Friday, September 13, 2013

Hanging Them Up

I knew this day would come. The day when I hang up my cleats and stop playing the game I have loved since I was five year old. I still remember the first team I ever played on, the Pirates.  My Dad always told me I would know when I was ready to retire and that time is now. I have experienced so many things because of baseball. I would have never got to do these things without certain people in my life. First, I would like to thank God for blessing me with the abilities that he gave me. There were times when I questioned what he was doing but I always made it through. He made me into the man I am today through baseball. My family has always been there for me. I can not thank them enough for everything they have done for me. My Dad about wore out the pavement between our house and my colleges. He was always there to see me pitch, even though he is no pitching guru, He has seen me pitch enough to know when something is different. He has been there for my best and worst pitching performances. Afterwards, he always acted the same, he would always tell me how proud of me he was. One thing my Dad made sure of was reminding me baseball was something I did, it wasn't who I was. My Mom has always been there for me and encouraged me to follow my dream. She made me set goals and ask what I would have to do to make them come true. You could always tell when my mom was at the game because if there was a error made in the field while I was pitching she would scream from the stands "Come on, catch the ball". I think that's one reason my Dad would always stand along the foul lines. Nicki, my sister has always helped in anyway she can. She would lend me a little money for gas to make a tryout, she will never fully understand how grateful I am for everything she has done for me. Without my family I would have never made my childhood dream come true. My girlfriend Stephanie has always been a great supporter. She has  encouraged me to follow my dream even when it meant we wouldn't see each other for 10 weeks. It has been a blessing having her over here this year and to be able to travel with her.  Next person I need to thank is Dr. Kevin Flythe, my chiropractor. He always helped keep me healthy and never let any of my arm issues grow into bigger ones. I have known him for 12 years now and over these past 12 years he is the closer to a big brother to me then just my chiropractor. Not many patients get a hug when they leave and hear how proud they are of them. I would also like to thank the guys up at Elite Baseball and Softball in Grand Rapids, Michigan. There is where I started my pitching career when I was 9. Even when I moved back to Georgia. I would play for them if they played a tournament down south somewhere. I spend a month one winter up there just training and working. They played a major roll in helping me further my baseball career. That winter I was in the best shape of my life and I know it helped me pitch as well as I did last year. Thanks for everything Brian and Mike. That same winter the Goebel family opened up their house to me.  I really felt like I was part of their family while I was there. Even though they probably didn't realize it they also allowed me to make my dream come true. There is also Chris Holt, whose down in Tampa, Fl. He is the best pitching instructor I have ever met in my life. He was the one that suggested me to the Ducks last year. From the first time I talked to Chris on the phone I felt like I had known him for years. I learned a lot about pitching from him in just the month I trained with him. I need to thank the Wiener Neustadt Diving Ducks for giving me the chance to come over here and play.  I would have never thought I would play baseball in Europe. It has truly been one amazing experience over here. I want to thank the whole Duck community for making me feel welcome from day one. There is also Clemens Cichocki, he was the one that contacted me from the Ducks. He has grown into a great friend. Make sure you check out his baseball store 
 Baseball has allowed me to do some amazing things and meet some great people. Most of my best friends are guys I met through baseball. Probably about 90% of the groomsmen in my wedding will be baseball players. When you spend everyday with your teammates they almost become more than just a friend. One of my best friends, Luke, is more of a brother to me. There was a time when he was pretty much living at my parents house. I know without a doubt he would do anything for me. 
I am excited for the next stage of my life. I don't know where God will lead me but I know I will trust in him. I did that with my baseball careers and he blessed me more then I could ever imagine. I know that I want to get into coaching. I love seeing a kids face after he makes an adjustment and throws a strike or you change one thing and a kid throws the best curve ball he ever has. I have acquired knowledge of baseball over these past 21 years now it's time for me to start pass it on. I have seen all kinds of coaches  over my career, they have taught me things to do and probably more things not to do. Some of those things that I have learned will carry over into my job for sure. My college coach always said people like hiring athletes, especially ones that were studs. The kind of guy that wants the ball with his team is only up by one run, no outs and runners on. Those guys know how to handle pressure and work with a team. They can learn any kind of business but you can't teach the internal make up that made that person a successful athlete. 
These past two years have been amazing. There aren't many people that are my age and say they lived out their childhood dream. Since I was five my dream has been to be a professional baseball player. It wasn't an easy road, there were plenty of times when I thought about just giving up. I would pray about it and God would tell me it wasn't time for me to give up yet. So he would open another door for me. Always follow your dream, there were plenty of people who doubted me. I would love to sign a baseball card and mail to all of them and say thanks for the motivation. Thanks to everyone that has followed me on this journey, I hope you enjoyed it. This will be my last blog, remember always to trust in him. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Staying Motivated

