How Do I Top That… ?

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Hello internet! (Queue Eminem intro) It FEELS SO GOOD TO BE BACK!

It has been a lengthy 365 days since my last blog post and for the seldom few readers who are asking yourselves, “Why did it take you so long to bust out the laptop again, Bailey?” The answer is pretty simple… it’s because my last post surprisingly BLEW UP! Well, “blew up” according to my expectations at least.

Prior to “Fastball, Curveball, Slider, Change”, I think my blog site had received MAYBE a couple hundred views from my close friends and family members. So after I shared my story about pitching in my first big league spring training game, I figured the feedback would probably be more of the same.

“We are so proud of you.” “Keep working hard.” “Continue chasing your dream.”

However, to my surprise the internet seemed to take a liking to my writing style, with the post receiving over 100 retweets and 400 likes on Twitter.

Now, I’m fully aware that I live in an era where a simple tweet of a puppy wearing a seat belt can muster up a modest 1.7 million shares; so to put things in perspective, my 100 retweets really wasn’t that impressive. But for a minor league baseball player who had a whopping 500 followers at the time, 100 retweets was A HUGE DEAL.

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Cuteness overload.

Probably the coolest part about the whole situation was the fact that a few major social media accounts decided to share my story on their Twitter feeds. Agencies like the Houston Chronicle, Fox 26 Houston, and 9News Denver all promoted my post. Elite athletes such as Emanuel Sanders, Evan Gattis, and Jose Bautista liked my tweet. Heck even the Houston Texan’s Cheerleading team shot me a follow!

It was in that moment, that I realized I might be on to something with this whole writing thing…

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All jokes aside, “Fastball, Curveball, Slider, Change” received more positive feedback than I could’ve ever imagined. Which leads me to my next topic, the title of this post… HOW THE **** DO I TOP THAT!?

The thought of creating new content that would impact other people even remotely close to my previous blog entry was daunting to say the least. As a result, I shied away from writing because I didn’t think I could ever construct something as engaging, entertaining, or interactive ever again. Not even if Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow called me up and said, “I’ll promote you to the big leagues if you write another blog post.” (If only it were that simple.)

Right on it boss!

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And if severe writers block wasn’t enough, also factor in:

  • Playing 142 baseball games in roughly 155 days.
  • Getting my tonsils removed immediately after the 2018 season.
  • And working 3 part-time jobs from October to February along with being extremely focused on my development as a baseball player.

The schedule has been just a little busy.

The good news is, I not only have some free time on a Monday afternoon to sit down and write, but I also came to the realization as to why I write in the first place. I don’t jot down my thoughts & post them “on the line” for the approval of others. on the line I also don’t blog with the end goal of receiving ample amounts of likes and shares on social media. I write because I enjoy documenting my life. I write because I want to be able to look back and reminisce about all the laughs, fond memories, & crazy experiences as a professional athlete. It’s a way for me to be creative, laid back, and carefree in contrast to my work life which requires me to be punctual, prompt, and meticulous. It’s a hobby that I thoroughly enjoy and it’s something I plan on doing more of in the future.

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So now that I’ve justified my year long writing hiatus, where should I go from here?

I could talk about living back home in my parents basement for the majority of the offseason (riveting). I could talk about how I remarkably convinced a girl to date me despite the fact that I was living in my parents basement (embarrassing). Or I could recap part of last year with the Astros and update you on where I’m at in my baseball career (somewhat interesting).

Maybe touch on all 3? Screw it, I’ve got a few hours…


First, “The Offseason”. Centered around getting better at baseball and spending quality time with family. IMG_1105

Since the fall of 2013 when I left for college, I’ve been away from Colorado for roughly eleven months out of the year. Summers were spent traveling for baseball. Autumns & winters were spent with my face in a textbook. Springs were a combination of both. So when the 2018 baseball season concluded, I was pumped for two reasons:

  1. This would be my first offseason as a college graduate!
  2. I get to move back in with my parents! (Not usually a sentence filled with excitement from a single, 23 year old guy but hey its true).

I missed my mom, dad, and little sister Bri. And while it’s always great seeing them when they would fly out to watch me play in places like Corpus Christi or West Palm Beach, it’s also bitter sweet because their weekend visits always seem to pass with the blink of an eye.

During a minor league baseball season, guys don’t have large amounts of free time to sit, relax, and soak in the presence of their families. Instead, we wake up around 9:00am, shower, eat some breakfast, and then head to the field around noon. From that point on, players like myself are at the stadium the rest of the day, working on developing our baseball skills until the 7 o’clock game concludes around ten or eleven each night. This usually means that guys only get to see their families during breakfast hours and then after the game for dinner. Not exactly the most eventful family gatherings but we work with the time we have.

As the extensive season presses on, long periods away from loved ones can start to take a toll on ball-players, creating that uneasy feeling of being homesick. So when the 2018 season came to a close and I was presented with the chance to move back in with my parents, I decided quality family time was much needed after nonstop traveling for 5 years straight.

