Saturday, January 19, 2008

Boost

Question: How do you know you are a celebrity in a foreign country?
Answer: When the girls at Boost recognize you, know your name, and hook you up with extra protein in your drink.

Ah yes, Boost - the delicious "health" smoothie bar in the mall that i seem to visit everyday after my gym session at The Beach House. http://www.boostjuicebars.com/#home. well it seems the ladies at boost on friday are either big baseball fans, big justin prinstein fans, or both. As I order my usual shake, the girl interrupts me - "you want that dairy free right?" clearly she is paying attention, so i ask her if it's because of my accent that she remembers that. she responds to me, surprisingly, with "oh, no - you're the baseball player right" - since i haven't ever spoken to this gal before - i was stunned that she would know that - so i asked.
"oh you play for southern districts right?" she was right. she was a little shy and didn't prod anymore, so i walked to the pick-up part of the line and was even more stunned to hear them say "Justin, your drink is ready" - ok now that's scary. they knew my name.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

EAD Part Deux















As tradition would stipulate (ok, only 2 weeks of tradition) -> I used my standard wednesday day off to do another hiking and exploring expedition with Jess. This time we didn't go on quite a hike that Mt. Lofty was, and unfortunately there were no waterfalls but I did get to see a few critters you don't encounter too often in the States: Koala Bears. Unfortunately, for my sister Rachel, I was not able to climb a tree and take one back with me, since these guys were in the wild, but, it was pretty sweet to see them right up close, in the wild. They pretty much just sit-up in the tree all day and sleep but it was still a cool site to see, and now I can cross it off the list for my Australian things to do...

Meanwhile... I've encountered quite a dilemma since I've been here with my new Australian phone. This is a funny story:
I purchased a pay-and go phone from the Optus store right by my gym in the mall on December 21st. The plan included a 2-week warranty that if there was a malfunction. Well, as one could probably guess where this is going - there was a malfunction, on day 17. I took it back just 3 days after the 2 week grace period was up and explained to them that everytime I wanted to send a text message I would actually have to take the phone apart, take the battery and SIM card out, and then put it back together and turn it back on - only to be able to send one text message. They pretty much told me to call Nokia and check the Text Message Profile and make sure I had the right number code - did that, it was correct. They also told me to put the SIM card into someone else's phone and see if it worked correct - I did that, and it was correct. So I went back to the store for the 2nd time that week and they gave me one option: send the phone away to nokia to get it fixed and it would take about 2-4 weeks, however, they didn't have a spare phone for me to use so i left the store rather distraught over their business practice. When it became too much of a hassle over the weekend I went back in on Monday and told them there was to be another option or they must give me a phone to borrow. They gave me one other option to go into the city to the Nokia care center in the city and have them fix it right away. After a few days passed I was able to make it to the city and upon talking to the very helpful Sarah, who told me that Nokia would not fix it there because their policy calls for a 30 day exchange warranty on all phones regardless of what the individual store's policy was. She gave me her name and their number and said if there were any problems at the store to have them call her. As one could expect, when I returned to the store 2 days later - the Optus store that is, the manager didn't budge on their policy. Refusing to give me the same (new) phone, he even called the Nokia Care Center as instructed to hear that he would have to and even after he heard this, he spent 1 hour on the phone with Optus getting the opposite directions out of them - he finally gave me a code number to give to the Nokia center for them to fix it. A mere two days later - after securing a friends phone to borrow for a week, I made my way back to the Nokia center, where they finally took my phone in to get serviced despite their reluctance and assurance it should have been fully exchanged. Fun times, eh?

