The season’s first road trip is upon us, and although it might seem weird, it’s exciting. We have had five technical “away” games, but all five have been commuter trips, where we drive back to St. Lucie after the game. Today, we head to Fort Myers for our first hotel stay and essential road trip.
Now, compared to last year’s drastically long trips in the South Atlantic League, this year will be a piece of cake. When they told me this is one of the long rides (only 3 hours) I basically jumped for joy. I mean, who wouldn’t enjoy a casual three hour coast compared to an all-day 15 hour trek to West Virginia or New Jersey from South Georgia???
Road trips also mean a few other ingredients that only Minor League baseball players would understand. First of all, the actual seat assignments on the bus. It is always such a hassle trying to get a spot on the bus. Obviously, nobody wants to share a seat, but as I crunch the seat numbers with roster spots it’s clear most people have to partner up. That leads to arguing and “seat-saving” similar to a childish third-grade lunch room setting, but I guess it’s part of the culture.
Next, hotel roommates. This is another tricky situation because while you want a friend, it’s also important to choose someone compatible to your personal sleeping arrangements. Rule of Thumb? I don’t care how good a friend he is, if he snores……NOPE! I had a good friend for a road roommate last year, but his snoring would wake up the people next door! This year, I’m a little bit more savvy, and chose much more wisely.
Lastly, there’s the always endearing adventures of being in a new place and trying to get out and see what there is to see and do what there is to do in these new spots. I have a fondness of playing in new stadiums, and I enjoy the different quirks that each town has to offer. So, I try to get out and get up at a reasonable time and do something to get my day started.
It’s MINOR LEAGUE Opening Day! For all of us grinding away in the Minor Leagues, today is a special day. It’s another season, and hopefully it means we are one step closer to our ultimate goal of reaching the Major Leagues.
My season begins in Port St. Lucie in the Advanced-A Florida State League. I am very excited about this opportunity, and I’m looking forward to hopefully another successful season, both individually as well as team-oriented. Most of my teammates this year were part of the championship team last year while we were in Savannah. Obviously, we are very confident we can make another run at a ring, and it all starts today!
I want to wish all my baseball friends beginning their seasons today the best of luck this year!
I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, but I figured my trip down to Florida for spring training seemed like the perfect time to get back in blog mode. I just finished my second offseason, and, therefore, will be attending my second spring training.
For as long as I can remember, my “offseason” for baseball was either two months of playing basketball or a mere two weeks Christmas vacation before we were back on the field. Now, the offseason is essentially a five month break from any practice or mandatory workouts. This was something I needed to get acclimated to, but I took it pretty well. Wait, you mean I don’t HAVE to be anywhere until February??? Obviously, there is still a lot of offseason preparation for the upcoming season, but it was nice to have a little freedom. This is only time players can travel and go on vacations. Unless, that is, you consider the 16-hour bus trip from Lakewood, New Jersey back down to Savannah “traveling.”
However, this is most importantly the time to get in the gym and really push yourself. There’s plenty of time to be sore because, like I said, you’re not playing for five months. For the last two years, I have worked out at Tim Soder Physical Therapy with a bunch of other major and minor leaguers, who were either high school teammates or opponents.
This offseason had another twist from my previous baseball “offseasons”. I was a teacher at my high school alma mater, Bishop Gorman. Last year, I would periodically be a substitute; maybe two days a week. This is the perfect compliment to my spending habits during the offseason 😳. However, this year, I replaced a teacher there who went on maternity leave. So, for six weeks, I was a Spanish teacher for both freshman and sophomore levels. It gave me a new outlook on the life of a teacher, and not to mention how much I misbehaved when I was a freshman and sophomore while I was in school. I certainly have a new respect for those dealing with hormonal-crazed teenagers. While it was a lot of work, it was nice to have a steady paycheck (much larger than my MiLB one), and couldn’t hurt on a résumé someday.
All in all, I would say it was a pretty good break from playing, but I am absolutely excited about heading back and getting back into the swing of practicing and playing everyday. Hopefully the hard work pays off with another good season, but either way we will make sure we have a good time doing it regardless.
My summer in Savannah has finally come to a close! And it closed with a BANG! The Sand Gnats won the South Atlantic League Championship! It was the cherry on top to an awesome, albeit interesting, summer in Georgia.
I had been there since April 1, so I was definitely looking forward to coming home and the offseason. The summer consisted of anything from me getting a staph infection, to my roommate missing the bus to West Virginia, to a great downtown scene of fun every once in a while.