Being back home in Broomfield, I noticed that it was the little things that I’d missed more than anything. Little things like sitting down to family dinners prepared by my mom Antionette. Or hanging out in the living room, cheering on the Zags basketball team with my parents during tough matchups against schools like Duke & North Carolina. But what I missed more than anything was playing and joking around with my baby cousins.

Life comes at you fast; It’s theses types of moments that make coming home so special.

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Christmas Eve 2018 with my sister Bri & my cousins.


Second, “The Lady Friend”. A true underdog story about how a broke minor-leaguer landed a California smoke show.

Let me start by saying this… I out kicked my coverage on this one. There’s really no other way to describe it. It’s like the universe decided I’d been through enough **** in my personal life and my reward for putting up with all of it was a VIP ticket to the electric factory.

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A blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while…

The story begins 5 years ago after my high school girlfriend broke up with me during my first semester of college. My family had recently moved to Tucson, Arizona because of my dad’s job, so when I returned home for Christmas break I was all bent out of shape.massage chair gif

I’m never going to find somebody. Why is this happening? The world is ending.

The usual crap. Over exaggerating the situation like any 18 year old would.

My little sister Bri being the great person that she is, tried doing everything she could to cheer me up.

“Bubba you’re going to be fine. There are plenty of fish in the sea. Here, take a look at my new friend Rachel...

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My face the first time I saw Rachel haha

“Um… Bri. Who is that?” I asked in shock (Electric factory. No pun intended).

“That’s my new friend Rachel,” she replied, “I met in modeling class.”

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“Are you going to introduce me to your new friend Rachel from modeling class?” I asked.

“Well I can… but there’s one minor problem,” Bri explained, “She kinda’ got a boyfriend.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me sis! If she’s dating someone, why would you show me her Instagram and get my hopes up?” I joked.

“I just wanted to prove a point that other people are out there and clearly you’re picking up what I’m putting down,” she laughed.

Well played sis. Well played.

After my conversation with Bri I decided to shoot this “Rachel chick” a follow. A simple reminder to myself that there ARE other fish in the sea indeed. And as an added bonus, she followed me back. Chalk that one up in the win column!

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Fast forward 5 years and you’ll find me, a single 23, about to be 24 year old just enjoying life in Broomfield, Colorado in October. My family had moved back to our home state in 2014 after one year in Arizona. And while we enjoyed having a swimming pool in our backyard, we really didn’t vibe well with the rattle-snakes, scorpions, and tarantulas that wanted to join the party. After 4 years at Gonzaga University, I had finally finished my degree and was pleased with the direction my life was headed. A solid first year with the Astros gave me confidence. Landing a job at the local Oakley store provided me with some income. And to top it off, living rent free in my parents basement while dominating NBA 2K19 wasn’t a bad setup either. I’d say I was 100% content with this prime-time bachelor lifestyle.

But occasionally when you think you’ve got everything figured out, life throws you a curveball.  Sometimes it’s a Clayton Kershaw hook where you need a tennis racquet to have a fighting chance. Other times, it’s a Lance McCullers breaker where you couldn’t hit it even if you knew it was coming. But every once in awhile, you get a hanger. You get the pitch you’re looking for. An offering where you can get your front foot down, cheat the hip, let’er rip, and absolutely annihilate it over the centerfield wall!

On October 5th, 2018, Rachel Shrode threw me a curveball & I read spin ladies and gentleman.

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How I reacted when I realized she was available lol

It was a relaxing evening and I had just finished the last episode of Game of Thrones: Season 7 (Mind. Blown.). Before I went to bed, I decided to check out Instagram for a few minutes. The first picture that popped up on my feed was posted by @_littlefitlife, a.k.a. Rachel so I decided to check out her profile, noticing immediately that all of the pictures with the guy she’d been dating were gone…

For the first time in 5 years, both Rachel and I were single at the exact same time. I knew this would probably be my only opportunity to make a move so I decide to do what any other 24 year old guy would in this situation… slide into the DM’s, shoot my shot, & pray.

To my surprise, I tried stretching a single into a double, slid head first, and I was safe. I completed the 60 yard Hail-Mary with no time left on the clock. I drained the 35-foot, buzzer beater to win the game. Jose Altuve, Roger Staubach, & James Harden would be proud.

Fast forward 6 months and things couldn’t get much better. Rachel recently landed a job with a marketing company in Houston and I reported to spring training in mid-February which means baseball season is just around the corner. After some serious talks about what would be best for both of us long term, Rachel and I have decided that we are moving to Texas together once Spring Training breaks! We are both very excited to start this new journey and we’re looking forward to what the future has in store.

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And finally, “The Baseball”. A brief recap of my first season as an Astro followed by a quick update on where things stand in 2019.

If I had to describe my first year as a member of the Astros farm system, I would probably start with the phrase, “It was a learning experience.”

2018 was a little bit of a roller coaster ride with some intense highs and lows in terms of my overall performance on the baseball field. For every great outing I had, it seemed like the next was a guaranteed struggle to make it out of the first inning. I couldn’t seem to find my groove and with each bad outing that surfaced, the negative self-talk and self-doubt slowly grew.

