The first half is coming to an end and we are trying to make a push to win to get an early playoff spot. These last three games against the Lions have been very exciting and tough on us. The fans came out and pushed us to perform, but we had some struggles. We ended up getting swept by them. We are currently 4 games back, but have a couple of make-up games to play and gain some ground.
I threw against the Lions last night for my first start in Taiwan. We played in Pingtong, but were the home team. In this league although there are only 4 teams, but we play in about 12 different stadiums around the island. I kind of like that because it allows me to see the rest of the country. Pingtong is located in the south part of the island. When I stepped out of the bus I was greeted by local kids asking for autographs and fans wishing me good luck for my start. I also noticed how extremely hot and humid it was down there. The stadium is fairly old in the sense that the stands were cement seats. Even with the heat the fans filled the seats and the drums and trumpets were ready to go. I felt good and threw well. I ended up going 7 innings, 2 runs (1 might have been earned), 7 hits, and I believe 5 strikeouts. I left the game with us winning 4-2, but we ended up losing 6-4. It was a lot of fun to pitch in this kind of atmosphere. Like I have said in earlier blogs, these fans have such a respect for the game and are always rooting for you.
Here is a picture of my first line up card
Here is the highlight footage of my first game. Thanks to the fan who sent me this link.
Here are some more interesting things I have noticed or seen over here.
-Our cab driver had a karaoke machine in his car. 2 tvs, 2 microphones. Of course when my American teammates and I stepped in the cab, Achy Breaky Heart comes on and the driver hands me the mic.
-After 10pm our “band” is not allowed to beat the drum or play the instruments to pump up the crowd.
-We stayed in dorms when we went down south to play the Lions at CC Lake.
-There is one American umpire over here, who actually was behind the plate for my game
-When we lose we have a team meeting after the game with the manager and coaches to go over the game.
Before we got on the high speed rail I checked out some of the food at the convenient store in the station
For the park and ride system at the rail station they do it a little different. Maybe this is where all the couples come to make out.
Always good to see a picture of our mascot.
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There are many cultural differences that take place with baseball over here in Taiwan. Just in my couple of days over here I have noticed many differences of the game of baseball.
There is no national anthem played prior to the games.
Taiwans Gatorade type drink in the dugout is called “Pro-Sweat”, has a gross name but its pretty good.
There have been some variations of sunflowers seeds going around which have a sweet taste, but remember don’t spit them on the field. Only on the ground in the dugout or in a cup.
When the umpires come onto the field they bow to the fans and towards the field
When a pitching change is made, the pitching coach will stay on the field and watch the new pitcher warm up.
Also the pitcher leaving the game usually takes the ball with them, rather than hand it off to the manager.
If you think the battle of the bands between FAMU and Southern was good, you should check out our games. On top of each dugout are drums and trumpet players. Non stop for 9 innings this instruments are thumping and blaring while an M.C. is shouting out cheers for the crowd. Each batter has his own anthem. I find myself whistling these tunes hours after the game is over. They are going to be etched in my brain.
Respect is a huge part of Asian culture. Batters when entering the batters box give a hand signal to the pitcher to ask for a moment to set up and feel comfortable in the box. They also signal the umpire for the same respect out of courtesy.
The players over here love their apparel. They have tons of wrist bands, necklaces, and wear enough protective gear on their elbows and shins to be confused with a catcher while up to bat.
After finishing a game both teams go to their foul line and bow to the crowd and then bow to the opposing team.
Following the game we meet in the locker room and go over the game. During these meetings we all have to stand up and listen to the coaches.
Because of the gamble issue that happened within the league a couple years ago (http://jockpost.com/taiwan-baseball-scandal-1919-black-sox-boy-scouts), no cell phones or computers are allowed to be used in the locker room once you arrive. We also are not allowed to play cards, go to casinos, or play the lottery.
CPBL officials stand around the locker room to make sure no gambling or anything illegal takes place.
Also once you are in uniform and at the field, you can not leave the dugout/locker room. If you leave to goto the office or anywhere in the stadium, you can not return to the game.
Today I noticed how strong the Asian work ethic is. I had always heard about the amount of time they put into practices and I can vouch that it is true. They are very precise with the way they go about their work. We were unable to take BP today, and while I was running I noticed a coach hitting our infielders ground balls along the warning track to make sure they got their work in. I never have seen that in the states. They just pay attention to detail and strive to do very well. I commend them for that and hope I can learn some of their ways.
Tonight we lost to the Elephants 9-5. We play them tomorrow, and then have a three game series agains the Lions. I’m scheduled to pitch on Sunday.
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Well my time in the Dominican was a short one. I only ended up throwing 1.1 innings down there. Our team started to struggle early and there was a lot of pressure from the brass up top, so they were going with their local guys they have had in the past. There were no hard feelings at all, just being in the right place at the wrong time. I need to get out and pitch to show teams what I can do for next season. Our manager Dave Clarke understood where I was coming from and wished me the best. Now that free agency has started I’m trying to get a job, just as most of my friends are as well.
Licey was a great experience and I loved it down there. I hope to go back to the DR to play again in the future. For now there is a chance I may head to Venezuela shortly to play down there. I will keep you all posted via twitter and my blog about those details.
Not much going on in Miami right now. Just staying in shape by going to the gym and working out at local high schools and colleges. Remember it is Movember. Im growing out a mustache along with many other friends and followers to help support cancer that affects men. I may look like a pedophile for a month but all the money raised goes to a great cause. Here is the link to join our team or to make a donation Movember. You can follow the progress of my molest-ache too there. Any donation goes a long way. Thank you for your support.
