Closing Credits

     Hello everyone, another week has passed as we are now three games from completion of another Fall League. I can’t believe the six weeks have passed so quickly. Seems like days ago everyone was just meeting one another during the initial week of workouts in October. This year has been a very long season, very draining both physically and mentally. I for one have gone through a lot in 2008. My goals were not reached, and that alone sums up quite a bit when your in higher levels of baseball. It’s not class A anymore, this is the level that guys really push for to get over the last hump and play in the Major Leagues. I faced a great deal of adversity, in trying to figure out how to simplify the game and pitching for that matter. I could go on and on about what went wrong, but rather I choose to take the positives and dwell on the good. I walk away from this season and just transfer thoughts to a new slate next year. I cant wait for spring training, as it will be here in no time.

     This year’s team was a fun group of guys. Everyday was filled with laughter, which makes the dragged out moments pass nicely. Arizona is such a wonderful climate to play the game, so coming to work daily was a simple task to do. One thing about Arizona, Phoenix to be exact is the landmines that pepper the valley freeways. Not real landmines but rather the speed limit enforcement cameras. I was caught last year in spring doin a cool 82 when flashes went off. Months later I recieved my ticket accompanied by my photo driving the car unaware of my $250 mistake. These roadside cameras are all along the 101 loop and 10 east/west. The city was nice enough to place yellow warning signs of the coming trap, so be carefull when you come visit in the spring time. Personally, I think its a great way to keep traffic at a moderate 65 mph, however, it’s not fun to get caught and have everything processed and filed by computer, since you never even talk to a police officer, and still get a ticket. Getting caught by a robot camera computer is a frustrating thing, so just keep it at 65.

     I look foward to the next few months I have off. Its good to get away from baseball, especially after ten straight months of the game. I plan on working hard when Im at home since I have a bit of work to do going into next year. Im confident in my abilities and look foward on sharpening my skills in the time I have off. Ill always remember this AFL, since history was made, the election of our next president. There are those songs that the radio stations out here seem to keep playing over and over. I wont miss that broken record, but Ill remember early clubhouse mornings when I do hear them.

     Well, It was such a great experience getting to write this blog and share my weekly thoughts to all who read. I have never done anything like this, and I learned how to write to an audience in the process. I would consider writing again, and think it would be more in depth to write an in-season blog. Whatever the case, I enjoyed my time on the keyboard, especially now since I’m half typing half watching Rambo on the tv. Ahh, good times. Well thank you so much for checking in on my entries and the upbeat comments. Until next year, Joe Woerman, signing off.

Veterans Day

     Howdy Ho folks, Joe signing in again from Arizona, the most exciting place on Earth. Since I last wrote a week ago, a few very important things have happened. We as a nation voted in a new president, I bought a new laptop and kinda sorta adopted a kitten. Yep Im a temp father of a baby cat, since I live next to a cat/kitten rescue, I jumped in and decided to take personal care of a lil cat until he gets stronger and healthier. Ill discuss that later. The most important agenda on the plate right now is the fact that its Veterans Day. The government actually declared the spelling of Veterans Day with no apostrophe as the official spelling of the Federal holiday. Veterans Day is a day of remembrance, a day to refelect on all personnel who served this country. Since the holiday was implemented at the end of WWl, millions of American men and women have devoted their lives to military careers. In the process some have been wounded phsycologically some have been wounded physically. Some have given their lives on the battlefield. Those are the ones I’m especially greatful for, those are the people that make this country shine, wrapped in the colors of red white and blue. To have a loved one leave the safety of our beloved land, board a plane or ship and enter a hostile environment says so much about our orgins in the constitution. To defend ourselves our interests, and allies across the globe takes a mortal commitment. I think our country is one of a kind, and the only country capable and willing to exercise this promise. I get goose bumps just thinking of all the bright white headstones that cover acres and acres of American soil. This country doesn’t run from events that are intended to shake our existance. When Pearl Harbor was attacked, a lot of Americans knew this country had some cleaning up to do in the war torn regions of that time. America went through some tough times, but eventually won. Same with September eleventh, payback to those responsible and to theose who try and cough down our commitment to global security. We have risen to the occasion, and cleaned up some bad people, but there is still a lot of work to be done. Yet, everyday their are new names posted of American soldiers, sailors, pilots and other serviceman who lose their lives in this nasty engagement. I flip to that section daily in USA Today and read the paragraph about Americas latest loss. Some guys I play with appreciate the efforts by our military, some don’t. I for one do with all the respect in the world. My grandfather was killed in action in Korea in 1953. He was a great fighter pilot who was admired by his squadron mates. He lost his life one day in April and has never came back. Just like many have done before him, and many will do after. So if your out and about today and happen to run into a Vet, or current serving soldier, please tell them THANK YOU.