Maybe I’m not as good as I thought I was. Maybe the Astros made a mistake trading for me. I wonder what my coaches and teammates think?

For the first time in my professional career, I was uncertain if I was good enough to pitch in the big leagues, analyzing every 3 ball count, walk, and earned run.

What I didn’t understand was that the Astros player development staff was purposely challenging me to get out of my comfort zone, propelling me to throw more curveballs and sliders rather than my bread & butter fastball-changeup combo. This new challenge forced me to deal with some failure and adversity; and while no player ever wants to be told that they have blaring weaknesses in their game, sometimes it’s the brutally honest conversations that lead to the biggest improvements.

“We’re not preparing you to have success in the Carolina League,” my High-A pitching coach Drew French explained to me one day after a tough outing, “We are preparing you to have success in the big leagues.”

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This quote really resonated with me because it put my on- field struggles into perspective. It’s easy to practice the things you’re already good at. During the 2018 season, I learned that if I wanted to reach my ultimate goal, I needed to get comfortable practicing the things I wasn’t. It was a humbling 6 months of baseball.

With the help of Astros pitching coaches Chris Holt, Josh Miller, Drew French, and Bill Murphy, along with Astros mental skills coordinator Jesse Michel, I was able to make some huge strides in my development. Through countless trial & error repetitions and my fair share of 1 on 1 mental skills meetings, I found adjustments that worked for me, making drastic improvements in all areas of my game.


As for where things stand today? I’m currently in the final stretch of my second spring training with the Astros here in West Palm Beach, Florida. And while I might not have the slam dunk story about my first time pitching in a big league Spring Training game, I’ve got a small side story equivalent to a fundamental layup…

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It was this past Monday, March 11th and I’d been asked to go suit up for the big league team. I checked the schedule when I arrived at the park and wouldn’t you know it, we were playing the Mets! (Talk about deja vu)

From here, you probably know the drill. I walked over to the big league side of the complex, grabbed my uniform from the clubby (number 91 this time, moving up in the world) and then made my way to the cafeteria to punish myself with the big league lunch spread.

I stacked my plate with a mountain of food, found the nearest place to sit, and assumed the position. The table I picked didn’t have a single soul and although I felt way more comfortable backing up for the big league squad this time around, I still didn’t have the cajones to take a seat next to Carlos Correa & Lance McCullers and chat it up about APEX Legends.

As I started to stuff my face with lemon chicken, brown rice, and mixed veggies, my buddy Corbin Martin came and sat down with me. Martin, a 23 year old right handed pitcher from southeast Texas, is a pitching prospect Astros fans should be really excited about because he throws his fastball in the mid to upper 90’s, has solid command and displays two, above-average, power breaking balls. The guy can flat out pitch and in my opinion, will probably be helping the Astros get back to the World Series sooner rather than later.

I first met Corbin last year when we both were assigned to High-A Buies Creek. It didn’t take long for me to realize that this Texas country boy was probably one of the funnier guys I’ve ever met; constantly cracking jokes, doing hilarious imitations, and telling crazy stories about his home state. When he sat down at my table I felt a sigh of a relief because I was no longer the Steven Glansberg of the big league cafeteria. He and I small talked about how spring training was going and when both of us were scheduled to pitch next. Then out of nowhere, another guy sat down to my right…

I was mid-sip into my blueberry Powerade when Justin Verlander sat down at our table and I’m 90% sure part of the sports drink fell out of the side of my mouth. Here’s a guy that has been dominating baseball since he first broke into the league back in 2006 and is hands down a first ballot Hall of Famer. I was twelve when he won the American League Rookie of the Year in Detroit. In 2017, while I worked towards finishing my degree at Gonzaga University, Verlander was dominating the postseason, leading the Astros to their first World Series title ever. And now it’s 2019 and we’re having lunch together… what is going on?

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Thank God Corbin was there to spark up a conversation with Verlander because I was literally speechless. All I could do was keep repeating the same thing over and over in my head…

Just act normal, don’t say anything stupid! Just act normal, don’t say anything stupid!

I’m pretty sure I didn’t move, blink, or breathe for the entire conversation. And right when I was about to muster up the courage to introduce myself to the Cy Young winner, another player sat down across from me at the table… Michael Brantley Jr.

As if the Astros weren’t already stacked, the addition of Brantley takes this team to a whole new level. With Bryce Harper being the center of attention in regards to outfield free-agents this offseason, I feel like Brantley flew under the radar and was an absolute steal for the Astros. The guy slashed .309/.364/.468 last year and had the 3rd highest AB to K ratio in all of baseball. Add him into a lineup already filled with elite contact hitters like Altuve, Bregman, & Correa, and you’ve got yourself lots of baserunners and seldom few strikeouts.

Once again, I had little to contribute to the following conversation that would take place between Verlander, Brantley, and Martin about autograph hounds that infiltrate the facility during Spring Training. This was a problem I’d yet to experience considering I enter through the minor league side everyday and I’m usually mistaken for the bat boy when I’m in uniform 9 times out of 10 anyways. Perks of being 5’9 I guess.

