Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"0 for" No More!

I guess I should again say I am sorry before I write this because I have been terrible about blogging recently, but I will try and pick back up and start doing a better job. Now I will again try and give the important events of the past week.

For everyone that really understands baseball than they probably understand the title of the blog but for all you who have not brushed up lately I am trying to tell everyone that I finally got my first hit. And it was a memorable one. We played away on Saturday and some of our team could not be there so we had to fill some holes in the field. I got the nod to start at third base and hit 5th in the line up. In my first at bat I grounded out but had an RBI. My next at bat was in the third or fourth inning and I was the lead off. The count was 1-0 and I saw a pitch that was up in the zone and swung. Right then I knew that I had hit it well and I do not even remember taking a hard step out of the box. I started to jog, since I knew that I had it it out. Remember that I had to savor every moment of this roundtrip since it has been over six years since my last homerun in a real game. What is really funny about this home run is the fact that my coach grabbed me after my first at bat and told me to just wait back and be patient, he told me that I was not going to hit the ball out of the park! As I rounded third on my way to the plate I just chuckled as he waited there and said "Way to stay back!" We won easily and I ended the day 2-4 at the plate. And I did almost hit another homerun to the opposite field, but it was caught at the fence.

Sunday was another day and it was my day to start on the mound. It was the hottest that it had been since I had been in Belgium. My roommate and I had gotten to the field really early becuase we were to coach the younger team because the coach was on holiday. I knew it was going to be tougher to make it through the whole game, but I also welcomed the heat since it makes everything loose and helps to keep away those nagging injuries especially my elbow that has been sore lately due to being back in competition and throwing much more than I have been used to. I felt good early, but I think that about midway through the game I was feeling my best. I was going against another American and in the 7th inning we were still both in the game and the score was 3-1, and we were leading. The game stayed that way until the 9th. I told the coach I was ready to come back out and finish the game. I really was starting to show fatigue, but I wanted to complete the game. They scored one run in the 9th but I was able to finish the inning with leaving a guy at 2nd base to end the game. It really was a great game. I had no idea how many pitches I had thrown but after I asked the man who does our stats and he said it was right around 145 pitches. I do not think I have ever thrown that many pitches in my life!

Baseball was done for the weekend and all I wanted to do is relax. We had plans for Monday in Ghent. My roommate and I decided to go to the movie theater to watch the new Batman movie. I discovered two new things in going to watch a movie at the theater. First they had assigned seats at this theater. Secondly, we had a 10 min. intermission halfway through since the movie was quite long. I didn't mind either, but at first as the screen turned black and the lights came on I thought that Batman was a terrible movie, they really tricked us on how they cut it. The movie was great.

Monday came and we went to Ghent to the Gentse Feesten. It is a 10 day festival that ended on Monday. I have had people ask what we did and it was alot of food, live music, and beverages. I got to try some new kinds of beer that I have never had since I have been here. I also had some Jenever which is a type of flavored liquor that many people drink here. We actually had to walk down this back alley that was barely wide enough for me to fit into. The jenever that was sold in the bar was also made by the man that owned the place. The good thing is that one of our teammates took us and he had once studied at Ghent. He really showed us a great time and knew alot of small cool places to go to. I really enjoyed the great weather and the live music. Also it is always fun just to people watch. The one thing that I am really sad about is that I left my camera inside the house and everyone was gone when we left. We shut the door before I realized that we did not have a key and we were locked out so there were no pictures taken, but I can tell you that it truly was a great time.

Not much has happened the last couple of days but it has been really hot this past week. We do not have air conditioning so I have just tried to spend alot of time outside where the breeze will at least have a chance to cool me down. It looks like it might change as we are looking to see storms tomorrow which might help cool down the heat.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Week in review.

I'm back. I guess I have been busier this past week then I have recently been so I am sorry that I have not wrote an entry since last Friday.

