Well, since I’ve had about 48 hours of free time on my hands since our last game, I figured it was time for another entry.
First of all, as you’re probably aware, we just got swept in Chicago. We are now 0-9 against the White Sox this season — we have to find a way to beat those guys at least once this year. Seriously.
Following the game, we had a flight to Denver with an off day on Thursday. So as if it’s not bad enough getting swept by Chicago, it takes us an hour and a half to get to the airport through Chicago traffic.
We finally get on the plane and our pilot comes across and says there’s a horrible storm over the airport and we’re going to be stuck in a holding pattern.
But the good thing about a delay is that in the 45 minutes of trying to dodge this storm, the pilot made a series of maneuvers that would make the Blue Angels proud. By the way, for future reference, it’s not a lot of fun to feel like you’re on a bombing run after getting beat three straight games. After all that fun, we capped it off with a bus ride to the hotel.
The Off Day
I’ve gotta tell you that off days on the road, unless you already have something pre-planned, already in the works or already set up, it’s just the worst. It’s absolutely the worst. It’s just a waste of an off day.
I got up, went and got a good work out in, and then it’s like, "Now what do I do."
Of course the U.S. Women’s Open is in town, so there’s not a rental car to be had. At least if you had a rental car, there’s things you could find to do. But I called every rental car company in the yellow pages. Even the ones that start their names with four A’s, you know, like AAAA Advantage Car Rental. I figured they would have at least one car. The best offer I got was "I can get you a Neon in about an hour."
So I’m like, "I’m not a big fan of the Neon and I kind of need it now." No such luck.
Well now you just walk up and down the 16th Street mall. And in case you didn’t know, men really aren’t built to be very good shoppers. So as you can imagine I didn’t accomplish a whole lot there. But I did go and visit a tattoo parlor. See, that’s what happens when you have an off day in Denver, with nothing planned and no rental car.
After spending who knows how much time picking out the style and design, I finally got my daughter’s name, Rylyn Mae, tattooed above my elbow on my right tricep. She’s about four and a half months old, so I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while. The key was finding a place within cab range and getting it done.
Last night was actually pretty good, though. A few of us got together and went down to the Sports Column and watched Game 7 of the NBA Finals. I mean, I’m not a big NBA guy, but Game 7 of any sport is clutch. And having been part of two game sevens in a championship setting, I know what the feeling is going into those. It was fun to watch and congratulations to San Antonio. To be nine points down in a low-scoring game and rally is pretty impressive.
That was my day. I know some of the guys had some cool things to do. Mike Sweeney went on a fishing trip, some of the guys went to movies a few others went golfing. Me — I decided to scar my body. Not the best choice, I guess, but it had to be done.
Today wasn’t much better. You’ve just tried to kill all day yesterday, when you wake up today and you’re like, "Sweet, I only have until 3 p.m. to go to the ballpark."
By the time this series is over, it will feel like we’ve been here for a week. I might even be a Colorado resident.
I just wish we would have played on Thursday.
By the way, in case you’re wondering, the best place for an off day is Cleveland. Why? Because I can go home. But San Francisco is usually pretty good because you can find a group of guys to go to Alcatraz, which is very interesting.
As for baseball, this is a big series. We all know that Buddy wants us to perform very well here since he used to manage here in Colorado.
Until next time…..
It’s Father’s Day, so first and foremost, I’d like to wish all the fathers out there a happy Father’s Day. I finally realized how much this day really means after my wife, Anna, and I had our first baby in February — February 7 — a little girl named Rylyn Mae.
The responsibility that goes with having a little girl is huge and it’s something I’ve been realizing more and more and more because they’ll tell you the way your little girl views men the rest of her life is predicated on the father. That really amps up the pressure. You really want to be sure you’re doing the right thing for her by your values system. You want to raise her with the values she’s going to carry the rest of her life. It’s not a joke and you don’t get any do-overs.
With Father’s Day, it used to be that my wife always had to prod me to call Dad and make sure I wished him a happy Father’s Day. I did that because I felt like I had to, but now I see how special that phone call is. For me, it’s the best day. It’s the best day. I would rather celebrate Father’s Day than my own birthday if you gave me a choice. It’s a proud day for all the fathers.
During the Father’s Day game against the Astros, we wore blue wristbands and a blue ribbon on our jersey to promote prostate cancer awareness (Major League Baseball did the same thing, too, on Mother’s Day, only it was to raise awareness about breast cancer and everything was pink. Very cool). Anyway, a few of us decided to wear these, too. What can I say?
And it’s getaway day. Getaway day, in the big leagues, is a long day. It’s better when we play a day game on getaway day, but it’s a long day, starting with the night before when I’m trying to spend the last little bit of time with my family before I go on the road. And I’ve always got to finish packing, which can be a pain sometimes, I think everybody knows that.
The morning of getaway day, I’ll get up, go work out, come to the field, go through our pregame routine, whether we’re hitting on the field or not (a lot of times, for a day game after a night game, we won’t take batting practice on the field. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t). Then we have the game, and you’ve got to be in to that, obviously rooting your team on and hoping for the win. After the game, we deal with the media, eat dinner and then it’s time to take the bus out to the Kansas City International Airport.
