For my birthday I was lucky enough to be able to spend my time in Amsterdam. I was really excited the day that we left, as it was both my birthday and really the only trip that I was planning on taking that would keep me over night while here in Europe. Our trip up there went smoothly and as we got off the train we walked across to the tourist office to check out what Amsterdam had to offer and maybe grab a map. We walked out of the office with lots more. We went the "all inclusive" route and purchased a "I AMsterdam" card which allowed us access to many museums and free public transportation. The card really was a great idea, it provided us with some direction on where to go and what to see and it turned out to save us some money on all the stuff that we saw. I did not know exactly what to expect going to a city like Amsterdam, but I think that I was surprised and really did enjoy my time there. I think the one thing that I will take away from Amsterdam is the feeling I got as I walked into the room that held Rembrandt's "Night Watch". This was a painting that I had studied in school and the sheer size and just the fact of being in the presence of the work was just awesome. I have since told everyone about it. The whole trip was a success and really enjoyed getting out of Antwerp and seeing a different part or culture even though it was just two hours away.
Part of the Seven Bridges in Amsterdam.
Friday we were asked by our head coach to come to his house for Mexican food. We laughed because we had talked about going to a mexican resturant anyways so we accepted... of course! We went over there and enjoyed some wine while my coach and his wife finished the preparation for dinner. We enjoyed some great Mexican. We played games after dinner and just hung out. My coach had an assortment of different types of liquor from all around the world that he had collected but had never opened and decided that it was the perfect chance to try them out. He asked if we wanted to Travel Around the World? We being the good guests that we were said that sounded like fun. We did not stay at any country very long (as they were all pretty small pours since we had to travel all over.) We traveled to about 13 different countries. Dominican Republic, Austria, China, Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, San Marino, U.S. were some of the countries of the top of my head. It was only my coach, roommate, and I doing the trip as his wife does not drink alcohol, but she just sat there and laughed with/at us as some of these different bottles were very unusual to say the least. We had alot of laughs and that night was very enjoyable, we crashed there since our coach is a police officer and that our trip around the world kinda gave us serious "jetlag"... haha.
Back to the reason why I was sent here. We had our last weekend of baseball competition this past weekend. We had to win one game to secure first place. I was slated to throw on saturday. I think that out of all my days that I have pitched so far in this league that this was the one day that I was really not looking forward to. I did not want my last start to come. I also knew as I warmed up that my arm was not 100 percent and I really did not want to end my season/career on a loss. As I warmed up my arm actually did not feel very well at all. I opened up the game and gave up one run in the first inning but left two guys in scoring position. I felt that it might be a struggle, but as the innings went along I felt like I was more comfortable. At the end of the game no one would say that it was over powering or the best outing that I had but that lone run in the first was all that came across the plate and I think I ended up with 19 groundouts and three strikeouts, one of them coming at the end of the game.
We played again on Sunday and lost. As I end the season and ended my possible last outing as a pitcher I look back and say that even if I decide never to pick up a baseball again that I can look back and say that I am happy about how my career ended. I was able to extend my career and see a part of the world that I had never seen before. These both have been great over the past few months. Only time will tell if it is all over. As for my blog, hopefully I will continue writing even when I am back in the states. I know that I have been terrible lately, I have really enjoyed blogging and hope everyone that has kept up with it has enjoyed it and thankyou for reading it. I hope to blog at least one more time about my final couple of days here... Hope to see everyone soon.
Michael D. Harmelink