Major Announcement

I haven’t been posting much lately, I apologize. But there has been a LOT going on in my life lately. Well I’ve got some major news to talk about. I got hired by Pro Football Focus as a Player Personal Analyst (PPA). This is probably going to consume much of my fall and will only be compounded by the fact that I’ll still be taking classes to finish my degree at the same time. So this fall, the blog is going to be on the backburner. However, I would like to continue doing my weekly picks blogs and my College Football Playoff rankings when the time is right. But my top priorities are going to be school and PFF.

So what exactly will I be doing at PFF? Well as I mentioned, I’m a PPA, which requires me to watch the game that’s assigned to me and go through every single play and chart who is on the field, where they’re aligned, what their positional designation is, and what their role is on the play. This information gets sent to NCAA and NFL teams that are clients of PFF in order to learn the trends and formations that teams like to use. I’ve already gotten some practice at this, as I’ve charted the first quarter of the Iron Bowl, the first half of the Fiesta Bowl, and the entirety of the Alamo Bowl from this past season. I’m probably going to be mostly on college teams but there will certainly be plenty of NFL opportunities. Hopefully I can move up the ladder enough to where I’ll be writing for them and talking on their podcasts and youtube shows.

It’ll be tricky to keep this blog going, but I’m going to do my best to do so and I appreciate all the support I’ve received since I started this thing back in September. The only thing I can promise out of that is that I’m going to do my best to get picks and rankings out in the fall because those were always my favorite blogs to write.

Things I Prefer Over the Pro Bowl

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For those who have followed my blog, you may know that I hate the Pro Bowl. It’s a great idea in theory, but there is so much risk involved for a pointless game that it really defeats the purpose. Just ask Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert, who hasn’t been the same since he injured his hip at the Pro Bowl a couple years ago. Plus, to try and protect players, they’ve neutered the rules so much that they’ve taken out some of the more exciting elements of football, such as blitzes and complex schemes (at least, they’re exciting to ME, that is). I’ve literally seen a Pro Bowl where the players went a couple of plays as if it were their walkthroughs. It’s bad. It’s not even in Hawaii this year, which takes away a lot of the incentive to actually attend the game for these players. So let’s take a look at a few things that are more enjoyable for me than this awful game.

1. WWE’s Royal Rumble

This one’s not really a joke, I genuinely love this event, and it’ll be on at the same time as the Pro Bowl so automatically you’ll get better TV, provided you’re willing to shell out the money for this Pay Per View. Nobody illegally streams anyway, that’s definitely not the better route to go.

2. My Own Birth

At least with this I’ll get to watch and see for myself if I came into the world exactly how my mom says I did: ass first.

3. 2 Girls 1 Cup

I don’t feel human emotions when I watch the Pro Bowl. I did feel the very real human emotion of disgust the one time I watched this.

4. Jar Jar Binks

I’ve seen the theories that he’s actually a Sith lord. It’s not as farfetched as you might think. In fact, it could’ve been that Jar Jar was going to be an inverse of Yoda, someone who appears to be “goofy” at first but it’s just an act. Unfortunately for the Star Wars prequels, it was executed SO poorly.

5. Any “Vine Star’s” Youtube Channel

Except maybe that Retro Spectro guy. Other than that, guys like Logan and Jake Paul deserve my eyes more than the Pro Bowl does, and that’s saying a lot considering the heat Logan’s (deservedly) going through.

6. People Arguing About Politics

Like I said at #3, I don’t feel human emotions when I watch the Pro Bowl. I feel anger when I watch people argue about politics. Nobody respects anyones opinion anymore, they just try to talk over each other and be the loudest in the room.

7. People Getting “Triggered” Over the Slightest Thing

It’s one thing if you had a genuinely traumatic experience. But if somebody makes a joke about being OCD and you get offended by it, go fuck yourself. It’s probably not nearly as offensive as the Pro Bowl.

8. This MLB Offseason

At least I’ll be able to get some things done while nothing happens in baseball.

9. Sportscenter the 6

God that show makes me cringe sometimes.

10. People Bitching about the new Star Wars Movies

They’re good movies. Unfortunately in this day and age, if there’s a single flaw with these movies, that makes them bad in the eyes of the “fans.”

11. People Bitching about the Game of Thrones Scenes that don’t Coincide with the Books

We get it, you read the books. I read them too. There’s some stuff in the books that sucks too, get your nose out of the sky.

12. Amy Schumer stand-up

This one might be a little harsh, I’m sorry Pro Bowl, that was a low blow.

13. The First Few Episodes of Friends

I love the Friends series. But my God the first few episodes are painfully unfunny. Once the story gets going, though, the humor really picks up.

