HOW TO BE A PROFESSIONAL AMATEUR

21 Jul

Rain out.  Our game tonight was canceled.

Before we get to our instructional portion of today’s lesson, allow me to point out that you are reading the musings of the genius no longer known only as the King of Jewish Baseball, but as a citizen of New York State who is legally permitted, if accompanied by a licensed driver, of course, to operate a motor vehicle.  That’s right, folks.  You heard correctly.  We did it.  We got our learners permit! – And it only took 5 more hours and $250.  I paid the seatbelt ticket ($180), passed the written test, got the photo, passed the eye test, and was given this piece of paper, my temporary permit ($75).  The ID will come in the mail in two weeks.  All I have to do is take a 5 hour driving class and pass my road test and I will be free to speed profusely across the highways of the nation.

learners permit.

Before we move on, allow me to point out that if population sample at the DMV is an accurate representation of the whole, we, America, are doomed.  Is there a separate bureau for fully functional members of society that I do not know about?  Because from what I could see there were none in attendance, myself, King of Jewish Baseball,  excluded of course.  Was I in the wrong office? – Was this the ESL DMV?  I have clearly been spending too much time with smart, dynamic people and have lost touch with the average Brooklynite, a 14 year-old Southeast Asian boy addicted to scratching his arms and fast food.  If you are ever feeling comfortable or complacent or are starting to believe that humanity in general is headed in the right direction, just take a trip to the DMV.  You’ll be filled with a new sense of horror and social purpose.  This cannot continue.  We gotta get this ship on track.  Do you hear me? ON TRACK.

I feel like hell today.  Not sure if it’s all the time at the DMV, or the rain, or the fact that I struck out swinging to end the game last night.

I represented the winning run.   Top of the 9th.  They were winning 6-4.  Neil and Shea singled and were on 1st and 2nd – 2 outs.  All game I had been fouling off good pitches to hit.  My swing didn’t feel right.  In the first inning I had sac bunted “on my own”, meaning I did not receive the bunt sign from the third base coach.  There were no outs, runners on 1st and 2nd, and I thought it was a good time to try and control the game and put a bunt down.  I will not be hitting third in the WBCQ if I am hitting at all.  I will potentially be asked to do things like bunt and it was a good chance to work on sacrificing in a live game.  Anyways, not to over think it, bunting in that situation represents a certain lack of aggression which is not a great way to start a game off.  The hitter after me, WILL SMITH, hit a home-run to right center field that put us up 3-0 and rendered my decision all the more puzzling.  Maybe we could have been up 4-0.  Maybe Will could have grounded into a double play and we only score 1 in the inning.  Who knows?

Either way, they scored 2 in their half of the first, and were winning 6-4 in the 9th.  In my at-bats following the bunt, I grounded out hard to short, hit a fly ball off the fence in left field (it could have been caught) – off the fence is becoming the standard, struck out looking, and was preparing to strike out swinging at a high fastball to end the game though I couldn’t have known it at the time.  I was thinking what I always think, HR.  I am not trying to hit home runs per se, but when I visualize between pitches, I see a home-run to center or right center field.  Would have been sweet.  But I fouled off a first pitch fastball that in hindsight was my best shot.  I can feel my front side “pulling off” when I stride and it’s throwing everything off.  Felt it all night.  So I just went to the park to hit off the tee, and to Richie’s to work on some things.

It would be great to be a big leaguer, wouldn’t it? – the travel is sweet, great gear, trainers, anything you want.  But not all of us are lucky or good enough, so we settle for the next best thing.  Ladies and gentleman, without further ado, I, King of All Jewish Baseball, now present…  The step-by-step guide… How To Be A Professional Amateur Athlete.

As a pro-am, you have to be your own trainer, bus driver, and equipment manager.  Here is how it’s done….

