Yes, I'm back. Don't ask me why because it is difficult to describe the draw that this camp has on its participants. I've had so much fun blogging about my experiences that I thought I would try again. You might think that there is nothing left to say but, luckily for me, there is always something new and different.
My Rookie Year was a beast unto itself that I'm happy not to repeat, and my next year as a Veteran was a new experience. If you haven't read about 2013 and 2014, you should before you continue; otherwise, you will be lost.
I know that last year I said I wasn't nervous, but in retrospect I was, a bit. But this year, I’m not nervous at all. There was a general anxiety in the lead-up to camp, but most of that was a hectic schedule on the day before. Once I arrived at the hotel on Sunday there were familiar faces, handshakes and hugs. This year there are 112 campers and 67 veterans, so the ratio is a bit skewed to veterans. There are also 32 people on the waiting list who aren't here. This is a popular camp, especially after a world-championship year.
The coaches are largely the same, but Greg Minton (my coach from last year) isn't here this year, and we have a couple of new faces. The draft has already happened and I'm with Ed Halicki and Mike Felder (aka Tiny). Ed was another of my coaches from last year, but Mike Felder is a new face to camp - at least for me.
There are a whole bunch of familiar names from the first two years, Rich Aurilia, Jim Barr, Vida Blue, Mark Davis, Hobie Landrith, Rich Murray and Mike McCormick to name a few. Joel Youngblood is doing his amazing hitting clinics again which I can't get enough of.
You might think that these guys wouldn't waste time remembering faces or names, but that isn't the case. Bill Laskey greets every camper by name welcoming back Veterans and introducing himself to Rookies. I went up to Ed Halicki and started to re-introduce myself and he stopped me by saying, "Oh, I remember you and I have some advice for you this year. When you want to tag runner, don't hold the ball in one hand and tag the runner with an empty glove!" Sigh. Yup, that was me, and he remembers.
Today was about clinics and evaluations. You know the drill, you catch fly balls, field grounders and spend time in the batting cages. It was fun, but tomorrow's when things will really get going…