This past weekend was good. It was our last free weekend before games start back up. We had the picnic at the club. There was a Belgium cover band that played songs from the 60s 70s and 80s. I thought they were alright, but it is funny to hear them speak in Flemish and then try to sing the songs in English. After the picnic my roommate and I went to over to a teammates who lives close to downtown and then went and hung out at Marmite, a nice small pub that we frequently visit.

The morning came early on Sunday and we were supposed to be at a camp. We made it there on time thanks to some skillful driving by our teammate, but there was no one to be found. There were some miscommunication so we ended up driving to Brussels to have some coffee and a crossiant. We drove home and watched our little brothers Tball games. Then the rest of Sunday was just full of lounging around. I got bored later in the night and decided that I wanted to shave my beard, but I left a great mustache, but really it is just a joke. (That is for you O'leary)

Monday was Belgium National Holiday. There is no fireworks or any organized BBQ. Most people do recieve the day off so everyone was at the house all day. We had planned to play minature golf but the weather did not cooperate. We decided that bowling would have to do. The little ones were excited, but the older brothers did not want to go. So just Ingrid, Junior, Sander, Ryan and I went. We bowled one game and I won! I bowled a 136 for anyone interested. Also I started my job out of K.C. on Monday. It is really easy, but not that entertaining, but I can do it when ever I feel like it and so that is very convienent.

Tuesday came and we were back to baseball again. I knew I was going to start on the mound so I planned my day accordingly. I knew that we were not playing the best team in the league, but I really wanted to do well since I was coming into the game 0-2. I felt like I had put some pressure on myself to do well and prove to myself that I could still pitch. The game went well. I ended up pitching a complete game 2 hitter. I had a no hitter going into the 5th, and a one hitter into the 9th. I definitly felt the best I have since I have been over here, but I could feel a decline in velocity after about the 4th inning. It will get stronger hopefully soon.

Nothing exciting happened yesterday. My arm was really sore so I went and tried to workout and run hard to help it. Ryan and I coached the Junior team practice. Today we have another game. I enjoyed the time without baseball, but I really like that we are playing again. It gives us more to do.

Until next time.

Friday, July 18, 2008


The weekend is upon us and now I sit again at the computer. I have to say that the mussels were awesome and how Ingrid prepared them they were great. I guess when you boil mussels, the shell opens up and they are so easy to eat. I really enjoyed them.. We ate them with french fries and we had multiple pots to eat from. We actually to many that there were a good amount left.

My host mom had a long week and yesterday she said she wanted to go to the Pony Pub... a bar that was close to our house so I told her I would go with her. In the past she has said she wanted to go out but has decided not to as the time gets close, but tonight she still wanted to. My roommate decided that he did not want to go so I took Ingrid out. She loves to dance, but when we got to the bar there was no one dancing. Before I left I was talking to Jason Burch and told him that we were heading out and my host mom wanted to dance... his resposne was, "Oh No!". But in the end she got to dance not with me but with people that knew how to dance and we all had a good time. We came home and I had a great talk with her, we talked about life and it was a great experience to understand more about life here in Belgium. In the discussion we talked about what we needed for the picnic tomorrow to eat. I said that if I could get my roommate up that maybe we could get some things that Americans would bring to a picnic.. So any suggestions would help if you have any. My suggestion would be fried chicken, but I do not even know if they have that here. I am trying to think of what we would bring to a picnic but some help would be good... that means that I would enjoy some comments to this entry!....

Talk to everyone soon.

Mussel Season

It is mussel season here in Belgium so that is what is on the dinner plate tonight. I do not think I have ever had mussels the way Ingrid is going to prepare them, but I guess there is a first time for everything. She asked me the other day if I liked mussels, I told her that I really do not know but I said I would try them.

Anyway there has not been much happening lately. It has been a very calm week here. Just a couple of practices and alot of hanging out at the house and taking Sander to the park to ride his bike.