14. The How I Met Your Mother Ending

I don’t know if I’ve ever felt more betrayed by a series finale. Luckily, if you skip the last episode, you actually do have some solid closure since you basically know everything that happened by that point.

15. People Who Debate LeBron James vs Michael Jordan

This is mainly due to how over-saturated the argument has become. It’s really obnoxious and I’d rather wait until LeBron’s career is over before I really get involved with the debate.

16. ‘Let’s Play’ Videos

The only time I’ll watch a Let’s Play video is if I’m considering buying a video game and I want to see if I’d like it. Otherwise these things are almost as pointless as the Pro Bowl.

17. New Simpsons Episodes

It’s really a shell of its former self, but that’s beating a dead horse at this point. I read somewhere that they’re ending after 30 seasons, but I don’t remember where I heard that or if it’s even true.

18. Feminazis

I’m all for equal rights for women, believe me. But there are some who take the movement so far that they give a bad name to people who are actually trying to make positive change. I’ve got no issue with feminists. It’s feminazis where I take issue.

19. People Who Don’t Follow Baseball Saying it’s Boring

Baseball can be slow at times, I’ll admit. But if you’re going to bitch about it, you’re not doing anybody a favor. Baseball is a thinking man’s game.

20. People Who Go To Comments Sections to Bitch About How they don’t like a Video or Article or any other Content

Thankfully I have yet to experience such a thing, but I’ll read comments sections for other things and whenever I read someone who says “this sucks,” I think to myself “then why are you watching/reading?” Just don’t consume it, it’s really not that difficult.

21. Trigonometry

This shit almost kept me out of college. It’s pretty much only useful if I want to measure the size of a mountain, which I don’t. I’ll just take peoples’ word for it.

22. NCAA’s Pay-for-Play Issue

Just let the kids do endorsement deals for Christ’s sake. Still not as big a mess as the Pro Bowl, though.

23. Reality TV

Shows like “Keeping up with the Kardashians,” “Jersey Shore,” and “The Bachelor/ette” do almost as much damage to the human brain as the Pro Bowl.

24. Hiking

It’s just walking up a hill. I mean I’ll gladly do it if my friends invite me, but it’s pretty low on my to-do list.

25. Any other Sport’s All Star Game

Baseball, basketball, and probably hockey (I wouldn’t know, I’ve never caught an NHL All Star Game) at least have some form of entertainment to them. MLB’s is a traditional baseball game while the NBA’s doesn’t care about defense and players go out of their way to do highlight plays.

And finally, things I’d rather watch the Pro Bowl over.

1. Get Kidney Stones

This is probably my biggest fear. If you gave me the choice of watching hundreds of hours of Pro Bowl footage and never get a kidney stone, or get just one kidney stone and never watch the Pro Bowl, I would choose the former every time.

And that’s it. Let me know what you like better than the Pro Bowl in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10. I’m starting to give up on my Patreon account because none of you are donating to it. Except my dad. Thanks, Dad!

Some Stories I Have With Each Member of the 2018 Baseball Hall of Fame Class

Before I get into this blog, I just wanted to say that nothing is harsh enough for Larry Nassar. I will get into the ramifications a little more at a later date as it pertains to Michigan State when more information becomes public. But as it stands right now, Michigan State could be facing charges in a similar fashion to Penn State in the Jerry Sandusky case. Not good.

Now on to the more positive stuff, 6 men will be enshrined in Cooperstown, New York on July 29. 2 from the Veteran’s Committee and 4 from the Baseball Writer’s Association. From the Veteran’s Committee we have Jack Morris and Alan Trammell. From the BBWA, we have Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome, and Trevor Hoffman. I won’t get too deep into their backgrounds and resumes because I already did a month or so ago. But I do have some memories of each one. This will qualify as both a baseball blog and a personal story because I actually do have some kind of attachment to each.

I’ll start with Chipper Jones, who made the class of 2018 with 97.2% of the vote. I never got a chance to see him play live in a traditional MLB game, however I did get a chance to see him play in a Spring Training game back in 2011. My high school baseball team took a trip to Disney’s Wide World of Sports for our own Spring Training and the Atlanta Braves’ facility was a part of this complex, so one night a bunch of us went to a Braves-Nationals game. That was the one time I got to see Chipper play. The Braves won the game 7-6, but nearly blew a 6-0 lead after a couple innings. I believe Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman, and Dan Uggla homered. Now that I think about it, I know Heyward did, not sure about the others. I’m not even sure if Jones played, to be fair, because I can’t find any boxscores of that game. Step up your Spring Training databases MLB!

