Monday, April 25, 2011
This was an interesting week. When I look back a few weeks, or months, or years from now... I'm going to ask myself one question. How and why the heck did I do all this?
It started last Saturday April 16, as I wrote about a few days ago. After the double-header, I came back home and packed for Budapest and attempted to finish a constitutional law paper that was due Monday at 3pm (European time)... The only problem; I hadn't written a word, it was 8pm, I was waking up at 5 am, my flight was at 645 am and I was coaching from 11-7 in Hungary. I packed a backpack, to store my laptop with some papers (to study crim law) and some toiletrees (how do you even spell this word?), and then a mini-bag with a pair of shoes, a few pieces of clothes to work out in and maybe even go out in, who knows it's Budapest after all, honestly one of the best cities I've been to in Europe. Of course, I'm only one week off the plane from the States, so the jet lagging is still not entirely kicked, making it almost impossible to get to sleep by 12 to try to get the 5 hours I was hoping for. I was maybe also, admittedly, nervous? anxious? I had never coached a national team before... I had no idea what I was getting into, I had this paper due that was barely started, and I was maybe going to see my girl, who I hadn't seen since she visited Detroit in October. After a brief stop in Frankfurt, another flight got me to Budapest by 1030, and was whisked by Andras, the guy who basically runs the Hungarian national team program, to Szendentre Hungary for the national team training.
I didn't know what to expect, and maybe that's a good thing. I arrived just as the team finished warming up. It was a mixture of really young and older guys, and the field was much nicer than the one I had visited the previous summer a few minutes outside of Budapest. There was actually a fence and dirt spread about the base-paths, the field looked symmetrical and it had a bit of a mound as well. I worked with the pitchers all day, a few older than me and some younger... they were all pretty attentive and really tried to incorporate what I said. With the older guys, the aces of the national team staff, we worked on holding runners, means to eliminate another team's running game, and pick-offs. Some of the things I talked about they had never even imagined could be possible, I really felt like I was in the movie Comrades of Summer http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0103997/ With the younger guys I actually needed a translator at all times. You start talking about baseball and then you realize you just talked for about 1 minute straight and there is no way the translator can keep up with that, so I really had to learn to give instruction and talk about pitching at 15 second intervals. We practiced until 630 or so, and it was a long day with 2 hours of sleep, the 2 flights, compounded by this brand new, and surreal experience.
By the time I arrived back at my hotel around midnight I knew there was no way I would begin to get this paper done. Set my alarm for 8, last minute Prinstein back at work. Luckily, I didn't need my alarm as I was awoken by a screaming man next door, who was literally screaming in Japanese for 30 minutes straight. Not a great start to the morning, and I hammered out this con law paper in just under 4 hours. Let me say, not my finest work, but I have to imagine it was the first time someone probably wrote a law school paper at University of Detroit Mercy School of Law from Budapest Hungary. I went for some coffee at Costa in Nyugati Square - http://gowalla.com/spots/903523 and then went to Obuda (a suburb of of Budapest where I was at last year for one baseball training) to help out with their cadet team (under 15 years old). There was only 7 of them at this practice, and we worked on groundballs and throwing mechanics (see photos above)... pretty basic stuff, but you forget this is Hungary, you can't take the basic for granted. However, there was an unbelievable talented kid that I don't even think the Hungarians realized how good he was. 14 years old and had the arm of an 18 year old. Athletic and baseball savvy, he would have been on an under-16 national team in any European country. It's awesome to see a talent like this in a country like Hungary because it goes to show you that you can find good baseball players, naturals, literally anywhere in this world. You just have to look. That evening I went to a cafe called Jubilee's for my one Hungarian friend (outside of baseball) birthday party. All of her friends showed up with cakes and delicacies... brought them to the cafe. That was strange I thought, but I try not to think too hard when I'm in foreign cultures... I just do (and go) to Morrison's 2, a club a few blocks away until 330am.