Now when we get to the airport, everybody has to go through security. For commercial flights, they may randomly check 10 to 12 people, but for our flights, they check 100 percent of the people on that charter. I mean everybody goes through the wand, the bag search, all that. And then it’s into the plane and on to the next city.
Plane rides are pretty fun. We’ve got a good group, obviously. The veterans sit wherever they want, whether that’s in the middle of the plane, the back of the plane, wherever they so desire. Then the young guys fill in from the front and work their way on back.
Our flights are pretty sweet. We have a reconfigured plane so there’s a little bit more room. As you move toward the back of the plane you get a group of guys who are the card players. The first thing they want to do when they get on is start playing poker to pass the time. I’m not been much of a card player. I’m more of a sit-and-relax type of guy. I’ve never been much of a card player, not much of a gambler.
I’ve never been much of a gambler but I went on vacation in the Bahamas to Atlantis (and I actually kept track of this because it was so pathetic), and over a four-night stand, I sat down at the $25 blackjack table and played 33 hands. That may not seem like a lot over four days but the reason I only played 33 hands was because I won once, I pushed twice and I lost 30 times. I had back-to-back nights when I sat down, cashed in $200 and lost eight straight hands of blackjack.
And, oh, by the way, I know how to play. OK? I’m not a hit-on-18 guy, it’s not like I have no clue how to play. I know how to play blackjack … and I stank. But it was probably a good thing because I also have an addictive personality, so if I’d have had a lot of success, who knows? That ruined me of gambling. After that, I had no interest, no interest, in gambling. Some people might say, hey, look at that money as entertainment and if it lasts you all night, well, you had fun. For me, it was a debacle. And it was no fun laying down that money and watching it go away in three minutes.
So, no, cards do not appeal to me on the plane.
Then you’ve got the movie watchers. Midwest Express, our airline that flies us everywhere, they provide little portable DVD players — a lot of guys have their own — and some movies.
I’m a movie watcher.
Actually, no, I’m not a movie watcher. What I do on the plane (and what I’ve been doing since the beginning of the year), is trying to convert our team to “Arrested Development” watchers. I ran into that show this off-season, got the first season on DVD for Christmas and it is, hands down, the funniest show on TV. There’s not even a close second.
So I’ve been touting that show all through Spring Training and one by one, guys have started to come over. Jeremy Affeldt wanted to watch it with me (I have an open seat next to me on the plane and guys come back, they sit next to me, we throw it in and we watch the show), so it started with Jeremy, then it went to John Buck, who knocked out the entire first season with me on one road trip, and now Tony Graffanino is the guy. That’s become our team show.
In fact, when USA Today ran a “Save Our Shows” campaign, I wrote a letter to them explaining that it was the team show and I got everybody to sign it. I even overnighted it so it would come in a big envelope and they would take a look at it. USA Today did nothing with it. They didn’t give it the time of day. I guess they didn’t appreciate it.
Anyway, the show got renewed for a third season, so I’m pretty happy about that.
Then you get to the next city, get on the bus, take it to the hotel, get to your room — sometimes later than other times, depending on how long the flight is — and it becomes a very long day, so there’s no question that on getaway day, you want to win that game. You want to win them all but losing on a getaway day makes for a really long flight. Hopefully, we can win today on getaway day.
I just wanted to write a couple of quick notes today.
First all, I wanted to thank everyone for the wonderful responses and support in my new venture. I appreciate the support and hope you continue to read this MLBlog as I try to open the door to a world most people don’t get to see.
Second, I wanted to let everyone know I will be wearing a microphone on tonight’s (Thursday, June 16) RSTN broadcast. So, for those of you who would like to hear my blather, instead of reading it, you’ve got that going for you. Just click that link.
That’s all I’ve got for now. I’ve got to get outside and stretch.
Well, here it is. I’ve been on the Disabled List for 31 days so I have decided to start my own MLBlog. I figure that in this age of the Internet, 24-hour-a-day news channels and all of the other media outlets, people love their information.
So much of sports coverage is either just scores or big scandalous stories, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to give fans a look at the game from a player’s perspective.
Obviously we are going to talk a lot about baseball and things that happen in the game, but we’re also going to talk about some of the things that happen off the field. I’m hoping to give fans some insight into what our lives are like. Even my family, the things they envision my life to be — that’s not it. It’s funny that even the people close to you don’t understand what it is like to be a Major League Baseball player — all the good things, all the bad things and even the interesting things. Hopefully we’ll shed some light on subjects like that.
Nice to be throwing again
First of all, as you probably already know, I’ve been on the Disabled List since May 9 with inflammation in my left elbow. That has made it a tough year so far. Hopefully I’ll get back soon and perform well with the team. Obviously my struggles from last season were well-documented. It was just a bad year. It happens from time to time. If not for a pretty good turnaround in the second half, it would have been one of the all-time worst.
After last year I was looking forward to putting that season to rest — not only to help my teammates win games, but for the fans, who had to sit through that debacle of a season.