My plate was now empty and I was contemplating getting up and exiting towards the locker room. The only problem was, I couldn’t get my legs to work. familyguy15So rather than risk doing something clumsy like bumping the table and spilling Verlander’s fresh cup of coffee, I decided to sit and attempt to not move a single muscle. Yes, this was actually my thought process at that point in time. There’s a 100% chance that if I spilled a hot cup of Joe all over Verlander’s lap, I’m getting released on the spot, that day by the Astros. Couldn’t afford to risk it.

Just act normal, don’t say anything stupid. Drink your **** Justin…

After what seemed like an eternity (but in actuality was only 5 minutes time) Verlander, Brantley, & Martin all finished their plates and stood up from the table. I quickly followed, exhaling a huge sigh of relief.

Good job B! You didn’t completely embarrass yourself. Instead, Verlander & Brantley think you don’t speak english.

Eh, I’ll take it. Way better than getting released…

Welcome to The Real World

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Schooooooooooool’s out… FOR-EV-ER (Alice Cooper x Sandlot delivery).

Seventeen long, dreadful, traumatic years in a class room later, I have finally reached the finish line! Patiently awaiting the arrival of a sheet of paper that confirms that I, Brandon David Keith Bailey, am capable of:

  1. Utilizing the Google search engine.
  2. Plugging in complex math equations into a Texas Instrument calculator.
  3. Writing 10 page papers the night before they are due.
  4. Reading books like The Giver, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Lord of The Flies.
  5. Having a basic understanding that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell.

Yes, my intellectual capabilities are quiet impressive. I mean, how many millenials do you know who can explain why performing a SWOT analysis is beneficial for a company? I’m basically a genius. Unfortunately, as much as I wish my knowledge on the 4 P’s of marketing could help me understand my W-2 and W-9 tax forms, I’m diving into adult hood head first with the hope that there’s a body of water below me.

I will say that even though I will be channeling the “fake it ’til you make it mentality” for the next few years, I’m looking forward to the new experiences that lie ahead in the real world.

For starters, I was recently traded from the Oakland A’s to the newly crowned world champion Houston Astros organization back in late November. While I’m sad to be leaving such a great group of coaches, trainers, and teammates in the A’s organization, I’m anxious to start my new journey with such a historic team such as the Astros. Arguably the best part of being traded to Houston is that I have the opportunity to once again play along side one of my former teammates and close friends at Gonzaga, Taylor Jones. Jonesy is one of the best defensive first baseman I have ever had the pleasure of playing with. In addition to his great defensive skill set, his hit tool and understanding of the strike zone are top notch. Did I mention he’s 6’7? Great target to throw at on pick-off moves. If I ever over throw him I should be cut right then and there. Along with Jonesy, some of my former Cape League teammates Brett Adcock and Stephen Wrenn also play for the Astros so it should be fun reuniting with some talented YD Red Sox.

Another minor adjustment that comes with playing for a new organization is the change in location for spring training. When I was with Oakland, spring training took place in Mesa, Arizona, just 5 minutes east of ASU’s campus and 10 minutes south of Scottsdale. This was a great place to prepare for the upcoming season due to the fact that all of the other pro baseball teams affiliated with the Cactus League were within a 1 hour radius of the A’s facility, making travel to exhibition games short and sweet. Houston however, hosts spring training in West Palm Beach, Florida and is apart of the Grapefruit League. Spring training in Florida, unlike Arizona, requires significantly more travel to-and-from exhibition games because most team’s training facilities are anywhere from 5 minutes to 4 hours away from one another. Granted, I’m sure when spring break week rolls around and all the college students fly in I’ll be able to look past the whole travel conundrum [THE POOL (Beach) HUNNIES-Sandlot]. No further explanation needed.

While there are definitely some exciting times ahead, I continue to push myself to remain in the present moment, fully aware of my surroundings, appreciating all of the blessings the universe has placed directly in front of me at this point in time. Currently, I am on a plane headed back to Spokane, Washington after a short five day trip Bradenton, Florida. Over the past 5 days, I attended the first annual Rep1 Baseball Sports Agency Athlete Summit on the campus of the IMG Academy. This was truly an honor to be invited to such an informative and memorable event. I had the opportunity to train with MLB stars such as Luis Severino, Rafael Devers, Jeimer Roasrio, Paulo Orlando, and Carlos Estevez, while also participating in various seminars that covered topics like financial planning, nutrition, and philanthropy. Not only was I impressed by the facilities that we were able to utilize at the IMG Academy but I was also amazed by Rep1’s ability to organize and execute such a well thought out event. I am truly thankful to be apart of the Rep1 family and forever grateful for their belief in me as an athlete.

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As this Boeing 737 moves closer and closer to my final destination, I can’t help but reminisce about all of the memories I have acquired in Spokane over the past four and a half months of the offseason. Some experiences good, others not so much. In the end, I’m happy to say that the good memories significantly outweigh the bad. For starters, I’ve been able to spend almost every single day hanging out with some of my former college teammates and best friends Tyler Frost, Sam Hellinger, Wyatt Mills, and Justin Vernia.

