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.

Monday, June 6, 2011

RAIN DELAY

Hello everybody! Since I've been back playing for the last month or so, I've been involved in a good amount of rain delays, suspensions, and cancellations. If you are a huge baseball fan and have sat through as many rain delays as I have, I believe you will find this extremely funny. If you don't, well I'm sorry but you should!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

FLYING SUCKS

Well, I made it. I arrived to Louisville in one piece after our 3:15 AM wake up call and 5 AM flight on Monday morning. It wasn't easy and it sure as hell wasn't fun, but I didn't accidentally forget to wake up for our game, and I managed to not fall asleep during one of my at-bats, so overall I'd mark that down as a great success.

During out flight I experienced a few things that I found funny, mainly because they didn't happen to me, but they also got me thinking. What the hell do these things have to do with safety? Maybe you all can help me out.

The first one happened at around 5:00 in the morning. One of my buddies next to me is sound asleep. Most of us were working on one or two hours of sleep if we were lucky, so everyone was trying to catch up on some Z's once we got on the plane. About ten minutes before takeoff our flight attendant attempted to get his attention by yelling "Sir!" three to four times. When she realized he was dead asleep and there was no waking him she went with the "shoving method". I'm sure he thought for a spilt second that the plane was going down, but once he realized what was going on he gave her that groggy look of, "what the hell do you want, and where am I?" The reason she was so hell bent on waking him. "Sir, you're window shade has to be completely up for take off!"

OK fine, if not having the window shade completely up is going to take this plane down, then go ahead and shake the hell out of all of us. But the next one I'm still confused about. About twenty minutes after takeoff one of our guys decided to switch seats, opting for an empty row where he could better get some shut eye. As the flight attendant came down the aisle she must have noticed that someone was not in the row earlier in the flight, but now was. "Sir! Excuse me Sir!" Once again this wasn't working on us. Her back up plan was to shake him (she was a big fan of shaking) which worked after three or four times. "Sir, did you move to these empty seats from another spot on the plane?" He looked at her and shook his head. "OK," she responded as she walked away. I'm still not sure if maybe she was jealous everyone on the plane was sleeping while she wasn't able to, but I still have no idea why the hell you would wake people up at 5 AM for this stuff. Maybe that stuff is important, and I'm not really that upset because it didn't happen to me, but I'm still very confused about it.

Anyways if you are a flight attendant, or maybe have a friend that is one, you can help me out on this one. In the meantime, I have to get over to the stadium for our game tonight. See you guys later.