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Next up is Vladimir Guerrero, who got in with 92.9% of the vote. I remember the first time I saw Vlad play was in 2006 when he was a member of the Angels. This was quite frankly the best game I think I’ve ever attended. The Red Sox came back from down 6-3 in the bottom of the 8th and won 7-6 in 11 innings on a David Ortiz single up the middle to drive in Alex Gonzalez from second with two outs. However Vlad was NOT a factor in this game at all. He had two at bats before he left the game with a bad back. He saw six pitches. He struck out twice. Luckily for Vlad, I knew what he was capable of going into this game so it didn’t tarnish my opinion of him, it more hyped up Josh Beckett for me, who was Boston’s starting pitcher that day. I believe I saw Vlad play again when he was with the Rangers in 2010, I’ll have to fact check that one. Just fact checked it, I did. Vlad went 3-5 with an RBI and 2 runs scored in a 7-2 Rangers win. Now that I think about it, I think that was the game I went to where Tim Wakefield got yanked before finishing the third inning. His knuckleball was just not working. In fact, another thing I remember from that is the very next day, Bengie Molina hit for the cycle. What a world we lived in back in 2010. But yeah, I got to see Vlad play twice. First time he was awful, second time he was really good. But a Hall of Fame career nonetheless.

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Next we have Jim Thome, who made the Hall of Fame with 89.8% of the vote and became the third first baseman ever to reach the Hall of Fame on his first try. It’s actually a funny story about how Thome became my favorite non-Red Sox player. I was in first grade and a friend of mine had brought in this little booklet with a bunch of baseball activities for kids our age. One of these was a word search with players’ names. I noticed that one player was named Jim and I immediately grew attached to him, thinking “wow, that’s awesome!” A few weeks later I was at another friend’s house and he had the Red Sox game on. The Sox were playing the Phillies in Interleague action and I saw the screen show a graphic of the Phillies first baseman being Jim Thome. I thought to myself, “wow! That’s the guy from the word search!” Thome had been my favorite ever since that day. I only got to see him play once and that was back in 2008 when he was a member of the White Sox. I was in Florida with my grandparents and they took me to a game at Tropicana Field. Thome was hitting third that game and he homered off of Rays starter Edwin Jackson in his first at bat as the White Sox beat the eventual American League champions 6-0. I actually have another funny story regarding this game that doesn’t relate to Thome. So my grandpa LOVES to spoil me and he got us some PRIME tickets to this game. We were sitting about three rows back from the on deck circle right by the Rays dugout. Well while I was sitting there, I looked over to the Rays dugout and there’s Johnny Gomes right at the edge fixing up his gear. Earlier that day, my brother had told me to get him an autograph, kind of out of jest. But now I had an opportunity to actually get one. My grandpa gave me a pad of paper and a pen and I walked over towards the dugout and yelled “Johnny!” Instinctively, Johnny looked up and had this deer-in-the-headlights look of “oh shit, I shouldn’t have reacted to that.” I probably had the look of “oh shit, he looked up,” so as soon as I got the chance, I held out my pad of paper and said “can you sign this?” He said no but then immediately after the Rays took the field. I didn’t get an autograph, but I was such a big baseball fan/nerd that the fact that I had an interaction with Johnny Gomes was more than enough for me. My dad thinks he’s an asshole for not taking two seconds out of his day to sign a 12 year-old kid’s pad of paper, but I didn’t care at the time and I don’t care now. But yeah, that’s my Jim Thome story.

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Finally we have Trevor Hoffman. In 2016, I did a volunteership with Major League Baseball and helped move the DJ’s stage for the Home Run Derby. A benefit of this was I had free access to MLB’s fan fest for each day they were holding it. I unfortunately missed out on Trevor Hoffman twice. The first time was for getting his autograph, as he was doing a signing when I arrived. While I was in line, his hour was up and I missed my opportunity for him. However, I learned that next up was Steve Garvey, so I couldn’t complain. Here’s a picture of me getting the 1974 NL MVP’s autograph.

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The next day I actually got that hat I was wearing signed by Fred Lynn. It’s smudged now, but I know whose it is and I never had any intention of selling it. But after I got Garvey’s autograph, I wandered around the San Diego Convention Center and saw that Hoffman was giving pitching lessons. I immediately hopped in line, but once again, the line was too long and his hour was up. So I just watched him give lessons to other people, which was totally fine by me.

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I don’t have any stories about Trammell or Morris except that my mom loved both of them, as she’s from Canton, Michigan and grew up a big Tigers fan, though I’m pretty sure Lou Whitaker was her favorite. That’s going to do it for this blog, congratulations to the inductees. I’m a little peeved that Edgar Martinez and Curt Schilling got snubbed once again, but Martinez got 70.4% of the vote meaning he’s pretty much a lock for 2019. Schilling, I’m not as sure. Let me know what you think of the balloting results in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.

