Wednesday, August 15, 2007
I haven't written for a little while, so I wanted to check in with you guys before the post season began. A lot of things have happened this summer, so I just wanted to make sure everyone is up to speed.
By now, most of you know that Ken Holtzman, the winning-est Jewish pitcher in Major League history is no longer managing the Pioneers. While it seemed somewhat surprising to see him go with only a couple weeks on the season left, it was a decision that was in the best interest of Ken and the league. That being said, Tony Farrera, the assistant coach of Modiin, left the Miracle and joined what he called "The Big Red Machine" the "Red Dawgs," The "Red Team" and anything else that emphasizes our team colors.
To Tony's credit, we are about a 500 team since his coming aboard, and for those who have been tracking us this season, its a big improvement, and a major step in the right direction for playoff time.
I personally got to start a few games recently which was a lot of fun. My back never really did fully heal, but a mixture of ibuprofen and long, long, stretches make me feel pretty close to 100%. My dad also has come in for these past two weeks to watch the "shovelmen" (a pre- Tony nickname), and I had the fortune of making a few plays while he was in the crowd.
Besides rounding out the regular season this week, the league had a special tree planting ceremony in one of the nature reserves outside of Modiin. As the resident "Rabbi" (which has become my nickname on the team) I read a short prayer in Hebrew about tree planting, while some fellow, taller players read an English edition. The idea itself is a bit sappy (that was on purpose) but planting our roots in the land while hoping for a long future was a nice symbolic gesture.
I think I will post a long blog at the end of the season as sort of a finale; my thoughts of the league, being a religious player, and the experience of being in Israel while doing something quite 'American.' But I will say this, I don't think I ever appreciated the work ethic it takes to be successful in sports until I started training for this summer. I spent basically 10 months working out 4-6 days a week, running, fielding, hitting, even watching baseball to better understand the game. All of that work amounted to little over 10 AB's and a dozen game appearances.
Now of course, I would rather have not been injured, played in more games, collected more hits etc., but playing at this level truly is a sort of job. Most of us fantasize about 'playing' in the bigs, but the work and patience it takes to get there is extraordinary. And those lucky few who get to make it, and on top of that, to enjoy it as just a game, they are the truly talented ones.
But what a job.
One of my roommates (Epps) says, "whenever I get frustrated on the field, for whatever reason, I think about how I could be in a cubicle in North Jersey this summer." Now granted, better air conditioning would be involved, but is that even a choice? a real decision?
As I got a base hit to right field this week, advancing the tying runs to scoring position and loading the bases, I got to first base and thought in my head "I cant believe I am playing pro ball for the summer."
What a Job.