We had disscussed going to the Amusement Park down by Brussels tommorw, but I think my roommate and I have decided to stay here in Antwerp and go to the family picnic that our Club is putting on. There is going to be a live band and there is a chance of rain in the forcast so if all else fails everyone will move into the Canteen and enjoy the day there. It is a chance to hang out with all the people who are apart of the club and I can go to Six Flags in the U.S. Hopefully I will remember my camera and be able to take some pictures of the day tomorrow.

Here is a picture of my youngest host brother after Vactation(Summer) School on Monday.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Full House

We are back to full capacity in the house. My roommate Ryan is back from his Spain trip. He came back a full 6 kilos (13 lbs.) lighter. Three of the four guys ate a spanish dish that must have not been so good. They all ended up with food poisioning and the fourth did not eat it and was fine. They spent the two days they were in Barcelona in the hotel laying and sleeping. Other than that they did take part in the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona before the dreaded meal. But it is good to have him back all in one piece.

The rest of the week has been pretty quiet. We have started up practice again and I have been working out with one of my teammates extra for the last three days. We go to the field during the afternoon and have been taking alot of extra swings and just hanging out at the ballpark. It has been nice to get some more work in and especially in the hitting category so maybe I can turn my .000 BA into some solid numbers, but it will be an uphill climb.

Oh this week I landed two jobs. One is a one day camp or Inititiation down in Brussels where my roommate and I are going to go teach English speaking children the game of baseball. From what I have gathered, these kids know very little about the game so it should be very elementary. The purpose of these camps is to promote the game of baseball, as it is not a small sport to many people here in Belgium. My other job is actually based out of Kansas City. I recieved this job from Chad, the American that had played about 9 years ago in Belgium. We were talking last weekend as we watched the Belgium National Team play. He set me up doing some initial internet recruiting for his company that does Sport Tours for college and highschool kids around the World. So I talked to the people back in Kansas City yesterday (via Skype) and they emailed me the information to get started. I clock in by sending an email when I start and stop. It is just some mindless work, but when I have free time over here it looks to be a great setup. I guess that is exciting and it will bring me some extra income to help out with expenses over here.

Oh in my last entry I told you about teaching my host brother to ride a bike. Everyone was so happy... Yesterday my host mom joked about how she was mad at me because I think I have created a bike riding monster. Sander now comes home and immediatly wants to go to the park and ride his bike. We have also started on Junior to ride his bike without training wheels. He actually can ride his brothers bike better, so I believe he is going to take over that bike and Sander is going to get a new bike while they go on their vacation to Holland (no better place to buy a bike.) So I guess that I might have caused more problems, but Ingrid then told me she was still happy that I am teaching them to ride, she said it will make life easier for her in the end.

I love to share music and it was shared to me. Brett Dennen... (pop, indie, folk rock) My friend Kirsten told me about him and I think he rocks... I am actually listening to him right now!

Goodbye until next time...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Happy Birthday Joe

Yes the baby of the household is not such a baby anymore. Joe turns 20 today. I would like to wish him a happy birthday. He has "GROWN"alot don't you think? Sorry I just had to do it. Love you Joe!

make sure and read the entry below as well... it is NEW!

Spare Time...

We have two weeks until our next games so I'm doing other things to occupy my time. Well actually I have stayed around here right now and spent most of my time at the ballpark, but it has just been enjoyable to watch baseball. I watched a alot of the tournament qualifying games for the Belgium National Team. On Saturday I played for the U-29 Reserve team for my club. I asked if I could play so I could get some work in since we have this two weeks off. They were happy to let me throw. I threw 5 innings of no hit ball (the competition here was not good.) But it really turned out to be a good bullpen for me. After the game I went to the final game of the Tournament and got their in the 8th inning with the score 2-1. The Belgium National team won, and took the Euro Qualifying Tournament which was a big deal to them. It means that they get a chance again to play in the A group, something that they have not done in a few years. They celebrated and my host brother and myself met them out for awhile but then made it home soon enough to catch the last tram ride to our stop so we didn't have to stay out too late... but that is all relative anyway, Right?