A Tale from my Baseball Career

So a lot of times when I do these stories, they’re about unfortunate moments in my athletic career, whether they be concussions or failing to drill a kid. This one will be a little different, as it’s one of my prouder, if not proudest, moment in my athletic career. It’s from the same season as the one where I tried and failed to headhunt a kid for being an ass in the batter’s box. In fact, it was from the last game of the season, well for me that is. We had made the playoffs, but because I was going on a trip to Michigan with my family the next day, I would miss all of it except the first round game. This was for a rec league, otherwise there might have been a problem with my travel schedule. Knowing this, my coach had me as the starting pitcher in this game.

The first inning did NOT go well, as I surrendered 3 early runs, struggling with my command. In the bottom half, I was batting leadoff and I struck out on four pitches. I was someone who took it personally when I struck out. It basically ruined my day if I did it even once. But not today. I actually don’t remember most of the rest of the game up until the 6th inning. But I do know that I did not let up another run until the 7th and final inning on the mound.

It was 3-2 bad guys when the bottom of the 6th inning rolled around. I had been pitching my heart out for the last five innings and we were still losing and I felt responsible given that I had given up all three runs in the first. I was due up second after a kid that had struggled all season, but he was also one of those kids who was just kind of there because his parents signed him up, not because he loved the game. I remember standing in the on-deck circle thinking to myself “please get on, I’m feeling it right now and I hit so much better with runners on base.” I don’t know if that was statistically true, but I always felt more confident hitting with runners on. But for whatever reason, I was amped up for this next at bat. I expected it to be my last at bat of the season and I wanted to go out with a bang. Well the kid did the unthinkable and drew an 8-pitch walk. I’d never been more excited than when he drew that walk. I thought to myself “I’ll take it from here.” I stepped up at the plate and stared down the pitcher.

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Ball one. First pitch missed pretty badly. Next pitch came in and I fouled it back. Wasn’t a great pitch, but it looked like a strike and I was the type of hitter who would pounce on a pitch the moment I thought it was going to be a strike. If I wasn’t confident it was a strike, I didn’t swing. The third pitch missed up and away but I thought it looked pretty good there. I was able to lay off, but I thought to myself “if he can bring it down just a little bit, I can unload on it.” Earlier in that season, I had absolutely OBLITERATED a ball that was up and over the heart of the plate. I had hit that ball so hard that I dented my favorite bat (it’s actually the one in the picture above. That picture is not from the game in question, but it was played on the same field). But the ball went 300 feet and I was basically able to walk to second base with a double. I hit it so hard that the next time I came up, the shortstop was telling the outfielders to back up, which I always saw as the ultimate sign of respect at our age. Hell, I was a 14 year-old kid who just hit a ball 300 feet. Granted, the next at bat, I hit a dribbler to third and was easily retired, but still, the power was in me.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the pitcher put the ball in the exact spot I was hoping for. It was up and away, but still in the strike zone. I don’t think I could have timed it up any more perfectly. I went with the pitch and hit a BOMB to the opposite field in right. The last thing I remember from that play was the right fielder running back. I never saw the ball hit the ground, but I knew I didn’t clear the yard because nobody had signaled for a home run. So I booked it around the bases. As I was rounding second, I saw my third base coach give me the signal to come to third. I saw that the runner on first was already on his way home and the ball still hadn’t gotten back to the infield. I slid into third with my first ever clean triple (I had hit one before but it was loaded with errors). As I was sliding into third (which I didn’t need to do, but I wanted to be sure), I saw that my team’s dugout on the third base side was exploding in cheers. I had no idea how excited everybody was for this hit, as I had kind of blacked out rounding the bases. I had to come up with some sort of celebration to do after I popped up on the bag. I’m not great at coming up with celebrations on the fly, so I just clapped my hands together about as hard as humanly possible. They didn’t seem to mind the simple celebration as they continued to cheer and all of a sudden there was a newfound energy as I had just tied the game up in the bottom of the 6th (in a league where the game ends after 7 innings). The batter after me wasted no time in driving me in, as he found a hole between the shortstop and third baseman and I scored easily from third to give us the lead. That was the spark we needed, as we scored 4 more runs before heading into the top of the 7th. Our opponents looked pretty defeated after that, as their 3-2 lead had turned into an 8-3 deficit in a matter of 3 outs. Sure I let up another run in the top of the 7th, but that was mostly from good baserunning and with 2 outs, the batter hit a dribbler to me and I easily flipped it over to first to end the game. For my performance, I was awarded the game ball. Never had I been prouder of any of my athletic achievements than I was in that moment.

I later found out that while my brother and I were in Michigan, my team had lost in the semifinals to the team that would eventually win the entire league. I was disappointed, but I was proud we made it as far as we did. That’s it for another of my stories. Let me know what you thought in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon. Also, I wanted to apologize for there not being a blog yesterday. I had a VERY eventful day. My family was meeting at one of our favorite restaurants and I surprised my godson with tickets to Sunday night’s WWE pay per view Clash of Champions in Boston. As for the end of that Patriots game, the officials made the right call on that “catch,” but something needs to be done about that rule to clear things up on what is and isn’t a catch.

