There and back again

Hello again and welcome back.  As stated at the beginning of my last entry, I had some computer issues that prevented me from posting my previous entry, but seeing as how I had already written it out I figured I would share it rather than relegate it to the recycle bin.  In any event, the entry is there if you should choose to read it.  Recent events in the Texas League South have created a jumbled mess in the standings.  We with the Midland RockHounds have had a difficult stretch, going 4-7 over our last eleven games.  In that time the standings have been compressed significantly, going from a five game lead over second place to currently being only five games in front of the last place team.  The good news is that we are still in first place and for the next two weeks we are playing the other division so we should have a good opportunity to put some distance between ourselves and the rest of the division if we are able to play with a bit more consistency.  I myself have seen the end to my recent hot streak.  I had a couple outings where I gave up some cheap hits, but Monday I had one of the worst outings of my professional career and gave up four runs in less than an inning.  I bounced back with a solid outing last night, throwing 2-plus innings of scoreless baseball, and we as a team bounced back as well with a much needed victory over Tulsa.  Hopefully this will be a harbinger of things to come for both me and my teammates.

 

Away from the field, I have spent the better portion of my time during this homestand putting my affairs in Midland in order in preparation for the end of the season.  While the main focus certainly remains firmly on winning games and making a push towards the playoffs, it is inevitable that we as players face situations in which we also have to plan against a premature end to the season.  Because we have to set up residences in the same way we would have to if we expected them to be permanent–despite the extremely temporary nature of our actual habitation–at the end of the season we as players are left trying to tie off the loose ends of our housing arrangements while still leaving us a roof over our heads.  So with that in mind, I have been making all of the final arrangements for our current apartment and setting us up at the hotel for the duration of our stay in Midland, which will hopefully include a long run through the playoffs.  In addition to mundane tasks such as this, I finally got to take my trip to Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe Mountains National Parks on our off day this past Tuesday.  I love being out in the middle of nature with no sounds but those of nature filling my ears and nobody to intrude upon my solitude, which is exactly what I got from this trip.  I started off early enough Tuesday morning to arrive at the Slaughter Canyon trailhead in Carlsbad Caverns N.P. at dawn and spent about three hours hiking Slaughter Canyon trail–encountering two rattlesnakes, various insects, a multitude of spiders and seeing numerous deer and elk prints–before making the strenuous ˝ mile hike up to the entrance of Slaughter Canyon Cave.  The cave itself was an amazing experience.  While it lacks for some of Carlsbad’s grandeur, the lack of trails or lighting made for an amazing experience, especially once we got into the pristine portion of the cave.  After finishing the cave tour, I hiked back to my car, drove 25 miles down the highway to Guadalupe Mountains N.P. and spent the remainder of my afternoon hiking the El Capitan trail, sweating profusely and taking in the beautiful scenery.  The most interesting wildlife experience I took in on the day was on this trail and wasn’t even an encounter with an actual animal (although I did see a couple more rattlesnakes and a few deer), but instead was seeing some mountain lion tracks in dried mud a few feet off the trail.  Pretty cool and a definite incentive to be back before dark.  In any event, it was a much needed break and I would strongly recommend both parks, but I’ll stop myself there before I bore everyone to death.  Until next time, please enjoy the customary poem.

 

Wood’s Edge

by Brenda Hillman

 

Infinity lifted:

a gasp of emeralds.

 

I thought I felt

the tall night trees

between them,

 

no exactitude,

a wait not even

known yet.

 

I held my violet up;

no smell.

It made a signal squeak

inside, bats,

 

lisps of pride;

 

ah, their little things,

their breath: lungs of a painting,

 

they swept me

in four ways, their square

plans, as I have made

a good square saying,

 

you I

you not-I

not-you I

not-you not-I,

 

ritual of hope

whose weight

has not been measured–

 

The Entry Not Posted

***I attempted to post this entry a week ago, but computer issues kept me from doing so. I decided to post it in addition to a new entry.***

 

