Thursday, December 29, 2011

WANNA BE LIKE MIKE

If you've followed my blog over the past few years you know that I get called Mark more than I get called Matt. I still haven't been able to figure out why that is, but it happens. Matt doesn't seem like that tough of a name to remember. I don't call Peters, Paul. I don't call Bobs, Barry. But for some reason I get called Mark at least a few times a week. When I play in away stadiums I will get announced as Mark Antonelli as I walk to the plate. A good portion of my fan mail is addressed to Mark Antonelli. I've been introduced to people as Mark as well. Now that 2011 has almost concluded and the new year is upon us, I guess it's time to change things up a little. I just received some equipment in the mail for this upcoming season, and guess who it was addressed to.


Hopefully 2012 will be a better year for my name.

Monday, December 12, 2011

GAME DAY

Hey what's up guys? I've received a lot of tweets and emails lately asking why I've been M.I.A on my blog over the past few weeks. I admit, I have been slacking a little when it comes to writing, but I'd rather not say anything at all than bore you. As exciting as it is, I don't think you guys want to spend ten minutes a day reading about how much fun I had vacuuming my living room, or about my latest adventure in the backyard raking leaves. I might add that it is pretty amazing that the temperature around here is still in the high 40's and there are actually leaves, and not snow, on the ground.

Anyways, I've done a few interviews with various blogs and radio sites over the past few weeks and I get asked this question in almost every interview I do. What time do I get to the field, and what do I do while I'm there? I know most people I speak with are very surprised at the times we usually arrive at the park, and most assumed we showed up an hour before the game, changed into our uniforms, and ran onto the field for our 7:05 start. I figured I could take a few minutes today, since I really don't feel like dusting right now, and break down a normal day at the ballpark.

Home games typically start at 7:05 PM, so I will arrive at the field around 2 in the afternoon. I would say this is average for players. There is always a group of guys on each team that are avid card players, and those guys seem to arrive an hour or so earlier than that. I typically bring my lunch to the field. This past season I would eat a Chiptole burrito around four to five times a week. I know it sounds very strange, but I am one of the pickiest eaters you will ever meet, so when I find something I like I eat it, a lot. I'm still waiting for my agent to hook me up with a Chiptole sponsorship. I have a feeling I'll be waiting a while.

I usually finish eating and digesting around 2:45 and will get changed into a pair of shorts and a tee shirt and go through a quick stretching routine in the indoor batting cage. Once I am ready to go I will go through my routine of tee work and soft toss. Baseball is a game of repetition and every guy has a routine that they will go through everyday to make sure they are prepared for that nights game. My routine is the exact same every single day, kind of like my lunch menu.

I finish up in the cage around 3:30 and head back to the clubhouse to change into my batting practice attire, usually a pair of practice pants and a BP top. Position players will stretch together around 4 o'clock for around ten minutes and then throw for another five to ten. 4:15 is time for batting practice. We are usually split up into three groups. One group with hit, one group will field ground balls or fly balls depending on your position, and the last group will shag. Each group usually lasts around fifteen minutes. Batting practice usually ends around 5 PM and players will retreat back to the clubhouse.

I spend the next 30 to 45 minutes relaxing, going on my computer, checking emails, playing video games, and eating a pre-game snack, usually a protein shake and some fruit. A group of guys is usually playing a game of cards, while others might be playing each other on their IPad. There were some pretty epic battles in Stick Man Golf this past season in Syracuse. If you haven't played I suggest you do. It's addicting.

Once 5:45 hits I like to jump in the hot tub. It's a good place to start mentally getting ready for the game and get my body loose. I'll take ten minutes in the tub thinking about that days starting pitcher and how I feel he might attack me during the game. In Triple-A it's sometimes difficult because the scouting reports are no where close to what they are in the big leagues. In an MLB game, you can spend all day in front of the computer watching every single pitch the guy threw in a 2-2 count during his 12 year old Little League season. In the minors you will get a single page print out with a brief description of his pitches and mechanics.

Now it's 6 PM and game time is about an hour away. Now that my body is warmed up I like to go through a quick stretching routine and if anything is really bothering me I may have our trainer either stretch me out or stem an area that hurts. I'm not smart enough to explain what stem is or what the hell it does, but it usually helps loosen up any area that may be bothering you.

At 6:15 I jump in the shower. I know, I know. Who the hell jumps in the shower before they go dive around on dirt for three hours? You may be surprised, but I'd say a very high percentage of players shower before game time.

It's now usually around 6:25 when I will throw on my uniform and grab anything I may be using that night. I will get out to the dugout around 6:40 and head to left field to go through another stretching routine and do some sprints. I again take a few minutes to throw and loosen up my arm and then take it back to the dugout. It's now around 6:55. I like to sit down, take a cup of Gatorade, and relax for a few minutes. Then its a few pre-game handshakes and good luck wishes and off to the field at 7:00 PM for the National Anthem. It's 7:05 and the first pitch is made.

A typical game lasts around three hours. When the game ends, and hopefully we've won, I like to sit and relax for a few minutes after the game. Post game routine changes somewhat depending on what day it is and what's served for dinner. I like to get a post game lift in around 2 to 3 times a week, so if its a lift day I will spend around 30 to 45 minutes in the weight room. I will then get a quick stretch in and if I have any bumps or bruises I will spend twenty minutes icing down or just jump into an ice bath. Ice baths are pretty good for your body, but they are complete torture. I will always try to go the ice bag route, unless my whole body is a complete mess and I need a full body ice down.

If the food is something I like, which is usually isn't, I will sit down and have a meal. Sometimes I'm not in a good mood or just feel like getting back to the house, so I will take some food to go and eat it back at the apartment. If it is something I hate, like Chicken Cordon Bleu, I will usually go out to eat. Typically I'm done with dinner and back at my apartment around midnight. I like to sit and relax for a while, watch some TV, and check out some stuff on my computer. I will talk on the phone with Laura for a little bit, and then usually jump in bed around 1 or 2 AM.

Tomorrow will be the same thing all over again.

Monday, November 28, 2011

FRICKIN' LASER BEAMS

Hey guys, how are you all doing?  The last week has been pretty busy for me. I've mostly been on the road, as I had a chance to travel down to Baltimore for my physical and also to meet members of the front office and coaching staff. I've received a lot of emails lately asking what types of things go on in the physical and how I spent my time in Baltimore, so let me take a few minutes to explain.  


Basically, the physical part is not as complicated as many may think. The first thing they do is check and make sure you're alive with a heartbeat and a pulse. After a few grueling hours of analyzing my charts, they gave me the thumbs up and told me I had passed. The next part of the physical, and probably the most extensive of all the tests, was the eye exam. They put you through about fifteen different test, not only to check your vision, but also to check the health of your eyes in general and make sure you won't have any problems a few years down the road. You might assume that the blood work and "cough test" would be the shitty parts of my day, but spending thirty minutes with laser beams and bright lights shining directly in your eyes definitely takes the cake.


As the day continued I took visits to a few different doctors where we talked about any past medical problems throughout my life and any surgeries I may have had over the years. They then yank on your arms and legs, check your knees and shoulders to make sure they're fully healthy, and do some basic strength and mobility tests. After passing those I gave some blood and was asked to pee in a cup for probably the 400th time in the past five years.  The process started around 9 AM and finally finished right around 3 PM. 


Once I was told I had completed everything, I made sure to spend the afternoon eating lunch at Ra Sushi, one of my favorite sushi places in the country.  The closest franchise to my home in Boston is in Baltimore, so I couldn't pass up a chance to get some Tootsie Maki.  If you haven't tried it I suggest you check it out. 


After lunch I took a ride over to the ballpark to check it out for the first time. I've heard from literally thousands of people over the years about how beautiful of a place Camden Yards is, and they weren't lying. It seems like a great place to call home during the season. I was able to spend some time speaking with our GM and Manager and also with other members of the front office and staff and then took a little time to do some interviews with the media. I can already get a sense for how excited everyone is for Spring Training and the start of the 2012 season. Now that the physical is in the rear view mirror and my contract is signed there isn't much standing between now and the beginning of baseball, except for maybe a few feet of snow. Either way, I'm sure it will be here before we know it and I'm really excited to get going! I hope everyone had a great holiday and I will talk with you later.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

IT'S BEEN A LONG WEEK

One thing's for sure. It's been a LONG week!