Why I Stuck to the Outfield

So since nothing happened with the Giancarlo Stanton trade, I’m going to deliver on my promise and tell a story from my sophomore year of high school in JV Baseball. So at my high school, we had a random long weekend and our catcher was going home to Colorado for break. The problem was we still had a game that weekend but his flight plans were pretty final. I was getting bored playing left field every day and wanted to switch things up, so I volunteered to take his place behind the dish. That was a bad decision on my part.

So before we get into this story, I need to mention the kind of physical state I was/am in. I have AWFUL knees. I inherited them from my mom. My dad, of course, has incredible knees. In fact, he once went for a 6-mile run before learning he had a torn ACL from an accident when he was practicing Brazilian Jujitsu. But I get blessed with my mom’s awful knees. My brother also has the same issues, as it is insanely uncomfortable for us to crouch or stand up from a crouched position. He went to a doctor to get them checked out once, and the doctor told him he had the knees of a 60 year-old (my dad got a similar check-up and was told he had the knees of an 18 year-old. He was in his mid-40’s at the time). So I’m assuming my knee situation is similar to my brother’s.

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Now as I’m sure you can guess, playing catcher can take a HEAVY toll on your knees. That’s why so many catchers often move to first base or DH later in their careers (i.e. Joe Mauer, Victor Martinez, Mike Napoli). Knee savers do help immensely, it almost feels like you’re sitting on a chair, but I didn’t have my own catchers gear, I had to use the bare minimum that the school had to offer. They did not have knee savers. I sucked it up, though, I hadn’t played catcher since fifth grade, when I was the primary catcher on my little league team and I was excited for an opportunity to return behind the dish. This was a bad move. Now, during warmups for practice, things were going pretty smoothly. I had a much stronger throwing arm than our normal catcher, but that was due in large part to the fact he had a bum throwing shoulder, but he was the best we had behind the dish. I sent a ball sailing over our short second baseman’s head on one throw and the coach said it was fine, the second baseman was late getting his glove up there because he wasn’t used to the ball getting there so soon. Now that I’m done tooting my own horn, it’s time to get to the good stuff: the problems I had.

So finally we did a simulated game. I’m behind the dish and throw down the one finger for our pitcher. He gives the heat and the kid at bat hit a foul ball that caught me in the arm, which of course is unpadded. I got a huge bruise and I felt my throwing arm go numb for a moment. But I was able to walk it off and got back down in the crouch. I threw down the number 1 again. The pitcher nodded and the ball was delivered low and down the middle. The batter foul tipped it, right into my athletic cup. The pointed part of my cup split between my nads and I was down for the count. I tried getting up to walk it off as my teammates laughed their asses off at what happened. I had to go down on one knee and eventually, once the pain started to subside, I had a little chuckle about it, too (you thought the painful part was going to have something to do with my knees, didn’t you? Lesson number 1, expect the unexpected).

The game itself was fine. I only let up one passed ball and didn’t have any issues with foul tips going where they shouldn’t. Thanks to my bad knees, though, I had a hard time throwing out potential base stealers despite having a solid arm. Trying to pop up from the crouch was a disaster and I could almost feel my knees cave in beneath me. It was a weird sight for me because I was the team’s leadoff hitter despite my season batting average of .121 (I had an OBP of .380, I drew a shit ton of walks, at one point walking 7 times in 8 plate appearances). You never see catchers bat leadoff so that kind of screwed with my OCD some. I think I ended up drawing another walk that game and had one of the few times I hit the ball the other way, I was pretty shitty about being a pull hitter. It wasn’t on purpose, just how it worked out for me. It was a flyout right to the right fielder, prompting my coach to say “well that’s going to screw up the spray chart.”

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That wasn’t the last time that I tried a new position and it backfired. Towards the very end of that same season, I was having a rough day. I remember it was May 10, 2012, which was my youngest brother’s birthday (that’s how I remember the exact date so easily). My roommate and best friend had gotten kicked out for poor grades and my own grades were not where I wanted them to be with finals approaching. I wanted to try out a new position to try and take my mind off things. I hopped in to play third base during practice. It wasn’t totally unchartered waters for me, I had been a third baseman for much of my little league career and knew all the responsibilities I would need to take on. I fielded a few ground balls and was feeling pretty good about my abilities at the hot corner. We then started an intra-squad scrimmage that was always the highlight of any practice. One of our players hit an easy ground ball in my direction. That is, it was an easy grounder until it hit the lip of the infield grass. The ball hit the lip, bounced up, and clocked me right in the mouth, ricocheting off my face into the third base coach’s box. That was one of the rare times I heard the head coach swear, as he shouted “oh shit!” as he rushed to my aid. I was bleeding out my mouth and my upper lip had doubled in size. That was the kind of day I was having. After that, I never again complained about being stuck in left field all the time. It was for the best.