Greetings once again.  I am signing in on the morning of day two of a ten game, eleven day homestand.  The week and a half will be a welcome respite from the road as we make a push through the end of the season and hopefully into the playoffs.  The two upcoming days off will have to be cherished as well, as after this time at home we have 20 games in 20 days to wrap up the regular season, including a return trip from Northwest Arkansas to Midland with no day off for travel.  Anyhow, moving the focus from the future to the recent past, we at the RockHounds are coming off a forgettable road trip.  We pried one game each from Corpus Christi and Frisco, but in a week’s worth of hard fought games we would certainly have liked to take home a few more wins.  However, as it stands we are still in first place in our division with plenty of opportunities left to put space between ourselves and the res of the Texas League’s Southern Division.  Personally, I’ve had three outings since my last entry, running the gamut from poor to good.  The good news is that there are a few easily identifiable and correctable mistakes to be culled from my less stellar outings and some positive things to build on from my good outing.  I have also been throwing pretty well of late, which makes the occasional bump in the road a little easier to absorb.

 

Away from the field, there hasn’t been a whole lot to report of late.  Other than burying my nose into one of a couple textbooks I’ve been at work on and continuing to hop-scotch my way through the Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry, my main extracurricular has been tending to my plant collection.  I finally replaced my giant sequoia seedling and added a few pitcher plants as well.  Perhaps the development I am most happy about, however, is the germination of all but one of my monkey puzzle seeds while I was gone over the recent week-long road trip.  I also finally tied down the last couple loose ends of the plan for my trip to Slaughter Canyon Cave and Guadalupe Mountains in a few days.  Should be fun and hopefully I won’t get eaten by a mountain lion (just kidding, they are an extremely rare sight and I won’t be there at night when they’re active).  Anyhow, I suppose I should cut myself off there and leave you with the customary poetry (an old favorite of mine). Enjoy.

 

The Road Not Taken

by Robert Frost

 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

 

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that, the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

 

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I marked the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way

I doubted if I should ever come back.

 

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

 

Corpus Christi Carol

Hello once again and thanks for stopping by.  I am pleased to report that this entry finds me in much better spirits than some of my postings of the recent past.  As a team, my teammates with the RockHounds and I have been on a bit of a roll and, as of yesterday, found ourselves in first place in the Texas League’s Southern Division.  Although we lost a close one yesterday to Corpus Christi, we battled back from a slow start and had a chance to win it in the ninth inning so it was another fairly well played game.  I’m not sure what effect that has on our place in the standings either, but obviously we are well positioned going forward.  I have personally been performing much better of late, mostly due to adjustments made to my delivery allowing me to throw strikes more consistently.  I have also been catching some of the breaks required to put up a sustained stretch of good performance, which has been a welcome change and sort of plays into the “make your own luck” mentality.  Hopefully it will be more of the same for the next five weeks as the regular season winds down and the playoffs potentially begin.

 

Away from the field, I spent the past week with my parents and my brother, who drove down to Midland from Minnesota for the most recent string of home games.  I hadn’t seen my mom or my brother since January or my dad since March, highlighting one of the major drawbacks to the minor league lifestyle: the immense amount of time spent away from family and friends.  We managed to take in the Odessa Art Museum, which I was mildly impressed with, but other than that there wasn’t really much time for extracurricular activities unfortunately.  It did prompt me to plan a future visit to the Museum of the Southwest, which I ran into accidentally when I made a few wrong turns on the way to the library the other day.  Other than that I have just been chipping away here and there at the Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry and redirecting my reading time into MCAT study time on the off-chance I decide to take it this offseason to have in my back pocket for the future.  With that, I will leave you with the customary poetry, three short poems in lieu of the standard one, and bid you enjoy.

 

Because You Asked about the Line Between Prose and Poetry

by Howard Nemerov

 

Sparrows were feeding in a freezing drizzle

That while you watched turned to pieces of snow

Riding a gradient invisible

From silver aslant to random, white, and slow.

 

There came a moment that you couldn’t tell.

And then they clearly flew instead of fell.

 

 

Fog

by Carl Sandburg

 

The fog comes

on little cat feet.

 

It sits looking

over harbor and city

on silent haunches

and then moves on.

 

 

The Eagle

by Lord Alfred Tennyson

 

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;

Close to the sun in lonely lands,

Ringed with the azure world, he stands.

 

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;

He watches from his mountain walls,

And like a thunderbolt he falls.

