It counts now. After a hectic Spring Training and being assigned to the wonderful city of Midland, Texas (again), the regular season is under way. There is a massive oil boom or some Midland-type thing going on that has made the housing market even more ridiculous than trying to get a penthouse in Manhattan. Starting the season on the road really condenses the schedule so our time to search for a place to live was extremely limited.
Thankfully the Rockhounds front office staff really came through big for us and nailed down the handful of (overpriced) apartments left in the whole town and got lots of new host families to step up. Since we got all that out of the way it’s time to focus on baseball.
It all started with a typical Texas League 11-hour bus ride to Little Rock. This year I’m prepared. I got a Snuggie with pockets, a memory foam neck pillow, and an extended battery for my cell phone. We could drive cross country and I’d still be comfortable. Seeing as I’m not the youngest on the team and am repeating a level for the first time in my career I have some seniority. This means I get my own row on the bus and don’t have to double up. This may not sound like a big deal but can you imagine being 6’5'' and having to share a seat with somebody for a 6-12 hour bus ride every few days? Then throw in the fact that he is known for his late night protein-induced flatulence. I won’t name names but if you have been keeping track you know who my roommate is and it’s the same guy. Sorry, Donald.
|Barfield got this shot of the Junction Bridge.
So the first day here we had a light workout and took batting practice. I really like how this squad looks. I know we have a serious chance to do some damage in this league. This is my first opportunity to play with a lot of these guys.
Most of them were drafted a year after me. After our workout we went downtown for dinner and afterwards me and Dan Straily did some sightseeing. FYI, there’s not much to see in Downtown Little Rock but I’ve included a few noteworthy pictures I snapped along the way. It would have been a photo tour but there are some sketchy people downtown and it was starting to get dark.
Opening night was a really tough loss. We squared some balls up but just right at people and weren’t really outplayed, but they got the timely hit when they needed it the most and that’s how ballgames are won. I always get heckled pretty badly in Little Rock and opening night was no exception. I was really disappointed in the right field beer garden’s material. None of their chants were even worthy of me acknowledging them. It just consisted of how my lady parts were showing, how bad I am, and how I’ll never make it to the big leagues. Come on, Little Rock. You’re better than that.
|Junction Bridge signage.
There seemed to be a leader of the ragtag bunch and he had just yelled something my way and the very next pitch I made a sliding grab down the line to end the inning and as I popped up out of the slide I tossed him the ball. The best way to describe the look on his face is when a person finds out they just got Punk’d. He was completely dumbfounded.
So I felt really good at the plate and drove a ball to center that obviously went nowhere since this is the Texas League. I just missed another one to center, and then lined out to third. The lineout almost took my former teammate Adam Heether’s face off. It may have even broken his glove. Those are the worst. You square something up so well that by the time it’s caught you’ve only taken one step out of the box and haven’t even dropped the bat. Frustrating.
Our bats really started to come alive and we got the timely hitting we needed. Conner Crumbliss did his best Jermaine Mitchell impression and hit a homer out of the leadoff spot. I swear every time I look up that kid is on base! Michael Choice added some cushion with a two-out double and pitching was phenomenal the whole game. Straily took a tough no-decision but the bullpen handled the rest. Speaking of which, I joked around with Paul Smyth about how he only threw two pitches but would have to condition the next day like he threw 50. I think that’s a flawed system but I’m no pitcher so what do I know?
As for the goose eggs, that is a term to describe zeroes on a scoreboard. Like it or not, everybody starts off with them. The first hit of the season always seems to be the hardest for me. It’s like after I get that first one out of the way the rest come so much easier. Hopefully I can get that first one out of the way tonight and actually have some stats other than at bats.
Follow Jeremy all season long and leave him comments and questions on Twitter (@Baseclogger)