Just wanted to thank all the fans and people of Savannah for making it such a pleasant experience to live and play here. Hopefully though, it’s just another stepping stone in my career, but it certainly was a good beginning.
My latest baseball adventure has brought me to the miserably hot and humid city of Augusta, Georgia. However, the past four days we have driven by the world’s best golf course……Augusta National Golf Club. Yes! THAT Augusta National; home of the PGA Tour golf event The Masters. Now, I am not an expert golfer by any standards, but being a pitcher, of course I enjoy playing (even if I get my money’s worth with my bad play). Anybody who has ever watched The Masters has seen how incredible the course is. It is, by far, the most well maintained and perfectly designed course around. It would be a dream come true to get to play such a course, but there are very exclusive members who prohibit just anybody from playing Augusta National.
My pitching coach, Frank Viola, got the opportunity to play. Payne Stewart was a buddy of his, and invited him to play. As he says “It was the greatest two days of his life.” He played 36 holes, along with the Par-3 course, and stayed in the Bobby Jones Cabin. Obviously, as he was telling the story, I got more and more jealous! Either way, if anybody has a connection to play there…… feel free to send the invite my way!
Today’s Walk Out Wednesday features my younger brother John as my special guest. He is a rising sophomore outfielder at Arizona State University. He recently played summer ball for the Bellingham Bells in the West Coast Collegiate League. I asked him to be my first guest appearance on the blog, being as he’s my little brother I felt he deserved to be first. This is my Q&A with him about his walkout.
Me: Hey John, thanks for helping me out today. So to get started, what was your walkout this summer? Where or how did you find this song? What made you want to use this as your walkout?
John: I used ray bands by B.o.B. I always liked his music and knew about this song for a while until we were playing Utah this year and one of the kids on their team used it and I knew right away I wanted it as my own walkout.
Me: Nice nice! I’ve said before on this blog that the key to a good walkout is having people want to find out what song you use or taking it and using it as their own because they like it so much. Have you ever gotten a compliment from an opposing player from it?
John: Yeah a couple times this summer either the catcher or first baseman were like “Man that walk up song is sick” so I knew that it was a good choice considering I thought the same thing when I first heard it.
Me: Haha that’s awesome! So what kinds of things do you look for in a walkout? Meaningful lyrics? Something clever? Just a pump up song? Good beat etc?
John: I’m all about having a pump up song with a good beat. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a particular type of music I just feel that it needs to get you hyped up and feeling good.
Me: Exactly! It’s all about getting yourself mentally ready to hit or to pitch! Well thanks for letting us into the walk out world of John Sewald! Here it is guys….. Ray Bands by B.o.B.
This past week my parents got the opportunity to see me pitch professionally for the first time in my career! I am very lucky to have such an amazing family that can come to visit and see me all the way over here in Savannah. Of course if you know the Sewald family, we are very active on vacation. We like to do the things to do in a place or see the things to see. We’re not the relaxing type.
So, my parents and I trekked around Savannah, GA and Asheville, NC and got to try a few things that I would recommend if you ever happen to stop by these spots. In Savannah, you have to check out the historical district. It’s such an old town that it has many historical memories and monuments of our country’s long history. Also, we went out to Tybee Island and went to the famous Crab Shack for dinner, which is a very cool experience with gators and wildlife everywhere while you’re eating. The best beach area is definitely Hilton Head, though. It is a 45 minute drive out, but the golf courses, beach area, and touristy areas are a great spot to vacation.
The next trip we went on was to Asheville, which is a little town in western North Carolina in the midst of the Blue Ridge mountain range. Our hotel was a few minutes away from the famous Biltmore Estate, which has a few tours to see how elegantly the Vanderbilt family used to live like in the early 20th century. The next day, we drove maybe a half hour over to Chimney Rock. It’s a small park that has a few trails, as well as stairs and even an elevator, to the top or Chimney Rock. This amazing view gives you an overlook of Lake Lure and miles of the Blue Ridge mountains and valleys and truly is spectacular.
That’s just a few ideas as to the sorts of things to do in the small towns that we get to travel and visit throughout the minor league season and schedule. We get an amazing experience and opportunity to get to see many parts of the country with our schedules and I enjoy getting to try new things and see the special places every where we go.
This is a picture of the view we had at the top of Chimney Rock for you to see how awesome it was.