16 Jul

It’s Sunday night.  Just got home from a double header with the Thunder Dogs.  I’ve played 6 games in the past 4 days.  Played well, for the most part.  Teams typically play a short spring training for a long regular season.  I’m playing a long spring training for an amazingly short regular season – or more accurately, I am skipping the regular season and going straight to the playoffs – four days, September 19th – 23rd.   So, what it seems I have done is nothing more than have a good week at spring training, which, although better than the alternative, goes mostly without meaning.  And if I’m honest, it wasn’t even that good.  Today alone I struck out a total of three times and made an error at third during a long and bizarre day at the ballpark that lasted almost eight hours.  Of my last 30 waking hours, 15 have been on the baseball field.  Even I, King of Jewish Baseball, have my limits, and by the end of our rain delay halfway though game two today, we all wanted out.  Guys were sitting in the dugout fantasizing about Chinese food and other things not fit for print.  And my hip hurts.  But we’ll get to that.  For now, let’s rewind, as some magical things have happened.

Friday night.  T-Dogs win!  We beat the Bears again.  It was too close through seven innings, 3-3 game.  We scored 4 in the 8th inning, and that was it.  I was 3 for 4 with 3RBIS, but only one ball was truly hit hard.

Saturday double header with the A’s.  It was a nice day. I got to the field first, but at least knew what to expect this week.  Games were scheduled to start at 10am and 1pm sharp.  Game 1 started just before 11.  Game 2 started more or less on time but dragged along to a 13-17 final.  They won both games.  Between the arguments, the walks, pitching changes, and more arguments, the game went until 4:30 putting my time on the field at just under eight hours, an honest days work.  I was a total of 4 for 7.  1 for 3 in the first game.  3 for 4 in the second game.  5 RBI’s total.  The magic I speak of happened in my first at-bat of the second game.  Runners were on first and second.  Their guy threw me a first pitch slider. And it hung, or hanged.  At which point I blacked out.  I do not remember the swing.  And I did not feel the ball hit the bat (it’s funny that when you hit the ball hardest you feel nothing, and when you hit it soft, it hurts).  But I heard a very loud noise.  Then I heard our dugout screaming.  Ever since my top-of-the fence debacle a few weeks ago, I have been running everything hard out of the box.  As I got near first base, I looked for the ball in left field, just in time to see it clear the trees behind the left field fence and land in the middle of Atlantic Avenue and take a high bounce across the highway.  Home Run.  As the new guy in the league, I would just assume get around the bases fast and resume my spot in the dugout.  But Jose had a different idea.  He started walking as soon as I hit the ball, so I was forced, as the runner behind him, to slow down to his pace and more-or-less walk around the bases.  Ray hits second, Orlando hits third, Jose hits fourth, and I hit fifth.  The three guys ahead on me in the line-up have almost 20 years pro experience between them.  Let’s take a moment to meet the A’s…

Hitting 2nd for the A’s, Ray Montanez, Short Stop.  Ray does not show up on Baseball Reference or Baseball Cube for some reason which leads me to believe that is not his actual name.  But he says when he played pro ball he was with the Rangers, and I have no reason not to believe him.  At upwards of 40 (a guess), he still looks like a big leaguer on the field.  Have a look for yourself…

Ray Montanez!

Hitting third, Right Filder, Orlando Encarnacion.  Orlando was an UDFA (undrafted free agent).  He signed with the New York Mets in 1997.  He played 3 years in the Mets organization getting as high as AA before being released.  He then played independant pro baseball.  All told, Orlando played 7 years of pro ball.  He’s a great hitter.  Ray calls him Babe Ruth…

Orlando Encarnacion!

Hitting fourth, and doing the catching, none other than, if not the the one and only, the biggest, Jose Reyes.  Jose was also as UDFA.  He signed with the Pirates in 1994 and stayed with them until 2002, a good long run.  He was playing in AA in 1998 and ’99.  I have to point out, there is a huge difference between guys that played low level minor league baseball like rookie ball or low A for example, and guys that were good enough to elevate to AA and AAA.  People sometimes make the mistake of thinking minor league baseball is just minor league baseball, but there is a drastic difference.  The guys that played AA and AAA are good, great.  They essentially are Major League baseball players who got lost in the system or didn’t quite fit in or swung at too many sliders in the dirt.  I am not sure what kept Jose out of the big leagues, but he can play at what appears to be any level he choses.  In any case, Jose, even if it’s just for the few people at our games and a free beer, is still at it, catching double headers and hitting balls a mile….

Jose Reyes!

And hitting fifth, none other, the King of All Jewish Baseball, the only Jew to ever hit a ball across Atlantic Avenue, as far as I know, yours truly.

After the game, our coach kept saying something to me in Spanish.  I think he knows I do not speak Spanish, but there’s no alternative because he doesn’t speak English so he persists hoping that if he tells me something enough times that I will somehow understand it.  I thought he was asking for money for umpires, so I went into my pocket when one of the guys finally came over to translate and said, “He is saying make sure you come to every game from now on.”  So it appears, after just three games, I have earned my stipes in the Zorrilla.

