Parks Department to plant a tree for every broken bat this season. So, for all you environmentalists out there, I have essentially planted 9 new trees so far this summer. Also, tonight was the second time I was the Beer Batter, and the first time I struck out (in the 2nd inning). I did not see it, but one of my teammates said about 300 people stood up and made their way to the concessions stand to get half priced beer. You’re welcome.
On the bus ride back we were suprised because Dave, our bus driver, got the color on the TV to work. For about three weeks, we watched all our movies in black and white, and now we got that fixed so we can watch them in color. We watched SpaceBalls, which was exponentially better when I was a kid, but there were still some good parts. I am almost finished with The Girl Who Played With Fire, it is heating up! Some of the other guys played a game, Password, on the bus, all the way home. We got back at two, and when coach unlocked the press box, an alarm went off. So we had to wait to get another key. I finally got in bed and immediately passed out.
Tonight is Rhythm and Booms!!! I can’t wait. Game is at 5 or 6- fireworks and a carnival type thing going on after.
^^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^^
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.
Loggers 2 (8-13)
Mallards 3 (14-8)
Yesterday I wished I was in Daytona, FL where my mom and sisters are for Dance Nationals. Don’t get me wrong, I love it in Wisconsin, but sometimes the weather is a bit different than what I’m used to in Georgia. Yesterday was one of those days- about mid-50s and rainy at game time- and the rain continued throughout the game. So yes, I did wish I was in Daytona, FL yesterday.
Early in the afternoon I went downtown to begin my search for one specific t-shirt. When I was two, my dad came home from Wisconsin and brought home a grey Wisconsin Badgers t-shirt from the Milwaukee airport. The shirt was an adult medium, and it has stretched so much over the years that I can still wear it today. I love that shirt! Now the shirt is frayed and has holes and I wanted to get a new one. So I went to downtown Madison and looked in four college t-shirt stores and I could not find the exact shirt- but the search will continue. But, I did get a cheese head at one of the stores. Living in Wisconsin for the summer, It was inevitable.
I went to Potbelly’s Sandwiches for lunch, which is the second time I’ve been there. I went there in Washington, D.C. two years ago and loved it, so it was the perfect choice. My sandwich was awesome and I will definitely be going back.
Before the game I started a rivalry in FIFA with my 14-year-old host brother, Ryan. I chose Trinidad & Tobago and he was the Democratic Republic of the Congo, both 3.5 star teams. He won the first game, and I won the next two. He came back and won the fourth game off my own goal in the 89th minute. So the series is tied 2-2, with the championship game when I get home from La Crosse.
Also before the game, we got to meet Noah. Every home game, some local company (not sure which one) hosts a “Bat Boy of the Day” to hang out with the team before the game. Yesterday, Noah, a brave, disabled teen in a wheelchair was the bat boy of the day. It really put things in perspective for me. Noah had a great time, smiled a lot, and we autographed his hat. It is so easy to complain about long days at the field, and bus rides, (and rain), but the truth is, we have been given the ability to play the greatest sport on earth. I thank him for helping me realize the gift I have of playing baseball.
It was an ugly game. We won 3-2 and scored the winning run in the bottom of the 8th. Our shortstop and coach got tossed after a controversial tag call at second on a steal. Jordan Owen (UT Martin) showed some power and hit another homerun, his third, at home. He is slowly becoming a Madison favorite! Like I said before, the weather was horrible. I am surprised that most of the 5,000 fans that came stayed the whole game. Either they love baseball, love the Mallards, or have extremely boring lives and have nothing else to do. During the game I talked with Steve Wilkerson, La Crosse’s shortstop, who played against me in high school in Georgia and now plays at Clemson, who we played this spring. La Crosse had 5 errors in the game, and we only scored 3 runs. So we didn’t do a great job capitalizing on their miscues, but good teams figure out ways to win. We’re on the way to La Crosse now for a 7:05 game and then a late bus ride back home. Classic.
P.S. I am currently growing a beard. A few guys on the team are and the coach is allowing it- another perk of summer ball. Right now I am about 10 days in and it is looking good, if I do say so myself. I know both my girlfriend and my mom would abhor it, but I don’t have to see them for a while. Soon I will be looking like Dumbledore.