i have to admit, the first month, i posted with regularity, now as the days begin to blur, i begin to have friends, and my english becomes worse and worse my desire to post has dweened. i will place blame somewhere though. i have now got a pretty good routine and this actually scares me. 50% of justin wants to enjoy his time here, not stress with the mundane daily tasks that i finally escaped in my exodus from the states, and mostly live with this wavering new perspective that one requires when they venture to a place vastyl different from their comfort zone. the other half of me, realizes it's important for my baseball career to have a regimented workout schedule along with throwing and hitting, and you can't accomplish that during the day unless you have it down. the glaring omission in my life here in europe is my independance, or shall i say, dependance on others for language help, getting to places, and of course when it comes to baseball - throwing and hitting, if you want to get real work done you have to practice with people. during the long winter nights after bonner and associates in d.c. i was able to head over to GW and hit off the tee, lift, and throw against the wall, because the space and facility existed, and the walk was managable. here, i am removed from any place that resembles an indoor baseball facility and some of the wall structures are so old i feel as if i might shatter them and be detained in belgium for life for destroying historical artifacts.
the schedule has pretty much been monday and wed wake up and type emails, clean, talk to joena on gchat, catch up with all the sports i missed in the u.s. while i was in bed then head over to the city to workout in the gym for a few hours before i coach practice from 7-9, similar scenario on tues and thurs except instead of coaching i actually practice (although, i tend to throw and run with the juniors - because i always hated coaches who would make you do something u know they were too lazy to do, so i try to say, hey if this old man can do it, so can you!) then fridays are a pretty much do errands, or walk around, or hang out with a girl who doesnt have to work and then try to find someone that will catch a short bullpen before we head out for the evening.
now the highlights -
friday april 27 - upon waking i was offered to join joena babysit here best friend's daughter (sharon is the best friend, kaya is the daughter) she is 3. she is adorable. i already asked her to marry me, but she didnt understand what i said. in fact, the entire day she didnt understand a word i said, anytime i said something in english, she would respond niet doon
(which is no, or no more) and everytime she would say something (that i also never understood) i would respond with a ja (which means yes) somehow we existed in the entire day at the park in downtown antwerp. it was quite relaxing, and to top it off i had some delcious belgian ice cream for lunch. the best part was when joena left us alone on the playground for about 20 min and kaya, who i have nicknamed the chief, was standing on a tire swing, and made movements that she wanted to go higher on it, so i started pushing it higher, and she was laughing and smiling but then kept saying nietdoon but it sounded like yiyoon *which i determined to be yipee or higher. it was only when she was about to jump off that i realized that maybe something was lost in translation. later that evening i sat on the terrace of sharon's with clio and 2 of their friends and ate spaghetti. i called it a night instead of going out to jameson's because i wanted to get in good sleeping habits for the weekend.
saturday april 28 - after our win, clio, joena, nick, and i went to barselino for our weekly dinner, it seems and then watched old school, which i swear gets funnier everytime i see it (i believe this was in the late 20s for me)
sunday arpil 29 - game against boregraudt squirrels. at their field. for some reason, i was not in a good mood going into the game. a lot of my negativity was rooted in this notion i had in my head that i wasn't doing enough, pitching wise, to please the manager/coaching staff. i had thrown 13 innings and given up 1 hit at this point with a 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio, and of course 2 wins in 2 starts...i was under the assumption that i had at least met expectations, after all, you can't do much better result-wise, and that i was going to be top of the rotation (saturday guy) when someone, close to the team, informed me that i shouldnt worry about that, the foreign pitcher always takes the mound during the home games, i was quite preplexed to find that i was still pitching on sunday and not at home. now, some might think what the hell is he complaining about, he's still starting, it doesnt matter what day or where, and he's being paid to do it! true. i can't argue with that philosophy, which i tried to continuously remind myself all week, however, it weighed on me heavily because had i pitched better, according to some sources (not falling behind as many hitters in the count, i guess was the one complaint) i would have been pitching saturday. i talked a few times with a friend that i really felt a lot of pressure because of these rumblings and wasnt sure what else i needed to do. alas, i went into the game very negative, sometimes the anger is a good thing to channel. i recall, after i had been dumped by an ex girlfriend in the fall of '05 i was so angry over the situation during that week i came out and hit 86 and 87 consistently on the gun out of nowhere (i think i had been 82-83 the prior weeks) in this scenario, however, because it was something really baseball related on my mind, it wasn't as much as anger, but something in which i wanted to prove to everyone how good i was. to make matters worse, this particular field had no bullpen to warm up in, so i start getting into my head...i haven't warmed up flat ground literally since high school. let the overthinking begin. the first inning was rough. which has been my M.O. i am a rythym pitcher and some days it will take me an inning to get into that groove, but i don't think this was one of the cases. the first batter singled past the SS, and it should be noted here that our regular SS, Dennis DeQuint was out with an injury, so our usual 2B Dennis Ribens moved over to SS, and Alain Lambeau, or fine-hitting DH was entered at 2B, this was troubling from the beginning, as I walked the next batter (the umpire was literally only calling strikes from where the catcher caught it, which is very frustrating for a pitcher like me, who relies on movement, pitches in the zone, moving out and pitches out of the zone that move in, to beat hitters. 2 muffed ground balls at 2B, both could have been double plays and an infield hit, and another walk, before you know it, they push across 3 runs. We fought back in the first and second innings and in the second i regained my poise and had a quicker inning although another error forced me to throw more pitches. we took a 4-3 lead and i had an easy 3rd inning 1, 2, 3. but in the 4th i ran into trouble throwing pitches i thought were down the middle literally being called balls, i got flustered, walked the lead off guy, another muffed double play ball by the 2nd baseman then a bunt that rolled in between me and first where nothing could be done, i had bases loaded no out, i struck out the next guy but then gave up a hard single into right center (one of 2 hard hit balls) pushing 2 more runs across. i got out of the inning, but again in the 5th, another error and walk, and then a stolen base where the runner eldued the tag by running out of the baseline but was not called out, gave way to a base hit that scored their 6th run. i was taken out of the game after throwing 96 pitches, losing 6-5, only 2 of the runs being earned, but still yielded 5 walks and a hit batter. certainly not my best performance, but i didnt think i threw entirely bad after the first inning kinks were worked out. my pitches were moving, i was not missing high, or low by a lot just out and in. also, the errors were atypical since we weren't playing with a normal lineup (there were a total of 6 of them) and i think with maybe half of those errors are outs, i walk 2 or 3 guys and pitch into the 7th leading 5-2. we ended up coming back and taking a few run lead, tommy was solid in relief but ran into trouble in the 9th, another error was made and it led to a big inning were they pushed two runs across to tie it and then a walk-off 3 run bomb to win it. obviously i felt very responsible for the loss, but in retrospect, i gave up about 5 or 6 ground balls that are pretty sure outs and it's baseball - i am not aware of a game pitched that ever included 27 strikeouts for all 27 outs on a high level, so you have to play as a team and although the loss and win favorably and sometimes unfavorably will bestowed upon the man upon the mound it's a collective effort and i can't stress that enough. so i said, after that - let's go out and get smashed! the tofleje rond, quickly becoming my favorite place with sharon, joena, and clio, followed by marmite until the wee sunday hours.