Monday, January 14, 2008

starting and ending a triple-header




During this past week in practice - I have to say, this is the best I've felt hitting and throwing the ball in a long time. Either the pilates is paying off, all the work i'm doing lifting and running is morphing into my baseball game, or I'm just starting to get into the groove of things (there could also be something in the water, that turns this country of like 20 million into an international baseball powerhouse but i'm no chemist so i'll leave that for the experts) ... i'm starting to stroke the ball nicely in Batting practice and i'm feeling good pop coming out of my arm - so how did that translate into the game on Sunday? For starters the early 10 AM start had me a little too non-shalont in the first inning where I gave up a walk and a hit, but made a nice inside-move to 2nd base on a 2 out 3-2 count to pick off the runner. In between innings I asked my boy to take video of me to see what i was doing wrong mechanically and he responded with an answer I didn't like. Upon my return to the game I was heated, I mean literally pissed at him, and I think that was the intensity I needed because I went on to strike out all 3 hitters in the inning. The next inning I worked on my change-up and it was at it's best all year. By then I had thrown 58 pitches and I knew I was getting tired. I was hoping to have a short 12 pitch inning before removing myself from the game but I walked 3 guys including 1 with the bases loaded and left the game with the score tied 1-1 after getting out of the jam and 83 pitches under my belt. I did strike out 6 in 4 innings and only gave up 2 hits (to the same batter, one of which was a dink shot) but the 5 walks (3 in the last inning) won't worry me as much if I bring it down next game. I pounded the low part of the zone but wasn't getting the low strike so that really shouldn't be an area of concern. Another positive, although my average dropped was the 1-3 (with a solid line drive single into left field and another mash that I crushed into the prevailing 20 mph + wind blowing in - felt like i was a hitter at Wrigley) so although my average dropped on the year to 4-6 (which I believe using my fuzzy math skills is something like .666) I still felt comfortable at the plate with my new adjusted stance.
We won the game something like 12-2 although I was in the locker room getting massaged and loosened up for the next 2 games, in which we won the 2nd game 2-1, and squeezed out a 4-0, maybe 4-2 victory in game 3, where my boy Adam Crabb threw a gem of a game, where some real bush league stuff went on - like the phantom tag at 2nd base by the other team's 2nd baseman that almost erupted into a fight because our Right Fielder Josh almost broke his leg and a game in which I entered, quite unexpectedly, for the last few innings for our injured Canadian right fielder, in which I popped out once and caught two line drives in the outfield (can't even recall taking any Outfield/Flyball practice since July?) so it was interesting to say the least - but I got it done, even catching the final out. This was a pretty odd - I've played a lot of double headers and even a few triple headers in all my time playing baseball but I can't ever remember pitching in a 1st game (recording the first out of the day as the home team) and then finishing the day in the field in a 3rd game (and recording the final out of the day) - that's why you gotta love baseball. You can't make this stuff up...

Meanwhile, before the game on Saturday evening I took a little stroll about 5 min down the road and look what i found -> (see above)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Mt. Lofty





I have been in Oz for 3 weeks and 1 day now and I have yet to do one important thing - - -
I'll get to that in a second. First, I just want to describe my weekly schedule... Similar to Belgium with games on the weekends, I am able to do a lot of strength training and conditioning during the week, which is pretty much the secondary purpose of being over here. What was the first one again? Oh yeah, baseball -
Monday - pilates, upper body lifting, 45 min cardio, light throwing
Tuesday - lower body lifting, poles, baseball practice - long toss
Wednesday - pilates, explore australia day, long toss
Thursday - upper body lifting, 45 min cardio, baseball practice - bullpen
Friday - pilates, lower body lifting, 30 min cardio, throw/hitting on own
Saturday - light day/plyometrics
Sunday - Game

So what is this Explore Australia day, you might be asking? It's not an official day here in Australia although after viewing this commercial -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPGSs56lZEQ

it wouldn't surprise me if they created one...
because wednesday is pretty much my designated day-off from lifting and heaps of baseball, i thought it would be a grand idea to get acquainted with this beautiful land down under. yesterday, i had an offer to kick off EA (explore australia) Day that i couldn't refuse, hike up the tallest "mountain" in the Adelaide Hills on a 100 degree day. Now, some might question my sanity on how this could be a good idea on my "recovery" day... let me present my evidence.
Exhibit A: Waterfall: probably ranks in one of the top 5 moments in my life. i've been to niagra falls but i have never been afforded the opportunity to actually go under one. it was fresh. it was bone chilling. it was breath taking. it was mystifying. i actually felt cleaner than if i would have taken a shower. i must go back. every week now, i decided. if you could build the perfect waterfall to stand under - this little secluded guy would be it.
Exhibit B: View from Top: After the grueling hike up - through the densely wooded terrain (that also contain poisenous brown snakes) the view is just thrusted upon you - you can see everything clear over the city to the ocean. it's a great reward for making it up there. shout out to the family who couldn't speak any english for taking a solid photo, big ups.
Exhibit C: on the way up, we made a little detour, and next thing you know - a kangaroo family, doing all sorts of weird things - Joey (baby kangaroo) feeding from the pouch and then hopping around, dad kangaroo just chillin' and lying down by the tree, and mama kangaroo coming right up to the fence and asking me in kangaroo language to free them from the fenced constraints and join the revolution. The wallabees i saw were alright, the kangaroos were pretty sweet. Now I know i'm not in D.C. anymore...
Have to thank one person in particular for the experience, Jess, from Ralph Magazine, was a great tour guide and a true Aussie Sheila full stop!
Now enjoy the exhibits...

