March 18, 2013
Army senior catcher Andrew Johnson will author a blog entitled "Catcher's Corner" throughout the 2013 season. Johnson, a two-year letter winner, is serving as one of the Black Knights' co-captains this spring. Check back weekly to follow along with the inside happenings of the Army baseball team.
As always, Tampa was a highlight of the season as we were able to get in seven games and some good quality family and ABF time. As expected, my roommate predictions and analyses were spot on. Room 627 ran the show; shout out to my roommate Grant Van Orden. The combination of Patrick Mescher and Michael Sands disappointed, in my eyes. They showed up and their room didn't have a fridge, and continued to smell of old baseball gear all week; disappointing. After a long week in Florida we all came back with some good tans. It's a shame these tans only go from our hands to our elbows and from our heads to our neckline. Farmers tans on everybody. Along with the farmers' tans, we came away with a 4-3 record as well. We played close games against some good clubs in the three losses, and every game was within reach. Winning the close games is something we need to get better at as the season goes on. Some players continued their success and some others stepped up. Chris Rowley is back, watch out Patriot League. Jon Crucitti peppered right field with a solid doubleheader performance on Saturday. Erik Washburn gave us a quality start and solid innings out of the bullpen; he has emerged as a strong bullpen arm and possible rotation contender.
One of the most rewarding days of the break was our trip to the Yankees major league complex. The coaching staff surprised us by bringing us into the players' only entrance on our way to practice. Little did we know, we had a long day ahead of us.
We got a quick tour of the facilities and the locker room. Multiple snapshots were taken of Andy Pettitte's glove sitting on a training table. We also saw their weight room where Ichiro does not lift a single weight, yet still drops bombs during batting practice. In the locker room everybody had their phones our taking pictures of the lockers belonging to the likes of Jeter, Ichiro, Rivera and Sabathia.
We went on to practice on the big league practice field next to George Steinbrenner Field. Joe Girardi came to practice and watched as well as provided some coaching tips and advice. He watched me do catching drills, but I didn't get the call up to the majors, yet. He had some inspiring words for the team and said he is looking forward to our game up here at Doubleday, but I'm not sure why he would look forward to a loss.
After practice, Coach Sottolano let us know we would have the chance to shag Yankee batting practice and talk to some of the guys. I caught back-to-back Youkilis fly balls on the warning track in perfect outfield form. I also had a chance to talk to MLB veteran Matt Diaz and got within 10 feet of Ichiro. He's pretty intimidating for his size as he hit more home runs during batting practice than any other player.
After perfecting my farmers tan in the outfield we all went back to the hotel, showered up and got ready to go to the Yankees game that night as a team. This was Jeter's first game back from injury and we also got to see Rivera pitch in the fifth inning. But the surprises didn't end there. In the seventh inning, we were led underneath the stadium into the tunnels and up into the Yankees dugout. As I turned the corner I almost bumped into someone signing autographs. It was Jeter, but I played it cool obviously. Derek who? We watched a half inning from there with the players and were led onto the field for the seventh inning stretch and the playing of God Bless America. It was an awesome experience. The Yankees are huge supporters of the military and truly are a great organization. On behalf of the ABF I want to thank them for everything. That day will be one of my proudest and memorable in all the years of my baseball career. Now there's only one thing to do and that is to beat the Yankees when they come onto our field.
As promised I will share some of the team's rituals and traditions that date back to forever. So I'll share those with you...soon. With home games starting this week that means one thing, walkup songs. Any suggestions send them my way. Need it soon or our head manager Phil Tonseth will get angry with me and play backstreet boys as my walkup. I'm more of a Hanson guy, though, honestly. Next week I'll rate each players' song. Then I promise I'll write the tradition and ritual blog.
Be Big Time,