Over the last few days I've been pretty busy talking with teams and trying to decide which organization I believe is the best fit. Basically, I've spent a few hours speaking with each team, allowing them to explain the opportunity I have with them and how they see me fitting into the organization. It also gives me a chance to ask any questions I may have. A few days ago I narrowed my list of teams down to three and then narrowed it once again down to two.  I must say, this process was much harder than it was last year. When I think back, the Nationals clearly presented the best situation during our talks in December. This year, it is much tougher to predict exactly which team presents the best opportunity, but after thinking about it for hours on end I made the most educated guess possible. I'm very happy to announce I've decided to sign with the Baltimore Orioles and will be heading down to Baltimore tomorrow for my physical. I am extremely excited to be joining the Orioles and can't wait to get to Sarasota in February.

In non-baseball related news, I spent this weekend in New York City. I came to realize that I wouldn't last long in NYC. Don't get me wrong, the city is exciting, beautiful, and full of things to do, but I just don't think I could live there permanently. A few days is fine, but any longer and I couldn't handle it.  The place is a natural stress inducer. People drive like complete morons, and that's coming from someone that has lived his entire life in Boston. If I heard one more taxi beep obnoxiously at me or cut me off I was going to lose it. Also, the price of everything is astronomical.  On our second night there we decided to try a small Italian restaurant. It wasn't bad, but nothing to write home about. My Chicken Parmesan cost $40.00! I've eaten at about a thousand different Italian restaurants all over the country and I don't think I've ever spent much more than $20.00 for Chicken Parm. Laura ordered a simple salad that ended up costing $30.00. How do they sleep at night?!?! Speaking of sleeping at night, it cost me $7.00 for the toll to enter Manhattan! Apparently that's how they pay for their starting pitching.

Anyways, enough about how much I felt ripped off. The real reason we traveled down to the city was that I surprised Laura with an engagement ring and asked her to marry me. I know, I know, very romantic right? I'm not exactly the romantic type, but I think I did a pretty damn good job with this one. Laura thought so too. More importantly, she said yes, which was a good thing!  I should also take a minute to apologize to Mila Kunis, now that I'm off the market.

Before I head out I wanted to thank everyone that has congratulated me and wished me luck. I really appreciate it! Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

OFFSEASON UPDATE

Hey guys! How are we doing? I can't believe I am already two months into the off-season. Before you know it we will be headed out to either Florida or Arizona for the start of Spring Training. I've received a lot of emails lately asking me what my status is for next year and if I've made any decision on where I will be playing. I wanted to take a few minutes and answer a bunch of the questions that I've received.

The free agency period technically only started a few days ago. I guess the rule is that no teams can discuss free agency with a player until five days after the World Series ends. Since that day has passed I have spoken with a dozen or so teams so far, but these are just preliminary talks and we will get more into detail over the next few weeks. I know after I put this blog up I'm going to get a thousand more emails asking what teams I have spoken with and who has the most interest, so I wanted to let everyone know ahead of time that I'm not going to go into too much detail about the teams until we get a little further in the process. A lot can change from day to day so I figure it's best to wait before I get into too much.

At this point I am not really sure when I will make my final decision. Last year I didn't sign with the Nationals until around the middle of December, but that situation was a little different from this year. I wasn't actually a free agent last year until around the beginning of December, so things got pushed back a little longer than usual.

If you have any questions let me know by writing in the comment section below. If you have emailed me lately and I haven't gotten around to answering you back I'm sorry, and will try to do so as quick as I can. My email has really gotten backed up over the last few months. I hope everyone has a great week and I will talk with you all later!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

WIPE YOURSELF OFF, YOU'RE BLEEDING

What the hell is going on with the weather lately? I was left totally unprepared last week when I noticed the first snowflake fall from the sky. Usually when it comes to the weather I am never unprepared. Guys started to call me "the weather man" during this season for my obsession with weather.com. If there was rain in the forecast, I was the guy to come to for the precipitation details of that night's game. I don't know what it is, but I have a strange obsession with looking at maps and trying to figure out what's going to happen. I guess it's the geek in me.

Anyways, for some reason I hadn't checked the weather in a few days and had no idea that on October 29 there was a foot of snow in the forecast. Since we just moved into a new house I have no snow blower, no shovels, or anything capable of picking up snow. Hell, we don't even have furniture, so I guess it's no surprise we aren't prepared for a massive snowstorm. On our way home from furniture shopping (see, we are trying!) we drove as fast as we could to some local hardware stores to only find they had closed early because of the weather. I was screwed.

As I arrived home and sat in my living room watching the snow fall, I decided we weren't going to be the new kids in the neighborhood that let our driveway go to shit. I was going to find a way to stay ahead of the storm and clear that damn driveway. I looked around the house for ideas. After a few minutes of pondering, I came up with what I thought was a genius plan. I took a broom stick, a dust pan, and Laura's hair elastic (what do you know, we have no tape in this house either) and constructed what I thought was the worlds best shovel.  I would find out in about five minutes that it was a total piece of shit, but that didn't stop me from rushing outside to show off my newly constructed product.

I felt great after scooping my first few bits of snow. I knew it was going to take me a few hours to get the job done, but my new invention made me feel so smart I really didn't care about time. About five or six scoops into the process my dust pan had enough and decided to inform me that it was made to pick up @#$%ING DUST and not wet, heavy snow. It had snapped into two extremely jagged edged pieces, one of which made its way straight into my hand. As I let out a loud scream, I swear I heard the thing say, "that'll teach this dumb bastard." It sent me running into the house and up the stairs yelling at Laura to grab me some band-aids and a first aid kit. Serves me right I guess. No more inventions for me.

Friday, October 21, 2011

SIR, HAVE YOU BEEN DRINKING?

Laura's car is a piece of shit. Ok, I take that back. Calling it a piece of shit is taking it a bit far, but it has seen its better days. Over the years its had its fair share of issues, so when she told me one of her windows was broken and wouldn't go up, I wasn't surprised. It's not the fact that the car is too old, or not a good car. I mean, the thing is a Honda and should go another 120,000 miles. It is the fact that she drives the thing like a damn bumper car. Just take a look at her bumpers and you'll see what I'm talking about. She's rear-ended people, sideswiped her own car while driving someones else's, backed into just about everything imaginable, and almost drove through our garage door.  Laura has a bunch of great qualities about her, driving just isn't one of them.

For the last month she has driven around with her passenger window down, allowing whatever wants to come in the car, to freely come on in. Whether its the forty degree temperatures when she drives to work at six in the morning, or the monsoon like rain that passes through the area every couple of days, its made itself comfortable on the passenger seat of her car recently.  For some reason Laura was too proud to tape a garbage bag over the window because she thought it would make her car "look like crap." Personally, I'm not sure how much crappier it could possibly look, and actually think it could potentially hide some of the cars flaws. I mean what's more embarrassing? Driving with a dark bag covering your open window during a hurricane, or having people watch you struggle to not drown as your drive down route 1.

video

Police Officer - "Sir, have you been drinking tonight."

Me - "No sir, just taking my girlfriends car down to the body shop to fix her broken window."

Anyways, I was free yesterday, and started to feel pretty bad for her piece of shit car, so I decided to take the thing down to a dealership my uncle works at to get an idea why the window won't go up. We take it over to the Collision Center and the mechanic comes out to inspect the problem. He tries the window a few times and sees that it won't budge. "Hmmm, looks like there may be a problem with the motor." He tries it a few more times. "Yeah, its got to be the motor." He pauses to think for a minute, then looks at me. "The window lock button isn't pressed over there is it?" In my head I quickly think to myself, "come on buddy, she's been driving around in the cold, soaking wet rain for the last month! I think she would have had the common sense to un-press the window lock button by now!" Instead, I just looked and said, "No, there's no way its pressed. It's definitely the window. Everything on this car is falling apart!" Just as I finish, he reaches across the center console, clicks the window unlock button, and what do you know?! The window goes up like brand new. You've got to be shitting me.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

LESSON LEARNED

Yes, I am still alive. I've spent the last few weeks of my life moving all of my belongings (my XBOX, clothes, and baseball bats) from my old house to my new house which we just recently purchased. It's the first time I've bought a house for myself and I'm starting to learn I'm a complete amateur in the department of "making your new home livable so you won't go crazy". As I sit here with my computer, a little bit of food, and not much else, let me fill you in on my lessons learned over the past two weeks.