     Almost seems pointless to write about anything else with the company of what I just wrote, but the show must go on. AFL is into the final two weeks of play. Time is flying by as the off season approaches. The Javelinas are playing pretty well, but continue to lose some close games. Its been a long year to this point, especially for me, but I can say it is still a lot of fun showing up at the clubhouse and doing the daily work that is necessary to be prepared to play.

     This weekend my sister and girlfriend came out to visit. They didn’t catch any games since they were too busy playing with furry little kittens. That is how I ran into the kitten I’m currently caring for. His name is Mr. Pickles. (I did not name him) Sweet little guy, but you have to watch them all the time or next thing you know, he might be chewing on some
train5.jpg important documents like my paycheck or going to the bathroom on my pillow. Its tough work watching a twelve ounce baby cat, thats why I have come to the conclusion that a human baby is easier than it look. Just kidding, not even close to ready for that status.  While my gusts were here, we also visited Sprinkles, a gourmet cupcake bakery in Scottsdale. Never would of thought I’d pay four dollars for one cupcake, but I did and it tasted so good. Tasted like sugar and four hundred cents. We then visited Maricopa Live Steamers, a fully working miniature model railway in north Phoenix. It was the second time I had been their, but even better this trip. I highly recommend a trip to this place even if your not a train enthusiast. Fully operating trains to smaller scale run track layouts all over the surrounding desert. You can ride these small trains, since they are just big enough to sit in or on, depending on the car you choose. The whole operation is funded by members and volunteers with no help from the city. I think its such a cool thing to experience so next time your here to see the Mariners in spring action, make sure you look them up.

     Its been a usy week, with elections kittens cupcakes and baseball. Just like to sign off for now saying thank you to all that give me the chance and confidence in the freedom I was given. Thank you for letting me play the game I love and write a blog to tell about it. Bye for now………

Election Day

     An important day has arrived, time to elect a new US leader. I went ahead and voted already, using an absentee ballot. As I read the ballot over, proposals and candidates, it dawned on me to think how lucky I am, we are, to have the chance and voice/vote for whoever we deem worthy. Our country is a free fun living culture with the most precious land on the planet, US North America. Some countries are so behind and backwards in their private affairs. The people of these countries don’t have the privilege of our freedoms and are stuck with the same old heads of state with the same old dark existence to the rest of the world. So, thank you to all that give me the chance to vote, and well, just be an American.

     Besides November 4th, Fall League is moving right along. The short season out here is more than half way done, as we have two and a half weeks until its over. Some players are racking up nice numbers to boost their season totals, possibly making themselves break through expectancy levels and get put on their 40-man roster. Many players in the league have reached their protection years, years that their organization is obligated to protect the prospect or gamble with other players, hoping you wont be rule fived to another anxious team. The rules are laid out in the contracts and they seem to make more sense in that smaller font. Anyway, those players in this situation have a golden chance to shine, and earn a spot on a Major League roster by playing in Arizona. I was so thrilled last year when I received a phone call informing me of my placement on the roster. It was right after Fall League. Many guys here will get the same great news that I recieved when the phone rang that day.