Then, to have such a good Spring Training and be on the right path with all of the changes that Guy Hansen and I worked on, and then to come up with this injury (I say "come up with" loosely, because I had the injury the entire second half of last year), is a disappointment to say the least. Coming into Spring Training, it was just a matter of how long this elbow was going to hold up.
Fortunately we got an MRI done on it and obviously our team doctor Dr. Joyce, (athletic trainers) Nick Swartz and Frank Kyte, then Dr. Yocum, looked at it. Structurally it’s very sound, but it just shows the wear and tear of a 33-year old pitcher who has thrown a lot of innings. There was quite a bit of inflammation in there, so it’s taken longer than I would like. But at the same time, I know that that it was prohibitive going out there during my first 5 or 6 starts. I just couldn’t keep doing that. I’ve been throwing at little over a week now, which makes you feel like you’re working towards getting back and being competitive again.
On to more exciting things…
We just finished our first winning road trip since September of 2003, going 4-2 after winning series at San Francisco and Arizona. This has been a trip I’ve been looking forward to all year, for the simple fact of going back to Arizona.
At this point, half of my career has been spent in the desert (insert your own joke here), so I was looking forward to getting back there and hopefully getting a chance to pitch. At the same time, the first half of the trip was going back to San Francisco, which was one of my favorite cities to travel to because of the great rivalry we had with the Giants. So that trip has been circled on the calendar for a long time.
Unfortunately, being on the DL I wasn’t able to pitch at either place. At least I got to make the trip since I’m starting to throw again. It was huge to go out there and see a lot of friends, former teammates and a people I spent a lot of time with during my career in Arizona.
But the best part of the trip was the way we played. We really took it San Francisco after winning the first night and then came back and won game three to win the series. We were able to bounce back from a rough first night at Arizona against a team that is expected to contend and possibly win that division. Even though we lost, that was one of the best comebacks that I’ve ever been privy to actually sit through and watch. To be down, 11-2, that’s an easy game to kind of put on cruise control. You just don’t come back from nine runs down when you’re past the midway point of a game in the Major Leagues.
But we took it to them the next couple of games. Boy, Sunday was a barnburner. We scored one and they tied it. We scored another run. They tied it again. And finally, we’re like, "Fine, we’ll score six and put it clearly out of reach." To come out of the game with a win was huge. That just doesn’t happen. Anytime you have a getaway day that lasts that long — 12 innings, one of the longest games we’ve played in a long time — you want to win that. It makes the flight home a lot easier.
Back with Buddy
To see us scrap like we did on that West Coast trip shows a lot of what Buddy Bell has brought to this team since taking over recently as our manager. He’s such a great fit for this team. I’ve said that all along, just because of the past I’ve had with him. It’s not like he’s come in here and changed anything. It’s not like he’s come in here and said, "Here’s how things are going to be" and set a bunch of rules. It’s just that his reputation has preceded him.
The biggest thing is the fact that he’s made everybody on this team aware that the veterans have their power back.
There’s actually going to be somebody that’s going back us and restore that power. Combine all that with the fact it’s a new manager that not a lot of our guys know a lot about, especially our young players, and we can play the kind of baseball we’ve played.
So everybody’s concentration level is up, everybody is trying to impress the new boss. You saw that in that Friday comeback — that "never say die" attitude. I know we fell short and it hurt, but we came back out the next night like it was no big deal.
The great thing about having Buddy as a manager is my ability to help the club even though I’m on the D.L. I know that I was brought here obviously to pitch and win. That’s number one why you bring a player in. But at the same time, I know they expect a lot more of me off the field with the younger players and pitchers. I need to be a good example and try to impart some wisdom on them and talk about things because I’ve been fortunate to play this game a long time and see a lot of different things, experience a lot of different things.
I’ve experienced the most excruciating things, personally and professionally. I’ve been on the expansion team with Arizona and what I went through personally last year. But I’ve also had really good years, like the year I was traded here in 2003 and being on a team that went to the World Series and won a championship and being on a team that lost the World Series.
There’s been a lot I’ve been able to see and I try to help out wherever I can. I’m not the kind of guy that’s going to beat your door down. That’s not my style. But my door is always open and if things come up, we talk and bounce things off each other. We’ve got a great group of young kids that want to be led, you can see that from the way they’ve responded to Buddy. They want structure. They want to know what they can and can’t get away with.
To be able to help out in that arena, I’ve taken a lot of pride in that the last month. Because that’s the only thing I’ve been able to contribute to the team, outside of going out and power shagging, which I love to do because it keeps you in shape and makes you feel like you’re still a regular player (except I can’t hit).
I’m really looking forward to getting back on the field. First of all, it’s what I do, it’s what I love. Second of all, this, Man, this team I tell you has really turned the corner in terms of our approach. We know the wins and losses will still be hard to come by at this level, because no games are easy. But our approach is easy and that’s what is making it fun to come to the park every day.
Make sure you check back in a few days. We’ve got a lot of great topics coming your way like power shagging and how to kill an off-day on the road.