Worlds Series or BUST!
It would seem as if I were a front runner, but when your Major League club is the favorite to win the National League year in and year out, it’s difficult not to root for them. I can say that I wasn’t always a fan of the Phillies – never hated them – but I wasn’t a die hard. Growing up in the northeast I was just a National League EAST fan in general. I loved good, play-hard, well executed baseball; and that’s the Phillies of today.
Sitting on my nice leather couch in my fully furnished apartment in Scottsdale, or going to Zipp’s Bar and Grill to watch the Phil’s play in the postseason, has a little extra meaning for me. This is particularly true since this year I played in Lakewood, New Jersey, where if you drove fast enough you could be at Citizens Bank Park in an hour. During the 2010 season, we (the Blueclaws) were very fortunate enough to have several rehab assignments from the major league team
(That’s me warming up with Carlos Ruiz on July 8 )
(Ryan Howard had his number retired and hit a double in his return to Lakewood)
Watching these guys play, along with Joe Blanton and Kyle Kendrick, was a real treat. They showed us exactly what it takes to be a Major League baseball player. For example, I had the opportunity to pitch to Carlos Ruiz. Having no idea of who I was, or the scouting reports on the other teams batters, he quickly learned who I was from my 38-pitch bullpen before the game and carried it throughout the game. He led me to a no hitter through 5 full innings. Granted, I let the magnitude of the situation get the best of me in the sixth, where I gave up 3 runs on a bunch of badly executed pitches, but it was still a fantastic experience. He called pitches I would have never thrown in certain counts and at certain locations, but since he was calling them, I was going to throw them. For the most part, his confidence in his own calls gave me a sense of confidence in myself, as well.
He continued on to have a bunch of doubles, scored on a single from second base (I believe), and when he came back into the dugout went on to cheer for our hitters and our pitchers for the rest of the game. He’s a Major League player, with a long career ahead, and he was cheering for eighteen to twenty-three year olds he didn’t even know! That’s something to respect, even beyond the way he plays on the field.
So as I watch Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels pitch during these playoffs, it means a little more to me. During Spring Training this year they took time out of their busy schedules to talk to the lowly Minor Leaguers in our Carpenter Field Complex weight room about what it took for them to get where they are today. Halladay spoke about how his journey wasn’t the smoothest–having had the highest ERA in the Major leagues for a qualifying pitcher and being sent back down to Low A ball after that. Cole Hamels discussed the experience of ascending quickly because of so much success. Two completely different stories, but they both did exactly what they had to do, and that entailed a lot of hard work and time. They may have been forced to talk to us but they did nonetheless, and they are now pitching on the greatest stage in the world.
Watching the Phillies play in the playoffs is awesome. It gives me hope that one day I can be in those shoes and be able to contribute to a team that has a long and expanding history of excellence in the National League East. Not only am I a fan, but I feel a connection with them to the team and everything they stand for. These players and the team as a whole further encourage my desire to want to be better, and I will work as hard as I can to join them in that quest someday soon.
I pitch on Wednesday the 20th at 6:35 at the Scottsdale Scorpions. I will be back in a few days.
And if you have any questions, I’ll answer all you have!