Tuesday was pretty much devoted to getting my visa sorted out and Wednesday morning I was up early going to a big park to teach baseball to a bunch of school kids who had never played the game, let alone see a baseball game before. This was an interesting experience, something I became accustomed to while playing in Holland for 3 years, and going around to schools to introduce them to baseball as part of a community outreach initiative. In Holland many of the kids at least heard of baseball (or honkbal as they call it) and maybe even knew the basic premise, but in Hungary the majority of the kids you had to show how to properly throw a ball, how to hold a bat, how to stand, how to wear a glove (actually we first had to tell them what a glove and bat even were). It was a successful morning, and after 3 hours, they were ready to try a game. I pitched to them, and they had a blast. In fact, when it was time to end the session at 12:30 they begged their teachers to let them continue to play. It was pure joy. We just threw down some bases in the middle of the park and played a game of baseball, Hungarian style, the concept of base running was the hardest to grasp, as the youngsters didn't really like to stop at the bases even when someone had the ball standing next to them. When you come from a country where baseball is arguably the most popular sport, you take for granted these simple nuanced rules that you are practically born knowing. I probably knew how to run the bases properly before I could walk... so it's funny and refreshing to be able to show 12 year olds the proper rules (with a translator of course). By 130 I was off to Andras' house for a quick Hungarian lunch of goulash (meat and vegetable stew), and then back to the city to for a quick coffee at my favorite cafe I have visited everytime I've been to Budapest since Crabby and I, first arrived in 2008: Castro. Then I had a few hours before my flight, so Andras picked up a guy from a nearby station, drove to an island with some open space, waited for me with the guy as I went on a 20 min conditioning sprint, then left me and this guy who didn't speak any english alone on a makeshift soccer field as I did some long-toss throwing, came back and picked us up and quickly took me to the airport where they didn't want to let me on the plane to Frankfurt with my 1 hand luggage, and backpack (as my laptop storage), everything fit into the little compartment measurer-thingy and I tried to explain I had no issues coming in. They were real jerks about it, and even made me wait until everyone boarded the plane (thus ensuring almost all the overhead bins would be full) and watched me show them that my backpack fit securely and neatly under the seat in front of me - which it did and which I said it did before boarding of course. Ugh. Always something when I travel... In Frankfurt they tried to say the same thing, before I had to show them that I just had come on a flight with these smalls bags from Budapest, so that really wasn't going to work... They didn't give me AS MUCH as a hassle. By the time I arrived in Hamburg around midnight, I realized I had about 36 hours until my criminal law exam. After a long practice on Thursday, and the exam on Friday, we had 2 games on Saturday in the middle of nowhere Germany that did not go very well for me. We played the last place team, and once again were in a slugfest for Game 1, we ended up winning 14-6. It looked like we were going to 10 run them after 7 innings to end the game sooner, so I got ready to pitch Game 2 in about the 6th inning. Of course the other boys scored 3 in the bottom frame so we had to play all 9, which meant that I was getting ready, not getting ready, getting ready and then not getting ready. I pitched a forgettable 5 innings. Filled with some good pitches, some bad pitches, and a lot of pitches that were borderline. Working the inside corner on their all right handed lineup due to the 275 foot right field fence, and the 20mph gusts of wind blowing straight in from left field, I really didn't get any swings and misses or swing attempts in the first place. The umpire called about 30% of my pitches strikes as I was seemingly on a full count with everyone. Their 2 american hitters stacked at the top of their lineup accounted for most of the damage driving in and scoring all 4. I departed the game and we were behind just 4-3 before they got to our bullpen in an 8 run 6th inning. We actually got our asses handed to us 14-4 in 7. After a day off yesterday where nothing was open because of the Easter holiday (technically nothing was open Friday and today, Monday, either) it's back to studying for Crim Law exam part 2, in which I have 48 hours to complete beginning in about an hour. After of which Ill be headed back to Holland (Almere, Amsterdam, Haarlem, Breda, Eindhoven, Den Haag, Enschede) for a week of scouting, baseball training, and catching up with old friends. There is the annual Queens Day celebration and then when I return to Hamburg the following week... another exam (constitutional law). Between studying for law school exams on the planes/trains, before and after games, playing and coaching and scouting... I know I'm very lucky and fortunate to have all these awesome opportunities... but it's not easy.