Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas in the Summer

It took me about a week to get adjusted to the time difference but now I'm on board. Of course, just as I was getting properly caught up on the sleep/time diff, the "travel-cold" hit me AKA the "went from snow and cold in detroit to warm in LA to hot in Australia to cold and rainy the day before Christmas and back to hot again for Christmas." Christmas, was a blast, as the family I'm staying with - the Crabb's, the son, Adam, who is my teammate and good mate from the Israel league, have pretty much adopted me for the winter/summer (throughout this blog I will use those interchangably, since even though it's summer here the majority of my audience is still in that winter perspective) and included me in their Christmas celebration-Aussie style which consisted of a lot of eating, drinking aussie beer and wine, and exchanging presents, sitting out on the patio looking out on a stunning view of the ocean/gulf st. vincent while spitting american sunflower seeds which cannot be purchased here (i "smuggled" them over) and of course watching the beginning of the 5-day cricket match between australia and india on Boxing Day, a Aussie tradition!

and now my first installment of Aussie Observations (Not to be confused with Belgium or Israel Observations):
words here tend to be shortened at every conceivable chance... examples:
Breakfast - Brekky
Dodger - Dodgy
Dinner - Tea
Tasmania - Tazzy
Every 2 weeks - fortnight
Dude/Guy - Bloak
Female/Gal - Sheila
Think - Reckon
Tons/Lots - Heaps
Scandals - Thongs
Ketchup - TomatO sauce
Red Pepper- Capsicum
Barbecue - Barbie
Pop/Coke/Soda - Soft Drink
How Are You Doing? - G'Day
Thanks - Cheers
Candy - Lollies
Fries - Chips
Chips - Crisps
Cookies - Biscuits
Bars/Club - Pub
Adam Crabb - Poof
Sweatshirt/Long-sleeves - Jumper
Steal something - Pinch
Bad - Brutal
Complain - Winging

other things:
hungry jacks instead of burger king
fosters (ya know Australian for beer is not even served here)
haven't seen any kangaroos or koalas yet (sorry rachel prinstein)
pool tables are half the size of american ones, and the balls are the size of ping-pong balls
driving on the left?! insane!
jack daniels and jonnie walker in a can with coke - premixed! (see picture above)
ordered a hamburger and it comes standard with a sunny-side up egg, pineapple and beats (yes those purple things!)
the phrase "No Worries" every five seconds
throw "mate" at the end of every sentence, even when talking to parents, females, teachers, cops, doesn't matter...
wearing heavy zinc oxide (sunblock) on face and lips
meat pies and pastys need to find their way to America - so tasty
as the value of a gold coin increases the coin size decreases
as the value of a silver coin increases the size increases
however the biggest coin is a 50 cent piece while the dollar and 2 dollar coins are smaller - CONFUSED YET?
all the "notes" aka dollar bills - are different colors - starting at 5 dollar bills (no singles)

and i'm sure plenty more to come...

Monday, December 24, 2007

Landed, Jet-Lagged, and playing ball...

Just a quick update...
living at Jim and Marg Crabb's house in Hallet Cove, just outside of the metropolis of Adelaide.
breathtaking view looking out over Gulf St. Vincent (from the house!) that leads into the Pacific Ocean.
league is pretty competitive on Saturday - I was held out of the game due to jet-lag related reasons but we faced a Cincinnati Reds AA - farmhand, who we jumped on for an early 3-0 lead before surrending it in the last inning and eventually losing the game in extra innings by 1. So we head into the 2 week holiday break in 3rd place, a good spot. After the break, I'll be making my debut on the mound Jan 6th - so stay tuned for that.
Saturday night we went out for the first time since I've been here and surprisingly my plain-old American midwest accent is widely held to be absolutely adorable but the female adelaide population.
Got a phone, gym membership, sunny summer of baseball...
No worries mate!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

traveling...and traveling...

