Sunday, July 25, 2010

Blah Blah Blah

So life hasn't been too blog friendly lately... Since moving to the bullpen last week, Internet on my computer has been terrible, opportunities to take pictures have been nil, and games have been hard to follow from the telescopic view of the pen. My week which used to consist of 5 distinctly different days has now turned into a damn mush of the same thing every day (not too different than the now famous pb and j sandwiches). I went from starting one game every five days to throwing one to two innings every three to four days. I know it is for my own protection, but I didn't know that it would play on my sanity. But in all seriousness things aren't too bad, they're just more boring. I no longer have my nature runs or my charting to tell you about, now all I have to go off of is bullpen chatter (almost all of which is not suitable for the Internet). So, I find myself still without internet, typing this blog on a recently downloaded app (which needs a few improvements) for my iPhone, telling you about practically nothing. Is this what my blog has come to? Rest assured, no matter how boring the rest of the summer is, I will be blogging about it.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Throwback...To The Bullpen

Maybe it was the baseball gods trying to say something, or maybe it was just appropriate that on Friday night during my first relief appearance we were wearing retro uniforms. I realize that it wasn't too long ago since the last time I’ve thrown in relief. Heck, even this year at school I closed on Fridays, but for some reason that feels like ancient history. I have been able to be on a routine as a starter for the last year and I really have grown used to it. I’m a routine kind of guy, I like knowing what I’m going to do and when I’m going to do it. But as a reliever, you have to be at your best all the time because you never know when you are going to have to perform. Luckily I have experience relieving under some high pressure situations and on some big stages so I am definitely equipped to handle this new challenge. Nevertheless, it is a change and I will have to make my adjustments. For instance, Friday the game sped up on me a little bit. I found myself getting out of my mechanics and really rushing through my delivery. Luckily, I was able to fight out of a couple of jams and get the win....I thought it was very funny that I got the win on the day of my once-scheduled start, perhaps the baseball gods still at work.
So, why the move to the bullpen? Well, on Wednesday I was called into Lance’s (the pitching coach) office. He told me that they are very pleased with how I’ve thrown so far and above all else they want to protect my arm. He said that since I threw so many innings this year at school I would move to the bullpen for the rest of the year to cut down on my innings. And that was that, Pettis is back in the ‘pen. At first I was a little surprised by this decision but looking at it know I think its probably a good thing. First of all, to this point I have throw 157 innings this year. Major League workhorses throw around 200 innings per year, and I was on pace to reach that number easily. Now, I have no doubt that I could have handled this workload, but for what reason. There is no award for throwing the most innings in your first year of professional baseball. So my arm will get a much needed breather. Secondly, I think it’s a good thing that the organization even thinks it is necessary to rest my arm. Hopefully, the have seen my early success and value me as a prospect in their system and one that they don’t want to injure. So, despite the minor inconveniences that go with making a mid-season role change, I think I can make the best of it.


My attempt at photographing our throwback jerseys


Then Mario helped (please excuse Borup with his pants down)



Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Writer's Block

I had my 5th start the other day and it was a good one. So, you would think that I would have tons to write about and that I would be able to eloquently describe every pitch……..but I can't. This blog has been a lot of fun to do and really something that I look forward to every couple of days. I can write for hours on the promotions in the park or what I have to eat or really almost anything. But, I have been finding it increasingly hard to write about the one thing that I came here to do, pitch. In the beginning it was ok because everything was new and there were a lot of things to say, but now that I've been through it a few times I feel like a broken record. But you know what, as an athlete I think thats a good thing. It's not my job as an athlete to be able to comment on every aspect of my performance, that's for the columnists and the sports writers. My job is to forget about what I did last time and begin to prepare for the next time. It would be almost anti-athletic of me to come here and write a three page blog about every outing. Instead I could give you some standard phrases like, "executing pitches","having a good mindset", "battling", or "setting up hitters". But, that's where the broken record comes into play. So, today, when faced with a writers block about my last start, instead of thinking it was a bad thing I realized that's how my mind is supposed to work. Today, I'm not focused on thinking about my last start. I'm thinking about my bullpen, the 10 three-quarter poles I have to run, and if the weather will hold up for the game. If you want to be the best athlete you can be you have to always be present. If you get stuck thinking about the past, thats when you get in trouble. Now, if my blog suffers then oh well. I'd rather be a good athlete with an average blog than the other way around.