We pushed one another in the weight room, binge watched The Office ’til 2am on the weekends, and attended a great Gonzaga verse Creighton basketball game back in November. We also had some intense NBA 2K18 matches on the PS4 which motivated us into taking our hoop dreams on to the hardwood for some 2 on 2 action. Needless to say, we all should stick to baseball. Although Millard (Wyatt) can dunk so that’s something.

While most of my time in Spokane this offseason has been spent studying or training for baseball, I’ve also been able to fit a part time job at Jack & Dan’s Bar and Grill into my schedule. Every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and anytime the Gonzaga Basketball team has a home game, I’ve helped stock beer, change kegs, clean tables, and man the front door to check ID’s. Not the most glamorous part time job in the world but I’ve met a lot of great people through interactions with customers. I’ve also made some great friends in my coworkers and have acquired a few awesome stories that I can’t post about on the internet unfortunately (I work at a bar, use your imagination). IMG_0510For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Spokane area, Jack and Dan’s happens to be a Spokane landmark and is the most popular bar in town. Fun fact, the bar is owned by none other than Spokane native, Gonzaga legend, and NBA Hall of Famer John Stockton (John’s father, Jack, was one of the co-owners that the bar was named after). So if you’re ever in Spokane and looking for a place to watch the game, have a few cold ones, or eat some grub, look no further than the 509’s finest watering hole. Side note… order the Meatloaf Sandwich. It’s bomb.

While my experiences with work and friends have been some of my greatest highlights from this offseason, they ultimately fall second in line to one unrivaled blessing I was given in my final semester at GU… having the opportunity to attend college with my little sister Bri. Not only were Bri and I academic peers as a freshman and senior at Gonzaga, but we were also classmates! I’m not sure if this was a result of Bri being really smart (she was in a 300 level class during her first semester of college) or the fact that I’m not actually the genius I claimed to be a few paragraphs above… Whatever the case, we took Native American Government and Yoga together and had a great time enjoying each others

IMG_0186company. This was much needed for both of us since her and I had spent the past 3 years sporadically seeing one another throughout the year due to the fact that she was still in high school back home in Colorado and I was in college living up in Spokane. It was also nice helping her get acclimated with the college lifestyle and how it differentiates from high school. Hopefully I showed her a few tricks and one or two helpful perks of being a student at Gonzaga but I must say, having her around has not only made my time in Spokane more enjoyable but it’s also given me a peace of mind knowing my little sister has me there if she ever needed anything. Granted, I know she’s has a great support system at GU to help her if she ever needs anything once it’s time for me to pack up and head to Florida.

And on that note, with each day that passes, the offseason is drawing to a close and the season is right around the corner. While I’m sad to be putting the finishing touches on my college career, I am looking forward to what the universe has in store down the road. It’s crazy… people told me high school goes by fast and that college goes by even faster. They weren’t lying.

 “Time rolls by, the clock don’t stop. I wish I had a few more drops of the good stuff, the good times, aw but they just keep on flyin’ right on by like it ain’t nothin’. I wish I had me a pause button. Moments like those, Lord knows I’d hit it. Give myself five more minutes.” -Scotty McCreery.

 

Chase The Lion

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Well it’s been exactly 278 days, 23 hours, and 50 minutes since I last decided to type random thoughts into a text box but for some reason I decided tonight would be a good time to give writing another shot.

Before I commence, I want to apologize for all of the typos, bad grammar, and mis-spelled words on this post as well as my posts from a year ago… I have no editor and a person can only read their own words so many times…

Quite a bit has happened over the past 278 days and I am debating on where a solid starting point would be for this blog post. There have been some life changing experiences, a few exciting events, and a fair share of occurrences which were monotonous. Never-the-less, my mind has steered me in the direction towards typing out and documenting some of these happenings. So for those of you who actually decided that this blog post was worth a skim, hopefully I don’t completely bore you.

I’ll start with the here and now.

The town: Beloit, Wisconsin (No that is not a typo).

The time: (12:01a.m. Central)

The team: The Beloit Snappers, Single A affiliate of the Oakland A’s in the Midwest League.

For those of you who (like me) have never heard of Beloit, Wisconsin, it is right on the Illinois/Wisconsin boarder and is fittingly titled “The Gateway to Wisconsin”. An average sized town most known for being the home of Hormel chili, Beloit is where I currently reside (I refuse to call it home… *cough* West Coast, Best Coast *cough*). I moved here in early April after being assigned to the Snappers roster following the conclusion of Spring Training 2017. While Pohlman Field isn’t the most elegant ball park in the minor leagues and the Snapper fan base equivalates to one of a talented little league squad, my teammates have made the deplorable professional baseball setting extremely memorable and fun!