monday april 30. holiday here in belgium, boy they have a lot of holidays. went with joena and clio to the antwerp zoo, located right in the middle of the city. i felt like a tourist, with my backpack, brooklyn dodgers baseball hat, and shades. it was a pleasant time except that i was disappointed they did not feed former communists to the lions as i was under the impression they do here in europe. oh well. another night at the tofleje rond after coaching practice but i took it easy because tuesday was the actual holiday (ppl just took monday off in preperation for the tuesday day) and we had to play the first game of the belgian cup. anyways, at the tofle joena and i began one of our classic 4 hour discussions this time on dating in belgium compared to dating in america. apparently, the classic approach, which i abide by...ask a girl out on a date that you are interested in and seems like they're interested in you. if the date goes well you ask for a second date, maybe you good a peck or a kiss, and you proceed with caution, usually. after about 4 or 5 times, and you haven't killed each other yet or tried to poison the other person's drink when they went to the bathroom, you usually begin the process of "dating casually" meaning you begin the "hooking up" stage or if you are not into that sort of thing, you just intensify the communication and frequency of visits, however, still keeping options open and definitely keeping your own life seperate from the"dater" the next step goes to exclusive dating, where you are on that trial basis until the first disagreement or argument, and then if you get past that you qualify for the relationship status. now it's not always that cut and dry, but there is defiintely a system in place, in the states, that makes it easier to follow. apparently, that does not exist here, and sorta lost now on how you can date a person here without "dating" them. maybe matt millen has some answers?
tuesday may 1. our first game for the belgian cup against a 2nd or 3rd division team, about 45 min away, called the bebops. a note about the cup: it's seperate from the regular season, there are a number of divisions in belgium and all the teams get a fair shot to win the belgian cup (i think we are the two seed in the entire system) and it lasts the length of the season, played on holidays instead of during the weekends. i was warned, but no warning could prepare me for the level of play by teams in lower divisions here. we beat them 38-1. it was disgusting... i don't even think some of the guys could have played on my jv baseball team. needless to say i was able to enter the game into right field and go 2-2 as well as getting beaned by a pitch. i was tyring to hit a home run and didn't really feel like moving out of the way. but then i turned and asked the umpire if i could stay in and hit instead of heading to first base...he declined my invitation and probably thought to himself "crazy american" as they all do over here. that night a group of us...nick, clio, joena, jill, and myself had dinner at a chinese restaurant. very similar to a u.s. restaurant except for the fact that instead of getting rice, you are allowed to substitute for fritjes (that is fries!) at a chinese restaurant???? i know. i was aghast in horror and disbelief, i couldn't talk for 20 min because of the culture shock.
Thursday, May 3, 2007
the pistons start a crucial series in the nba playoffs against the hated chicago bulls.
and i check out the north american sports network programing, and i don't see any mention of nba playoffs on there... what am i going to do?
goal: find a sports bar in the city to watch the game - sat? sun?
more important goal: pitch another 0-1 hit performance and get us a win on sunday against nemur angels.
finally figured out how to upload pictures onto the blog. that's fun. now i have another procastination mechanism, oh wait, i'm no longer in college so i don't think procrastination applies in this instance.
i guess i should update my blog from last friday to today (thursday) although here it is 235 am and officially friday, except that i forgot what i did on sunday night and monday night so i emailed my friend clio (see picture above and to the right, taken on tuesday night? at the tofleje rond, my new favorite place...) to see if she can remember what i did so i can write about it and because i'm trying to keep the blog in chronological order, then i can also write about my horrible outing on sunday, our victory on saturday, my first hit of the season on tuesday, my continuing success in the language of the netherlanders, or as we refer to it as justin's belgianeese (otherwise known as dutch, flemish, antwerpen dialect, or flanders?) can someone just consolidate the labels and give me something that everyone calls it because seriously no two people refer to the language as the same thing....that's why i like belgianeese the best.
oh and in case you were wondering, the lions broke jay prinstein's draft rules by drafting calvin johnson, wide receiver from georgia tech, and not trading him... did you really expect them to not doing something ridiculous, even if johnson turns out to be a hall of famer, this pick probably costs us a chance at the super bowl...
so when can i watch the pistons again?