P.S. I was doing my running yesterday around Williamsport and I found an area of town called West Hills....small world.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Promotions


One thing that I have really enjoyed about playing minor league baseball is all the promotions that our ballpark comes up with to try to get butts in the seats. Our head of marketing Gabe, has come up with some really inventive ways to try to create some buzz at the ballpark. Some people might think it's corny or cheesy or whatever out-dated expression you want to put on it, but I think it's kinda neat (another out-dated expression). I see it like this, the fact that people take the time to try to think of ideas for people to come out and see us play baseball means that we are kind of important. All your life you play baseball in near anonymity, but when you're a professional there are actually other people whose sole job is to try to get more people to watch YOU. It's a complete 180 from the family and friend atmosphere of Anteater Ballpark, where everyone knows your name (yes, I just alluded to Cheers). 
So most parks do promotions on an every-now-and-then basis, but our park, good ole Historic Bowman, takes it to a new level. The last six home games we have had a theme of the night. First it was July 4th (on July 3rd I might add), then it was Circus at the Ballpark, next was Irish-American Night, followed by Christmas in July, and Ballpark Beach Party, and finally tonight was Military Appreciation Day..... It has been a little exhausting. Speaking of exhausted, the scoreboard manager must be tired because every night he has had to Photoshop a new effect on our pictures for the scoreboard. First it was Uncle Sam hats on July 3rd, then clown hair and nose, then a leprechaun hat, then a Santa hat, then sunglasses, and finally tonight was an Army helmet (These actually look really cool and I wish I had a good enough camera to take pictures of them). But, I think my favorite part of the whole promotional thing is when on the rare occasion we get to wear a special hat or uniform. Last post I showed you guys the hat for the 4th and today we got to wear camouflage uniforms. I have always loved watching games where teams wore special uniforms, whether it be throwbacks or holidays or whatever, and now I get to be one of those players. It's pretty cool. Although, today I was in the stands charting so I didn't actually get to wear it but I still felt like I was a part of it. I think promotions are one of the things that make minor league baseball unique. It's a little slice of Americana or Irish-Americana or Whatever-Americana that night has in store....
.........On a side note, we drove by the Little League World Series field today. It is awesome. It was almost surreal to see it in person after having watched it for so many years. I'm sure I'll post about it sometime down the road.

CAMO!!!



Howard J. Lamade Stadium



Thursday, July 8, 2010

The No Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Optimism goes to die in Burlington, Vermont. Now, I'm sure its a beautiful place to live most of the year. But for the three days we were there, it was absolute h-e- double hockey sticks. We came into town to face the Vermont Lake Monsters with a gaudy 13 and 3 record. This would be our toughest test of the year so far, not because of the talent of the opposing team, but because the horrible conditions we were up against on and off the field. First of all, it was 98 degrees and humid...Second, the visitors clubhouse (actually University of Vermont's soccer locker room) was a country mile away from the field, had no air conditioning, and was the size of a closet. Third, the field was in horrific condition; concrete dirt, long grass, and an outfield more hilly than the Rockies. It wasn't hard to understand why a team with an ungodly home-field advantage such as this was tops in the league. Needless to say we lost two of three in the series and the Lake Monsters increased their lead over the rest of the league.

I started the one game that we did win in the series. I didn't have my best results of the year but I felt that I executed really well. I can never really get too mad at results alone. Sure, I would have liked to give up only the one run that I felt like I deserved to give up, but its not about that. It's about executing the pitches and making smart decisions on the mound. And I was happy with that during my outing. These hitters were definitely harder outs than the teams I had faced before (hence the 13-3). But, I felt like I constructed good at-bats and made pitches when I had to. I think this outing will really help my development. My last couple outings were relatively easy, I wasn't under a lot of pressure and I never really had to battle my way out of an inning. But, this outing I really had to make pitches in key situations and dig deep to get myself out of jams. I thought I did a good job of "being comfortable being uncomfortable" (a sports psychology saying) and really executing when it meant the most. All in all I can't be too upset with improving my record to 3-0 on the year...