Lesson #1
Always set up your cable early

As many of you know I am obsessed with television. I get made fun of because one of my hobbies is to walk into Best Buy and roam the TV aisle, even though I have no intentions of buying one. I just think they are pretty, much like a woman views her pocketbooks. (Although I still feel pocketbooks are a waste of money.) It turns out, once a television is placed in your home without cable, it's not that fun to stare at anymore. I've had my television laying on the living room floor now for two weeks, still waiting for Verizon to come hook up my cable. I never knew it took more than two weeks for them to set the damn thing up. Do yourself a favor and plan the cable to be set up on your arrival date. Make sure to call a few weeks in advance, not a few days like I tried.


Lesson #2
Buy furniture

Why when we were kids was it fun to sit "Indian style"? Remember those days? It was like the cool thing to do. Well, I was a pretty big geek, so maybe that had something to do with it. Anyways, it's really not that fun anymore. At 26 years old it's painful to even try to get from a standing position to the floor, never mind trying to cross one leg over the other. The problem is, I have no furniture, so if you want to eat at my house you either stand, or sit on the floor. I learned this the hard way the first day I moved in here. I found the stairs much easier than the floor, but don't be like me. Order your furniture early and have it delivered the day you move in. Don't be like us and think, "we don't want just any table. We will be living here for years, lets hold off until we find something we love!" If you think like this you will be eating your fair share of dinners as such.


Lesson #3
Order your shower doors in advance

I was pretty excited. For the first time in my life I had a real shower, not a bath tub that also acts as one. Unfortunately, I won't be able to use it for three weeks, because that's how long it takes for glass doors to be made. By this time you're probably realizing I'm quite the procrastinator. I thought all these companies would drop everything they were doing to make sure my house was ready to live in the second I called. I've now learned that isn't the way things work, but Laura is the real one that suffers. Her job is to hold up the shower curtain for me.

Lesson #4
Buy some power tools

You think you're strong? I thought I possessed a decent amount of strength, at least more strength than my sister. Turns out, I'm not so sure anymore. I was assigned the task of installing the mailbox yesterday. No problem. Sounds easy enough to me. Turns out it's a complete pain in the ass. Two hours into the process I started to pray I struck oil and could retire and pay someone else to put my next mail box in. If you follow the directions, they recommend you dig to @#$%ing China to ensure your mailbox is properly installed. Don't think for one second doing this with your basic shovel is going to be a nice easy weekend job.


This was me before my neighbor came over to help (above). He has apparently installed a mailbox before. Because this was me after he came to the rescue (below).


Lesson # 5
Just buy an apartment

Enjoy your weekend!



Thursday, September 22, 2011

MY FAVORITE PLAYS OF 2011

Looking back at my favorite offensive and defensive plays of the 2011 season with the Syracuse Chiefs.

 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

SPORTS TALK RADIO

I have a strange hobby. Well, I guess it isn't technically a hobby, but it is something I do every single day. When I get in my car to start my morning I always turn the radio to 98.5 The Sports Hub, where there is none stop chatter about the Celtics, Bruins, Patriots, and Red Sox. There are certain guys I really enjoy listening to on there, who do a great job of breaking down games and give excellent insight into the upcoming schedule. There are also certain guys that I can't stand to listen to. These are the guys that find something negative to say about every game no matter the sport. If the Patriots win 45-0 they will find a way to make it seem like they are the worst team in the league. If the Red Sox go 22 and 6 for the month of June they will make a case for how disappointing it was because they should never have blown two of those games. My problem is, although I disagree with mostly everything they say and would love to beat the crap out of them, I can't turn it off.

Lucky for me, I've arrived home right at the perfect time. The Boston Red Sox are in the playoff hunt and over the last few weeks they have seen their lead in the Wild Card race dwindle to only two games. Every single day I drive to workout I get to hear all the reasons why the team is full of "bums", "losers", "stiffs", and "soft players", and how they should all empty their lockers, pack up their stuff, and choose a new profession. Obviously, if you don't come in first place by thirty games or clinch a playoff spot by August, it's time to back up the truck and turn Fenway "Pahk" into an actual parking lot, right?

Before I go on, let me say that I think Boston fans are some of the best in the world. Their level of passion and knowledge for their teams is matched by few cities around the country. But I also think people around here often times overreact to a lot of silly things, and I think right now is one of those times. All I've heard lately, whether I'm walking around the gym, eating at some wicked good restaurant, or stuck in traffic, is people talking about how shitty the Sox are.  Let's take a few minutes today and talk about why everyone seems to be going crazy in Beantown.

PERFECT BASEBALL

One thing I've learned after playing baseball for the last twenty years of my life is that in baseball, anything can happen. You can be the friggin' man one week and the goat the next. It's a game of ebbs and flows. As a player you don't judge yourself on one game or even one week, but instead learn to look at your performance over the long haul. If I were to go crazy every time I went  0 for 4 in a game, or each time I struck out, I would drive myself insane and be locked in a padded cell before I came anywhere close to the all-star break. You learn to put your last game, whether good or bad, in the rearview mirror as quick as possible, because there will be another game in less than twenty four hours. That's the way the season is played as a professional. 162 games, almost every night, for six months.

Now that the Sox are in the playoff hunt fans take a microscope to every little thing that happens in a game. Ortiz strikes out to end the first, people think the game is over. Gonzalez hits into a double play in the 3rd, "forget about it, this one's over!"  The game of baseball is not going to change just because its now the playoff race. Hitters will continue to hit into double plays during a playoff run, they will still strikeout with men in scoring position, and they will occasionally chase a curveball in the dirt. Pitchers will still let up home runs, throw wild pitches, and sometimes they won't make it out of the fourth.  I can't believe how many people I've heard call into the radio and say "how can Crawford hit into a double play right there?!?! We're in a playoff race!!!"

The bottom line is, the game of baseball doesn't change just because it's September. Infielders will still make errors, hitters will pop out, and pitchers will walk guys. Don't worry, the Yankees, Rays, and everyone else's guys will still make the same mistakes they've made all season too. I'm sorry, but if you think you're team is going to magically play perfect baseball every single night now that you think these games mean more than the 140+ others, it isn't going to happen. That's just baseball.

I understand, the Sox have't played their best baseball the last few weeks, but that doesn't mean they will suck forever. Like I said earlier, it's a game of ebbs and flows. They didn't play well in April, played great in the middle of summer, haven't played well in September, and could very well play unbelievable for the rest of the year. Baseball has a weird way of evening things out.

INJURIES

Ok, now that I'm starting to get worked up, lets get into what really grinds my gears so I can hopefully start to sleep better at night! Over the past few weeks the Red Sox have been bitten by the injury bug, and now all you hear is, "these guys just don't care anymore! If he was a real ballplayer he'd go out there and play with two broken legs! It's September!!!"  I can't understand why when a key player gets hurt late in the year he is now considered "soft" or a "pansy". Suddenly he doesn't care to win. He's a baby. He only cares about the money. It's ridiculous. Believe me, these guys do everything they can to be healthy enough to get out on the field every single day, especially when there is a playoff race. Do you think guys play every single day for six months through all types of ailments to just pack it in when a possible World Series trophy is within reach? Sometimes no matter what you do you can't get out there and play. Injuries are a part of the game, no matter the month.

And there's my rant. I'm sure most people will still say I'm full of shit and the Red Sox are still a bunch of choke artists and overpaid babies. Oh well, I tried.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

THAT'S ALL FOLKS

That's it. My 2011 season officially ended and I'm back home sitting on my sofa trying to find something to do. For the last six months I've basically been at work every single day from 2:00 PM to 11:00 PM, traveled on buses and planes for hours at a time, roamed from hotel to hotel, and eaten enough Chipotle to kill a small horse. Things will be a little different for me over the next six months, except for the Chipotle part. I'll probably only go four times a week instead of the usual seven. Life feels so different when you don't have somewhere to be every single day at a certain time. For now I will rest up my body from the grind of seven straight months of baseball, but as the weeks go by I will begin to work out more intensely and begin preparing for the 2012 season.