This has been a long season. Not in the amount of games that we have played but just the length of time. I got here on March 22 and have only pitched in 9 games since then. That is a lot of off time in almost five months. Which has been good and bad. I have been able to grow my relation with God and spend time with him. I have also watched plenty of movies. So if you need any recommendation just ask. So it has been different not playing that many games this season. Only 9 starts isn't much at all for 5 months of baseball. In college I would have 23 appearances in three months. Baseball has always been called a grind. I think there are different kinds of grinds. Here this is so much off time. You might lose focus of what keeps you motivated and keeps you moving forward. I have a few factors that keep me motivated. My biggest motivation is bringing God glory through baseball. He has blessed me with these abilities and opportunities. If it wasn't for him I wouldn't be here. He gives me my confidence every time I  toe the rubber. Another thing that motivates me is proving every person wrong that has ever doubted me. I will never forget this coach I had for a all-star team. His name was Tony Black and he didn't play me at all. I remember just sitting in the dugout wondering why I wasn't playing. On the way I remember crying about it and my Dad telling me don't let this upset you. You have to channel this to make yourself a better player and that's what I did. You will always have people that doubt you. You just have to surround yourself with positive people that will always be there for you. Setting goals is a must. That is one thing my Mom has taught me and always made me do. If you don't have goals in your life, you will just be going through the motions. God didn't put us on earth to just go through the motions. We were all made in his imagine and made to bring glory to him through different things. He may have blessed you with the ability to paint or play an instrument. Whatever God has blessed you with don't waste it. You never know how much longer you have here on earth so live your life to the fullest and play ever game like its your last. There will come a day when you won't be lacing up your cleats anymore and you'll have to look back over your past. You'll have to ask yourself did you give it everything you had, could you have done more? One of my favorite quotes is "Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard". I firmly believe a athlete and pass another athlete by out working them. I have seen players quit playing because they got passed by other players and weren't willing to put in the effort to stay at the top. That when you can see who really wants it and who is just going through the motions. I challenge everyone to push yourself a little more today. From doing one more rep or making a few extra phone calls. No whatever what you do, do it to the best of your ability.