     The Javelinas record as of today is 10-13. We seem to be in a losing slide here, dropping the last six games. Our offense is a really lethal combination of all hitting traits. We seem to get runs in bunches at times, often rallying past other teams late in the game. Right now, it seems to be the other way around. I believe luck has as much to do with baseball than a cow has to do with a grass field. Obviously it takes great skill for a pitcher to throw the baseball to a location relative to the hitter. Placing unbalance to his hand eye coordination in hitting the baseball, is all baseball is. Once the pitch leaves your hand, there is no controlling its ultimate destination 60 feet away. The hitter swings and to his best ability trys to square up the ball, and put it in play. Seems simple, and it is at this level, but the concept is so clear yet challenging and thats why many kids and grown-ups alike thrive to play the game. Now back to the luck thing, once pitch meets contact, the path of the ball can vary so greatly on the angle, speed, and force applied to the ball. A blowout game with homeruns, off the wallers and walks is plain and simply bad pitching. When the hits come about by squeezing through defending infielders, thats when it hurts most, maybe scoring a run late in the game with two out. I’ve done it many a times. “Why couldn’t the ball have bounced seven inches that way.” I often ask myself this question. Had it bounced my way, maybe an inning ending threat, double play or better. But the fact that your groundball traveled its intended path past the close leather of a infielder glove, makes you grit your teeth. Tough to swallow, but thats Baseball, and luck will always deliver its highs and lows.

     Wow, feel like I just spent an hour typing the basics of baseball, and don’t think that I fully explained the luck thing, but you get the idea. Until next time folks. Good Luck!  

October sky

     Hello sports fans, another week has passed, as we are 7 days closer to the Peoria Javelinas winning the AFL championship. The Javs have been on a tear since I last wrote winning 4 more games before we got a few days off. This past weekend, I went home to San Diego for a brief moment, to attend my familys annual Oktoberfest. Yep every year my fam hosts this party for friends and neighbors. This year was so much fun, seeing everyone dressed up in some rediculous costumes. There was even an 89 year old woman dressed up like a football player, with enough energy to probably play in the street. HaHa, it was a great time. So I flew back after our game on Saturday, enjoyed the festivities that night, then flew back Sunday night. Kind of a tight series of events time wise, but lucky for me, San Diego is just a 45 minute flight. My travel bag was the tsa’s worse nightmare, since it contained my costume components. You know, wig, fake mustache lab coat etc…I dressed up as a mad scientist but ended up looking more like Einstein. Stupid me, I left the whole costume at home, so now I have to dream up something else for an adventure to Scottsdale for the real Halloween night. Im thinking of wearing a Raccoon costume, but with my luck, some car will hit me. Maybe this time next week Ill be explaining what happened Halloween night. How some guy yelled at me to “Get outta my trash cans!!!”.

     Moving on… Id like to explain my daily routine here in AZ. I usually wake up around 7:30 and drive to the stadium. Once there, I make a golden brown waffle, lightly smothered in peanut butter and syrup. I sip a hot coffee and attempt the crossword puzzle. I normally flip through a magazine, Yachting magazines and gaze over multi-million dollar ships I only dream of driving. By that time its out to stretch I go playing light toss and running before batting practice. You can find all the pitchers on the right field line fine tuning their pitches, spitting seeds and basking in the warm morning sun before the boringness of BP starts. Batting practice is my least favorite thing to do on a day to day basis. Too much standing around, but someones gotta do it. After watching my fellow teammates wack the ball around the yard for an hour, we all migrate back into the clubhouse to munch on an assortment of goodies. Cold cuts, cereal, salads or maybe another waffle. There is a solid hour and a half before everyone starts to trickle out to a 12:35 start. Down in the bullpen, all kinds of mischief is happening. Actually, its pretty PG-13 and laid back down here with this group, but Ive seen some wild activity in some past bullpens, like mini bonfires, or booger eating for money contests. Seems like the game flies by and is over before you know it. Now if I were pitching that day, I try to plan an inning in advance to start moving around and getting the blood flowing before doing some stretching. Phone rings, they call your name, and you start to get loose. Thats the fun part.

     After the game, the clubhouse is mostly a fun atmosphere since the Javelinas win most of the time. Post game food is laid out and music is playing at a medium decibal levels. I usually grab some 5 lb weights, do some shoulder exercises, ice then shower. Sometimes I jump in the pool and do some arm exercises, thats always refreshing. The day finally comes to an end and I drive home and fly my rc helicopter in the yard. Eat some dinner, watch some tv go to bed, then do it all over again the next day. Seems like a lot for one day, maybe it seems like an easy lifestyle, but I assure you its not. Dont get me wrong, I have a lot of fun doing what I do, but during the season, 22 straight days of this schedule can wear on you very quickly. mix in early buses and flights to distant cities, and you can see why its a grind. But one things for sure, its not 139 degrees in a war zone on the other side of the world. Its Baseball, and its the best life I could have ever asked for, except the booger eating which I have never done.