It starts with The Bag.  There are no lockers and no clubhouses when you’re a pro-am.  Your bag is your clubhouse.  So get a big bag with wheels.  They’re a bit childish, and they sucks to haul on the subway, but you need it.  Now get your gear in there.  Here is what I have in my bag right now…

From the bottom right…

2, wood bats

1, batting tee

1, rubber band with baseball attached for warm-ups

1, weighted baseball (black, you can barely see it) also for warm-ups

1, crumpled up batting practice jacket in case it rains

1, pair of spikes

1, glove (should have 2)

(the first aid section)…

2, wraps for quick repairs

1, roll of tape to secure repairs

a handful of disinfectant wipes

1, jar of advil (not pictured)

1, small bag of baseballs

1, batting helmet

1, shin guard

1, compression sleeve (not pictured)

2, pairs of batting gloves

2, small plastic bags (one fore personal items; phone, cash, keys… and one for cameras to film at-bats and for pen and paper for notes)

2, large plastic bags for trasport of dirty laundry

Which brings us to, step 2, your laundry.  Your uniform is important.  You have to look like a pro without any of the benefits of actually being one.  Have multiples of everything; jocks, pants, sliders, socks, under shirts… so you can get through a couple days without having to wash your stuff.  And plan wisely.  For example, I have two jocks.  I like one better than the other.  So I have to choose days in advance which of my upcoming games is most important because that is the day I want to wear my good jock.  This may seem extreme even to some of you who play baseball and understand the superstition involved – all baseball players look to the spirit-world for good fortune, but these my friends are simply the inner mechanics of a baseball genius at work.  Always carry your uniform in a separate plastic bag within your big bag as to not lose small items and to make the laundry transfer into your large laundry bag after the game as easy as possible.  Compartmentalize!

Step 3, the process.  The most important.  Most pros are very devoted to process.  And they can be, it’s there job.  But the pro-am has to be particular devout, because in addition to almost being an elite athlete, you have an actual life doing such trivial things as earning a living and maintaining your status as a licensed driver.  Process is everything.  Since we got rained out and are not playing an actual physical game tonight, let’s let’s play a virtual game in the great abyss called the internet located behind the screens of our computers.  Tonight’s game was supposed to be a 7:30 start.  I would have left my apartment in Brooklyn, giant bag in tow, at 4:30, got to Dave’s on the Upper East Side at 5:30, drove about an hour north, and arrived to the park at 6:30, one hour before game time…

Change behind the dugout into your uniform minus jersey (the jersey will go on later, before infield/outfield).  Go down the left or right field line depending on which dugout you’re in.  Carry with you your glove, your rubber band, your weighted baseball, and two regular baseballs and place them all in foul territory down the line.  Jog twice from the line to the center field fence and back.  Go through your dynamic warm-ups; high-knees, lunges, shuffles…  Warming-up is the hard part.  It will get easier.  Go through your static stretches; right leg over, throwing arm across…  You should be warmed-up now and ready to crank it up.  You still have 30 minutes ’til game time.   Find a good spot along the fence and do your rubber band and weighted ball work.  Go through your core and coordination routine.  Do short hops.  Throw.  Depending on the day, long toss.  Carry your warm-up gear back to the dugout.  Get your jersey on.  Take 10-20 dry swings, bottom hand, top hand, stress lower body mechanics.  Get ready for infield/outfield.  Take infield/outfield.  After infield/outfield, watch them take infield/outfield.  Who has a good arm? – Who doesn’t?  And watch their pitcher throw in the bullpen to see what you can see.  2 sprints in the outfield when umps and coaches are going over ground rules at home plate.  Get the line-up.  Game time.  Hope for the best.  You’ve prepared, but you know you are never completely in control.  Anything could happen – a bad hop, a bad call.  Stop thinking about results.  Commit to effort.  Great effort and great energy are the only acceptable options.  Never take a pitch off.  If you take a pitch off, the baseball gods will kill you.  Stay focused.  Almost done.  Stay focused.  Commit to effort.  Focus.  Stop looking at the sist on the third base coach’s eyelid.  Stay focused.  Don’t mind the train going by in the background, or the shitty lights, or the shitty field.  Just keep going.  After the game, change behind the dugout back into your regular clothes so you don’t have to bear the humiliation that is wearing a baseball uniform on the train.  Drive an hour back to the city.  Subway back to Brooklyn.  Drag the bag home.  Eat.  Shower.  Ice.  Throw a towel on the floor and do your rehab excersizes so you can do it all again tomorrow without too much pain.  And finally, sleep.  It’s 1:00am.  It took just over eight hours.  Try not to think about the strike out.  You’ll get ’em tomorrow.

One Response to “HOW TO BE A PROFESSIONAL AMATEUR”

  1. Neal July 23, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

    can you at least spell my name right?

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