January 29th, 2009
And so it begins...
In the words of a wise philosopher, take the weather out of the equation. Since returning to school, "Hotlanta" has been consumed by wind and cold. The familiar look of shorts and Emory Baseball T-shirts at Chappell Park has been changed to a more appropriate style reminiscent of William H. Macy in Fargo. Despite this, practice has begun for the spring season and the team grows ever closer to being game ready.
For those of you who don't know, there is no off-season in baseball. The conclusion of our fall season (when the team is made) was only the beginning for the 2009 Eagles. After a four-day fall break in October, we joined Coach Lewis in the weight room for our winter lifting and conditioning. If you came to watch us lift or run, you would have been impressed, not merely by the amount of weight and bend of the bar, but in how hard we pushed ourselves physically and mentally. This continued into winter break when we all went home to be with our families for a month before the long spring season.
As I sat on my plane to come back to Atlanta a little more than three weeks ago, I began to think about the season to come as well as the past. Of course the 2007 World Series was not far from my mind. It is easy to forget how hard we worked to reach the title game and the sacrifices we made to get there. The greatest strength of that team was neither our all-Americans nor our all-stars, it was not any individual, it was our team as a unit. My fondest memories are not of games but sitting in hotel lobbies listening to stories from the upperclassmen, and spending time with my team. In my first year of college, a lonely time for many, I felt closer to my thirty teammates than I had with any other group in the eighteen years leading up to 2007.
I have that feeling this year as well. While we have yet to play a game, our camaraderie extends from the field to the weight room and beyond the edges of campus. Together we make practice and lifting fun, and we spend time together off the field just as we did my freshman year. These things are what will bring us together in the longest times of the season, and what we will remember for years to come. Looking forward, we have a base of ten returners who have been to Appleton and know what it takes to get there. We return nine members of the 2008 team, and are joined by twelve freshman and transfers all of whom will help us on the field.
We will greatly miss the three graduated members of the 2008 team: Julian Smith, Frank Pfister, and Joe Roth. Julian is working in New York, Joe is working in Atlanta and living with David Hissey and Marc Terranova, and Frank is helping his High School team in Los Angeles as well as training for the spring with 2007 Alumnus Jason Glushon. We wish them all the best of luck this year.
With nineteen days to go before opening day, spring practice is in full swing. Dynamics, stretch throw, practice, bp, conditioning. Alumni know the deal, and I'm sure parents have heard from their sons. Every day we get closer to being ready, and every day we get closer as a family. This coming weekend we go off to our spring formal, a night of fun before the season begins. Opening day is February 14; Valentines Day, we hope to see our loved ones, friends, former teammates, and family at Chappell Park for the start of a great 2009 season.
March 22nd, 2009
The season is well underway and already full of memories: first hits for freshmen and newcomers, first appearances for pitchers, first road trips to Memphis and Alabama, and the first time at the Hampton Inn in Florida for the whole team. 2009 has already yielded many memories and the second half of the season will hold many more.
Our road trip to Memphis was one of the most enjoyable trips I have had. We started by arriving very late and getting stuck in the elevator with Coach T, Coach Perez, Coach Clark, and Nick our trainer. The guys who took the stairs were rewarded by not being cramped in an elevator for 15 minutes.
We proceeded to play a great game against Rhodes and having a great time on the bench and the field despite the arctic temperatures and the downpour. By the time we got back to the hotel, it was snowing, and a team-wide snowball fight ensued for hours, maybe the most deadly snowball fight any of us had ever been a part of-30 baseball players launching balls of snow and ice at each other.
UAAs in Florida are always a great time, and staying in a new hotel didn't stop us from catching rays by the pool, playing cards, and hydrating like we always do. We ate longhorn, and went to the banquet in our uniforms after a later afternoon game, and I'm certain nobody will forget Eddie Melendez salsa-ing his way across the pool deck to dance with a circle of softball players.
It's always great to have our friends and family support us in Sanford, and thank you to those who came. After a long game in the Florida heat, there isn't much better than seeing familiar faces outside the stadium. On the field, as a team we played well, but a special congratulations goes to Dave Hissey for breaking the career steals record, and to our First team all-UAA players Dan Molnar and Steve Bralver.
We played well this week, defending our home turf of Chappell park scoring 19 runs in three games against Atlanta Christian and North Central. We hope to continue to roll in the remainder of our six game home stand, behind solid pitching and a productive offense. There is still a long road ahead, many games to be played, and a lot of memories to be made. See you at Chappell Park!