Wie sagt man ‘Excellent’ auf Deutsch? -> Ausgezeichnet
Ausgezeichnet. Awes-geh-psych-net. Excellent. I attempted to say it for the fiftieth time, without the help of my German friend B driving his fresh and clean BMW. There. I got it. I said it right. He looked over at me with a smile and we shared a laugh over my collective struggle with the word over the past 24 hours.
A little over two months into my time in Germany, I definitely have the basics of the language down. I can greet people, count, and pronounce most new words I come across without people wondering what language I’m actually speaking. The middle third portion of my time here will make or break me in terms of my language improvement. I know in Granada, it felt like my Spanish ability stagnated between weeks #2 & #10 and then blossomed fully during my last month there. Things may be a bit different here because I had a two-word knowledge of the language before arriving, but I believe that as long as I continuing practicing Deutsch on a daily basis (reading, listening, writing, and speaking), I will hit that accelerated gains portion of the learning curve and move well into intermediate level status. Now, here’s an English/Deutsch combo about my short trip to Frankfurt last weekend:
Vor ein paar Wochen, our main catcher, B, told me about how he was going to Frankfurt to umpire a 2nd Division Bundesliga doubleheader und fragte, ob ich mit ihm reisen wollte. We would drive down the evening before, blieb eine Nacht in einem Hotel, sehen die Staft ein bisschen, hit up Chipotle, and I’d see B in action on the field. It all sounded ausgezeichnet zu mir so of course, Ich abgesprochen.
We left for Frankfurt on Friday, June 9th, after my coaching duties finished in Ennepetal. It would be an easy drive. Kein großer Stau. And my favorite part was that we were driving as the sun was going down. Perhaps we’d be in for some gorgeous sunset views. Ich war nicht enttäuscht. Our route took us into the heart of the Hesse region and the highway was often winding its way over sizeable valleys. It felt like driving through West Virginia and the Appalachian “Mountains”. The highway was consistently over 300m in elevation and there were mountains around us that topped 600m. Die Wolken am Himmel waren in einer perfekten Position zum Aufleuchten in einem brillanten Display, als die Sonne unterging. I couldn’t have asked for better scenery.
Gleiches mit die Musik. There weren’t many good radio stations in the large radio wave desert between Ennepetal and Frankfurt so we went to our backup plan, my iPod. Luckily, B shares a love for Spanish music that may even top my own. Ich ging direkt zu diesem Genre und traf Shuffle. Highlights include:
- Despacito Remix by Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee ft. Justin Bieber
- Lumbra by Cali y El Dandee ft. Shaggy
- Súbeme la Radio by Enrique Iglesias ft. Descemer Bueno, Zion & Lennox.
Once we got closer to Frankfurt, however, it was time for BIG FM. It’s the radio station for Deutschlands biggste Beats. Since it was Friday night, they had a DJ mixing and the jams were on point. Wir haben die Lautstärke aufgedreht und bumped the beats as we arrived into the city.
B got us a reservation at Bliss Hotel, im Herzen des Stadtzentrums, in der Nähe des Hauptbahnhofs und des Finanzviertels. A two-bed room was 72 euros for the night, a very reasonable price for a nice hotel in that location. We took our backpacks up to the room, washed up a bit, and then headed out for dinner. Ich wählte unser Abendessen Restaurant, Pizzeria 7 Bello, based on ausgezeichnete Bewertungen I saw on TripAdvisor. It was also going to be a value play, at least I hoped. Ich bestellte tortellini mit prosciutto, pizza mit the basics plus arugula, und ein Glas Wein. All for 15.50 euros. A steal. Auch unglaublich lecker. B picked out a winner in the hotel and I picked out a winner in our dinner restaurant. Wie sagt man ‘That’s how we do’ auf Deutsch?
Nach dem Abendessen gingen wir eine Weile um die Stadt, taking in Frankfurt at the midnight hour. Ich war überrascht, wie ruhig die Stadt war. Few people walked the streets, only a couple of bars/restaurants were lively. We weren’t trying to party, but if we were, we would have had to find the party ourselves. It wasn’t going to find us. There was a lot of ruckus going on in the red light district though, based on what we saw/heard a couple blocks away. I don’t get it. I could rant endlessly about the perils of transactional attempts at intimacy. It’d be a waste of time though because I don’t think it would change anyone else’s opinions about it. Unser langer Spaziergang kam zu Ende und wir machten es wieder in das Hotelzimmer für eine Nacht des tiefen Schlafes.
