Friday, February 24, 2012

DAY ONE OF SPRING TRAINING

I witnessed something yesterday for the first time in my baseball career, so I figured it's only right that I share. I was standing in the outfield grass shagging baseballs during our batting practice session when a home run ball was hit over our left field fence. If you've ever been to our Spring Training complex here in Sarasota you know that beyond the left field fence of one of our practice fields is a main stretch of road where traffic flows about forty MPH in four lanes, two heading north and two heading south. As the ball landed squarely on the road and came to a stop, an oncoming driver thought it was a good idea to slam on their breaks, jump out of their car, and rush through oncoming traffic to retrieve the ball. The guy came about two feet from getting killed by a van that was barely able to swerve out of his way. Standing about one hundred feet away in centerfield I could actually hear the driver of the van scream, "Look out!!!!" out of his open window. I know retrieving home run balls can be exciting and I've seen chaos ensue after home run balls like Barry Bonds' 756th and Derek Jeter's 3000th hit, but risking your life for a $10 ball you can pick up on EBay probably isn't the best idea.

Anyways, after being down here in Sarasota for about a week, we officially had our first team practice of the spring. After going through our yearly physicals we took the field around noon for some bunt defense, fielding, and hitting. Although it felt like it was 100 degrees with 100% humidity after becoming accustomed to the 30 and 40 degree days in the northeast, I survived the day and enjoyed myself. We have about a week or so of practices before our first game on March 5th, so I will start to go a little more in depth over the next few days about some of the things happening on the field. Since it's still only day one of waking up at 6 AM and my body has not yet adapted, it's time for me to hit the hay. I will talk to you later.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

SARASOTA

We have finally arrived in Sarasota, Florida after driving 26 hours from our home in Massachusetts. Our trip originally consisted of splitting the drive into three days, but after encountering a few unexpected twists, it was completed in only two. The first day we drove about nine hours and stopped just outside of Washington D.C. We planned on driving eight hours the next day and stopping in Savannah, Georgia for the night, but after arriving there around 9 PM we decided we might as well continue driving in hopes of arriving ahead of schedule.

We pulled into Jacksonville, Florida around midnight to find a hotel and get a good nights sleep. After walking into a Holiday Inn Express we were told that every hotel in the Jacksonville area was sold out because of a go-cart event and something to do with an aquarium. We were forced to jump back on the road and drive out of town in search of another hotel. The drive from Jacksonville to Sarasota was still four hours away and I really didn't feel I had the energy to go all the way through after already driving over twelve hours that day.

For the next three hours we called every single hotel in Florida in search of a vacant room and successfully found zero. You probably think I'm joking around when I say this, but we seriously did not find one single hotel that had an open room. Here is the call log I started after leaving Jacksonville around midnight. This is only eight of the sixteen calls I placed, and Laura was simultaneously doing the same thing on her phone. I have never seen an entire state be out of hotels before, but somehow it happened the one night we needed one. Needless to say we drove the four hours and arrived in Sarasota a little after 4 AM.


As fun as it was searching for a hotel for three straight hours, that was not the only excitement I was privileged to along our trip. If any of you have been following my blog for a few years you will remember our first road trip to Spring Training in Peoria, Arizona in 2010. If you don't remember, here is a quick video of what that trip looked like. This is part II of the trip, so if you want to see part I you can find it on YouTube.



Anyways, as you can see, Laura somehow found a way to get us off the main highway and onto a one lane service road in the middle of the state of Texas after I allowed her to drive for three and a half minutes. This time around, while driving through Virginia, I thought it would be a good idea to let her drive once again. As you will see, some things never change.

video

She somehow managed to get us off the highway and onto a one lane road with a 25 MPH speed limit. I'm all for sight seeing, but when you've already been on the road for ten hours and have more than fifteen remaining the last thing I want to do is check out some good farm land. This is exactly why when divvying up the drive time between the two of us, it goes like this. Four hours for me, ten minutes for Laura, four more hours for me, five minutes for Laura. Have a great day!

Friday, February 17, 2012

SPRING TRAINING DRIVE

I officially set out for the 24 hour drive from my hometown to Sarasota, Florida for the start of the 2012 baseball season. Last night after Laura got out of work, we left Boston around 5:30 PM and drove about eight hours until we reach Washington D.C. The trip actually went fairly smoothy until we reached Baltimore and got stuck behind what seemed to be a car accident that left drivers walking around the highway for around forth-five minutes waiting for traffic to begin moving again. We stopped for dinner in New Haven, Connecticut to grab pizza at Frank Pepe's. Have any of you ever grabbed a pizza from there before? From what everyone says it serves legendary pizza. I thought it was a good pizza for sure, but I didn't think it was the greatest pizza I've ever had. Just wondering what you guys thought.