I knew I had a long trip ahead of me but this was nothing like flying to Belgium or traveling through Italy on train. On Monday December 10 I packed up everything in D.C. and drove through rain, sleet, ice, fog, darkness, construction, accidents through the state of Pennsylvania and Ohio (making a brief stop to see a dear friend from Albion - Rachel Fortino in Amherst, Ohio) before arriving in Farmington Hills Michigan at Dayle and Jay's house a mere 11.5 hours on the road at 1 in morning. After only 4 days at home, I began the trek to South Australia by flying to Denver, having a delay (of course!), and changing planes to continue on towards Los Angeles where I spent the Saturday night with my best amigo from college, Jonathan Thompson. After some Roseco's Chicken and Waffles ('s_House_of_Chicken_'n_Waffles ) I was ready to leave the States for 3 months...
First up: the flight to Hong Kong (19 hours, crossing the international date line, all sunshine all the time - which meant 2 hours of sleep in which I thought it was 2 AM E.S.T. when I went to bed and woke up 2 hours later when we landed at 7 PM in Hong Kong and proceeded to eat dinner) after a 6 hour layover - in which I almost didn't make it out of H.K. (apparently I had to purchase a visa from the airport because i was misinformed on the paper work needed to get through to after almost being stranded in China (i've seen movies about this and it can't be good) they somehow let me board with about a minute to spare, last person of course.
Next up: the flight to Adelaide (12 hours, red eye - total darkness, 2-3 hours of sleep on and off but it was tough because it was really the middle of the day in my Eastern Standard Time Zone Detroit/D.C. sleeping pattern) and the best part i ordered a special kosher meal but the stewardess brought the breakfast at midnight (eggs and potatoes) and before we landed at 10 am she brought the dinner (chicken) - Standard.
The summation: overr 40+ hours of flying time, 20+ hours at 5 airports, 4 days of traveling. 80 million time zones, 40 million miles, you get the point.
And the best part?
How about stepping off the plane in Australia and 4 hours later having to go to my first baseball game (hadn't ran, worked-out, hit, thrown, nada for 5 days) ... and with my eyes half-shut just trying to stay awake during the game - trailing 2-0, in the 4th inning of a 7 inning game, I was startled when the coach told me to grab a glove and head into the field at 3B (a position I hadn't played in a game since the summer after Freshman year of college). The reason behind this absurdity, was the very reason I had to rush over to Australia in the first place - if I didn't appear in a game by Tuesday December 18 (that day) I wouldn't be eligible for the playoffs in March. The key word being APPEAR. Little did I know, that as I was dozing off on the bench, I was actually going to have to play the field or have an at-bat instead of the pre-discussed appearance simply as a pinch runner. In the top of the 4th with former Philadelphia Phillies farmhand and 1999 Holland Pitcher of the Year, Taj Merrill on the mound, I was at 3rd Base and with 2 outs and a runner on 2nd base, a slow ground ball was hit to my left - methodically I moved over to coral it but a few odd hops made me rethink just scooping it up and going to 1st base, instead I smothered it to make sure it didn't get past and as the runner from 2nd base glided past me and began to round 3rd base and head for home with 2 outs, I gave a full pump fake throw to first then wheeled around and saw the runner on 3rd dead in his tracks too far off the bag to get back. As fans of Sandlot will recall - "Pickle" is what ensued and as we chased him down for the 3rd out I felt lucky that in my semi-conscience state I hadn't done anything not to put the team in a worst position. However, after the short run-down I was definitely out of breath and that meant heading up to the plate to lead-off the inning while still sucking wind. As I watched 2 pitches sail by high for 2 balls and no strikes. I had a perfect 2-0 count to sit dead-red fastball and while delusions of grandeur began to conjure in my head I let my hands (and pretty much everything else) fly at the ball, way out in front - timing totally off - and one handed off the cap of the bat a bloop single into right field. At this point, just getting to first base without passing out was also an accomplishment then on the next pitch a bunt was laid down, right back to the pitcher, and as I peaked in at the play while dashing for second I noticed I was going to have to actually hustle in there. As the throw came in, I barrelled into the SS hoping to take him out of what could have been a devastating double play, instead, the throw pulled him off the bag and everyone was safe with no out. So now I'm starting to feel good about myself in my delusional state of "where am i" and as I wondered aimlessly off 2nd base, by the time I heard "BACK!" like the response time of a dinosaur, what I heard didn't seem to register with the rest of my body. I was a little too far off the bag and just a tad (ok, heaps - as the aussie's say) late getting back and so after starting the year so high - i ended picked off, a serious no-no in baseball, and not a very good impression in a tight-knit ball game. Luckily, my inspired play may have motivated the troops (that or I pulled myself out preventing any further damage) we rallied back in the last 2 innings and pulled of a 7-2 win.
I don't remember much else from the next 24 hours - trying to get adjusted to the 16.5 hour time difference and next day... but I'm in the Land Down Under playing baseball, enough said.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Year 2

In the midst of studying for the LSAT a few weeks ago in D.C. I received a phone call, from of all places... Australia, it took me about 5 minutes to decide...
to accept an offer to play winter ball in the South Australian Baseball League for the last 3 months of the season (December 18 - March 18). Thus beginning my 2nd year of pro ball - with an incredible opportunity to do my training during the off-season (which usually is confined to a cold dreary gym during the off-season in D.C.) in the gorgeous land down under, during their summer in Adelaide, Australia. ( ).

I will be moving back to Detroit on December 11th but only will be there for a few days before I go to Australia where I will be playing for the Southern Districts Baseball Club - Hawks ( )
in the South Australian Baseball League. The league is a very high quality winter league, easily one of the best in the world, that many pro ball players that play world-wide and in the U.S. play in during our winter months. Luckily, unlike last year where I was in 2 countries that did not have English as a primary language you can sort-of follow me on this website ( ) however, I am unsure how frequently they update it so - as I did last year I will keeping a blog on my baseball games, experiences, travels, etc. on

I just want to thank so many of you for the support and well-wishes from the past year and I can't name everyone but particularly there were a few individuals that I really felt gave me great motivation to keep trying to attain my goals in baseball and live out my dreams that I've had since i was 7. From Philip De Wulf, to James Rosenau, to Paul and Joel Winston, to Joena Wattenbergh, to Chris Newell, to Michael Weinstein, and Brad Gooding, each of whom spoke with me at length and gave me so much encouragement to keep working and going down this path - and now, things are slowly coming to fruition and as the opportunities continue to open - I hope I can make all of you proud, or at the least provide some good entertainment with stories of my baseball exploits around the world.