Monday, May 4, 2009

Baseball in Slovakia

For the last month, I have been practicing with a Slovak baseball team, "The Last of the Mohycans". Most of the players on the team are from Bratislava and one of the towns nearby. We have had practices most on Sunday afternoons. I got on the team because one of my former students asked me and my friend and colleague Jon to play. Our first tournament was Sunday.

We played in Nitra, which is about an hour east of Bratislava. One of the players picked Jon and I up at 9 in the morning and we picked up other players along the way to Nitra. Our first game was against Topolcany. I am not sure where Topolcany is but it is farther away from Bratislava than Nitra.

My teammates gave me nearly all the essential equipment for baseball: a jersey, a hat, and pants. Yet, I lacked baseball shoes, baseball socks, and a belt. If I looked as bad as I felt, it must have been pretty bad. I wore a pair of long white socks that my brother left for me when he came and a very old pair of running shoes.

I started out playing second base and eventually moved to first base. First base was a better choice for me because it's a little easier for me to catch the ball than to throw the ball.

The game didn't go as well as we hoped. Our team could not hit the ball very well. Our pitchers had many walks and our defense had some silly errors. We lost 14-7 in six innings, I believe. It was a closer game than it seems. We had a chance to win until the last inning when they put four more runs onto the scoreboard (they didn't actually have a scoreboard, or a pitcher's rubber).

The second game was much better. It was so much better than I felt bad for the other team. I stopped caring about the score when it was 20-2. I know that we scored 2 or 3 more runs and they scored 2 more runs. Their pitchers couldn't throw a strike to save their lives. I felt bad for them. They couldn't hit the ball either (kind of like our team in the first game).

I am unsure when our next tournament will be, but it will be in a few weekends. We many things to improve before the next games. 1-1 is not a bad start for the season.

I will say that stepping onto the field felt strange. After my last game at Sexton six years ago, I never thought I'd play another inning again in my life. It felt good to hit the ball again. It felt good to throw the ball to first to get an out. It felt good to talk a little chatter while waiting for the pitcher to throw the ball. Too bad I was chattering in English and nobody could really understand what I was saying, except for Jon.

For those who want to call the Lansing State Journal and post my stats: I batted 3 for 4 in the first game with 2 RBIs, a double, and two runs scored. I was satisfied with my stats. In the second game, I batted 1 for 3 with two BBs, a HBP, and 2 runs scored.