Like all minor league baseball organizations, the Snappers let new players decide on their housing arrangements. While some of my teammates live in apartments in Janesville, I decided to live with a host family a long with a few of my fellow teammates. During the host family settlements, I was lucky enough to be paired with a great host named Dennis Conerton, who happens to be the team president and has been involved with the Snapper’s front office operations for quite some time now. Daulton Sawyer, Heath Bowers, and Sam Sheehan are my housemates. All three are talented pitchers within the A’s farm system and have become some of my closer friends on the squad. It should also be noted that Andrew (Tomo) Tomasovich was one of my housemates as well before he got promoted to the High-A affiliate of the A’s in Stockton, California (Go Ports).

Now for the interesting stuff… BASEBALL standings/results. Yesterday, the Snappers split a double header with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers; keeping our team in 3rd place of the Midwest League Western Divisional standings. We are only 3.5 games back of first with exactly 13 games left to play before the All-Star break. For those of you who are unfamiliar with minor league baseball, play off births can be granted in a few different ways but since I don’t feel like going into detail, I’ll keep it simple… if you finish in first OR second place during the first half of the season OR the second half of the season, you are awarded a playoff birth. So (hypothetically) a team could finish in first place of their division during the first half of the season, lose every game in the second half of the season, and still participate in playoff action come early September. All I have to say is… Don’t let the Snappers get hot… Vamos Tortugas!

Now that you are up to date on sports, I will tap into other things in my life that don’t have a direct correlation to baseball (everything in my life has some relation one way or another).

It gives me great pleasure to announce that my younger sister Bri has not only:

1. Graduated from Broomfield High School

2. Spoke at her graduation

3. Received numerous academic scholarships

4. Was senior class president

5. Senior homecoming royalty

6. And was selected to speak at a Native American conference in Seattle in mid-April

But she will be attending Gonzaga University starting in the fall of 2017! I am one proud older brother and I can not wait to get back to Spokane this fall and go to the same school with my little sister for the first time ever! (*It should be noted that I left out many of Bri’s amazing and outstanding accomplishments. If I were to name all of them it would take me at least 20 minutes of typing which equals at least one hand cramp.)

Another awesome thing that has happened over the past 10 months is that I moved on from a negative/toxic relationship and have been blessed with the most amazing, fun, beautiful (I could go on for awhile but again hand cramp) girl any guy could ever ask for. She has brought out the best in me athletically, academically, and spiritually but I think the most amazing thing she has done is love me for me regardless of my past flaws and for that I am forever grateful Heather.

In other news I have taken interest in reading, Amazon Prime, and MLB: The Show 2017. In the past 2 weeks I have read 3 books which makes me feel accomplished considering I do not stimulate my brain very often now that I’ve been out of school for 6 months. However, reading has filled this void and I enjoy learning new things about topics I actually care about (No offense Philosophy 301: Ethics). The books I have completed are:

  1. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by The Creator of NIKE, Phil Knight
  2. Off The Field: Carving Your Own Path to Find Your Best Self, by China McCarney
  3. You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness & Start Living an Awesome Life, by Jen Sincero.

I had a different motive when reading each of these books. With Shoe Dog, I wanted to learn more about the history of NIKE in order to better understand company culture. It’s my dream to one day work for this athletic based company after I call it a career from baseball but until then, I will settle for individualized research. The second book, Off The Field, was brought to my attention through Instagram and Kyle Boddy, founder and CEO of Driveline Baseball. This book’s target audience is anyone struggling to find their true passion. McCarney suggests breaking down each day and focusing on winning all of the individual battles that humans are confronted with on a regular basis, lifting one’s self efficacy which in return clears our perspective, allowing us to discover what we truly want to accomplish in life. Finally, You Are a Badass speaks for itself. By incorporating a consistent positive mindset, I hope to discover that I am indeed a “badass”.

Now that I’ve spent that past hour trying to spill out my thoughts onto this computer screen, I will return to my fourth book that I hope to complete, Chase The Lion: If Your Dream Doesn’t Scare You, It’s Too Small, by Mark Batterson. 

Again, self explanatory.

I Hate Bus Rides

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I hate bus rides, plain and simple. I don’t hate them for the countless hours of traveling on highways. I don’t hate them for the inconvenient arrival times back at our home ballpark after an 8 hour road trip. I don’t hate them due to the fact that there’s only one bathroom. For those of you who are unaware, having only one bathroom is a big deal because of the following scenario…If you have to “drop a deuce” your basically SOL. No one wants to be “That Guy” who is responsible for dropping the stink bomb which will consequently travel throughout the bus, pissing off everybody and their mom after you’ve performed your dirty deed. 35 males farting and burping in a small space is bad enough… Just imagine if someone took a sh*t that lingered until you arrived at your destination. Your only option is to focus up, squeeze your cheeks, and hold it.