Monday, August 5, 2013

We Made Playoffs

This past weekend we played the A's at home. I was really looking forward to this weekend since my sister and her husband were coming.They got in on Friday morning, so I headed up to Vienna and spent the day with them. It felt good to see them again since it has been about 4 months since I last saw them.
On Saturday it was hot, it was in the upper 90's for our games. So we knew that it was going to be a long day. But not as long as it actually was. I arrived at the field at 10:40 and we didn't leave till 6:37. We won game one 11-4. It was a long game to start off the day. We didn't start game two till 4:30. I felt really good warming up since we had a week break between games. The same umpire was behind the dish for both games. By the second game the strike zone was all over the place, for both teams. I pitched 7 innings and had to come out because of my pitch count. We didn't play the best defense that game. There weren't many earned runs for either team. The final score ended up being 19-12. Which is really high for the import game. It just wasnt a good day of baseball. But the important thing is we got the wins. With the Cubs losing both their games Sunday we clinched a playoff spot now we just got figure out what place we will be in. 
The day after the game Nicki, Clay, Stephanie and I hung out in Vienna for the day. We went to a few places they haven't been yet but mostly just hung out together. There is a film festival right now and there is every kind of food there. But mostly the atmosphere is what you go there for. I was really happy I got to see Nicki and Clay. I was starting to miss home a little bit and they were just what I needed to pick me up.  
We only got three games left before playoffs start. This year it is best of seven not best of five like it was last year. It will be interesting end of the season to see where everyone ends up. I can't  wait for playoffs to start. There is just something different about games when you know it's win or go home. You get to see what kind of guys you got. The kind that step up in big games or crumble under the pressure. It's easy to play when no one is really at the game and doesn't really matter if you win or lose. One of the best games I have ever pitched was in front of the biggest crowd I have ever played in front of. It was the summer after college, I was down in Macon playing in the Peach State League. It was the Forth of July and there were fireworks after the game. My Dad, Nicki and Clay were there to see me play. There were about four thousand people there that night. I threw 7 1/3 innings and only gave up one hit and one run. It was an awesome atmosphere to be pitching in. You have to learn how to channel your nerves. I learned a long time ago from my pitching coach that you should never be nervous. If you put in the work and you you are prepared, you should never be nervous. Yes butterflies will always be there, but you are suppose to have those. This goes for everything in life, if you did everything you could to get ready there is no reason to be nervous. I don't think there will be four thousand people at a playoff game but that shouldn't matter. It's still the same game, you should always play your hardest and leave it all out there. You never know how many games you got left. I thank God every time I get to lace up my cleats and put on a jersey. Always remember to thank God for all he has blessed you with. Hope everyone has a blessed day. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Ducks on a Roll

We had great week in Belgium for Euro Cup, even though we didn't win. We made it to the championship game and lost. But the team was very welcoming and great host for the tournament. That was a really long bus ride home. The day after was a rainy day and about 53 out. So it was a movie day for sure. 
The weekend after returning we played the Indians at home. They were in first place, so we knew it wasn't going to be easy to sweep them. Clemens threw the best I have seen him throw in a while. We ended up winning that game by mercy rule 12-2. For my game I changed something up. I bought a pair of new baseball pants from Hiro. They are from Japan and are by far the best fitting baseball pants ever. So I wore my pants down which I haven't done in a few years. Stephanie my girlfriend was also there. This was the first time for her to see me pitch. They scored a run in the first and that was all they got all day. My curveball has really been working well. We won 4-1. They were two wins that we really needed. This past weekend we played the Wanderers. They had all their players back. It was a different team then who we saw opening weekend. In game one Christian who is considered one of the best Austrian pitchers threw a no hitter against us. They played really good defense behind him all day. So we lost 6-0. The next game we looked like a different team we started off with two hits and we hit well all game. I felt really good yesterday. I had a no hitter through 5 innings. We won 8-5. They scored a few runs in the last inning off a few costly errors. Stephanie was there again so I told her she has to come to every game now. After the game Hiro said he shouldn't have sold me those pants since I have been pitching well in them. 
This year I am getting to see a lot more and traveling some more. One weekend stephanie and I spent the whole weekend in Vienna just site seeing. One day we went to the zoo, which she loved.  Today Stephanie and I are going to Salzburg, where the sound of music was filmed. Then in a week from now we are going to Venice together. It's making the time here go a lot faster this year. I'm excited because our next home game is when my sister will be here. I am excited to see her and clay again. It will be fun hanging out with them in Vienna. I pray everyone has a blessed day. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Heading to Euro Cup

Since I got a 10 hour bus ride to Belgium I figured I would write a blog and give everyone a little update. Two weeks ago we got rained out against the Indians. They called it before we even left which turned out to be a good call because that weekend there was flooding all over west Austria. They said it hadn't been that bad in over 100 years. Since we were rained out I decided to head to Linz and see my girlfriend Stephanie. It was so much fun to hang out with her again. It had been 10 weeks since we saw each other. 
 The next weekend we took on the Metro Stars at home. It was really nice weather for the game, it seemed like it had been weeks since we had seen the sun. We spilt with them losing the first game and winning the second in extra innings. The next day I headed to see Steph play in her first game in Austria. She ended up losing her game but there were a few errors in the field. 
We were off this past weekend so we could get ready for euro cup. Steph actually had a game in Vienna on Friday night. So I went up on Thursday and after her games we came back to Wiener Neustadt. It was nice to finally show her where I was for 6 months last year. 
 I also wanted to say Happy Father's Day to my Dad. There isn't a doubt in my mind that I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for him. I am so blessed to have a Godly father that I can turn to when I need guidance. I can remember when I was a little kid he would write my sister and I notes every morning before he would go to work. It would always end with "God loves you and so do I". It's such a simple saying but so true. I wish I could be home today to cook him one of his favorite meals, a steamed bagel with roast beef and cheese. But I know he would rather have me over here doing what I love. He has been right along side me for this journey of me following my dream. He was always there to throw with when I couldn't find someone. Even though I make fun of him for throwing like a girl. I just want to thank him for all he has done in my life. I hope you have a wonderful day and I love you. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Weekend Sweep