Today I got up and my host mom asked me what my plans were. I told her that I did not have any plans. She had asked about a week ago if I considered myself patient. I told her yes (even some reading this might think otherwise) She asked me if I thought I could teach Sander my six year old host brother how to ride his bike. I thought I could so I told her yes. So today was the day that we were going to try. I guess there have been many failed attempts in the past but I thought maybe I could teach the way I learned. We went to the park and started in the grass. He is quite scared on the bike so I began to become not as confident as I was leaving the house. We struggled at the beginning but then it started to click. I had to give him a push, but he was getting the basics down with the peddles. After a few times of hitting uneven ground we talked him into moving to the pavement. He was worried about falling but I told him that I would make sure he would not fall. He gained my trust and minutes later he was coasting on the cement.. Then he found a small downward slope and found out that he needed a way to stop! He didn't understand the concept of using the handbrakes, so he skidded to a graceful footstop before he went head on with a group of bushes. We decided that we were going to work on the braking a different day, but we had the success we came to find today. We have one month before they leave for their vacation to Holland, where Ingrid wants Sander to be able to ride on his own. Today was a success. You could see the sence of accomplishment in Sander's eyes. He walked with a smile today and even boasted that he could ride on different types of ground. We got "Esher" (icecream) for the good work on the way home.

Most of the rest of the afternoon was spent in the garden playing soccer and reading books for me. We had dinner and played some board games with the little ones before we put them to bed and then Ingrid, Cedric, and I played another board game. It was a great Sunday and now I am going to relax and hang out.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Raining Day.

What better to do on a rainy day but visit the Bilbliotheek, which for all you Americans is the public library. Here the way business are open is very strange. Yesterday the library was open from 10-12, 2-4, 6-8. If you have ever been to Europe I think this is a common practice among business owners. I wanted to make sure I could get a book or two so I made the first window and went for the books written in English. They were noted with a british flag on the binding and the selection was quite sparce. I managed to find two books. The first was written by Malachy McCourt (Frank's younger brother), A Monk Swimming and the other was a classic by Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird. I have already read the latter but I thought for the selection that I had to choose from, that this was a good choice.

Every Wednesday down the street from my home there is a market set up for about two blocks that sells everything from candy, meat, fish, clothing, fruit & flowers. I had not yet been and it closes at 1 p.m. so I thought that I would check it out. I walked around and it was getting close to one and was starting to rain again so most of the vendors were closing up shop. I was only a light sprinkle so I grabbed a hamburger from one stand and continued just browsing. The most prevelant smell that ran through the market was the smell of fresh fish. After about being there for 20 or so minutes I decided to go home. Below are some pictures I took.

My host brothers girlfriend was at the house and she had to go downtown to get birthday presents for some extended family of my host. She doesn't like going downtown by herself so she asked if I would come. I had nothing to do so I went along for the tram ride. We went to an awesome chocolate store and then to the mall. I felt like I was back in America... All malls are the exact same. I brought my camera and took some pictures of the cathedral down in the Groenplaats, which is basically the center of the city where lots of restuarants and cafes are located. Enjoy...

Finally, I recently downloaded and put some money on a Skype account, so I was able to talk to people back home. Mostly just my family because I know their numbers, but it was really cool to be on the other side of the world and call their cellphones from a computer with little or no problems. The only issue when talking real time is the 6-9 hour time difference that we have with the U.S. depending on where people live. Skype rocks and I was happy to hear familiar voices and do some quick catching up.

I am headed to watch the National Team open up the European Qualifier tonight.

Monday, July 7, 2008

All by myself...

On Sunday we played our second game with the International All-Stars against the Belgium National team. These were only exhibition games and for the All-Stars some of the guys did not take it so seriously so we ended up only having 9 guys to field a team. That meant that we were fine to play, but we would have to have some guys play positions that they had not played in a long time.. The reason why I played right field and hit in the 9 hole. I actually had about 5 fly balls which I played all without any trouble, but again went hitless but did have a walk and a sac bunt with a run scored I must add. We actually ended up winning the game 9-6 with 3 run homer late in the game.