Surprisingly, none of the reasons listed above are why I despise bus rides. No, I hate bus rides for one reason and one reason only… I can’t fall asleep. The majority of my teammates would probably say that if there was one person out of the group who should be able to find a comfortable position to catch some Z’s, it would be me. Why you ask? Because I’m a midget in a land of freakishly oversized giants that disguise themselves as incredibly talented baseball players. What ever happened to the good old days when guys over 6’6 dedicated their athletic ability towards making it rain on the hardwood or when guys that weighed over 220 pounds used their God given size to knock the snot out of people on the gridiron? I apologize for my short rant, I’m getting off topic. Where was I? Oh right, the reason I’m a perfect candidate to find a comfortable sleeping position is due to my 5’8 inch frame (5’10 on a good day or when I’m wearing cleats). My undersized stature allows me to maneuver myself into some creative lounging positions that my larger counterparts could not experience even if they tried. Imagine 6’7 left-hander AJ Puk finding a comfortable position to stretch out his freakishly oversized arms and legs… needless to say the man gets his own seat. Now me on the other hand, I’m fun-sized and should be taking advantage of my miniature layout, but regardless of what lounging position I decide to utilize it doesn’t matter. I CAN’T FALL ASLEEP!

Coming to terms with this unfortunate truth, I have recently turned to the essentials of staying awake: caffeine, my Beats headphones, my iPhone 6+, and my laptop. The majority of my time on the bus is spent listening to music, browsing my social media accounts, getting a few good games of Hungry Shark in, and texting my family and friends back home on the west coast. Unfortunately, at the beginning of this bus trip from Norwich, Connecticut back to Vermont, I received a text message from Verizon informing me that I’ve used 90% of my data for the month. Looks like no social media browsing for me. Instead, I decided I would begin working on my next blog post and 426 words later, here we are.

There are only 8 games left in the season and while I’m not ready for baseball to be over, I couldn’t be more excited for the next four months and what they have in store. Classes start at Gonzaga tomorrow which means I’m officially a senior in college…

Not going to lie I just spent the last 20 minutes starring at that last sentence trying to comprehend what I had just typed but inevitably, I’m a senior and I truth be told I never want to graduate. Gonzaga is my second home and I while I am currently testing the waters of what it’s like to be an adult in the real world, I’m ready to get back to school and be a normal college student where my only concern is how I’m going to pass my next Sport Law exam.

As the bus continues to make it’s way north towards Burlington, I’ve had a few songs pop up on my country playlist that have caused me to reminisce about my friends and family back home on the west coast. One song in particular is “Drink One For Me” by Jason Aldean. Every line from start to finish speaks to the way I’m feeling, reminding me of all my friends who are back up at Gonzaga celebrating the start of another semester and how I wish I could be there celebrating with them, especially my former Gonzaga Baseball teammates. While I’ve made my decision to chase my dream of playing in the MLB, I still can’t help but wonder what my life would be like if I had chosen to return to Spokane and play my senior year for the Zags. Although I don’t regret my decision, I do miss the Zag community that always made me feel like I was apart of one big family…the Zag family.

The good news is I will be returning to ZagLand in T-Minus 8 days and during those 8 days I get to do what I love most, throw baseballs.

My last outing on August 24th verse the Lowell Spinners (short-season Single A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox) was my best performance as a professional yet. I came out of the bullpen and pitched 5 innings of relief, striking out 9, and walking zero after our starting pitcher Logan Shore threw 3 solid innings before reaching his pitch count limit. Ever since Shore joined the team, he has been my favorite pitcher to watch because of how much he and I have in common on the mound.

First off, we both throw our fastball in the low 90’s and posses the ability to fill up the strike zone with 3 pitches. The change-up is the best pitch in our arsenals and we feel comfortable throwing it in any given count. We also both throw sliders and have vocalized to our pitching coach that we want to focus on improving this pitch on the days we are not pitching. I try to take as many mental notes as I can when Shore takes the mound because I am aware that we do have a lot in common and I figure if I can mirror his tendencies and how he attacks hitters, that will only help me improve as a pitcher as well. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to try and model your game after a Golden Spikes finalist…

It should also be noted that Logan Shore is one of the most humble ballplayers I’ve ever had the opportunity to play alongside and he is the definition of what it means to be a professional. He has also become one of my good friends on the team, adding to the list of great guys that I’ve had the opportunity to get to know since the June draft.

While this season with the Lake Monsters might not be one of the most memorable seasons in terms of on-field success (our record is 24-44), it is however one of my most memorable seasons because it’s my first year in professional baseball. Now if I can just master the art of sleeping on this damn bus I think I’ll be alright…

 

 

 

It’s 1:00am…

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It’s 1 o’clock in the morning here in Vermont and I’ve spent the majority of my off day doing jack sh*t…Which is typically normal for the average joe who plays baseball in the summer time like myself. Off days come few and far in-between during the months of June, July, and August, so when one of these rare (yet desperately needed) occasions presents itself, ballplayers have to take advantage.