     Well Im off to bed, got an early day tomorrow. If anyone has requests or questions, Id be happy to answer them, even if they are questions about rc helicopters. Well, see you for now…. 

Baseball and a few scary movies

    Hello all, hope everyone is in as nice a climate as Phoenix right now. Its getting a little cooler out, but the heat still seems to sneak up on one quickly.  I played golf the other day with some fellow Mariner employees, and I must say, had some great holes. I also had some emotionaly devastating holes, the kind where you want to throw your whole bag of clubs to the bottom of a Goose-poop infested course lake. I overcame this aggression when I realized I wasn’t even playing with my own clubs. Its making a simple adjustment sometimes, that can make everything. For me, that sand wedge seems to be my problem. But as soon as I made some swing corrections, the flag pole was in real trouble. So passing the time here off the field is not a hard task. I plan on playing some more golf soon, and seeing some movies….

     This week I wanted to touch on some movies, cause I cant seem to think of much to write. I know that Tuesday (oct 21) the movie that changed my life forever, in the form of pure terror, is hitting the shelves on DVD. This movie that I would like to share with you is not for the grandparents, or say, anyone with a heart condition. The suspense that is created from the very start is enough to make you sweat like a used car salesman who just got caught flipping back odometers. Dadadadadadadada (drum roll).. the movie is The Strangers. You might have already heard of it, you might not have, but please let me be the first to recommend this terrifying thriller. The movie itself, is a very straight foward plot. Liv Tyler is one of the main characters, and does a great job horrifying me. Not too much gore-ish graphics, but where that lacks, its made up with creepy music and heart stopping surprises. I cant wait to purchase my own copy.

     The next movie I would like to touch on is Quarantined. I watched this movie at the theaters last week. Must say, its scary but not as scary as how much ticket prices went up at the box office. Why doesn’t the government take a cut of that admission price, and build more Nuclear power stations or upgrade freeway rest stops? Crazy. Once your in, get a bucket of popcorn and soda, your looking at over twenty bones for one person. Whatever, everything is more expensive than yesterday and that trend doesn’t seem to be changing. Baseball games are pretty rediculous to go to as well. I play the sport, im an entertainer, but I dont put the price of the ticket beyond a lot of peoples reach. That is why Minor League games are such a blast to attend, cause you have money left over at the end of the night that you wouldn’t had you gone to a big league game. Its almost like an event once or twice a year for some folks, for others, season tickets are a way of like. Personally, I would lower prices a smudge, and make players do more autograph/meet and greet sessions. That would make people want to come out and see their favorite players up close like Santa at the mall. Oh yeah, Quarantine was spooky and made me want to get my shots updated on the spot, even though im not a fan of needles. Grab that special someone and see these two flicks.

     There isnt much else going on with AFL. The games seem to be flying by yet we still get good hard work done in the morning. The Javelinas are cruising through games and hitting the ball around the park very frequently. Its always fun to watch your guy’s put up a five or six spot in some random inning. Explosive offense is really all I can describe it as. About as explosive as the theme song from the movie Fletch. (download that musical masterpiece) Well im going to pop in my ALL-TIME favorite movie, Predator and enjoy a bottled water. Hope you do the same. Until next time, Joe and Ebert, out. 

Guest Blogger: Rob Johnson — Settling In!!!

  Howdy Fans and Friends!  Rob Johnson here with the Seattle Mariners and Peoria JavelinasThumbnail image for rob_johnson.jpg. I come to you on this Saturday night from my home in Peoria, AZ.  Its only fair to give a little background about myself and my family. So here goes. I am a proud native of the great state of Montana. I grew up in a small town, Whitehall, Mt,(pop. approx. 1000) and later moved to the big city of Butte, Mt,(pop. approx 30,000). Growing up in Montana, baseball is not the highest of priorities for young athletes, but my dream of making it to the big leagues dates back as far as I can remember.  One reason that baseball seems like a far and distant dream in  Montana is that we don’t even have high school baseball.  Interesting, but true.  Consequently, I played American Legion ball two months out of the year.  After leaving Butte, I walked on to the Saddleback Junior College team in Southern California.  I chose not to sign after being drafted my first two years at Saddleback and went on to play at the University of Houston. After three years of college baseball, I felt I was ready to start my career as a professional ball player. A few of years later I married my lovely wife, Kristan, and purchased a new home here in Peoria.  We share the house with our newborn son, Lane and our two dogs.  We really enjoy it here in Peoria, however, we hope to some day own and live on several acres out in the country. The three previous seasons I spent a majority of my time in Triple A with the Tacoma Rainiers while enjoying a couple of stints in the big leagues with the Mariners!

