Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Had A Sip Of Coffee In The Bigs

Sorry for the delay. Very busy at headquarters.
Well, two weeks ago I was fortunate enough to take part in a batting practice and fielding drills at AT&T Park in San Francisco. I made the big leagues....for a couple of hours.
Having a cup of coffee means you were only in the bigs long enough to have a cup of coffee, not stay for very long.
(I love baseball lingo!)
A group of us were given the four star treatment.
There were three groups divided into outfielders, infielders and hitters.
My group shagged flies in the outfield hit by former San Francisco Giants pitcher Bill Laskey. At his age he can still hit! I've always had a depth perception problem in the outfield......still do. I didn't catch one fly ball. I think it was because I was in awe of being on a Major League field. (In 1992 I was on the outfield of the now demolished Kingdome in Seattle for a singles concert. My only memories is the feeling of Astroturf. Very spongy.)
After about half an hour running after fly balls I couldn't catch, we then went on to our next station....the batting cage.
I originally thought we were going to face a live pitcher for batting practice. I was disappointed to see it was a pitching machine. (I knew I should have taken hacks at Scandia) We were allowed about twenty pitches. Of the twenty, I hit about six. The machine was throwing pitches on the outside part of the plate. I adjusted and got a few hits. I was jammed once and it stung my hands. I hit a Texas Leaguer just barely past second base. The others went back to the pitcher. I used a Louisville Slugger bat left over from my days as a clubbie for the Solano Steelheads back in 2000. (Long live the Western Baseball League!)
After batting, we took grounders at third, the hot corner.
Rich Murray, brother of Hall of Famer Eddie Murray hit grounders to us.
This is when I truly respected the speed of the game. I was playing back behind the bag, in anticipation of bad hops of the ground. The infield is mowed so short, a true roll comes off the ball. Rich yelled out to me, "I can tell you played on some bad fields. You were playing as if you were expecting the ball to take a wicked hop to you." I got to thinking, your local baseball park isn't Major League quality.
I was quite proud of myself at third. I cleanly fielded most of the balls hit to me. Some did go past me and I had to run to the outfield to get them.
I say I respect the speed of the game because they probably hit the grounders at half speed to us. I got to thinking of how ground balls come off the bat at game speed.
After about almost two hours of baseball workouts, we had a mini question and answer session with Laskey and Murray. Bill Laskey and I spoke of our dislike for Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers. (He mentioned Puig is a pain in the ass!)
Murray gave me a hard time about my fielding at third base. All in jest of course.
We then went up to the Club Level for lunch. Every Major League clubhouse provides "spread" for the players after a game. Spread for us was Polish dogs, salads, hamburgers, chili and dessert.
We were then given some gifts, a Giants hat and sunglasses. We were also given tickets to that nights game!
As we were leaving the stadium we got lost in the bowels of the stadium. As we were walking around, I stopped to take a picture of a plaque of one of my favorite sportswriters, Nick Peters. I heard someone walking behind me...it was Giants manager Bruce Bochy! He gave us directions on how to exit the park. We continued on to our exit. We then came upon another familiar face. It was long time Giants Clubhouse Manager Mike Murphy! He waved hello to me like he knew me!
It was a day I didn't want to end, but all good things must come to an end. I had a few hours to kill before the night game.
I walked to Lefty O'Douls for a beer. A friend of mine who lives in The City was right about her  description of the place..... dark, loud and hole in the wall dump. I loved it.
Later that evening I saw Madison Bumgarner throw a masterpiece. (I hate to admit it, but he's amazing!)
Brandon Crawford hit two homeruns out of the field I stood on earlier that day.
That day made me wish I would have tried harder as a kid to excell at baseball.
Being in the big leagues is like a drug. You crave it and you want more of it.

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