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Its really sad, you have something really special with someone, and there is no fighting, nothing that changed in the relationship, and you sit across a table in a cafe with them, after not seeing them for about 5 1/2, almost 6 months, except on Skype, and you stare into their eyes, and they stare back, and you know deep down this intense feeling of passion and romance, love and admiration, curiosity and excitement still exists between you both, because no one says a word, and yet you both keep staring, the minutes linger and drag-on, no one is going to be the first to look away, yet the person sitting across from you, she has basically just stated that she knows that we you'll never be together again because she's back with her ex-boyfriend of 5 years, and who she has known for about 12 years or so, who lives in Budapest all the time and was there when she was lonely over the winter, figuring out what to do with this love situation with an American guy who plays baseball for a living, based in Detroit, scouts all over Europe, and now has gotten a job coaching the national baseball team in her country (because of her). You tell her that you are going to be in her city, a foreign place to you, many times over the ensuing months, and it would be good to see her, do things, hang out, just be friends - because you treasure her companionship, because you just love to hang out with her, even if it's not on a romantic level - she can't understand why you are not angry that she suddenly changed her mind (or just ran away from something hard for something easy) and decided to commit back to her ex at sometime in February or March. She tells you that she can't do it, and you ask her why not, especially since you are the party that has been hurt/harmed in this instance, she replies with - her boyfriend is extremely jealous and doesn't want her to see you. What can you say to this information? What can you do? Nothing, you just sit and look at her, and she gazes back - and that connection you felt in October in Detroit, last July in Budapest, in August 2009 in Amsterdam, and in July of that year in Rimini Italy - it comes rushing back, you don't say anything because you know she feels it too, but what can you do? You play baseball in Hamburg, you go to law school in Detroit, and you are about to get this job scouting around Europe, all over Europe - Italy, Spain, Netherlands... but you know, deep down, this girl is as perfect match as they come, I mean why else would both of you guys try to attempt this impossible thing of being together worlds and cultures apart, so many hours and time zones away... you know, because she has said, if you were there in Budapest during the winter, obviously she would have never gotten back with her ex, and you guys would be together now, but she was lonely, she rekindled something and now this is what she wants... someone who is so insecure they forbid her from doing what she wants to do, living her life... and this strong minded, independent thinking, and intelligent woman agrees to be in it. You know other things - because you know her family a bit, and asked someone close to her, for some guidance while you are in this foreign culture and land... without even bringing up the subject she interjected over coffee that your girl was scared, she pretty much ran away from the tough decision she faced to have something stable and secure there all the time for her. Knowing this information, what can you say? What can you offer? What can you do? Except gaze back, reminisce about the past months and recall every waking and non-waking moment together, how special it was, how you even decided to get a job in her country, a country where you have zero connections to, in your professional field - and realize that nothing has changed for you and that's what hurts most, because this happens sometimes in your life - because of your goals, because of your talents, because of your character... you try so hard, especially when you want something so bad and when it comes to the reciprocity from others, because of the nature of your lifestyle or societal pressure in the 21st century on women and relationships, you end up back to square 1. Alone in your room in Hamburg, writing emails about your most recent and greatest, lost love, and wondering how it could have went wrong and what you could have done to fix it. Thus is the life of an international baseball vagabond. Eventually you go out and pitch in 48 hours, shrug it off, enjoy your teammates company, take some law school exams, go scout for MLB, meet other women and experience the same of what you always have... and the question lingers in the back of your mind, the feeling never really goes away, the minutes that felt like hours that was really a few years, sitting in a sunlit and smoke-filled cafe called Castro, a few hours before boarding a plane back to your crazy professional baseball life in Hamburg and gazing into those complex and perplexing green eyes.... wondering if you'll ever be able to see them in that light again.
Sunday, April 17, 2011
1. I didn't pitch well. I said to the team after the game that the loss was on me, of course, it's a team game and no one was buying that, but had I pitched like I threw last year in Bonn (8 2/3 of 1 earned run) we would have won. And the funny thing is I actually felt that this year's Bonn's lineup was nearly as dangerous as last years.
2. They're offense was actually good. They put 6 runs up in the first inning on our very good other "foreign" starter Max in Game 1. I say "foreign" because Max, as previously mentioned on this blog is an American who played college ball at Harvard, and summer college league with me in Virigina in 2005, but has a greek passport so can pitch Game 1 (the EU/German pitcher game)... and their offense did a good job when I was getting ahead in counts of 0-2 and 1-2 and fighting me off, making me throw a lot of pitches and putting balls into play.
3. I didn't finish guys off. When you get batters 0-2 and 1-2 you need your put away pitch to put guys away and I just didn't do that, at all. Granted it's the 2nd game of the season without pitching spring training for me, so I have room to work on this and grow but obviously with every game being important in the regular season, I expect to be sharper.