We woke up at around 900 so we could grab some Frühstück kostenlos
in the lobby before it closed at 1000. Es war mein erstes Mal eating breakfast since our spring training trip to the Netherlands. Free food is free food and I will take it when I don’t have convenient access to a grocery store. It was a nice spread though, eggs, bacon, sausage, smoked salmon, veggies, lots of fruit, cereals, yogurt, toast, spreads, you name it. Ich fühlte mich wie eine Schnecke nach dem Essen, but that was okay because I wasn’t going to start warming up immediately upon getting to the baseball field. B drove us over to Frankfurt’s field early because he likes to have time to relax and chat people up before gearing up in his umpire attire.
I love the first few moments when you see a new baseball field. You take it all in and begin to get a feel of what the game is like in that particular place. Like most German baseball fields converted from football pitches, left field was very deep, while right field was pretty shallow. The infield was all dirt and you could barely tell there was a mound because it blended into the rest of the infield. So much for being on an island all by yourself haha. Es sah aus wie ein großer Hügel, obwohl ich nicht selbst auf mich selbst stand und die Komposition davon fühlte. When we arrived the Frankfurt Eagles were taking live batting practice swings on the field and their opponent, the Darmstadt Whippets, were only just arriving themselves. Ich war aufgeregt, um eine Bundesliga Division 2 zu sehen!
The doubleheader began and it quickly turned into a sloppy affair on Frankfurt’s side. A few walks by the Frankfurt pitchers and many errors in the field led to a lot of runs for Darmstadt. The final scores were 15-3 and 15-5, both games going to Darmstadt. I got a short workout in between games in the Frankfurt batting cage, a full body warm up and some explosive throws in order to become a little bit better than I was the day before. Beim Essen etwas Essen am Grill anch dem Training, I met the Darmstadt pitching coach. He’s from San Francisco and was a very lively fellow. He was extremely surprised I was playing in one of the Germany regional leagues instead of the Bundesliga and mentioned that I should check out an international baseball tournament held in Prague at the end of June. Es wäre eine ausgezeichnete Gelegenheit, gegen eine bessere Konkurrenz zu spielen while meeting a bunch of fellow American players using their talents overseas. Anyway, Darmstadt pitched pretty well, throwing a crafty lefty in game 1 and a righty in game 2 with a 3/4s arm slot, pretty good velocity, and movement. I was pleased to see that I would stack up well against their guys. Darmstadt is in a tie for first place in their league and that makes me feel good about where I’m at with my pitching. Pitching in the top league in Spain next summer is within reach 🙂
B called a good game behind the plate in game 1 and then took the field umpire role in game 2. He wants to umpire in the United States one day, in the big leagues, and I am all for his dream. Unsurprisingly, he relishes the umpire opportunity he has here in the Bundesliga. It’s a lot of fun for him. One crazy situation in game 2 was when there was a hard slide into 2nd base by a Frankfurt player. Apparently he cleated the Darmstadt shortstop who then proceeded to give the guy a strong shove in retaliation. Chaos ensued. I believe three people were ejected in total, the Frankfurt player who did the slide, the Darmstadt shortstop who did the shoving, and some random Frankfurt player who yelled at the home plate umpire. B did he best to keep things under control and the situation was resolved a few minutes late. Ende gut, alles gut.
Oh, the food. Ich hatte das beste Sandwich, das ich je in einem Ballpark hatte. The grillmaster at Frankfurt made his specialty, a supreme Philly Cheese Steak sandwich. Man oh man oh man. The meat was tender, juicy, and the cheese sauce tasted amazing. I only had one, and it left me wanting a lot more.
Nach den Spielen fuhren, B und ich in die Innenstadt, um der ‘ONLY CHIPOTLE IN DEUTSCHLAND’ zu finden. Eating Chipotle was on equal footing with all the other reasons to visit Frankfurt for the weekend. I bought two burrito bowls, one for there, one for taking home to eat the next day. My goodness, I love Chipotle. Once we finished our burritos, it was time to head back home. Ausgezeichnet. I finally got it on the drive back. Pronounced perfectly without a correction from B. I’ll take those small wins with the language whenever I can get them. Besser und besser, langsam, jeden Tag.
In a complete reversal compared to my time in Australia, I’ve been taking comfort in pitching here. It’s easy to feel disconnected from everyone when you’re an outsider and are struggling to speak the native language the way you expect to. On the mound, I’m one with everything. It’s the one thing I can count on. My sanctuary. Even when I get back from a trip to Italy ten hours before I’m set to start on the mound (STORY ON THE WAY 🙂 ). My escape. Where I’m not judged based on my 4-year old equivalent language skills. Where I have a connection with my teammates that goes well beyond words, into the realm of things not yet seen. It makes everything more than worth it <3
I have no problems sharing my pitching stats. There’s nothing to hide. Here they are:
4 G, 9 2/3 IP, 2 H, 4 BB, 1 HBP, 20 K, 0 R, .72 WHIP, 0.00 ERA, 3.72 BB/9, 18.6 K/9, 5:1 K to BB ratio, .067 BAA, .200 OBP, .267 OPS