Ok, so I'm a good three weeks in and I have seen a lot of stuff. I'm starting to realize how truly blessed I am to be an American citizen and to have many things that people in this country don't have.
A high school game was played on our field before our game the other day. I noticed half of the players had no cleats, no hats, and they were using the wrong gloves for the positions they were playing. The two teams were sharing four batting helmets among them and nothing was in good condition. It just makes me think about being able to set up a foundation one day to help kids like this that aren't equipped with the proper gear.
In our world, a lot of the time it's ‘oh, my daddy will buy me this or my mommy will buy me that.’ That's how we often think, from our elementary years to college years. Shoot, some people even longer. But these kids don't have that option out here. They aren’t handed anything. I realize everyone is grinding just for their next meal. It opens my eyes to see things in a new light. I'm glad I get to see it first hand though and not just hear about it. Being here in Colombia only makes me want to travel more and see what every country has to offer.
(photo caption: Rice, beans, fries, and chicken skewer. Our field with the high school players playing. View from atop of our apartment. My roommate Juan getting internet in the lobby.)
1 of 4 photos
Anyway, since the last time I wrote, our team hasn't been playing the best baseball. We always seem to be right in the game up until losing it in the ninth. We basically don't have that killer instinct that all great teams have. We haven't really dominated a team like I feel we can.
With that being said, I have been able to keep myself pretty focused on some of the goals I am trying to accomplish during this winter season. My goals aren’t too centered on statistics, but more about doing the little things correctly which will eventually help improve my statistics. I'm concentrating on having quality at bats, improving my pitch recognition, and strike zone awareness. I'm picking up on pitchers’ tendencies and little things they do to tip off pitches. Defensively I'm trying to become smoother and more fluid as well as be able to position myself accordingly to each particular hitter. Things are going well right now but we are only 13 or 14 games in.
Recently we got a new outfielder named Jolbert Cabrera. Orlando Cabrera’s brother. I'm pretty sure he's old (40-ish) but he brings a new fresh attitude to our team having played in the big leagues. At first, I thought he was kind of weird. He was jumping off the walls in his first game with us. He had more energy than me and he's twice as old.
Jolbert told me I need to get livelier and be louder during the game. I told him he needs to calm down - jokingly. He then told me he played with David Justice and that ‘DJ would get on people all the time if they weren't vocal.’ I then proceeded to tell him ‘I'm tranquillo (chillin) bro.’ I can be into the game without acting like a 10-year-old cheerleader who just got her first pair of pom-poms. Plus, I know David Justice personally and have had many baseball-related conversations with him since high school (Poway High stand up!), so his name-dropping didn't impress me. I later learned that Jolbert is a cool dude and wants to win as much as I do. So I respect that.
I realized that in this blog, I haven't talked much about the Colombian players on the team, so I figure I can tell you about a couple now. We have a player they call Henry. He is from Colombia. I don't know if Henry is his first name, last name or nickname but that's what they call him. This dude is like 5-foot-5 and looks like the comedian Kevin Hart. Let me start off by saying he is a nice guy and is always joking and having a good time. Henry has probably played in like a total of three innings of our 13 or 14 games. He has speed and is primarily used as a pinch runner. Here is the thing about Henry. Henry is ‘that dude’ that is always geared up from head to toe. I can't tell if he's here to play an ‘And1’ pick up basketball game or if he's here to run the bases.
I took a glance at Henry the other day in the third inning while I was at first base and he was on the bench. Homeboy was wearing an Allen Iverson basketball sleeve, taped up wrists, two ankle braces, sports glasses (Horace Grant style), a silver chain around his neck that makes Pujols' chain look small, glacier sized earrings in each ear, and the shiniest cleats on the team. I'm mean, he looks fresh out there but it's all for nothing because he doesn't even get to play. If anyone could get drafted or signed just on how they look, it would be Henry. All joking aside, I like how he goes about the game because he's always staying warm, ruining sprints, and is ready when his name is called. Henry is the man.
Then we have ‘Pataca.’ I don't know if that's how you spell it, but that's what the Colombians call our left fielder. Supposedly his first name is Jonathan. Weird I know, but it almost fits him because in my own opinion he is most like someone I would play with in the States. 'Pataca' is about 5-foot-10 and is continually smiling. When I first met him, he thought I spoke Spanish and started rambling off to me, I had no idea what he was saying at the time but I felt like he was telling me a story. I later found out he was trying tell me about a guy he knew that looked like me. But the point is for him to immediately be open to talking to me like that was refreshing.
Pataca is a laid back player with some skills a lot of players on the team don't have. You can tell he wants to perform at a high level. How I know this is because the other day he asked me if I thought him being 22 would make him too old to be picked up by a major league team. It was refreshing to hear his passion for baseball and his want to succeed and be signed. I told him ‘no’ of course and that if he kept working hard who knows. Like that kid from "Angels in the Outfield" used to always say, "It could happen." Ok, that’s corny but I thought of that movie at the time. Anyway, Pataca is a great teammate and I'm glad I get to play with him.
Other than that, everything else is going fine. No, you know what, it's not going fine! I still don't have internet in my apartment. Every day I ask our manager, our GM, and everyone I need to ask, ‘So, what's the deal with the internet situation?’ Every time, the answer is, ‘We will have it taken care of tomorrow.’ It has been three weeks. I'm extremely frustrated, but you know what, it's ok. I have a plan. I'm going to hold out, and not play until I get internet. I'm going to tell the GM and manager ‘I'm not suiting up until I have the proper full bars of wifi in every single corner of my apartment!’
Please, who am I kidding? I'm too nice to do that and plus look at where that got DeSean Jackson this year.
Until next time. Tranquillo.
Follow me on Twitter @Xavier_Scruggs.
© 2011 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.