Since I've returned home many people have asked how my season went, what I thought about my performance, and what's in store for next year. Since I've got some spare time, I figured now would be a good time to sit down and reflect on the 2011 season.

To start things off, the year didn't begin the way I had originally envisioned when I arrived at Spring Training. With a week to go in camp I strained my left hamstring causing me to miss the first month of the year. After going through the last two years injured with San Diego this obviously wasn't the start I was hoping for with my new team, but it turned out only being a slight bump in the road along the way.

When I was healthy enough to return to the playing field around the beginning of May, I was sent to Double-A to play in the Eastern League for the Harrisburg Senators. It was going to be my first time playing in Double-A since 2007. When I first heard I was heading to AA instead of AAA I wasn't thrilled, but after being out of baseball for more than a year you never know exactly what's going to happen when you return. I was new to the organization and they didn't really know exactly what I was able to do on the field, so heading to AA and showing I could still be successful was what I needed to do. Turns out my stay in Pennsylvania was short. After playing four games I was called into our manager's office and told I was heading up to Syracuse, New York, to play for our Triple-A team.

My first two weeks in Syracuse I was rotating with a few players and basically starting about three to four games a week. Again, things didn't start exactly how I was hoping, but after a few weeks I started to hit well and eventually stuck in the starting lineup. One of my most exciting parts of the year came about two months after arriving in New York when I was named to the International League All-Star Team. It was my second time being named to an all-star team in my career, and the first time making it at the Triple-A level. Looking back at the way the season started for me I would never have guessed I would have the opportunity to be an all-star, but sometimes things turn out better than you expected.

The last two months of the season moved faster than any season I've ever experienced in the past. Two months honestly felt like two weeks, and before I know it the "dog days of August" were in the rear view mirror and my final game of the 2011 season was upon us. The end of this season was a little different for me from past years. Because I signed a one year contract with the Nationals the possibility of me being with a different team next Spring Training is much higher than in the past. Throughout my career I've been a part of many great teams and made friendships that will last much longer than my baseball career will. This year's team was one of my favorites to be a part of. Entering the year with a new organization for the first time in five years I wasn't sure what to expect, but I honestly couldn't have been luckier landing with the team that I did.

I'm not sure what this off-season will bring, but I am really excited to build on this past year and improve in all areas of my game. I was able to do a lot of things on the field this year that I wasn't given the opportunity to do in the past. For one, I played four positions throughout the year. The majority of my playing time came at third base where I really hadn't spent much time since my college days at Wake Forest. I played a decent amount of games at my natural position of second base and played about fifteen games at short stop. I hadn't played a game at short stop since high school back in 2003. I also had the chance to play the outfield for the first time in my life. I believe I played about five games or so in left field and I must say it's pretty damn fun. As far as the batting lineup goes I think I hit in every position, and I was able to finish the last week of the season hitting in the 3-hole, which was fun for my ego. I've always been an on-base type hitter who hits in the leadoff or 2-hole, so hitting in the third spot at least made me feel like I had some power, even if it was only for a week. This was another part of why I enjoyed myself so much this season. I was able to do so many things that I was never able to do during my five previous seasons. Playing a bunch of different positions and hitting all over the lineup kept things fresh and exciting throughout the year.

I want to thank everyone that kept up with the blog, came out to the stadium to watch us play, and wished me luck throughout the season. I'm not sure what uniform I will be in come March of next year but I know it will be another fun season full of unexpected twists and turns, and hopefully I will be able to achieve my goal of getting back in a Major League uniform. Thanks again!


Friday, September 2, 2011

HONESTLY, WHO THROWS A SHOE?

BOOOOOOOO!!!!! I must admit. I've never understood booing. I mean, I guess I kind of get it. A player from your favorite team just screwed up. He struck out, he fumbled, he missed a dunk, he tripped over the blue line, whatever it may be. Now you're pissed and you want him and everybody else to know about it. BOOOOOOOO!!!!!! I guess I just don't understand the objective behind booing. It's not really going to change anything. The guy screwed up. He knows he screwed up. He's the one playing the game. And no matter how mad you are as a fan about what just happened, believe me, he's more upset about it than you are.

We were playing a game a few nights ago in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania against the Iron Pigs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. One of their players missed a fly ball in the first inning and you know happened, the Boos started. I know what you're thinking. "Philly fans booing? No way!" As hard as it is to believe, yes it's true. I heard it with my own two ears. Anyways, when his name was announced over the loud speaker before his first at-bat it happened again. "BOOOOOOOO" As strike three hit the catchers mitt, you guessed it, "BOOOOOO!" Next at-bat same thing. "BOOOOOOO!" His third at-bat, yet again. "BOOOOOO!"

At this point the guy is 0-3 with three strikeouts. Now you know what Benjamin Franklin said about insanity right? He said its doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Now I'm no rocket scientist, but if you see the pattern that I'm seeing, I think it's time to try something else. Why not try clapping for him one time? How about you just laugh when he comes to the plate? Scream at him? I don't care if you take your shoe off and throw it towards home plate. Just try anything but booing. It's obviously not working. It's not beneficial for your blood pressure and it sure as hell doesn't seem to be helping his confidence. I'm sorry, but booing isn't going to make someone get a hit. Believe me, if it did, I'd make sure to tell everyone in the stadium to boo the shit out of me every time I stepped to the plate.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

AMAZING

I have to confess. Many of you have seen my Nerf basketball video where my former roommate Wade Leblanc of the San Diego Padres and I drain some pretty ridiculous shots in our run down living room during Spring Training. Well, the truth is, a lot of those shots weren't made on the first try. In fact, some of them took five, ten, even twenty tries. But today I have something better for you. We're not joking around with this shot. No Nerf basketballs. I'm talking about the real thing. And this shot was made on the first try. No re-takes. No edits. First shot of the day. Swish. The shot is made by my current teammate J.D. Martin and he needs some props. If my shitty Nerf basketball shots made it all the way to ESPN and First Take then this shot needs to get there too. With you're help, and J.D.'s super human talents, I'm positive it will. Here you go.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

YOU DO KNOW IT'S A HURRICANE?

I've always wondered why the hell weather reporters have to stand outside during their live footage when covering really dangerous storms. I'm watching news coverage of Hurricane Irene right now on The Weather Channel and some idiot is standing on the coast of Virginia Beach giving live coverage of the storm. The wind is blowing about 75 MPH, the rain is so hard that I can't even see the damn guy, and he can't talk because he is chocking on water. He has said about ten times, "there is a severe weather warning and you should take cover and stay away from windows and please DO NOT leave your house. If you know anyone that is thinking about going outside please tell them to STAY INSIDE!!!" Yet, this numb nut is standing in the eye of the storm with a microphone. Well, they just lost the connection to this guy and don't really seem to be very concerned, so I'll go back to ESPN. Seriously though I hope everyone is safe this weekend.

Anyways, it has been a busy week for me. We played a four game series against the Pawtucket, Red Sox so I was able to go home for four days for the first time since the beginning of February. The weird thing about the baseball season is that we travel so much it felt like I was just home a few days ago. The season is really a blur and sometimes you lose track of time and forget where you are and how long you have been away. The cool part about going back home was that we played one of our games at Fenway Park. Although I had previously hit a few times at Fenway, it was my first time every playing a game there. It was pretty exciting to play on the same field as many of my childhood idols. I would have loved to take one "ova the Monstah" in my four at-bats, but I forgot to eat my Wheaties that day and only managed a single and double. Either way it was still a great time and awesome atmosphere. Thanks to everyone that came out to the game to cheer us on and take in the game.

Right now I am getting mentally prepared, because Hurricane Strasburg is making its way to Alliance Bank Stadium in Syracuse tonight at 7:05. It should be total chaos, which should make the game quite fun. I think they are expecting a sell out crowd, which would make for the biggest crowd this year. If you are in the area come down and check it out!