Right after the game I became the driver for the Americans who were leaving to go to Spain. They had two hours before their train left and one of the guys had not packed yet. We hurried to get to his place to pack up and then we were off to Central Station. As I was driving down there I looked at my roommate and started laughing. I have been the driver and he has been my navigator but I was just about ready to drop him off and I currently have no cell phone. The guys just gave me some good luck as I dropped them off and told me to find the "Ring" highway that circles Antwerp.... So I was ALL BY MYSELF. I tried to think of the way home and just started to drive, we have taken the tram down to central station before but I wasnt really paying attention to how we got there. After awhile of driving around and feeling like I was getting no where I remembered that I had the GPS system and it stores recent destinations. So I turned it on and found our house number in the recent destination and pushed GO, but I was in these little side streets and the GPS system was hard to understand and it kept recalculating the directions so I felt like I was getting no where. Finally I came upon a street that looked very familiar, took one left and realized where I was but the GPS system I believe was taking me the wrong way. I made a quick U turn and made it home safely, 1 hour after dropping off the other Americans.

It is different now that I do not have an American at the house with me, but I also think that it is good since I will get to explore some things on my own, and maybe by the time they get back I will not need a navigator. Without someone around today I was a bit lazier and really just hungout all day at the house, but since their was nothing I needed to do I just enjoyed relaxing, something I needed after quite a long weekend. I was asked to run the Junior practice tonight (the last one I went to I showed the younger boys some new games and I guess the presidents wife was there and told my host mom that practice went really well and I had made practice fun for the boys) , but it was raining so I had the night off of baseball. I plan on going back to the gym tomorrow and checking out the Library. I want to get a book to read. My host brother gave me his Library card to borrow so I could check out books. I have so much time and the English speaking t.v. channels are limited, so limited that I found myself watch The Wedding Planner tonight.

I am doing some backtracking to Saturday but I purposely left this for the end. I guess since I have been here I have had alot of fun and have really enjoyed the experience so far, but one of the reasons why I commited to do this was because I wanted something more than just baseball out of this, I wanted life experience. We had gone out with Chad, a former player who is from Kansas City and played two years here about 10 years ago and played with our Coach and is his bestman in the upcoming wedding in August. I was sitting there talking to Chad and I had asked him what his favorite experience was in his two years here. He thought about it for awhile and he said that maybe there was one trip that he had alot of fun on, but really it was the little things that he loved so much. The times he had with the people here and it really just made me think, I quickly told him how I have a fascination with the people so far. That I believe they are so genuine and they just live their life at a different pace. When people ask me how Belgium is in emails and such that is the first thing that I go to, the people. My point is that maybe I will not find some large discovery because I came to Belgium, I probably won't come back speaking fluent Flemish (Dutch) and I am going to come back to America, but maybe I can learn what these people teach me and take those "small" experiences and make them a bigger part of my life.


Saturday, July 5, 2008

Happy Birthday.

Last night we went out for a birthday party in Hoboken, it is a town close to ours that also has a club team. There were probably about 60 to 70 people there ranging from all ages. That had a dj and a dance floor. It reminded me of a small Remsen wedding reception... Yes for all of us who knows where and what Remsen IA is all about it might be a scary thought, but really it was a great time. The people here are so social and love to party. You might think that it is just the young ones that want to have a good time, but it is everyone. There were 55 year old ladies partying still at 4:30 am. We danced the night away, I was a big hit with a couple of the really older ladies becuase I danced with them all night. Like I said it felt like a wedding reception, it was a blast. So my America blues were gone once I found my spot there. A few of us made it a very late night and walked out of the Canteen as the sun was coming up. We walked back to one of the Americans spot and took a three hour nap before having to get up and drive to Brussels for the Belgium National game versus the International All-Stars... Our host mother had given us her GPS navigation system but it took us the most awkard as backwards way to the field, but I got to see some great Belium Countryside. We won 6-4. I pitched the last two innings and did alright except I hit one of the batters in the head. That is the second time that I have done that in 3 outings.. He had a large bump on the side of his head, soon I think they are going to wonder if I am doing it on purpose.... I might be blacklisted here if I do not stop doing that! Just kidding but I seriously need to stop. As I write this my host mom just came in and I just tried my first authentic Belgian Waffle, they had gotten stuff from the Ding Ding Man! Anyway I am out for now... Peace

Friday, July 4, 2008

I am depressed...

