Living the dream pt. 1
“You ever watch a dream manifest? There’s nothing like it.” (Big Dreams – Meek Mill, 2012)
I’ve been here a little over a week and life is good. There are definitely big moments that occur as a dream manifests. Emotionally charged moments when you feel like you’re on top of the world. The day back in July when I found out the Williamstown Wolves officially wanted me to come play for them was like that. A super high feeling for an entire day. Those highs fade though and what you’re left with is something better. Living the dream feels like a subtle satisfaction in every moment. Everything’s easier because you made it happen. It isn’t extravagant. It isn’t like a shot of adrenaline, more like a steady dopamine drip. It’s in your eyes, clearly brimming with energy, yet controlled with the discipline it took to get you to that moment. Almost 2 full years after I made it my goal to play baseball in Australia, I am living the dream!
Australia is one interesting place, that’s for sure. Vegemite, drop bears, footy, and driving on the left side of the road are just a few of the aspects of life here I’m still adjusting to. One huge brain explosion moment was when I was attempting to figure out what cardinal direction I was going using only the sun as I took a train into the city. I had everything worked out, it was a couple of hours after noon and the sun was setting towards the west like it always does. If west (where the sun would have been setting if we were at the equator) was at 3 o’clock, the train was headed at about 11. Clearly, we were going north east. Not in the southern hemisphere. Had all my thinking flipped on its head. Actually, now that I think about it some more, I probably didn’t have anything correct all along. Man, it can get confusing down here. Like when you’ve been looking at headlights coming at you from the right side for fifteen minutes and all of a sudden it hits you that you knew something was wrong all along and it’s the side of the road everyone is driving on lol. Add driving a manual transmission into the mix plus all of the poisonous animals down here and I’m lucky to still be alive 9 days in ;).
In all seriousness, though the cultural differences between the USA and Australia are relatively minuscule compared to cultural differences between other countries, there has been quite a bit of adjustment on my part. That’s what makes traveling so fun! Besides those adjustments, my journey over here has gone wonderfully smooth so far. A sleep-filled flight, fantastic host family, and super welcoming baseball club all made the transition to life here quite easy. I live in a suburb called Montmorency (physically impossible to say without an accent) and it’s about 30 minutes outside of the city. They don’t call it downtown, we either say the city or the CBD (central business district). Despite the fact that it’s only the third official day of spring here, there is a ton of green everywhere. People say it’s chilly, but a partly sunny day around 15 celsius is paradise to me in early spring.
Two incredible things happened yesterday. I threw my longest outing in almost 18 months (2 innings) and the Western Bulldogs won to move on to their first Grand Final in 55 years! It was a beautiful spring day, around 20 celsius, and our club played a charity game in the memory of a friend of the club who died a few years back. There was a bunch of fundraising for people with asthma and encouraging people to become organ donors because the person we were celebrating saved multiple lives by being an organ donor. I helped out with food, serving people who wanted snags (sausages) with onions from the grill. After a junior game and some festivities, we finally got the senior game going. I was set to toss the 3rd and 4th inning so I had a bunch of time to warm-up. I felt some nerves for sure, but an underlying feeling of peace won out. This is why I came over here. On that mound yesterday, I felt right at home. 2 ip, 0 h, 0 r, 0 bb, 1 hbp, 5 so. As good as I could have hoped for. My delivery still feels weird due to all the new movements I’m working on. There is a ton of room for improvement. That’s what will make these next few months extremely fun, working to get back to my previous level of pitching and improving beyond it.
After the game, once the raffle and MVP presentation wound down, a lot of the guys headed into the clubhouse to watch the Bulldogs game. Playing against the GWS Giants, who they lost to by 25 points back in May, with a trip to the Grand Final on the line. These Bulldogs are the ultimate underdog story. They finished 7th in the regular season and beat the 3-time defending champion Hawthorne last week. The Bulldogs last premiership (championship) was in 1954. They’re a scrappy bunch, using unrelenting hustle and effort to overwhelm their opponents. These guys want it. The game last night went back and forth, but in the final quarter, you could see the determination in the Bulldogs players. They put away a breakaway goal with a few minutes left to go on to win 89-83. Total euphoria. The biggest football moment of these players’ lives. All because they believe.
Sons of the west,
We come out snarling,Bulldogs through and through.
Bulldogs bite and Bulldogs roar,we give our very best.
But you can’t beat the boys of the Bulldog breed,
We’re the team of the mighty West!
(Western Bulldogs Club Song, 2016)
Much, much, more to come. Grand final is October 1st. Opening day is October 2nd. Suerte.