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.

 

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…