Junior and Sander... Two of my host brothers.

Picture of us at the Holland vs Cuba Exhibition game.

Before you get to worried about my time here I am just fighting a small case of Fourth of July Depression and that is it. I would really enjoy being out at the Village today, being out on that water boating, and having a great BBQ but I guess I do not have to much to worry about.
Well I did not feel like blogging yesterday, not much happened. We went out last night back to the same club that we had been the week before, it was a good time and we made it home earlier than last week which was good. Today I got a reader for my memory card so there will be more pictures soon, I just need to find the best and easiest way to put them up, so give me alittle time. Hope you all enjoy the great holiday in the States. I am going to one of the Belgium guys birthday party at one of the Canteens here. Sounds like they celebrate birthdays about the same way we do... Sounds like there will be plenty of Belgium beer. I will be silently celebrating the 4th though, just without the joy of hearing really loud noises crackle throgh the air.

Happy Birthday America.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

I traveled to Europe and saw Cuba...

Today we went to Rotterdam Netherland to see the Dutch National Team take on the Cuban National Team. The game went well. The players for both teams were of much higher caliber that I have seen here since I have arrived. Many of these players are really just missing Pro Ball back in the States or they have already played and have been released for some reason, and for the Cuban National team they had so much talent, it is almost sad to see guys with the tools that these Cubans have and the fact that it is near impossible to get in the big leagues. I was really happy I was able to see the Dutch National Team play but I was more excited to see the Cuban Nationa Team play and they lived up to what I expected. They could hit, they were fast, and they could flat out play baseball. They ended up winning 7-1. During the game I met a wife of one of the Dutch National players... He had played in the Belgian league last season and was originally from the States but has a grandmother that is Dutch. Anyhow the wife was speaking great English so I asked her where she was from... Derby Oklahoma and she and her husband had attended Semionole Junior College... only to find out she knew Jacob Eckley... go Burke Bulldogs... What a small world.
We took the drive home and it became an exciting car ride when rain came. The roads began to get to much water and at one point on the highway I started to hydroplane some and I was having a really hard time seeing the lines so it was very adventurous, but we made it safely back.


A Glimpse of the future...

Ok well we finally won a game 13-3. I was starting to wonder if I was bad luck. The game started well when the fourth batter of the game blasted a three run homer for us and the hit parade continued. I only played the last three outs as I went in to play centerfield when our centerfielder went in to finish the game on the mound. Baseball is alot more fun when you win. The bad thing is our team has some time off, We do not play again as a team until the 19th of July since the Belgium National team has some things going on in the next two weeks. I guess that gives me some time to maybe see some surrounding areas. Today we are headed to see the Dutch play the Cubans, which should be intersting. This weekend though we do have baseball as the Belgium National Team is playing the International Allstars in a two day, two game Exhibition series. Somehow I think you basically only have to be from another country to make the team because at a steller 0-2 I have somehow made the team. I am an ALLSTAR... ha.
Nothing to exciting happened yesterday. I worked out again and I think I am putting my body through some serious shock. I think it has been since last Oct/Nov since I had done any weight training so I have been waking up quite sore the past couple of days, but I feel better about myself and I think today I am just going to go for a run outside instead of going to the gym.
One other note I know that it is July 2nd and so I would love to wish my favorite brother in-law Mitch Urosevich a Happy Birthday. Have a wonderful day Mitch.

See Ya.