      Now that you know a little more about me and my career up to this point, I would like to take a moment to talk about my present team.  The Peoria Javelinas. We just finished our second week in the league and I feel like the guys on the team are starting to know each other more. We are a pretty close knit team for the little time we have spent with each other, which makes for a great atmosphere.  The coaches are full of knowledge and have been more than willing to pass it down. As far as the players are concerned, this is the most athletic team I have ever been a part of. We have great pitchers (which I really enjoy catching), lots of speed, good power, and our infielders can really pick it.  At this point, we are above .500 and playing very solid. I expect nothing but good things from all the guys on the roster and wish them all the best of luck.  

      It was a pleasure to report a bit about myself and the team from Peoria and I will be happy to answer any questions.

Take Care,

Rob Johnson

Week already

     Hello to all again. It’s a week into games now, with my team, the Javelinas, sitting well at 3-3. In the few games that we have lost, our bullpen has one hiccup which leads to the go ahead run late in the game. That has been the trend at least, me included, giving up late runs, I’ll touch on that later. The Javelinas offense is powerful and seems to execute when it counts. It’s been an exciting first week, getting to know one another better, and better each day.

     Since the team got off on a hot 3-0 start, a lot of Pig pride was circulating. The dugout was flooded with pig calls and swine sounds when a baseball went over the wall one night. “Oink Oink Bro” and a fist pound. Like nothing anyone has ever seen before. All this Javelina Pig uproar has actually prompted and anonymous source to buy a Guinnea Pig as a team mascot. Ive never laughed so hard when I saw “Chuckie” for the first time. He has a nice cage, with private “pigloo” as sleeping quarters. His black and white spotted fur makes him look more like a cross between a cow and TeddyBear hamster, rather than a pig. He has not helped deliver a win yet, but his positive energy keeps the team glued.

     As for how the results have been, us Seattle crop of guys have shown much. Greg Halman and Carlos Truinfel have been torching the ball at the plate. Rob Johnson has been lethal on base runners. I saw him hose a few runners one game, making the attempted stealers look full of shame. As for the pitchers, we have held our own. Lots of quick outs, putting up zeros. I have not been so lucky. I finished the week with two innings, one of which I gave up tying and go ahead home runs. Pitching much less frequently than in the season, one wants to succeed at every scrap they can get. It seems so easy to think of getting three quick outs in a single inning. I have gotten three quick outs in many innings since I have been playing. After giving up two runs, Its so much tougher to swallow knowing that you cant redeem yourself for another few days. Working hard in between and nailing a bullpen can only help until next time.

     I would describe my season in 2008 as disappointing, as I did not achieve what I really wanted to achieve. I learned a lot over the past few months. Dealing with failure and stitching it with success at times, but never feeling like I ever got on any rhythm. Several things lay in contribution to this, one of them being some control issues, as I had quite a few walks. BB’s are always a problem, since your giving the hitter a bag. Pitch counts soar and balls do to, as your “walk” rounds third and crosses home. Its the worst thing to a pitcher, and Im really devoting myself to better that column. Im lucky to have Fall League as the place where I can pitch and prove myself. Five weeks to get more on track, and execute what I have to work on.

     As for life away from the field, Arizona is boasting some of the most perfect weather right now. Not doing much in it but baseball, however its nice to jump in the pool and play with the dog when it’s 89 degrees with the sun setting. As for me, Im going to go enjoy the outside moonlight. The dog that lives near my house is playing fetch in the moony glow. There are no streetlights near the house, so light pollution is low. Full moon and playing with a Pit Bull mix. Never done that before. Well, check in again next week, Oink Oink, dont eat bacon.