Lastly, one of my teammates JD Martin made one of the most amazing basketball shots I've ever seen, and it was done on his very first try. I'm going to throw the video up here in a few days and it is our job to get this thing on ESPN somehow. I have faith we can do it! Until then, have a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

ANIMAL HOUSE

Wooooo!!! College!!! The good old days right? Well, this is just another sign that I'm just getting old. Last night around 2:30 AM I was awakened by a dozen teenage kids horribly singing along to Britney Spears and Jon Bon Jovi. Over the past few months I've thought it was extremely strange that I haven't seen one neighbor of mine in my apartment complex. Well, I have it figured out now. School was out of session over the summer, so the apartment emptied out, and to my liking was completely silent from May through July. Now it's August, school is back, and so are those damn students. I've quickly learned that I have extremely thin walls, hate college kids, and 95% of Americans sing like shit.

Flipping subjects, a few days ago I helped out with a local baseball clinic that was held at our home field here in Syracuse. I'm not sure how many of you guys have seen the show "Kids Say the Darnedest Things," but I remember watching it back when I was probably in middle school. One of my favorite parts about working the baseball clinics is hearing the outrageous things most of the kids have to say.

We took the first ten minutes to huddle up the group of 85 kids to ask and answer any questions they may have for us. One of my teammates asked the kids, who ranged in ages six to twelve, "who wants to one day be a professional baseball player?" As expected, about 90% of the kids started screaming, "I do! I do! I do!" One little kid in the back who looked to be about eight years old raised his hand, and when I asked him what was up he responded, "I want to be a professional baseball player for the money!" I've got to say that's the first time I've ever heard someone under the age of twenty hit me with that response. I'm guessing Scott Boras will be in contact with his parents in the near future.

Last week we were in the great city of Buffalo, New York playing a quick two game series against the Buffalo Bisons. At approximately 8 AM the most annoying fire alarm in the world went off. Not only was it the loudest thing in the world, but it talked to you. "Attention! This is an emergency! Please use the stairs and exit the building!" I did what I, and everyone else, normally does when an alarm goes off while staying at a hotel. First, you lay in bed until either the alarm shuts off, or you can't stand to listen to it anymore. You roll out of bed cursing, "who the @$#% pulled the fire alarm. I'm going to kill those damn kids!" You open the door and check the hallway. Is there smoke? Are people screaming as they sprint down the hallway and towards the exit? Nope, coast is clear. You return to your room and look out the window. Is there a fire outside? Smoke? People running for their lives? Doesn't seem like it. Back to check out the hallway. Why the @#%$ is the alarm still going off?!?!

At this point my roommate and I had to get up and leave the room. There was no quit in this fire alarm. We got to the stairwell on the 7th floor and realized there was nowhere to go. The thing was packed with people. After waiting in line for about five minutes the alarms finally went off and we were told there was no emergency. Unfortunately we had to be up for our day game in another hour so there was no need going back to bed. I love living in hotels.

Lastly, some of you have been wondering why I haven't played the last few games. Well, a few days ago I dove for a ball and somehow landed oddly on my ribs. It is nothing serious and I was given a few days to rest up. I was supposed to be back in the lineup two days ago but we've been rained out back to back days. I'm back in there today. Speaking of that, it's time to head to the field. I hope you all enjoy your week!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

THIS WEEK IN BASEBALL

I haven't been writing over the last week or so because of a few reasons. The first one is that I haven't had Internet in a while. I apparently went over my monthly limit on my Verizon card so I have to wait another few days before I can resume using it. Luckily we are in Buffalo, New York right now and the hotel Internet is free. I've also been mostly on the road over the last ten days spending four in Toledo, Ohio, four in Columbus, Ohio, and now two in Buffalo, New York. I can't wait for our upcoming eight game home stand.

I've had some interesting things happen to me over the last few days. First, I was eating at Ted's Montana Grill. If you haven't been there before you should try it out. They have bison burgers which are supposedly a lot better for you than normal beef burgers, although I'm not sure anything can reverse the damaging effects eating McDonald's and Burger King four days a week from the ages of eight to twenty-two had on my vital organs. Anyways, after paying for my meal I received my six dollars in change back from my waiter. It was paid to me with four one dollar gold coins and a two dollar bill. I didn't even know there were one dollar gold coins and I thought only my grandmother gave me two dollar bills as a little kid. At first I thought it was a joke, but apparently you can use both forms of payment. How exciting.

On a totally different subject, if you've ever wondered what it feels like to get hit with a ninety MPH fastball in the ribs I'll fill you in. It hurts like hell! This is what my ribs looked like three weeks after being hit by a pitch. Remember, this is three weeks later. Please disregard the extreme paleness of my skin. I seem to be allergic to the sun.



In other news, Mark Antonelli just received his one hundredth autograph request in the mail today. For some reason it was sent to me, and even though I've checked MILB.com fifty times I still haven't been able to find a Mark Antonelli in the minor leagues.



Switching gears once again, I've sadly decided to give up on my aspirations of having better hair than both Bradley Cooper and Matthew McConaughey, two of my hair idols. The length of my hair was really starting to get out of control and there is only so many times a guy can brush his hair behind his ear with his fingers before he is forced to draw a line and shave his head. It was a good six months, but like my girlfriend says, the hair had to go.

Well, its getting late and we have a day game tomorrow, so I'm going to sleep. I hope everyone enjoys their Thursday.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

HAUNTED HOTELS

I don't know what's up with the hotels in the International League over the past few weeks. Last week we stayed in Scranton, Pennsylvania where we were told the hotel was possessed by ghosts. Yesterday I checked into my room in Toledo, Ohio and found a half drank Pepsi, the extremely pungent smell of Sex Panther cologne that really did sting my nostrils, and a rubber duck in the bath tub. It actually worked out pretty well for me though, as I quickly realized I had forgotten my G.I. Joe's back in Syracuse.

I tweeted last week about my haunted hotel experience, so I wanted to take a few minutes and let you all in on what it was like spending four nights with ghosts. I will preface my story with the fact that I am scared of the dark. Honestly, it scares the shit out of me. I can't even fall asleep with a night light on. That thing is probably even spookier than sleeping in total darkness. You can make fun of me it's fine. My three year old cousins give me shit for it all the time. Anyways, not only do I not like the dark, but I friggin' hate ghosts. Weird huh? The kid that doesn't like the dark is also afraid of ghosts. As surprised as you may be, it's true. So when I found out that our hotel was haunted you can probably tell how excited I was for the next four nights.

Before I head up to my room for my first night in our haunted hotel I am bombarded with ghosts stories from teammates that have either stayed there before or heard from other buddies the stuff they had experienced. I hear about the crazy "waiter ghost" that runs up and down the hallways with his tray of food only to disappear when guests spot him. The little kid that lives on the 6th floor that enjoys spinning his head around 360 degrees. The train that supposedly loudly passes right outside the hotel every night even though the tracks had been removed more than 100 years ago. And the lady that apparently commits suicide by jumping of the 6th floor balcony a few nights a week. These are just some of the stories I heard before making my way back to my room around 1 AM the first night.

As I open my door I'm greeted by my alarm clock radio playing at full blast. If you've seen the movie 1408 you know what I'm talking about. If I wasn't already intimidated of this place, I was now. You may be thinking, "Come on Matt, that's nothing to be scared of!" Well, the strange part is that the radio alarm was turned to "off " but the music kept playing. We eventually had to unplug the radio from the wall to get it to stop. When it was finally time to go to bed, falling asleep was harder than I had anticipated. According to the stories, guests usually notice strange activity in their rooms from 1 AM to 5 AM. It was about 2 AM at this point and I couldn't help but notice I was in the "danger zone." Our air conditioning unit wasn't helping my sleeping disorder any. It would turn on and off every few minutes accompanied by the most unpleasant sound I'd ever heard. Perfectly fitting for a haunted hotel. To my delight, it turns out I didn't spot any ghosts, but that didn't stop me from poking my head out from under the covers and checking for them every ten minutes throughout the night. Apparently I wasn't the only one that came up empty on the ghost front. We officially had zero sightings during our four day stay, and that's just fine with me. I'm just glad we don't go back there again this year, and if I'm back next year I probably won't be staying at the team hotel.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

PERFECT

Since I've been on the road the last few days and haven't had much time to write on here I wanted to take a quick minute and give a quick shout out and congratulations to former teammate of mine Justin Germano, who threw a no-hitter against us last night while pitching for the Columbus Clippers. As much as it sucked that he had to throw the no-no against us, it is still a great accomplishment, and the first time I have ever seen a perfect game.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

TRIVIA FOR BATTING GLOVES

Hey what's up everyone? We are going to have another trivia contest coming up in a few days and the winner will receive a brand new pair of red Nike batting gloves. The question will be posted on Tuesday, July 26 on my Touch 'Em All Baseball Channel. For more details on the contest check out this video.