Anyways, I did happen to see something last night that I've never witnessed before in my lifetime. As I approached a toll both entering Baltimore, I rolled down my window to give the woman my $4.00 and realized she really didn't have any intentions of grabbing it. She had fallen asleep while sitting in her chair, snoring and totally out cold. I tried to get her attention but she wasn't budging. It was about 1:00 AM, but I've traveled around the country a lot through the night and have never witnessed a toll both attendant sleeping on the job. I hope she isn't an Orioles fan and ends up reading this calling her out, but it was pretty funny. I really wasn't sure what the hell I was suppose to do. I couldn't drive through without paying because I would have gotten a ticket, and she had no intentions of waking up. Laura told me to take a picture of her but I couldn't find my phone, and would have felt awkward waking her mid-flash. Instead, Laura stuck her head out the window and screamed, "Hello!!!!!" The best part was the women jumps out of her seat, tells me $17.00 is my change, and goes right back into work mode like she had been awake the entire time. Some people just weren't cut out for life on the road.

Well, we are about to head out for the second day of our trip in a few minutes. I'm thinking we will drive and stop in either Savannah, Georgia or Jacksonville, Florida, depending on how tired I am later tonight and how far I feel like driving. I'm sure by the time I get into my hotel tonight I'll have something else that I will have witnessed for the first time. It's time to jump on the road so I'll talk to you all later!

Monday, February 13, 2012

HARRY! YOUR HANDS ARE FREEZING

Hey what's going on everyone? I just got home from my weekend trip to Minnesota and realized I haven't been writing very much over the past few weeks. The cause is mostly because of the deep depression the New York Giants have once again caused me, but also partly because I leave for Spring Training this week and the last few weeks before I leave are always hectic. I traveled to Minnesota for the weekend to work with Shawn Wooten, a friend and former teammate of mine who owns a baseball facility outside of Minneapolis. Shawn is the best coach I have ever met and probably knows more about the baseball swing than anyone in the world. He really helped me with my swing a few years ago when I was struggling in Triple-A and is the main reason I was able to find my swing again. We spent the last few days fine tuning things for the start of the 2012 season, so if for some reason I start the year slow you can all blame him.

In all seriousness, if you live in the Minneapolis area I highly suggest you get in there. You'll thank me later. Here is a link for their website. Hit Dawg Academy

I still can't believe it is already the middle of February and time to leave for Spring Training. I have been home for almost six months since the end of the season and it felt like I was here for only a few weeks. I will be driving down to Florida with Laura this Thursday after she gets out of work. I know from all the emails and Twitter messages that everyone is pretty excited to get down to Florida and take in some Spring Training action. I believe our first game is March 5th and I hope to see many of you there.

Before I take off, I had something on my mind that I wanted to get cleared up. Is there anyone reading this that has never been on an airplane before? Being that I'm on the road for much of the year I see my fair share of weird shit, but for some reason something always happens at the airport that leaves me scratching my head and repeating the words WTF over and over again. Today on my flight home from Minnesota I had been waiting in line to pass through security for about ten minutes when a fifty year old woman standing behind me tapped me on the shoulder. "Do I need to show this man my license to pass through this thing?" she asked. I told her that she would indeed need to show her license and the guy standing in front of me added that she would also need to show her boarding pass. I didn't find the need to let her know she needed to have her boarding pass because who the hell doesn't know you need to show your boarding pass to get through security.

Anyways, the lady gave both of us a look of complete confusion and once again shocked me by responding with, "A boarding pass? How do I get a boarding pass?" I was tempted to respond with my way to frequently used comeback of "Hello, I'm earth, have we met? I don't think so!" As hard as it was, I refrained and instead explained that she needed to get in the big line with the giant sign that read Boarding Passes.

Literally two minutes later, another guy walked over to where I was standing and asked a guy a few people ahead of me if our security line was for Delta flights? The man replied that this security line was for all gates. With another blank stare the guy asked again, "so Delta planes are through this security area?" What the hell is wrong with people? Luckily I'm done with airports for another few months since I'll be driving to Spring Training. See you in sunny Florida in a few days!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

THE GOOD OLD DAYS

Hey what's up everyone? I hope you all enjoyed your January. I can't believe it is already February and it's almost time for baseball. Our catchers and pitchers report to Florida in less than three weeks and our first positional players practice is twenty-four days away. I'll be starting the twenty hour drive down to Florida two weeks from tomorrow to get the 2012 season underway.

During the off-season I have the chance to work with a large amount of younger baseball players around my hometown. I frequently get asked by players and parents about my background as a hockey player in high school. I'm not really sure what it is about hockey, but people are curious to talk about it when they find out I played. I was flipping through some videos today and found one that actually reminded me a little of my high school hockey career. Growing up as a kid I always wanted to play in either the NHL or the MLB. I always thought I would go to the University of New Hampshire and play both college hockey and college baseball. In the end, I decided to put down the hockey skates and concentrate on making it in baseball. I guess this video shows why I chose the route I did.





Ok, I'm just playing. I wasn't really that bad. This is little more realistic of what my hockey career looked like.




I guess I made the right decision. Enjoy your day!