 

A Quick One

Hello out there in cyberspace. In what is beginning to be my habitual manner I will begin by apologizing for the interval between my previous post and this current one.  The ephemeral nature of my relationship with this blog this year has been both a direct consequence and perfect example of the up and down, the push and pull, that constitutes not only a minor league season, but a career and in fact the entire minor league experience.  This season has been, for both better and worse, an adventure and at some of the more trying moments I have wandered off of some of my oft-tread paths to seek solace in other areas.  One of the casualties of my sometimes absolute frustrations with baseball or its affect on my other pursuits has been the consistent authoring of blog entries, but I will rely on your understanding and consideration in this regard.  The state of frustration I devolved into had a lot to do with bad luck, but also aggravation at my own marginal effectiveness.  I had a string of appearances in which I allowed a lot of both earned and unearned runs, which was a bit of a mixed blessing.  It was frustrating from the perspective of giving up runs when I feel I pitched well enough to not allow runs to score, but at the same time it made me come to grips with the fact that the real issue was me not performing up to my own standards and not anything else.  Since having buckled down and made a few adjustments with my pitching coach, I have gotten back some confidence, had a few good outings, and feel much better about things on the field in general.  More of the same to come hopefully.

 

Away from the field of play, I have been devoting my time to a number of pursuits.  Foremost among these has been attempting to breathe life into the two year old giant sequoia that I have been growing, but it would appear my efforts are for naught and I may be forced to start over on that front.  I am fairing only slightly better with my other plants, a venus flytrap and a sundew, so it looks like I’ll have to pin my botanical hopes for the season on the monkey puzzle seeds whose germination I am eagerly awaiting.  Also, for the first time in a while I pulled the ol’ brushes out of the boxes I packed in Akron two months back and spent some serious time working on a new canvas, which I must say I am delighted with given my meager allotment of talent.  The planning of a trip to Carlsbad Caverns National Park to hike Slaughter Canyon and tour the wilderness cave of the same name before continuing on to Guadalupe Mountains National Park to hike either the Devil’s Hall or El Capitan/Salt Basin trail has also been far more involved than I had initially planned on.  The headline for the pas week, however, has to be arriving in Corpus Christi on the previous road trip just in time for myself and Ryan Edell to see our good friend and fellow ex-resident of apartment #123 Erik Stiller off after his recent release by the Houston Astros.  The situation is obviously a difficult one to see a friend go through, especially twice, and especially when his only backup options are a Princeton degree and an acceptance letter from Columbia Law School.  Anyway, I’ll call that good for now and leave you with the customary poem.

 

A Quick One Before I Go

by David Lehman

 

There comes a time in every man’s life

when he thinks: I have never had a single

original thought in my life

including this one & therefore I shall

eliminate all ideas from my poems

which shall consist of cats, rice, rain

baseball cards, fire escapes, hanging plants

red brick houses where I shall give up booze

and organized religion even if it means

despair is a logical possibility that can’t

be disproved I shall concentrate on the five

senses and what they half perceive and half

create, the green street signs with white

letters on them the body next to mine

asleep while I think these thoughts

that I want to eliminate like nostalgia

0 was there ever a man who felt as I do

like a pronoun out of step with all the other

floating signifiers no things but in words

an orange T-shirt a lime green awning

 

