I didn't expect to become known as the "blog guy". About a dozen times during this camp, when I introduce myself as "Paul", someone will ask if I'm the guy with the blog. It turns out that if you do a Google search for "Giants Fantasy Camp", my blog is first non-sponsored result! I like the organic way that the blog gets readers. Other than my single facebook post, everyone else who finds me is just using a search engine. I like that.
Today I dropped a fly ball in right field. But that's the middle of the story, so I'll start at the beginning.
We played two games today and lost both of them. I won't bother you with the details, but I just want to say that we were robbed, repeatedly. My teammates have a more colorful way of putting it. In fact, some suggested that rename ourselves but, in the end, we stuck with our official name: "Box of Chocolates - Because you never know what you are going to get!"
The first game was in the main Scottsdale Stadium. This is an incredible place. Beautiful field, major league scoreboard and even an announcer. "Now stepping to the plate from Healdsburg, California, Paul Deeeeeees". The pronunciation doesn't matter because I was always thinking about the 10,451 things that Joel Youngblood told us to do in the batter's box. But when they say "Healdsburg, California", it catches my attention. Like my subconscious mind says "Hey, I'm from there!" and then I realize they are talking about me. It's a little jarring and way cool.
I have come to absolutely love playing second base. I sit there waiting and hoping for line drives. I want them to hit to me. I stress about the throw to first but, heck, that's just a short toss from second. I can't park myself at second the entire game. I have a teammate who doesn't have the legs for outfield and, like me, doesn't trust his arm for long throws so we switched off at second every few innings. In between, I played various outfield positions.
And this is how I found myself hanging out in right field with a left handed batter in the box, but someone who was a ways down in the batting order. Because of that, I was not playing particularly deep and only slightly favoring the 1st base line. Then he ripped one. It was hit hard and high and I turned and sprinted. Fly balls are in the air for four to six seconds and I had a good read but the ball was sailing. I started to slow a little early. I haven't learned to get myself into a good position to catch fly balls. I think I should keep my speed up and then turn and come in as I make the catch. But, I didn't. I slowed up and tried to catch the ball while still on the run. It ticked off the finger of the glove and fell. As I picked the ball up and threw it back into the infield, I heard the opposing team cheering.
It was my first error in my Giants Fantasy Camp experience and I was bummed. Andy the photographer was on the field and I asked him after the game if he caught my blunder, but he was focused on the batters. I was doubly bummed because I really wanted to post the bad pictures along with the good ones.
Later in the day, I said something to Ed Halicki (my coach) about dropping the ball. He turned to me and said, "Look, if you were a great baseball player and you dropped the ball, you have every right to beat yourself up. But nobody here is a great baseball player. You guys are all going to make mistakes and you can't let them get you down." It's a perspective that I hadn't considered and it really helped. Ed liked the idea so much that he shared it with the whole team.
Ed was born to play baseball, unlike any of the 109 campers.
In the second game, I got a hit. Nothing great, but a ball that was difficult for the third baseman to get to. I hustled to first, beating out the throw. I felt better.
I also got hit during my first at-bat in the afternoon game. The pitcher was one of the solid players from my team last year. He has a side-arm delivery, so it's hard for me to judge the ball early. It was inside and, although I tried to get out of the way, it hit me on the left elbow. Since I've been an umpire for years, I've had my share of baseballs to the forearm, but this was different. It hit right on the bone and hurt like hell. So much that I couldn't properly bend my arm. The pitcher met me on the way to first to offer his apologies and by the time I came around to home (we had a good inning), the sting was starting to go away. After the game the trainers put ice on my arm and on my shoulder (just a bit sore) and I walked around the club-house looking pretty bad. I wasn't alone.
The camp is starting to take it's toll on players. Most teams started with 14 players, but already many teams have 2 or 3 players who can't run. Everybody still bats, but a runner stands behind a screen at home and when the hear the whack of the bat on ball, they take off to first. There are a lot of pulled muscles, sore knees and general aches and pains.
So far, I'm ok. I can still run well. By this time last year, I almost couldn't walk. I'm hoping it stays this way because even though I sometimes drop fly balls in the outfield, I can still get to the ball. If I get the ball, and drop it, I can still limit the damage. Some people are so sore, they can barely run and these same hits become inside the park home runs.
When you aren't very good at something, you have to celebrate the partial successes!