Batting Practice at Werner Park

I leave for New York in a week, and what better way to hang out with my only brother one last time than taking batting practice at a minor league stadium. Last night, Brian and I took a few cuts at Werner Park, home of the Omaha Storm Chasers (AAA for the Royals). My dad—who was a much better hitter than both of us ever were—declined to step into the box. He played some catch with us and then watched from the stands. We felt like little kids again.

I came close to putting one out. I hit the bottom of the wall in the left-center field gap. I had two other warning track shots. The guy operating the pitching machine said to me after I hit the wall, “You gotta talk to it!” Evidently, I had forgotten the art of verbal muscle in hitting. The last time I swung a bat was a cricket bat in South Africa back in 2009! Needless to say, I was pretty pleased with my performance.

Thanks, Omaha Storm Chasers for a fun afternoon. Thanks, Brian and Dad for a great memory. I love you guys!



Meet Norm, The Melodramatic Montrealer Ump


March is over, but the madness moves on

Baseball’s opening day and the NCAA Men’s National Championship are today, and the Masters golf tournament starts on Thursday. I’m sure many men in this country will have sports overload this week (albeit probably a welcome overload).

My crystal ball says:

  • The Chicago Cubs will be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention by Saturday evening.
  • Tiger Woods will not make the cut at Augusta, but will answer at least 138 questions about regarding how many therapy sessions it took before he considered himself a recovered sex addict.
  • Manny Ramirez will go on record before next Monday saying that he hates Los Angeles and can’t imagine being there past Mother’s Day.
  • And finally, drum roll please…Butler 64, Duke 63.  There will not be a Jimmy Chitwood sighting, but could Gordan Hayward do this tonight?

Cricket is Nothing Like Baseball

This past weekend I took a trip to the cricket cages for batting practice.  I learned two things: 1) Cricket batting technique is not in the same universe as baseball hitting.  2) Bowling (pitching) uses muscles a baseball pitch does not.  The next day, the right side of my torso felt like it was given a beating.

While bowling, you cannot bend your elbow as you throw.  As far as batting goes, the point is not to hit the snot out of the ball like in baseball.  Sometimes you only need to block the ball because the main point is to protect the wickets.  So often I let quality balls go by me that were, in my mind, “out of the strike zone.”  Other times, I tried a baseball swing.  Word to the wise: this doesn’t work.

I definitely caught onto bowling more easily.  I actually bowled well by the end of the afternoon.  Batting was a different story.  Very hard to unlearn nearly 20 years of baseball technique.  In baseball, you extend your arms, throw your hands at the ball, swing all the way through, and turn your hips for power.  In cricket…well, you don’t do any of that.  Take a look…

*               *               *

Bowling.  They bowl from 22 meters, which is a bit longer than the 60 ft. 6 in. from the mound to the plate.


I look like I play the part.  You wear so much armor, as I call it, that it’s hard to actually focus on hitting.


There are no foul balls, since the field is circular.  This ball, going behind me, would be in play.


My best connection of the afternoon.  Looks like a baseball swing, huh?


And finally…this is what you call a “whiff.”  I can hear my dad saying to me, “Keep your head in there!”



In the Bleachers at the College World Series

Every year when I go to the College World Series, it brings back memories of growing up in Omaha and loving this week more than any other week of the year.  It reminds me of why I like baseball.  It reminds me that a long day in the sun at the ‘Blatt with friends means more than simply watching baseball.  It makes me look forward to the day when I can take my kids to the ballpark and enjoy the sights and sounds of this great game.