Down in a hole

Hello again and welcome back.  Last time I checked in the all-star break was looming and I was eagerly awaiting a trip to Carlsbad Caverns National Park for some back country camping and cave tours with my fiancé.  Well, the break has come and gone and so has my trip to Carlsbad.  Unfortunately for my fiancé and me, American Airlines continues struggling with the mechanics of running an airline so instead of my fiancé getting into Midland at 1 pm, driving to Carlsbad and hiking out to a campsite in the park, my fiancé had her connecting flight cancelled, rode in with a couple strangers from Dallas, got in much later than scheduled and we ended up camping the night at some roadside RV park and campground.  Not exactly what we’d hoped for, but at least we got there and the cave tours were well worth the hassle.  For those of you who haven’t seen it, the natural entrance to Carlsbad Caverns is quite a sight to see in its own right, and the mile long hike down into the cave is well worth the hour or so it takes.  Much better than the elevator ride down.  Once below ground we took in the cave’s signature room, The Big Room, as well as guided tours of King’s Palace and, my personal favorite, the Lower Cave.  Everything in the caves is interesting and very enjoyable, but the Lower Cave tour was a little bit more strenuous, starting in a “secret location,” descending through a crevice by ladder, no floodlights like most of the rest of the cave, and some actual crawling.  Overall it was a great experience and depending on the status of my minor back injury and the weather I am strongly considering heading back to Carlsbad in August to tour Slaughter Canyon Cave, one of the many wild, backcountry caves in the park.  Speaking of my back, it has been a bit sore for the past few days after my last appearance but should get a test off the mound today, be it in the game or the bullpen and I’m fairly optimistic that it will be a non-issue.  Other than that I have just been enjoying the time with my fiancé and dodging raindrops at the field.  On a final note, regarding the questions about the off-field situation that has been reported involving the Akron Aeros, I don’t know or haven’t heard anything that hasn’t been reported publicly.  Given that and the nature of the situation, I feel it would be inappropriate for me to comment or speculate on it so this will be the last time I mention it.  I hope everybody had a good 4th of July and as always I will leave you with a poem.

 

27,000 Miles

by Albert Goldbarth

 

These two asleep . . . so indrawn and compact,

like lavish origami animals returned

 

to slips of paper once again; and then

the paper once again become a string

 

of pith, a secret that the plant hums to itself . . . .

You see? — so often we envy the grandiose, the way

 

those small toy things of Leonardo’s want to be

the great, air-conquering and miles-eating

 

living wings

they’re modeled on.  And the bird flight is

 

amazing: simultaneously strength,

escape, caprice: the Artic tern completes

 

its trip of nearly 27,000 miles every year;

a swan will frighten bears away

 

by angry aerial display of flapping wingspan.

But it isn’t all flight; they also

 

fold; and at night on the water or in the eaves

they package their bodies

 

into their bodies, smaller, and deeply

smaller yet: migrating a similar distance

 

in the opposite direction.

Ready to (All-Star) Break

Hello again and welcome back.  Since I last checked in there has been a flurry of activity on the field, with myself getting quite a lot of work, the ending of the season’s first half and consequently the beginning of the second, and a ridiculous game last night that went 15 innings and included three scoreless innings by RockHound position players.  I have always felt like position players should all get a chance to pitch once in a while so they know how hard it is, but we had two position players combine for three innings of one hit baseball, picking up both the win and a save and quite frankly made it look easy.  So much for that thought I guess.  I myself have been throwing a lot lately, which I really like.  My arm always feels better the more I throw and when I’m getting into games my delivery tends to be more consistent so that has been a definite positive.  My results have been up and down a bit, however.  I’ve had my fair share of good outings, but I’ve also had a pretty rough one and then last night’s outing which makes me wonder if I sleepwalked under a ladder, through a black cat sanctuary and crashed into a mirror.  Just couldn’t buy a break in any form and ended up giving up a run, which happens but doesn’t make it any less frustrating.  Anyway, I’m pretty happy with how things have been going lately and with the all-star break starting tomorrow, hopefully I can finish off strong if I throw today and come back refreshed after the break.

 

Speaking of the all-star break, I have been eagerly awaiting it for a couple weeks now.  My fiancé will be coming into town and it will be the first time I’ve seen her in almost two months so that obviously is a major selling point.  Also, we will be taking the two days to make the three hour drive out to New Mexico to take in Carlsbad Caverns National Park.  We’re going to do some back country camping the first night and then spend the next day taking in the caves and seeing the bats fly out at the end of the day before heading back to good old Midland.  Other than eagerly awaiting the all-star break, I’ve spent most of my recent down time being a vegetable playing Civilizations IV and dabbling at some painting.  Since I’m not that great at it, painting can get a little infuriating at times, but on the whole I find it really enjoyable so I’ll keep at it and update you on the outcome.  Anyhow, I’ll call that good for now and leave you with the customary poem.

 

Sailing to Byzantium

by W. B. Yeats

 

That is no country for old men. The young

In one another’s arms, birds in the trees

–Those dying generations–at their song,

The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,

Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long

Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.

Caught in that sensual music all neglect

Monuments of unageing intellect.