Well that ends a painful chapter of my athletic career. Let me know what you thought in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.

My Second Concussion

This is the next installment of my personal sports stories. For the time I accidentally struck a kid out, click here. For the time I got my first concussion, click here. This week’s story is from my senior year of high school football and actually ended up signaling the end of my football career, mainly because of when the concussion occurred, not so much some life-altering decision I made. Because let’s face it, unless I lost a limb, an injury wouldn’t have kept me from playing football.

There’s a little bit of a prequel to this story, if you will. For my senior season, we were breaking in a new head coach. The last one had gotten a coaching job for a D3 college football team and the situation he’d be in was too good to pass up for his family. The new guy the high school replaced him with was installing a completely different offense and one that was about as throwback as humanly possible. We didn’t line up with any wide receivers. It was like a super wishbone, basically. Well that was a problem for me. I was full-time varsity football at this point, but i wasn’t fast at all, so that ruled out my playing running back for the team and I was kind of stuck at tight end, which we often ran two of at a time, sometimes three. I was 5’9 165 pounds, so I wasn’t exactly Rob Gronkowski on the line.

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However I did make one play against Worcester Academy that gave me hope that I could make it as an undersized tight end. Here is the play in question. I apologize for having to embed it as such, but Hudl doesn’t really offer the same video embedding abilities that Youtube does. But if you do click the link, you will see the smallest guy on the offensive line, one who has no business being on that line, dive at a future D1 player’s knees and taking him out to set up a 9-yard run. I kept doing that for the rest of the game, because let’s face it, there was no way in Hell I was going to block this guy one-on-one. He had at least 100 pounds on me and could probably bench press two of me. He wizened up to the fact that I was going to be diving at his legs every time and started burying my face in the dirt every play after that. But the fact that it worked once meant that it could work again, so any time I was in at tight end, I would dive at the defensive end’s knees.

Which brings me to my second concussion, for which this blog is about (takes me about 400 words to get to it, but whatever, I tell stories my way). We were playing Choate Rosemary Hall, alma mater of John F. Kennedy, with two games remaining in the regular season. We got blown out 59-0 as Choate’s head coach ran up the score on us at the end. But like my game at Taft a couple of years prior, I got knocked around quite a bit. This isn’t the play in question, but it damn well could have been. Watch number 75 in white in this video. I’m the kid he de-cleats at the end of the first play. The second play is me making an open-field tackle on the tight end, how did that get in there? I don’t have the play in question where my concussion occurred, but it basically looked exactly like the first video, where I dove at the kid’s knees. I was on the line playing tight end and we lined up in basically an identical formation and the defense had pretty much an identical front. Now if you watch that video and replace Worcester Academy with Choate, then you will notice I dive at #55’s legs and take him out. Well there was a slightly different line call for Choate. Instead of going straight up on me, they stunt inside, so it ended up being the outside linebacker, or #42’s role in the Worcester highlight, that came in on me. Well since I was diving at that angle, the outside backer’s knee ear-holed me and my head went ringing. Since it was such a clutter where I was, nobody saw that I got hit in the head by a kid’s knee and I didn’t lie on the ground, so nobody checked on me. I got up immediately but was subbed out for another tight end anyway. I played through the rest of the game and actually got a carry on a jet sweep late in the game, but a lineman came in unblocked and wrecked me for a two-yard loss. I got knocked around quite a bit in my football career.

I actually had no idea I had a concussion until the next day, which if you will remember from my last concussion story, was on a Sunday. I was getting my ass kicked in pre-calc and I was trying my damndest to do homework. This may have been because I was bad at pre-calc, but I could not process what I was reading. This was stuff we had been going over for a couple months now but it’s almost like the information I was reading never entered my brain. The next day, after talking with some friends at lunch about my concerns I may be concussed, one buddy noted that I had just forgotten something he literally had just said not even ten seconds prior. I checked myself in after that. Unfortunately, since I had checked myself in on Monday rather than Sunday, that would put me a day behind my concussion protocol routine, and therefore I would end up missing two games instead of the typical one by a single day. And as I mentioned before, we only had two games remaining in the regular season. So that concussion and my lack of realizing I had it ended up costing me my football career.