Don't forget that in order to win you must subscribe to our Youtube channel here Touch 'Em All Baseball Channel and also be the first to leave the correct answer in the comment section on Youtube. I wish everyone luck!

Monday, July 18, 2011

ALL-STAR BREAK

Before I begin to write I want you guys to check this out. It may just be one of the most amazing things I've seen. Enjoy!


Ok now that you are extremely impressed, or really pissed I just wasted four whole minutes of your life, I can start to answer some questions. I've received a lot of emails over the past week asking about my experience at the All-Star game in Salt Lake City and also wishing me luck. I wanted to thank everyone for the good luck wishes and also take a few minutes to write a little bit about my time there.

I can't lie, when I arrived to our field last Sunday I was really looking forward to that three day All-Star break. I hadn't yet found out that I had made the All-Star team, so I had a glorious three days planned of sleeping, eating, laying on my sofa, eating some more, and probably going back to sleep. And it sounded terrific! I guess the first half of the season took more out of me than I had expected. I guess that's what happens when you haven't played a full season in more than two years. Or maybe that's what happens when you turn 26. Either way I felt old and tired and needed a break. When I found out that day that I had made the team and would be flying out to Salt Lake City at 6 AM the next morning the first thing that popped in my head was, "Shit, that 4 AM alarm is gonna suck." Once again I can't lie, the alarm really did suck when it went off the next morning. But looking back on the three days spent in Utah I'm extremely glad I didn't shut my clock off and go back to bed, and had the opportunity to be a part of the All-Star week.

It's always an honor to be named an All-Star, no matter what league you are playing in. After playing in the International League for more than two months I've seen a lot of really talented players, so being chosen to represent our league meant a lot. I know a lot of you guys have been asking what type of things went on during the break, so I'll take a few minutes to break it down for you.

I arrived in Salt Lake around 2 PM on Monday after a two hour flight to Atlanta and four hour flight to Utah. That night we had the home run derby where I was elected to participate but chose against it, instead allowing other guys to experience their time in the limelight. (I'm kidding. I have three home runs this year and nobody wants to watch someone shoot singles through the 4-hole in a home run derby) The event was actually pretty amazing. The finals was between Stefan Gartrell of the Gwinett Braves and a local high school player Kayden Porter, who qualified for the derby in the local high school home run derby. Don't let his age of sixteen fool you. He stood six foot five and weighed over 250 pounds. I honestly thought at first that Mark McGwire was a celebrity guest when I saw him walking to the plate. Even though he was allowed to swing a metal bat, I don't think I've ever seen a player of any age hit balls as far as this kid was hitting them. One was estimated at 550 feet, and it honestly may have gone further. It was by far the best home run derby I've ever been to.

The following day we arrived to the field around 11 AM and spent most of the afternoon signing autographs for fans and sponsors of the All-Star event. I was really surprised at home many Salt Lake Bee's fans remembered me from my Portland Beavers days. I guess it's hard to forget a guy that struck out that much. Anyways, later that day we had a game of Miracle Baseball with the Shriner's Hospital for Children. I was amazed at the swings some of these kids had. And the smiles on their faces when they made contact with the ball was priceless.

The following morning we were up early for a luncheon where the teams were introduced at EnergySolutions Arena, the home of the Utah Jazz. The guest speaker for our event was Rod Carew, former MLB player and Hall of Fame member. He spent about thirty minutes or so speaking with us about his career, sharing advice to the players and wishing us the best of luck. At the end he spent time answering everyones questions, mostly about baseball and how he could hopefully teach us to hit about 1/10 as well as he did. It's not everyday you are able to gain some knowledge from a Hall of Fame hitter so I was pretty excited.

Our game started later that night around 7 PM where we ended up defeating the Pacific Coast League 3-0. The PCL is known for its offense but this night was all about pitching. I ended the night playing four innings at short stop and went 0-2 at the plate. The game was televised on the MLB Network, and from what I've heard from people, my hair was looking pretty damn good in HD.

Before I knew, it was time to jump on a plane the following morning around 8 AM and head back to the East Coast to play in a game that night in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. I did come away with some cool gifts from the event. Every player received a really nice All-Star edition Rockwell watch, along with a Flip camera. What can I say, free stuff gets me pretty excited.

Now it's back to the grind. I think we have a little less than fifty games left on our schedule. If we want any chance at making the playoffs we will have to get a nice winning streak started soon and tonight sounds pretty good to me. I'll talk with you all later.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

MR. FIT

Hey guys. I just got back to Lehigh Valley after a long day of flying yesterday. I was going to write a little bit about my experience over the last few days in Salt Lake City, but I desperately needed to catch up on sleep. I figure I'll save the writing for tonight during our four hour bus ride back to Syracuse. Instead I thought I'd throw this up. It's a really really nice article from my friend and strength and conditioning coach Mark Cinelli, or as he's known by the ladies, Mr. Fit. He writes a fitness blog for the Boston Herald, so be sure to check it out online. Thanks Mark!


A Well Deserved Honor for one of My Athletes

Congratulations to CATZ Needham athlete, Matt Antonelli (Peabody, MA), on his selection for the 2011 Triple A All-Star game in Salt Lake City, Utah. Matt is currently playing professional baseball for the Washington Nationals, Triple A affiliate, Syracuse Chiefs. I have had the pleasure of training and getting to know Matt for the last three years. Matt is a hard working and dedicated individual and one of the most genuine people I know. At CATZ our Mantra is “Prepare to be Great”, and Matt exemplifies that in every sense of the word. He is willing to learn and wants to get better everyday. He strives to be the best person he can be on and off the field. Over the past two seasons Matt has battled back from a couple of injuries, as well as moving on to play for a new team. If there is anyone who deserves this honor, it’s Matt. Congratulations my friend and good luck in the Game


“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”

-Unknown


Matt you made this happen through commitment to yourself, desire to succeed and a will to never give up.


Stay Active, Stay Fit


Twitter.com/MrFitBlog


Monday, July 11, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY

Hey everybody, how are we all doing today? I received a nice surprise yesterday when I was told I'd be jumping on a plane today to Salt Lake City, Utah to participate in the Triple-A All-Star Game. I guess it's like they say, better late than never. I woke up this morning at 4 AM to head to the airport for what was suppose to be a total of seven hours of flight time. Unfortunately, both of my flights were delayed because of plane issues and the trip took just under nine. This got me thinking.

Why when your plane is delayed because of a mechanical problem do they always let you know specifically what the problem is? "Ladies and gentleman, we are having some problems with our aircraft today. It seems the right engine doesn't want to cooperate this morning and the left wing is partly detached from the body. We are going to have maintenance come out here with some superglue and see if we can get this thing put back together. Sorry for the delay." Now I have to fly across the country wondering the whole time what type of glue they used and if its strong enough to keep me in the air for six hours. Just tell us that the plane is delayed and for how long and that's it. I don't want to know specifics.

Anyways, the engine stayed on the entire time and it must have been some bad ass glue because I did arrive safely. I'll be heading over to the team hotel with one of my teammates Tom Milone to find out exactly what the deal is for the next few days. I believe we have the home run derby tonight, but for some reason me and my three home runs weren't invited. Too bad it wasn't a "seeing-eye single" derby. I'd dominate that shit.

I hope everyone enjoys the beginning of the new week and I will talk with you all after I get some much needed shut eye.