4. Still learning my catcher and my catcher still learning me. Jakub Voljak is the catcher for the Czech National team and an awesome receiver but we've only been battery mates for about 6 innings so far and I was half asleep the week before so we really didn't click this game. Everything was out of synch with the pitch calling, partly because he hasn't entirely grasped my repitoire and what pitches I can command and in what counts I like to throw them. He also just caught the previous game, all 10 innings (more on that later) and was run over in the first inning, so you can't blame him for being tired and a bit out of it, I know I couldn't do it, but hey that's why I'm a pitcher :)
5. The previous game. We managed to win a thrilling comeback 11-10 in 10 innings and pretty much used up all of our energy doing that. We just came out flat as a team, didn't score runs, didn't play good defense, and obviously (me) not pitching well... maybe beceause
6. The previous game. I have a set routine I like to do warming up before the game, and I was set to go and then we went into extra innings. That's really no excuse but it certainly could have played a factor in my mental preparation.
7. Red bull. Thus by the time I drank the red bull in the 8th inning - the extra innings kinda caffine crashed me by the 3rd and in the 4th is when I really started laboring and ended up throwing about 30 pitches that inning. Didn't make it to the 5th already down 5-1 or so.
8. Con Law paper. Have I mentioned don't do law school while trying to play baseball professionally overseas? Had this con law paper hanging over my head, and it still wasn't done with about 48 hours before it was due... and on top of that...
9. Was flying at 630 AM to Budapest for my first day of coaching with the Hungarian national team. Worry abut getting to sleep at a decent hour so I could wake at 5 AM, getting the paper done before that point, coaching this team for the first time, and seeing the girl in Budapest for the first time in 6 months...
10. Early season cold/stiff/soreness.... Thanks Detroit winter. Only my 4th or 5th time outside on a mound, so still need to build up mechanics/arm strength, etc.
11. Harry Potter. It was one of those unusual times in my baseball career where I couldn't "clear the mechanism" in the words of the great (and imaginary) Billy Chappel from For Love of the Game. I wear glasses when I pitch, ever since I learned in 2007 that the reason I couldn't see the catcher's signs at night in Israel wasn't because of the shadows, but my blurry vision for small objects at the 60 foot distance from the pitching mound to home plate. Anyways, Bonn was all over me calling me Harry Potter, and lame jokes from the movies, which actually I take as a compliment, because doesn't Harry Potter crush his more powerful and elder opponents? I digress, the fact that I could hear their bench when I was on the mound, and couldn't hear my own guys supporting me, was a bit frustrating. You can't get frustrated when you're doing something you love and you don't know how many more times you'll be able to do it... So just laugh it off, lock in on your target and make your pitch. Easier said then done in the moment, clearly.
12. Anyways, the comeback win in Game 1 was great, but we have to figure out a way to make this Game 2 thing work. Now off to Budapest in a few hours....
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
WARNING: This account may have a few inaccuracies. I was two days off the plane from Detroit, in which I had about 20 minutes of sleep in total. So after my brief home opener games account, I’ve included some other accounts from around the internet.
I remember we won the first game 11-10, but we had to use a lot of our relief pitchers for that. So I went into the second game as the starting pitcher and I told our manager Jens that I could probably go about 75 pitches before I would hit bad fatigue. We scored one unearned run in the first inning off of Dortmund’s American pitcher who led the German Bundesliga in strikeouts last year. We didn’t score again. I actually was pitching a “no-no” going through 4 innings, a shutout through 5, and entered the 6th inning leading 1-0, but was at 75 pitches. I told Jens I was pretty much done but he asked me to give him 1 more to help make the game shorter for our bullpen. I got 2 outs, but also had 2 guys on, when their #7 hitter, a lefty, who had 2 strikes on him took a low-and-away change-up that he Juuuust made contact with, and floated the ball just over our SS. The run that came around from 2nd base was actually tagged out on his back at the plate, but the umpire standing on the other side of the plate (out of position) didn’t see this and called him safe. Tie game. Next guy got a single up the middle and they went up by 1. I was done and we lost 3-1 eventually.
Impressions? Don’t pitch within 48 hours of a plane ride of 8 hours without sleep and if you do, don’t go past the 5th inning…
FROM Mister-Baseball.com The HSV Stealers and the Dortmund Wanderers settled for a split on Sunday. Game one was dominated by both offenses. The Stealers used a four-run rally in the bottom of the seventh for the fourth lead change in the game and the 11-10 win. had the decisive hit with a two-out RBI single. He also got the win in relief. hit a three-run homerun for Hamburg. took the loss. In the second game (W 2-0) out-dueled Justin Prinstein (L 0-1) to lead the Wanderers to a 3-1 win. had the big hit of the game with a two-run single in the sixth.
|8||Dohren Wild Farmers||0||4||11||38||.000||4||L4|
HSV Stealers I also against Dortmund with split 1:3 11:10
|Posted by: Michael Kujoth|
|Monday, 11 April 2011 at 12:59 clock|
To Match the start of the Bundesliga season, the baseball team win the HSV a renewed comeback win in game one defeat and the Dortmund Wanderers 11:10. In the following section, the thieves are, however, no remedy against a good mood and Matt Kemp are subject to 1:3.
