Monday, June 06, 2005

Celebrity Baseball, Memorial & a Challenge

Well I didn't exactly set the VCR for Friday like I had originally intended, so whether or not my heckling efforts received notice is unbeknownst by me. For my first PGA Tour event outing, I gotta say it was a lot of fun - I was within arms reach of every golfer I observed and I got to follow around Tiger Woods & Jack Nicklaus as they played the back nine holes. At 6' I can say I was taller than most of the pros, and I can also say that I was the only one amongst them that wore a wife beater under his collared shirt as I had no visible sweat lines throughout oh I dunno, my whole freaking body.

At any rate, the Muirfield Village Golf Club was a beautiful course. I believe the fees for playing yearly on this private course is around the $30,000 a year-range, so if the Reds continue to suck ass I intend on trying out as a bullpen pitcher in order to get the funds necessary to buy my way into high society.

This coincidentally runs right into my next weekend story, as I played in a celebrity baseball game on Saturday. Now keep in mind - I haven't played baseball in all of 9 years, but I am a pretty damn good softball player for my team out of Dayton, Ohio. Well, my team was composed of employees of the factory that my younger brother and wife work for - and since my wife coordinated the event, I got to play. Our opponents? Glad you asked (or rather read this far):

SP Tom Browning, Cincinnati Reds 1984-1995
SP Mo Sanford, Reds/Minnesota Twins 1991-1995
RP Scott Service, Reds/Every other team in the league 1988-2004
UT Chris Sexton, Reds/Colorado Rockies 1999-2000
RP Travis Miller, Twins 1996-2002
DB David Fulcher, Cincinnati Bengals/Los Angeles Raiders 1986-1993

& then a few others - Ryan Saylor, pitched for the Montreal Expos organization for a few years making it as far as AA; Jake Cook, 1992-10th round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox (played 3 seasons) and then 2 other locals who had just finished school.

Well, 9 years later following my high school baseball career, lemme just say that stepping into the box vs. Browning as the second batter of the game was surreal to say the least. Here I've made my claim to fame as a base hitter in slow-pitch softball, and Browning fires a 65 mph heater in that looks around 120 - I hadn't seen that in years. The cool thing about the experience was as the catcher threw the ball back to Tom, he got right back up on the mound as he did for all those years with the Reds and went right back into his windup before I had a second to process the speed of the pitch. On the next pitch I managed to ground one past him on the mound, but when you have major league caliber infielders someone has to get out, and fortunately that someone was the leadoff hitter at 2nd.

Next AB was against Sanford, who was throwing even harder than Browning. I took the first 2 pitches off the plate as Mo began complaining about my father umpiring the game and my special treatment, and I smiled knowing the next pitch was coming down the wheelhouse cause pop's wasn't giving him anything against his boy (hehe). I swung with about everything I had (and goddamned if they haven't made bat-weight requirements ridiculous nowadays) and hit a hard shot to 2B, and again - it's unfortunate that the celebrity team had a guy like Sexton to scoop it up like it was an infield practice grounder.

The final AB and chance to redeem myself, Service came in to close the game...and was throwing ridiculous heat to group of factory workers and myself. I stepped into the box with my ass clenched so tight I could've instantly made a diamond out of coal, and after watching the first heater go by me I remembered why I don't opt to play in summer baseball leagues anymore. The second pitch was a snapping breaking ball that made me look ridiculous as I rose up out of my stance and turned my shoulder as to get beamed, only to see it go in for a strike. Next pitch was the same and fouled off, and finally he set me down with the slider-to-end-all-sliders and the game was over...prick.

Was a lot of fun playing ball again, I snapped off an infield fly ball hit by Miller and scooped a ball hit by Sexton off the mound to throw him out, earning a "you got paid to hit like that?" statement out of the celebrity dugout as he took to the bench. I pitched 3 innings and for the most part got rocked, but I couldn't really throw off-speed being it was for charity (and the catcher couldn't catch, either) and I didn't really want to hit someone by trying to smoke one by them (as if I could to begin with), you know, being as it's significantly more difficult to pitch after not doing so for a long period of time.

Finally (you build up a lot of material taking 4 days off, imagine what Teebee would write if he wasn't as lazy as a baseball statistician...oh, wait), Teebee and I are going to play out a best-of-7 game series with Padres and Reds for fun. We're going to bump down the level to Pro so that we actually have a few hits a game other than the occasional home run, and we're going to record the stats for shits 'n giggles - then subsequently play another on all-star difficulty, just to prove what a crock of shit EA is offering online this year in MVP Baseball '05.


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