Friday, July 8, 2011

INTERVIEW

A few days ago I did an interview with Jason Benetti and Kevin Brown, the voices of Syracuse Chiefs baseball. I was asked some pretty freakin' hard questions, but I thought I did OK answering them. Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I THINK I BROKE MY ASS

Hey everybody! I hope you all had a great July 4th weekend! I spent mine playing two games over the weekend in Buffalo, New York and then headed back to Syracuse for a night game on the 4th of July. It's always fun to play during this time of year, as they tend to be some of the best baseball days of the season with sold out crowds and post game fireworks. While in Buffalo, Laura and I were able to take a quick trip over to Niagara Falls to check it out. Unfortunately, the traffic was horrible and by the time we arrived we only had about twenty minutes to walk around and enjoy the scenery. Nonetheless, it was still a pretty cool sight and a shit ton of water.

In other news, over the years I've dealt with my fair share of injuries. (If you've followed my blog you know what I'm talking about) In my five year professional career I've hurt a knee, a hand, a wrist, a finger, a hamstring, my mental health, and the list goes on. A few days ago I hurt something I've never hurt before. Don't worry, it isn't anything serious, but it sure hurts like hell. The crazy part is, it doesn't really hurt when I play, but it kills when I'm sitting on the sofa at home watching TV. A few days ago I slid into second base ripping my pants and sliding shorts that I wear under my uniform. Unfortunately, they don't give you much time for a wardrobe change and I had to slide three more times in the game. The difference was I now had the opportunity to slide on my bare ass. I'm guessing not many people have tried this before, but I can tell you from experience, it's not very fun to run full speed and dive naked onto dirt. Anyways, I now have the biggest strawberry known to man, and its located in perhaps the most uncomfortable spot to have a bruise. I'd show you a picture, but I don't want the cops showing up at my door. Instead, here is a video a fan took of my reaction after I slid.

video

There hasn't been a whole lot to write about over the last few days since its been basically the same busy schedule for me. I have noticed one thing that I thought I would write about today. Most people I talk with are extremely confused when I tell them that I play baseball every single night. I've probably received a few dozen texts, emails, Facebook messages, etc. from people asking me what I was planing to do for the holiday weekend. When I told them I was playing in Buffalo and then back in Syracuse to play on the 4th they seemed really surprised. I received the same response every time, "You don't get a few days off to celebrate?" The funny part is I don't receive this question just on the 4th. I get asked all the time what I'll be doing for the weekend. Again, when I tell people I have games they are surprised we don't get the weekends off. When I inform them that we only have one off-day a month they look at me stunned, kind of like the jury just told them Casey Anthony was not guilty. Most think I am lying. I've always just assumed people knew that baseball was played every single night. If you don't count the All-Star break as days off, since some guys will be playing in the game, we only have five off-days for the entire season, which lasts a little more than five months. Crazy I know.

Well, I just got back from a game and I have a big thing of Chinese food sitting next to me waiting to be eaten. I hope everyone enjoys the rest of the week. I'm hungry!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

VOLKSWAGEN KNOWS BASEBALL

Baseball can be a rough sport on your brain. Seriously, in the almost twenty years of playing, its given me my fair share of headaches. Ok, maybe not twenty years of headaches. When I played Little League the game was a little different. If you went 0 for 4 or your team didn't win it really didn't matter. Your coach was still taking the team out for ice cream sundaes after the game. Unfortunately, they don't allow twenty-six year olds to play Little League, and if you tried I'm sure you'd be getting a call from Chris Hansen at Dateline NBC. Baseball changes quite a bit after your mom stops driving you and your teammates to your games on the weekends. You've probably heard that at some point baseball becomes a "business." That may be true to a degree, but the changes I'm talking about have nothing to do with money. The game just gets hard.

Like with anything in life, it's not very fun when you fail, and in baseball you fail A LOT. I mean, if you fail seven out of ten times during your career as a Major League hitter there's a good chance you're going to the Hall of Fame. In what other line of work are you considered great for succeeding 30% of the time? You might be thinking, "man, all I have to do to be great is succeed 30% of the time? Where do I sign up?!?!" Well, that's the part that drives you crazy. It's really friggin' hard to be that successful, especially at the Major League level. Honestly, if you play baseball long enough it's an absolute certainty that at some point you will experience the desire to rip all of your hair out of your head. There's a reason why teams around the league are hiring sports psychologists to help their players improve their play. There's a reason why the "mental game" is such a big part of succeeding. It's because if you aren't mentally tough and don't know how to cope with some of the emotions this game will put you through, you really won't succeed.

Anyways, that was basically a really long intro for something that probably doesn't require one. I saw this on TV a few days ago and it really made me laugh. I get asked questions all the time about being a baseball player. Things like, what it's like to go through a slump, and what it feels like to have your swing go from feeling great one day to feeling like absolute crap the next? If you can't imagine what it feels like to not have things go your way as a hitter, this kid pretty much sums it up.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

HEADS UP!

Something happened at our game yesterday that got me thinking about a few things. While playing third base, I witnessed an older lady take a line drive foul ball straight to the cranium. I'm not talking about a glancing blow either. I'm talking about taking a ball hit over 90 mph right between the eyes, and she shook it off like she had just been bitten by a mosquito. It's tough to explain exactly what it looked like, but here is an attempt.

video
So, this got me thinking. Why doesn't this stuff happen more at ballgames. Now I'm not saying I wish it would, because it was pretty damn scary watching this lady take one straight to the dome, but I'm just surprised more people don't get hit. I play in close to 200 games every year and I might see one or two people really get hit hard by a foul ball. The crazy part is, I probably witness another 100,000 times where a line drive misses someone by an inch or two, ricochets off twelve empty seats, all while coming within inches of another thirty or so people. The craziest part is, most people are never watching the game and don't even flinch until a full two seconds after the ball has missed ending their life by a few centimeters.

This brings me to my second observation. Why is nobody ever watching the game! Now I understand, baseball can be pretty damn boring sometimes. I mean, I'm actually playing in the game and it is extremely tough to stay mentally focused pitch in and pitch out for every game of an entire season. But I do know one thing, if a ball was coming straight towards my face I would realize it's coming and get the hell out of the way. It is amazing how many times I witness a foul ball coming straight at people and not one person has any clue that a broken nose could be in their immediate future.

Anyways, I'm just looking out for people. So next time you go to a game, bring your glove, or at least where a helmet. It will make me feel a lot better.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

QUESTION AND ANSWER

Hey what's up guys? A few days ago I did an interview with DC is for Baseball, a website that talks about Nationals baseball. If you would like to read the article just click the link below. I hope you enjoy!

Click here for the full question and answer I did with DC is for Baseball

Monday, June 20, 2011

TO THE SOUTH

Hey what's going on everyone? I've received a lot of emails from people asking me where I've been, what's going on, and why I haven't been writing very much on here lately? As we get closer and closer to the midway point of the season, this is really where the days start to blend together. My days have began to feel like I wake up, go to the field, go to bed, wake up, go to the field, go the bed and so on. Plus, one of the main reasons I've cut down a little bit on the writing is because nothing really exciting has happened to me over the last few weeks. I don't want to bore everyone with the, "today I hit a single to left field and stole a base. It was a fun game. I can't wait to do it again tomorrow" talk. One thing I am learning is how hard it is to find fun material to talk about during the season. Like I said earlier, most of my days are spent at the field, so it can be tough to find new material to write about. I haven't had a whole lot of extra time to make Nerf basketball videos, run on water, or talk about "what really grinds my geahs". When I do find some funny stuff to write about I'll be sure to jot it down for everyone.

Anyways, a few days ago we jumped on a plane for Charlotte, North Carolina. I went to school about an hour away from Charlotte, so it was nice to be back in the area again. I always liked North Carolina and how laid back the people are down there. People are just so nice. They always address you as "mam" or "sir", they thank you for the simplest of things, and they don't seem to always try to find something to curse at you about. I'll tell you one thing, it's a lot different from the Northeast. Most people down there actually have manners, won't try to run innocent pedestrians over while crossing the street, and don't flip you the bird just for shits and giggles. I don't know if I could permanently live there, but it is most definitely a nice change of pace once in a while.