This past weekend we played the A's in Attnang. The weather was not looking good before we left and it rained to whole ride up there. It was still drizzling when we got there. They had put tarps on the field and it was actually in pretty good shape. During our warm up the sun even came out for a minute or two. But the rain came back and it pretty much rained the whole game. That didn't affect Clemons though, he threw a complete game shut out with no walks. We also swung the bats really well, putting up 14 runs. The rain had stopped by the beginning of my game but it was still pretty cold. I felt really good and worked efficiently only throwing 91 pitches in 9 innings with no walks. I worked manly fast balls against them. We won the game 8-2. These were two wins that we needed since they finally made the ruling on our game against the Wanderers. They ruled that we forfeited the game since Jake DH for me. I don't understand this ruling. If I am hitting or Jake it's still a foreigner hitting. It's not taking at bats away from a Austrian. I think some people just can't admit when they make a mistake. This weekend we make the long journey across the country to Dornbirn. It should be a good day of baseball against this team. After this weekend we will be half way through our season which is crazy to think about. Since we are here for a few more months. 
 This weekend also has another exciting part. My girlfriend Stephanie gets here to play softball. I am so excited to see her, it's been about two and half months since we saw each other. I am so excited for us to go on adventures together, know we have planned to spend a weekend in Vienna and also a trip to Venice. God has truly blessed me by bringing her into my life. He has blessed me in many areas of my life. I can never thank him enough for what he has done for me. Remember to thank God everyday for the little things he does. Hope everyone has a great week. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Season is Underway

Sorry that I haven't posted in a few weeks. On the opening weekend we played the Wanderers a rematch of last years finals. We lost game one and won game two. But the next day they said we cheated by using three foreigners, since Jake DH for me. The rules were written very vague, so you could have taken it either way. Now we are on our second protest about the ruling. So with the rule being unclear I get to hit in games until a decision is made. In week two of the season we took on the Metrostars. In game one Clemens threw well and we got the win. In the second game I felt like I threw well but I had a throwing error on a come backer that allowed the go ahead run to score. So we ending up losing that game and I put that on me for making that error. In week three we were played the Cubs 4 times in three days since we had to move the games so guys on my team can go to some concert. Since we had to move it it put us in a tough spot. That's a lot of pitching needed in a short time. The first game was a slugfest and we lost 12-9. Wayne started the second game and had 18 strikeouts but it wasn't enough, we lost 4-2. So on that Saturdays our home opener they were calling for rain and it did. It pretty much rained the entire game. It was a drizzle the whole time. Just that annoying rain. We had to stop the game twice to fix it and try to make it playable again. Which is difficult here since they don't have quick dry for the dirt. We won the game 14-4 in 8 innings. It looked like they were running low on pitching. So to get the field dry for the second game, they poured gas on the dirt and lit it on fire. I personally have never seen this but it worked really well. The mound was in really good shape, a lot better then game one. So the umpires let us get ready about to take the field and said they were calling the game. They said it was unplayable due to the gasoline smell on the ground. Which was absolutely ridiculous. I was pretty upset they let us get ready then called it. You could tell the cubs didn't want to play since they had no pitching left. So we have to make the game up at a later date. This Saturday we play the A's at their field, which I am excited about since they stream the game over the Internet so people back home can watch it. I hope everyone has a great week and remember to keep God first and he will never give you more then you can handle.