P.S. I think the mascot "Lake Monster's" is the best one so far.

Our 4th of July hats


The Latin's (and Angelle) getting in the holiday mood


The extra-small locker room in Vermont


Our distant view of the field from the locker room



The "death" field






Friday, July 2, 2010

Randomness

Don't really have much to say in this blog of consequence, just some random stuff that I thought would be fun to share. First, remember the video I posted of Rhashan the "Director of Smiles". Well, before his usual sendoff yesterday one of our relief pitchers Siulman Lebron decided to poke fun at our superfan...


Pretty good impression (minus the accent)

Also, I think its about time that I gave a shout out to an American staple, the PB and J. As a minor league baseball player I consider myself an expert on the subject. I have two everyday as part of my pre-game meal (kinda sounds like Happy Gilmore's Subway commercial). But seriously, if you don't like this all-too-familiar concoction as a minor leaguer, you will be in a lot of pain. Because, literally, we have it EVERY day. Luckily for me, I like it. And I have no problem eating the same thing everyday for the rest of my life (don't hold me to that). So, I just thought that it would be appropriate to give the PB and J some love on my blog since its given me so much love the last few weeks....

Typical pre-game spread


An ode to PB and J


Finally, I leave you with some pictures from my run around State College, which is right next to Penn States football field....

Pretty Sky




Penn State Football Stadium



The closest I could get to the playing surface (its the square of light in the distance)


Joe Pa's Statue



Baseball Stadium (left) Football Stadium (right)



Thursday, July 1, 2010

3rd Times Almost a Charm

So I started my third game yesterday and it was a good one. I took a no hitter into the seventh inning before giving up my only hit of the game. While the results were special, I didn't feel like I did anything above and beyond to get the results. Perhaps it was just the right team for me to face at the right time, but I feel like I can pitch like that every game. Now, I don't expect to have the kind of results I did every time out, but as far as execution goes I think I should be able to replicate that on a consistent basis. It was funny, looking back at last night, how relaxed I was. I was on the mound without a care in the world. I wasn't really thinking about throwing a no-hitter, even though I was aware of it. I was just trying to execute every pitch and throw the right pitches in the right situation. That's one thing that I like so much more than college, and I think it makes you better as a pitcher too. In college, your coach calls all the pitches and you have limited leeway to shake off to something you are more comfortable with throwing. But, in pro ball every pitch is your decision so you are thinking through every at-bat so much more than in college. And when it is your pitch that you are throwing it seems to be so much easier to execute than if it came from the man in charge. I don't know, maybe its the type of pitcher I am. I can't blaze my 97 mph fastball by people or throw an absolutely nasty slider and people will get themselves out. I really have to construct an at-bat, set the hitter up, and execute the pitch to get them out. So, its really a nice change for me to be able to call my own game and out think the hitter.

One reporter asked me yesterday, "Through three starts you have some pretty good numbers, as a 35th round pick did you need some early success to give you confidence?" Inside I was laughing my ass off...But I told him, "Definitely not. I don't see myself as a 35th round pick (thats a whole other blog). I expect these kind of performances out of myself and I would not settle for anything less." And thats one thing I've really noticed about this level of baseball. We all know the draft is a stupid process that doesn't reward those who it should, but I didn't know how stupid it was till I got here. Success is not determined by where you get drafted or how much your signing bonus is. Success at this level is determined by how well you play the game. I'm not talking about raw talent either, its about respecting the game of baseball and playing it the right way. A person who knows how to play the right way will beat out someone with better raw skills any day. And you can see it almost across the board, especially with pitchers. Just look at the numbers and then look at the draft position, it's laughable. The whole tools bullshit that scouts look at has nothing to do with being a successful player. Sure, tools help but they aren't necessary or sufficient to making a good baseball player. What is necessary and sufficient is the knowledge of how to play the game and how to get better every day. And that is what I will try to do for the rest of my career.


Here are some links of articles about last night........

Pettis Shuts Down Auburn
Pettis Takes No-Hitter Into Seventh
There was an error in this gadget