On a lighter note, I was kind of a rebel in the infirmary while I was being treated for the concussion. The rule for concussion recovery is you are supposed to lie in the hospital room all day, no sleeping, in pitch darkness and silence. Well, as you can probably guess, that was boring and I can only entertain myself with my thoughts for so long. I had snuck my phone in with me and streamed episodes of Arrested Development, keeping the volume low so as not to get caught by the nurses. I wasn’t very slick about it and I got caught watching the show on my phone and the nurses reprimanded me for it, but they didn’t take my phone. So naturally, I kept watching, but was a lot more careful this time not to get caught. Perhaps I have brain damage as a result, I don’t know, I can’t remember that far back.

And so ends another tale from my athletic career. I’m going to try and keep these up as much as I can on a weekly basis, but again, concussions add up and I haven’t played organized sports in three or four years. Let me know what you thought of the story in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

 

Another Tale From My Athletic Career

I got some positive reviews the last time I did this, so I’m going to try and make it a weekly thing on Mondays, since that is typically the day I have been taking off. This one is going to come from my football career.

So my sophomore year of high school was up and down. I won the starting quarterback job for the JV football team. I played football at a private boarding school called Northfield Mount Hermon (NMH, for short). If you’ve noticed the tagline to my blog, it reads “the inner machinations of the mind of a special teamer on a winless high school football program.” In my four years of high school football, the varsity team had two winless seasons (my freshman and senior seasons). This season the varsity team won three games but we didn’t have that winning mentality yet in this scrimmage against Taft, a school in Connecticut.

We had a lot of injuries at linebacker going into this game, so since I was an in-the-box safety for the JV team, that made me one of the more qualified guys to sub in at middle linebacker. Here’s me from that season.

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That just screams “middle linebacker” doesn’t it? I was playing in the middle of the defense at 5’9 145 pounds. Also, NMH was doing color rush before color rush was cool. But anyways, there was a play in the second quarter of the scrimmage in particular that stands out to me. The Taft offense was around their own 40 yard-line. They threw a quick screen to one of their receivers and I had come in unblocked. I had him all lined up and ready to make the tackle. He cuts inside and I turn in to try and wrap up. Only when I turned in, there was another receiver, lowering his shoulder into my head to block me. The hit connected and I blacked out for a moment, literally seeing stars. I know that’s a cliched term, but I shit you not, I saw stars. My legs went up and I hit the ground hard. That block sprung the screen and he ended up scoring a touchdown on the play. As I’m lying on the ground, I heard the guy who blocked me say “did you see that hit I just made?!” Not, “yay! Touchdown!” but he was looking for congratulations for his hit. My head was hurting like Hell but that wasn’t my thought process as I got up and slowly trotted to the sideline. I just thought to myself “what a d-bag.” As I made it to the sideline, many coaches and teammates came up to me and asked if I was okay. I told them “yeah, but I might need to sit out a couple of plays so my head clears up.” Concussions weren’t the major issue they are now, though they were starting to become as such around this time. I probably had a concussion at this point, but I was never one to tell someone I had an injury unless I physically could not move without being in severe pain, so I got back in there a couple of series later. I even completed my first pass when it was the JV segment of the scrimmage while I was probably nursing a concussion.

It was also during that JV part of the scrimmage where I once again took a huge hit. I was playing outside linebacker for the JV defense and Taft ran the ball to the outside. I was tracking the runner and getting ready to make a play, when all of a sudden I was on my back and I couldn’t breathe. I had again received a blindside block from a receiver I didn’t see and the game had to stop as I felt like I had a plastic bag covering my mouth. A coach later said to me he thought I had broken my collarbone on this play from how motionless I lied on the ground. Turns out I just had the wind knocked out of me. Thank God, because I was worried I was dying after that hit for a moment. I was done for the game, though, as that was two injury scares in one day for me.

My high school’s conference style was different, as we didn’t play our games on Friday nights, but on Saturday afternoons, so I often missed a lot of college football during my high school career. So later that night I was back in my dorm making up for lost time by watching a college football game, it was USC vs Colorado, I believe. I know Matt Barkley was quarterbacking USC at the time. I do remember watching him drop a dime for a touchdown to Robert Woods in this game. One of my coaches stopped by and watched the game with me and he asked me how I was feeling after the hits I took. I casually mentioned that I had a headache but other than that I was good. His eyes got wide that I still had a headache and immediately drove me to the health center, where I was diagnosed with a concussion. I was admitted overnight and ended up missing the next two weeks with that concussion. I wouldn’t consider it to be too bad of one, I just had a bad headache for about a week. I didn’t have any sensitivity to light, any memory loss or any struggles with normal functions such as processing information. But nevertheless I was concussed and it was the first time I ever had to miss games due to injury in my athletic career. Closest I had come was a pulled muscle during my pop warner days where I had to miss a practice. It was hard to watch my team from the sidelines but I was able to come back fully healthy and helped my varsity team to three victories. JV as a quarterback, not so much. I was abysmal as a quarterback.