If you’re like me, you generally spend the day sleeping in until noon and then casually taking a stroll to the kitchen to devour whatever happens to be in the fridge at that moment in time. When the stomach is full, you retrace your steps back into your bed where you open up your Macbook and watch some Netflix. This is then followed by some pointless online shopping for the newest Nike products to have hit the market in recent months. For players enrolled in summer school, you feel guilty for not touching the homework from the 6 week online course you mistakenly thought would be a cake walk back in March when you were registering for summer and fall classes. After about an hour of hell, the rest of the afternoon is yours to do whatever you so please. For me, I decided to call my mom today to see how things are going back home in Colorado. She informed me that my dad is working late tonight trying to rack up a couple extra hours in order to make up for being absent this upcoming Monday and Tuesday. My parents are flying out to Burlington to spend the weekend with me and I couldn’t be more excited! The only downside, my younger sister Bri is not going to be able to make the trip due to her busy work schedule at The Egg and I, a local brunch restaurant where she is a hostess part time.

It’s only been two and a half weeks since I last saw my family but I miss them like crazy. On Saturday, July 9th, my older cousin Matt got married in Pueblo, Colorado and I was honored to be his best man and lucky enough to even be in attendance. The week prior to the wedding, I was spending my days at Fitch Park in Mesa, Arizona at the Oakland A’s Spring Training Complex. I was playing for Oakland’s Rookie Ball team in the Arizona League and was uncertain if the A’s would be willing to give me a few days off from work in order to attend my cousin’s wedding. After throwing a side (bullpen) on July 7th, I spoke with Keith Lipman, the A’s Minor League Field Cordinator. He informed me that he was perfectly comfortable with me leaving for the wedding and casually mentioned he liked what he saw during my bullpen session. He also informed me that I was being promoted to the A’s single-A short-season affiliate the Vermont Lake Monsters and would catch a plane to Burlington on Sunday morning after the wedding.

Two and a half weeks may not seem like long time to the average person but for summer baseball players, two and a half weeks can feel like two and a half years at times. Distance and the time difference seem to be the two most difficult part about summer ball (at least for me). The past two summers I have spent 90 days of summer on the east coast playing baseball. Last summer I played in the Cape Cod Baseball League and lived in Yarmouth-Dennis, Massachusetts. This summer, I’m playing in the New York-Penn League and living in Burlington, Vermont. While the east coast is a beautiful part of the country, it does not compare to the West Coast, the Pacific Northwest, or the Colorado Rocky Mountains in my personal, biased opinion. The majority of my family and friends live on the West Coast and operate according to Pacific Standard and Mountain Standard time, a 2 hour difference from myself over on the East Coast, making it difficult for me to communicate with friends and family due to my busy schedule during the day.

I show up at the ballpark roughly around 2:00pm everyday and don’t leave the park until 10:30pm that evening. A typical day consists of: an active warm up, team game review, stretching, pitchers throwing program, conditioning, pitchers fielding practice, shagging for batting practice, grabbing a bite to eat off the spread, an individual workout with my strength coach Omar, arm care with the Lake Monster team trainer Toshi, “Suiting Up!” (or in other words put on the old uniform), sitting and watching a baseball game for 3 hours (unless I’m on a chart or pitching that day), shower, eat the post game meal, and finally…GO HOME! Not a bad work schedule for anyone who loves the game of baseball. However, by the time I return home to my host family’s house it is 11 o’clock at night and I am absolutely exhausted. My extreme fatigue would not be an issue if I played in the same time zone as my family or my girlfriend Wolfey because they would be going to bed at the same time as me. Unfortunately, it’s only 8:00pm where they are. Prime time for conversing and FaceTiming.

Since today was an off-day, I was able to catch up with my loved ones at a somewhat decent hour. As I hung up with Wolfey over our FaceTime chat at 9:00pm in comparison to our typical midnight conversations, I thought about how my summer was going. I thought about how I had just finished my book The Arm by Jeff Passan and how I was anxious for my parents to bring out more books for me to dive into. I thought about my first month in professional baseball and all of the crazy experiences I’ve already had. I thought about Gonzaga and how I missed my former coaches, teammates, and the beautiful stadium which makes up the Patterson Baseball Complex. I thought about Nike and how I passed up on an opportunity to be an intern at their world headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon in order to chase the dream of hopefully one day playing in the big leagues. I thought about how different professional baseball is in comparison to the college game. I thought about what my future plans and goals for this offseason would be. I thought about the academic fall semester at Gonzaga and how it conflicts with the Arizona Instructional League in late September and early October. I thought about my signing bonus and how I’ve never been one to bitch or complain about taxes until I received my first of two bonus checks in the mail last week. I thought about pay day and how I needed to save every dime I can to pay for gas and food this fall. With all of these thoughts running through my mind as I lay in bed unable to sleep, I decided now was as good of time as ever to start something that I have been contemplating doing for about 2 years.

I’ve never been one to share my personal thoughts and experiences with more than a handful of people but I feel like this journey through professional baseball is one that I have to document. Being a Gonzaga student, I try to focus on developing my mind, body, and spirit which is part of the University’s core values and principles. Baseball has done a great job of developing my body but recently, I feel like I have been laking in the development of my mind and spirit. Maybe the best way to get the intellectual juices flowing would be to write about my experiences here in pro ball? And as I look at the time it’s 2:44 in the morning and 1,328 words later.

I guess there is no better time than the present to start doing the things you want to do and being the person you want to be.