After a four game series we traveled yesterday to Gwinnett, Georgia to play another four game series against the Atlanta Braves Triple-A affiliate. My days here so far are spent walking through the 95 degree heat with 3000% humidity to find the closest restaurant to eat at. One of the worst parts about being on the road is not having a car to get around the city. Basically everywhere I go is on foot, and since I'm such a picky eater I probably walk further than most to find that days lunch. If you have any good ideas about how I can get from my hotel to lunch and it doesn't involve walking or calling a cab let me know!

Well, like I said, on my wake up, go to the field, and go to sleep schedule its about that time to go to sleep. Hopefully someone streaks naked across the field in the middle of the game tomorrow night so I'll have something new to talk about. Talk to you later!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

COMING BACK FROM INJURY

Hey guys! Since I am back and playing baseball again on a regular basis for the first time in about two years I've started to get a lot of interview requests from newspapers and websites about the last few years of my career. Obviously the biggest topic and question that I am asked about is my injury. This is probably the most in depth I've gone into what happened over last year with my injuries and missed season, so I wanted to give everyone that doesn't know a chance to see what has transpired since last April. I hope you enjoy.


Experiencing a major injury is something most athletes will go through at some point in their career if they play long enough. Mine came when I turned 25 years old. I had made it through almost twenty years of team sports, including a lifetime of hockey and football, without ever visiting a hospital. I had minor bumps and bruises, and thirty or so stitches, but nothing that kept me out of a game. In most cases, nothing is worse than when the doctor finally says the dreaded word, "surgery." I guess my situation was a little different.

I could probably write a book about how my surgery and recovery from it went over the eight month period, but I'll save you the time, and me the carpal tunnel. I had been experiencing pain in my hand and wrist for over a year. I may not play a contact sport, but when it comes to a hurt wrist, I wish I did. It's nearly impossible to successfully swing a baseball bat when every time you do so resembles being stabbed with a sharp object. I had been to numerous hospitals, seen a hand full of doctors, and no one could really figure out exactly what was wrong with me. The hand and wrist are complex. There are a lot of things in a really small area that could be causing the pain, so pinpointing the problem is far from easy. In fact, problems with the lateral part of the bottom hand for a baseball player can often times be career threatening. Really not the way I envisioned myself exiting the sport just after my twenty fifth birthday.

Eventually, after what I always say, "enough cortisone shots to kill a small horse" and many different diagnoses, I was told I had a broken hamate bone. Like I said earlier, most players cringe at the thought of surgery, but for me it was different. I was actually relieved. Since I was told for so long that nothing was wrong with me, I thought I would never be able to play pain free again, because there was nothing to fix. Knowing that there had been a problem, and that I hadn't gone crazy, was actually good news.

I went under the knife on April 28th, 2010, about two years after I first felt discomfort in my hand. Here is a video before and after surgery my first surgery.



Looking back at all of this, the surgery was actually the easy part. It was the rehab that sucked. First of all, it's boring as hell. For the first two weeks you do absolutely nothing. I needed help doing the simplest of tasks. I couldn't wash myself, I couldn't cook, I couldn't drive, I couldn't do anything. After I got my cast off I was able to start using my hand again. First my job was to pick up change. I would empty my wallet and make piles of pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. That was it. It felt a lot like being in pre-school all over again. I would do this everyday for about a week. Once I became strong enough I would squeeze a rehab ball that felt similar to play-doh. As the weeks passed I would start to use light weights, maybe three to five pounds, and do wrist curls. You can imagine how boring this would be, but it was also somewhat painful. I would go to the field for about an hour or two everyday, but other than that I was in my apartment reading books, watching TV, and sleeping. Luckily I had my girlfriend living with me to keep me company and take care of me, or I may have gone insane with boredom.

My rehab moved much, much slower and took much longer than most hamate surgery rehabs. In fact, I started to think I was crazy again. We were now two months out of surgery and I was in the same amount of pain that I was in before surgery! At the ten week mark, when most players who receive hamate surgery are back on the field playing in games, I was struggling to hit off a tee. I did so in pain every single day. I actually thought my career was over. There was no way I could play in the state that I was in, and I already had the surgery that was suppose to fix everything. After exhausting every option to get back on the field I just couldn't do it and opted to instead receive another surgery to see what was wrong.



After opening my hand up for a second time they found I had developed a cyst on the side of my wrist that they believed was the reason for my extreme pain and lack of improvement over the two months. After this surgery I rehabbed the exact same way as after my first surgery. If you thought rehabbing once was the worst thing in the world, try to do it all over again. The good news was that this time the pain actually went away after a few months. The fact that I've played through the 2011 Spring Training and am now two months into the regular season and I haven't had the slightest hint of pain in my hand is somewhere I wasn't sure I would ever get to.

I guess I've learned a lot throughout my eight months of surgery and rehab. For one, I've learned about the anatomy of the hand. Sadly, I've memorized the eight carpal bones and can recite them on command. (What a geek) On a more serious note, I've learned a lot about staying positive when nothing seems to want to go your way. If I had given up after my first surgery didn't work and the pain never wavered I wouldn't be playing right now. I've learned about being patient and staying determined in the face of adversity. I've always believed that certain things happen for a reason, and that helped me continue to stay patient and positive, and have faith that I would eventually be back to playing. And probably the most important thing I've learned throughout this year long process is making sure at least one of my kids is a doctor. Those medical bills are friggin' expensive! I am truly sorry Padres.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

BASEBALL TIP OF THE WEEK

Hey guys how are we doing? I've received a few emails over the past week saying that I haven't put up a "Baseball Tip of the Week" video in a few weeks, so here you go. Also, if you would like to see the tips when I forget to throw them up on here, you can click here and subscribe to our Youtube page where we put them up every few days.

I would love to stay and chat but my eyes are closing after an early morning and a day game today. I will talk with you all tomorrow!


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

CAN'T WIN THEM ALL

Hey guys, how are we doing today? I just returned home to Syracuse after an eight game road trip and it feels great to be back. Weird that even though I live in a hotel here in Syracuse it now feels more like a house than just one room with a bed and crummy television. I'm actually hoping to move into my apartment tomorrow, which I'm sure will feel like a penthouse suite even though it is only a small loft. I'll be able to enjoy about a week or so there until we board our next plane for an eight game road stand in North Carolina and Georgia.

So, after waking up from my semi-coma since returning from our 6 AM plane flight yesterday, all I've heard on the television, radio, and Internet is how Lebron James had the worst game four in the history of sports and how it is absolutely unacceptable. My hotel only has about six channels and I literally cannot find one that isn't talking about Lebron. I can't drive in my car without hearing it on my radio. And I can't surf the web without reading it somewhere. I understand it's the championship series, but how much more can everyone continue to scrutinize the guy before they just accept the fact that sometimes you don't play well. I admit, I didn't watch the game because I had a game of my own, but I did see his stat line of scoring only eight points and heard about his choice of opting to pass much more than shoot throughout the game. The thing that I find strange is how none of the media can just accept the fact that the guy had a bad game. I've said it a thousand times, like Forrest Gump said in one of the greatest movies of all-time, "Shit happens...sometimes." The guy is perhaps the greatest player on the planet, and when it is all said and done will go down as one of the top players to ever play the game, but that still doesn't mean he will never have a downright shitty game.

I've seen ESPN interview every analyst, expert, friend, former girlfriend, his elementary school teachers, and so on to try and find out what happened to Lebron in game four. I've heard one hundred different excuses like he's afraid, he didn't care, he checked out, he's nervous, he didn't sleep well the night before, and blah, blah, blah. The truth is, sometimes you suck. Sometimes the ball doesn't go into the hoop. Sometimes you lose your confidence. Sometimes the other team shuts you down. Sometimes it's just not your day. Shit happens. When he absolutely dominates the next game is it going to be because he suddenly wasn't nervous, he got over his fears, he got some good rest before the game, his mom remembered to cook him his good luck breakfast that morning? It just drives me nuts that these "experts" can't just say he had a bad game. It happens to the best of them. Tiger Woods has days where he couldn't hit a tee shot into the ocean from a boat. I've seen my main man Tom Brady have games where he just can't seem to hit an open wide receiver. Albert Pujols has stretches of games where he can't get a hit, and the guy actually is a machine. Bad games happen. Although at times all these great athletes do things that defy physics, in the end they are all human...I think.