Monday, January 7, 2008

game time in '08

On Day 26 of my Florida Marlins pitcher's off-season pitching repitoire, also happened to be my first start for the Southern Districts Hawks and my first time on the field (not counting my semi-conscience 1 inning after stepping off a 40 hour plane trip across the world on December 18th) since August. Here in Aussieland and with the Hawks, we're taking things slow... I don't have to be ready for the season until March and the playoffs for them don't really start until March, so the idea is that I slowly get my arm in shape, whereas I would be in D.C. throwing against a wall in the gym or to a catcher on the currrent GW Baseball team (can't be that reliable) now I get to build up my pitch stamina and arm strength against actual hitters and while helping SD. As of yesterrday I had only thrown off a mound twice since August, so I knew going into the game, my mechanics would be interesting to say the least. What I didn't expect was a 25 MPH ocean breeze blowing from left field to right, giving my 4-seam fastball, with my stellar movement, so much more than what I bargained for. I threw 3 innings, struggled with my mechanics and control from time to time, but with throwing pretty much all-fastballs treated it like a 3 inning 65 pitch bullpen... I gave up either 1 or 2 Earned Runs, to be honest wasn't quite keen on the stats nor was I worried, and we won 14-4. I got 2 hits in 2 at bats at the plate, driving in 2 runs, which gives me a perfect 3 for 3 hitting on the year and putting me on pace to hit 1.000 but something tells me that might be impossible to keep up. After the game, people at the ballpark were asking me how I felt and how I think I did. My answer was pretty much - I felt like I just pitched for the first time in 5 months.
I woke up this morning and the arm/body felt like I had just pitched for the first time in 5 months, so i'm heading off to the gym (taking the 16 min train ride into the city) to run, lift, and pilates the lactic acid out and get ready for a hard week of training/conditioning/baseball prep, and meanwhile since I'm in Australia - I'll try to mix-in a day-off to explore and see some of the country since all I've been doing is physically grueling baseball training since I've been here.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

new years on new years?



After calling home to Detroit on Sunday night (Dec 30) - their time, which was right before we were about to go out for new year's eve on Monday afternoon, Dec 31st, to wish everyone a happy new year. Adam and I just did an easy celebration at the Union and then to a few pubs on Rundle Street. Apparrently, New Year's Eve is not a huge deal over here, in fact, it was probably one of the most low key new years that i can remember. Our boy Reesy called from Sydney, and that was pretty much the highlight of the night, that and telling a journalist I became friends with from the Advertiser how Michael Jordan was not a better all-around basketball player than Magic Johnson (albeit, probably in vain since 99.9% of the world disagrees with me). The other cool thing was that Australia was one of the first places for the new year to hit, in fact, I didn't realize how ahead we were until on New Year's Day, around 430 PM I was able to call Rachel in New York and finally wish her a happy new year. Speaking of the actual day - so the real celebration was on the actual day itself, when most people in the States are recovering and watching college football, Crabby and I were at a venue called the Shores, on the beach, where we saw De La Soul (one of my favorite old school hip hop groups from the States) and tons of other music and food, with thousands of people and really good aussie beer. I've never had that much fun on new year's day - meeting gorgeous models, listening to great music, with a great friend, in 90+ degree sunny summer day.

Not much else going on this week - last stretch of the 2-week off from baseball since our first game back from the break is Jan 6th.
video