So that’s the story of my first concussion, I wish I had the footage of those hits I took, but I don’t. But take my word for it, I got ROCKED on those hits. For my other football stories, I’ll try and get footage.

A Tale from my Baseball Career

So I literally have no idea what to write about for today’s blog, so I decided to try out a new segment where I recount some stories from my athletic career, some good, some bad. How well this blog does will determine whether or not I do more of these. I’ve always liked hearing peoples’ crazy stories from when they were athletes, no matter the level or sport, whether it be someone scoring a goal in soccer on the wrong field or when they got lit up by a future pro. So I hope you enjoy this one from my mediocre athletic career.

I was fourteen years old and playing in a Babe Ruth baseball game. If you follow my blog, you know I’m very passionate about baseball and I carried an even greater passion on the field when I actually played. I was in a lower level of Babe Ruth because, let’s face it, I wasn’t a great athlete, but I was good for that level. There have been several instances where I probably should have gotten ejected due to my on-field intensity. I’ve trucked the catcher in a league where that’s supposed to be an ejection, I’ve gotten in a war of words with an umpire over balls and strikes, and then this particular moment that I’m about to tell. Had the umpire known my intentions for this particular at bat in question, I most certainly would have been tossed and possibly even suspended, but since this was seven years ago, I’m sure the statute of limitations has passed for my suspension from Babe Ruth baseball, so I have no problem publishing it on the web.

My team from Sterling, Massachusetts was taking on a team from a nearby town called Fitchburg. Fitchburg was a much poorer town than Sterling was and tended to produce some nasty kids. I don’t remember how this game ended, or if we even won or not. I just remember that I was pitching and this one kid on the Fitchburg bench was taunting us pretty loudly and his teammates were hollering at what he was saying. I paid him no mind initially because earlier that season we had another kid get in our heads from taunting to the point where his antics literally cost us a run. This kid was probably the biggest dude in our league, he kind of looked like a 14 year-old version of Kane from WWE. I remember he was batting sixth for his team and came up to face me in the second inning. Well when he came up to bat, he tried to get another rise out of his teammates. He stood in the batter’s box, made the biggest grin as he bit down on his lower lip, widened his eyes like a mad man and started flailing the bat all over the place as his batting stance. His teammates were laughing their heads off from the dugout and, being the joyless shit that I was on a baseball diamond, I got furious. I didn’t show it on my face, but I was keeping down a lot of anger from this kid not taking the game as seriously as I did. Definitely an overreaction considering this wasn’t exactly the Major Leagues, or even AAU for that matter. But I made up my mind that I was going to throw at his head.

Now to get a sense of how physically imposing I was on the mound, here’s a picture of me from that season:

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Regular Roger Clemens on the hill, I know. I definitely struck fear in the heart of this kid that looked like he was pushing 200 pounds as a 14 year-old. And in truth, I didn’t even throw that hard, the hardest my fastball had ever been clocked at was 70 mph, which is slower than most Major Leaguers’ curveballs. But I felt like I owed it to myself to drill this kid in his stupid fucking face.

First pitch I hit the inside corner for a strike. I silently cursed myself for completely missing this behemoth of a kid and throwing a strike, though in my concussion-laden memory, that pitch looked like it was off the plate. I think the umpire may have expanded the zone for me to spite this kid at the dish. The next pitch, I missed again. And I missed so bad, I threw another strike! So now I was ahead of this kid 0-2 and I thought to myself: “shit! I’ve got him 0-2, I can’t drill him now!” As much as it pained me to do it, I decided to actually pitch to this kid. The next pitch missed on the outside part of the plate for a ball putting the count to 1-2. But now I saw that the kid wasn’t doing his stupid stance anymore, so I didn’t feel as bad about the next pitch. I gave him the high cheese and he bit and swung and missed on a pitch that was around neck-level and over the heart of the plate. He had struck out and nobody was laughing or cheering now and he kind of walked back looking dejected. So I go into an at bat intending to drill the batter, but my aim is so bad I accidentally strike him out. I like to think the baseball gods knew what I was trying to do and interfered, because let’s face it, throwing at a guy’s head is a dick move, which is where I was aiming. It’s one thing to drill him in the back, but I had every intention of head-hunting. But the baseball gods found a middle ground and I struck him out, which admittedly probably was more satisfying a victory for me than drilling him would’ve been. I learned something interesting about this dude when I told the story to a friend a couple weeks later. My friend knew the batter in question and apparently this kid had some violent tendencies. So perhaps I had dodged an ass-whooping by striking him out! Baseball gods came through for me again.

So that’s a tale from my athletic career. Do you want me to do this more often? Or did you not give a shit about my stupid unimportant days as a mediocre athlete? Let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.