Game 1: home run of Vojak, four points in the seventh inning for the second win of the season
An offensive slugfest with many points and multiple leadership changes were the spectators at the Hamburg Langenhorst in the first game of the day to see. Because of the injury-induced loss of René Herlitzius Daniel Harms started on the part of the Stealers, his opposite was Dennis Stechmann. Harms was struggling with control problems at the start and had already in the second inning to walk, hit by pitch, and a Doublesteal Groundout make the first point. After he began the next inning with two walks, he had to vacate the mound for his brother Eric. This could free himself while in the inning, but not before Alyosha Heller Runner by both single for a 3-0 lead had brought home. In a direct lookup turned the spot-free by then-offensive Stealers it to. Bases loaded at the first two runs of Thomas Ried scort agent sacrifice fly and the subsequent error of the Dortmund Center fielder Elliot Biddle. Sam Boone's Basehit worried then the short-term balance before Catcher Jakub Vojak the leather ball balanced on a 3-run home run and the first guide of the Stealers on the Left Field fence.
In section four game both teams took one further run on home plate and one inning later, the Dortmund turned their hand to score. RBI singles by Tobi Willach, Jovert Bolze, Roy Wescott and Biddle and a Passed Ball brought the score to 9:7 in front. From the sixth inning Max Warren took over the work on the mound for the Stealers, and sent back the first three by strikeout batter into the dugout, had to take part in the seventh game, however, a RBI-triple by Wesche for Dortmund 10:7 leadership. In the lower half of the inning put the HSV baseball but then again to strike back at. Michael Fliedner's double brought against the new pitcher Marco Dietsch connection point home and transported by Phillip Soosten to third base, from where he scored the equalizer on Jerome Rousseau's sacrifice fly.Warren perfected with his two-out RBI single gave the comeback and the Stealers 11:10-a leadership that would also represent the final score. The last six Dortmund beat people he sat with three strike outs and ground on the bench for the second win of the season to secure.
Game 2: Kemp leads Dortmund to Split
The second game of the Bundesliga Double headers are told usually fast and often follow a similar pattern: strong, mostly American pitching dominated along with the defensive series, a points poor game, and at the end wins the team that can at the right moment to land the decisive blows. On Sunday came the team from Dortmund.
Supported by an error of the Short Stops the Stealers were able to score in the first inning but already a point against Matt Kemp. On the remaining eight innings but not a single thief reached over the home plate, only one made it to the rest of the game play on the third base.And yet it looked like the beginning, as if the brief 1-0 lead enough for a double victory. Even for the Stealers a capable pitcher stood on the mound. Justin Prinstein, arrived just in time for the game in Germany, gave his hand, the Wanderers on a short leash and allowed the first five innings of no points. it also played a key role Catcher Vojak, the three potential base-stealer with his throwing arm in each case turned into an out. In the sixth game section Prinstein then showed signs of fatigue, however slight, that exploit the Dortmund consistently. In the case of two occupied by Biddle and Trevor Howell and Double Walk the Bases, Groer and Daniel took care line drive into right field for the equalizer. Stechmann then brought with his Bloop single to the shortstop to make it 2-1 to the Wanderers home. In the last game section presented Biddles RBI single against the return to the position of the pitcher's substitute Warren ago the 3-1 final score.
"The team, just as it did last week, showed good morale. In the first game we have never let us irritate the residues of us, and fought back into the game," summed up Coach Jens Hawlitzky at the end of the day. Also in relation to the second lot was the Stealers-Head Coach make any negative aspects about the performance of his team. "Matt Kemp is one of the better pitchers in the Bundesliga and has now thrown a good game. Two, three balls are more or less a gap in the field and the game is not 1:3, but from 3-1.'s How it is sometimes in baseball. "
For the next Saturday held home games against the Bonn Capitals should Hawlitzky outfielder Chris Schoettler available again. Rene Herlitzius but will be out due to a calf injury even longer. The Capitals could also gain a win on Sunday against the division of Solingen Alligators, after they lost in the previous week at the Paderborn Untouchables. remain leaders of the First Bundesliga Nord Pulheim the Gophers, who are after two victories against the Berlin Sluggers unbeaten this season.