I’ve been forgetting to post the Shoe of the Day. I did it during the season and stopped for some reason. As you all know I am the co-founder of Superkix.com, and I’m a shoe nut. What do you think about these?
Kix of the Day: Adidas Jeremy Scott Teddy
Please comment, ask questions, and rate my blog. I really appreciate everyone for supporting and taking the time to read. Chow!
Sorry for the delay in keeping up with my blog. We have had a tedious schedule as we wrap up the season. Finally back in Toledo for a 12 day homestand. We haven’t been playing too well, but hopefully we can finish strong. At this point in the year players are trying get their batting averages up, ERA’s down, and try to show the rovers/scouts they can play somewhere next year. Getting a job in this game is getting very hard, so you must do everything you can to perform your best each time you take the field.
This past week I used the social network site Twitter to ask the fans and followers what topics or questions you would like me to cover in this weeks blog. I received many great questions and hope to cover them all.
I kind of covered the rituals and superstitions earlier this season. Following BP we make our way into the clubhouse. We have a locker room, gym, training room, video room, and tv room. Most guys venture to the tv room where the pre game spread is out along with two 42” lcd televisions side by side. Jay Sborz or Casey Fien usually pick out a movie to watch prior to the game. The other tv will just play loops of sportscenter until it annoys another teammate and someone asks to change it. At that point by having the tv’s right next to each other, the person who swiftly tries to change the channel ends up changing both tv’s and all hell breaks loose. Latins are screaming in spanish, the americans are cursing one another, and our clubhouse manager has to come to our rescue like someone is tapping out of a UFC fight.
From there so players move into the locker room to read or play soft toss with sponge balls. Daniel Schlereth was known for throwing the best soft toss in the clubhouse to Jeff Larish and Brent Dlugach. Those guys had some of their best nights at the plate following that work. You must be heads up though walking in and out of that place. You are very likely to get smoked by one of those balls.
When it comes to pranks and gags, Bull Durham and myself lead the group in that category. Bull will light fireworks in the clubhouse and scare you like no other. His voice carries so much that you can probably hear him outside in the stands prior to a game. I always have some gags ready to go for new guys as they join our team initially. I also always have the shaving cream pies ready for our walk off wins.
Handling your ups and downs during the season can be tough. Some guys deal with it quietly and some are very loud and verbal. The key is to minimize your slump. Work with a coach prior to BP, talk with other players, try something new. Your best coach is yourself. We all have gotten to this level for a reason. Normally when we are failing it is something small and can be fixed or adjusted. We just need to realize it and accept what we are doing wrong. But having the staff and supporting cast of our teammates helps making slumps go away sooner.
I have had my great teammates throughout my career. Luke Hochevar was probably one of the hardest working ones. I remember at UT I forgot my wallet in the clubhouse and went back to the field 2 hours after the game, and Hoch’ was practicing dry mechanics in the mirror by himself. He is where he is at for all his hard work and determination. Kurt Suzuki would always cook for me and Jason Windsor so hes one of my favorites. Dallas Braden was one of the funniest teammates ever. The guy is 150 pounds and has jailhouse tattoos all over his body. He was a tough competitor. Don’t look him into the eyes the day he starts. Casey Fien and I get along pretty well. He’s the typical Cali’ laid back guy and I’m the loud Miami (wade, bosch, Lebron kingdom now) guy. Although I can’t pull off wearing a Justin Beiber shirt to the Indy locker room. Sorry Casey had to throw you under the bus. Josh Rainwater is probably the nicest teammate/person ever. I don’t think that guy can ever get mad at a person. We try to test him every now and then, but he won’t budge. He understands the game very well and takes pride in his job. I can go on and on about teammates. I’ve had so many great ones along the way.
Well I hope I covered everything. I hope to keep the blog rolling through the off season and into winterball. Thanks for the continued support. Also I’m trying to get 1000 followers on twitter. If I do I will be shipping out to some followers a Scot Drucker bobble head doll. Please spread the word. http://www.twitter.com/utbaseball30
This past week Bud Selig and the MLB announced that the minor leagues would be testing for HGH by taking a blood sample from players to be included into the drug testing system. I wonder if the MLB is spending more money on drug testing than they are on minor league players salaries. I agree that the game should be clean and this is a great way to move forward, but something needs to be done to improve the salaries of the minor leagues.
I know the revenue of minor league ball can not compare to the big leagues, but attendance and merchandise sales have done extremely well over the past seven years in the minors. Maybe a percentage of sales can go into a pot and spread out per player. Or better yet, a percentage of every big league salary can be brought into the minor leagues budget.
The Minor Leagues do not have a players union where we can ask or stand up for ourselves in certain instances. By no means am I complaining about my job, but I feel that we are professional athletes one phone call away from being in the “show” and our salaries vary from 2k a month to 2k a day. Most big leaguers have spent some time in the minor leagues and have been on the long bus trips (broken down buses too), the non-stop PB and J sandwiches, and seen the zooperstars a trillion times. They need to say something to help us out or push for some kind of union/player rep program for us.
Sorry for all the jibba jabber about that. Its just frustrating sometimes to see how different things are in the minors yet we are so close to the majors.
The Mudhens had a nice sweep at home of the Buffalo Bison. Mike Hessman, the “king” of Toledo made his first visit back to Toledo and received a grand ovation for what he has done in his previous seasons for the Hens. Also Frazier, Diaz, Leon, Dlugach, and myself are the only remaining Hens from the opening day roster.
Shoes of the day: Adidas Jeremy Scott Sequin