 

An aged man is but a paltry thing,

A tattered coat upon a stick, unless

Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing

For every tatter in its mortal dress,

Nor is there singing school but studying

Monuments of its own magnificence;

And therefore I have sailed the seas and come

To the holy city of Byzantium.

 

O sages standing in God’s holy fire

As in the gold mosaic of a wall,

Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,

And be the singing-masters of my soul.

Consume my heart away; sick with desire

And fastened to a dying animal

It knows not what it is; and gather me

Into the artifice of eternity.

 

Once out of nature I shall never take

My bodily form from any natural thing,

But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make

Of hammered gold and gold enamelling

To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;

Or set upon a golden bough to sing

To lords and ladies of Byzantium

Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

 

My Back Pages

Hello again out there in cyberspace and sorry to have made my absence between blog entries so extended.  It was my genuine intention to keep everything updated on a weekly basis, but as the time to post an update rolled around I was put on the disabled list and wasn’t much interested in getting on and writing about it.  It has been a frustrating period of time since I last posted and I allowed myself to get bitter and didn’t really feel like talking or writing much about the experience.  In any event, I’ll make it a point to get on here and post updates regularly from now until the end of the season, my midseason resolution if you will.  Since I last posted my head has finally stopped spinning and I am finally pretty settled into the routine of daily events that happens everyday in the A’s organization.  This has actually been harder than it would seem at first blush.  Baseball players are creatures of habit and one of the most important elements of being successful is developing a consistent daily routine to follow for every day of the season. Changing organizations means a change in when and how some things are done, which means adjusting a routine I’ve done every game for the last five seasons.  I’m finally getting pretty comfortable with everything though.  I have also reached the point where most of the loose ends from my time in the Indians organization have been tied off and the concomitant scurrying around appears to be a thing of the past.  The combination of these things has allowed me some time to get out and explore…**pause to find proper adjective**…err…warm?… Midland, TX.  I haven’t really (how do I put it?)… found a whole lot yet, but hopefully with a little more poking my nose around I’ll find some points of interest (I refuse to count either he Petroleum Museum or George W. Bush childhood home).  There are three national parks within four hours driving time and I am planning on taking in one of them over the all-star break.  Also, in what might be the least surprising development of the decade for anyone who has read this blog before, I managed to locate the Midland Public Library and obtain my 8th different library card for those of you keeping score at home.  While it certainly isn’t the Akron-Summit County Public Library (very, very few are), hopefully it will have enough reading material to keep me occupied, although the way I’ve been crushing books lately it might be close, haha.  Recently I have gone through Richard Russo’s Bridge of Sighs (excellent), Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses (outstanding, but a definite chore), Jack Kerouac’s On the road (very good) and a few poetry compilations.  My next undertaking is How Rome Fell, which I’ve had for a few months now and am excited to get underway with.

 

I think that should be sufficient for now, but be sure to check back soon for updates on the on-field action and all the off-field goings on.  Until then I’ll leave you with the customary poem and an extras to help get caught up from the hiatus.

 

Be Drunk

by Charles Baudelaire

Translated by Louis Simpson

 

You have to be always drunk. That’s all there is to it–it’s the only way. So as not to feel the horrible burden of time that breaks your back and bends you to the earth, you have to be continually drunk.

 

But on what? Wine, poetry or virtue, as you wish. But be drunk.

 

And if sometimes, on the steps of a palace or the green grass of a ditch, in the mournful solitude of your room, you wake again, drunkenness already diminishing or gone, ask the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock, everything that is flying, everything that is groaning, everything that is rolling, everything that is singing, everything that is speaking. . .ask what time it is and wind, wave, star, bird, clock will answer you: “It is time to be drunk! So as not to be the martyred slaves of time, be drunk, be continually drunk! On wine, on poetry or on virtue as you wish.”

 

Born Late

by David Dodd Lee

 

A block of soap

carved to look like Pan

 

and that’s just what came in the mail

 

a volcano under those flip flops

 

kisses spilling off the water-wheel

 

Green becomes a stillness leftover in the late-born effluence

of a decade’s worth of smoke and flat beer

 

(I can’t get any air)

 

because there was no acoustic guitar

 

just dust scraped off an anxious moth’s wings