I woke up tired today.  Had at 1:30 double header at Manhattanville College about an hour north of the city.  We arrived at 12:30.  Getting lose is always the hardest part of the day.  The legs hurt.  The arm hurt.

I was having trouble focusing early in the game.  It was like I still wasn’t awake.  Sometimes it’s hard to crank up the apparatus for these games.  There’s no extra energy.  No one is there.  It’s totally quiet besides the sounds of the game and the birds.  In the Zorrilla there are people and Merenge is blasting and a couple other teams are usually hanging out down the third base line right where I play, so it’s a little easier to get the adrenaline going.  But this was an overcast sleepy Sunday in Westchester.  The forecast was for rain all day.  It hadn’t rained yet, but rain out was in the back of everyone’s mind, mine at least, which made it even harder.  I am trying to let you into the inner workings of the mind of a certified baseball genius, but what I am really doing is making excuses, because early in the game, I got an easy ground ball and booted it.  Total focus thing.  I am Still not completely comfortable on the field yet.  I am still searching for what any genius is searching for, the honest performance, front to back.  But flubbed one early.

At the plate, I was 2 for 3.  It happened again… again, for the third time now.  I hit one off the top of the fence.  Left field this time.  Hit it well.  But mostly on a line and it hit the fence and the kid playing left came up with it cleanly and quickly and it went as a single.  Next guy, my man Josh Corn, former Stanford and Penn superstar catcher, singles to right field.  I could have scored on the play if I was able to advance to second on the one off the wall which made me think I should have tried, or stolen second early in Josh’s at-bat, but the walk-off that was not a walk-off up in Peekskill is obviously still lingering because I did not try and stretch it.  We ended up winning the first game 8-6 I think it was.  We did our best to make it close as it’s said by giving up 3 in the 7th.  But Frank struck out the last batter representing the go-ahead run, game over.

It still wasn’t raining by the start of game 2, but the storm was right over us and we had even delayed the start to see if it would pass.  It was almost as dark as night the clouds were so thick, and none of us could see the ball on defense.  I told Richie I’d pay $40 for a rain out.  And in the 4th, losing 3-1, down came the thunder, and the Thunder Dogs.  The umps pulled us off the field into the dugouts.  Talk of Chinese food and other expletives enter.  First rain delay of the season.  It rained long and hard.  We all began changing out of our uniforms for the sprint to our cars.  But when the rained stop, the other team pulled out the rakes.  They were winning and still needed 6 outs to make the game official.  An hour passed.  We continued talking about food and women.  They continued raking.  We were shocked they didn’t have wives or drug habits or favorite Sunday night shows to return home to, but they clearly did not.  The sun came back out, we put our uniforms back on, and resumed the game.  If it was hard to get pumped up for the start of game 1, we were now – 6 hours later, hungry, and soaked, more or less just standing around.  We had crossed the line into a special territory you enter a couple times a season if you’re lucky – during games that take way too long, or if you’re hurt badly but still playing.  We were in survival mode.  Numbness.  Anything could happen, and nothing mattered.  What did happen is we finished the game, lost 6-3, and everyones wishes came true.  They got their win, we got our Chinese food.  Total of 2 for 7 on the day bringing my total in the 6 game stretch to 9 for 19 – 7 singles, 1 double, 1 home run, 8 RBIs.  Not my proudest day at the park, but we made it out alive.

When we took the field after the rain delay, I told the ump that if I got hurt I would sue.  I was kidding, but I was right.  With all the warming up and cooling down and warming up and cooling down, I hurt myself a little.  Left hip flexer/groin.  Was gonna train tomorrow, but am resting, blogging.  As we walked off the field I told the umps they’d hear from my lawyers in the morning.

In team news, Peter saw my most recent blog post – the one where I say most things about the team and the tournament are still unknown, and sent some answers along for us.  We have added Scott Schoeneweis as a player coach.  Schoeneweis is a left handed pitcher and played for 7 teams in the Major Leagues between 2000 and 2010.  We also will have Josh Satin.  Satin is in the Met’s organization now.  He was in the Major Leagues last year for a while.  The deal with guys in Satin’s situation regarding our team is this… If they are on a Major League 40-man roster come September, they cannot play with Team Israel obviously.  But if they’re not, they can join the team for the Qualifier.  There are a handful of guys in this situation and we won’t know about their involvement until 40-man rosters come out…

my uniform after the games today.

2 Responses to “6 GAMES, 4 DAYS”

  1. Jesse July 17, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

    This is fucking amazing man. Can’t wait to follow your progress throughout and I know all the IBL guys feel the same way. Hopefully you get a chance to meet Josh Satin, great guy and grew up with him in LA. Keep dominating bud-
    Jesse Michel

    • kingofjewishbaseball August 9, 2012 at 6:06 pm #

      Jesse, Thank u for reading the blog! IBL lives on. Hope to meet Satin too. Sure he is a good dude, and good player. Kick ass! -Fish

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