Do you like baseball??? I KNOW you do... who doesn't?
Well, this love of baseball may come from days or years of intently watching your favorite team, or it may just come from your fond memories of playing the game in your youth.
In fact, I still have a suprising number of friends and acquaintances who remain involved with the game to various degrees of impressiveness. A couple of folks in the minors, a couple involved in intense club leagues, a couple involved in coaching. Well done, guys!
Baseball is awesome. And it will only get better in the coming weeks, provided Mr. Lidge and company can figure a way to duct tape the leaky hose that is their poor attempts at closing. Go Phils!
But this entry is not about the Phils, and it is not, so much, about me. This despite my nagging fantasy of writing a short novella detailing my attempts to get back into shape over the coming months in a desperate misguided attempt at trying out as a pitcher for a minor league team before I turn 30, ahem, I mean, 20, next May.
I really do want to do this, and while there is essentially less than a zero percent chance I would be able to garner interest from said minor league team's coaching staff, there is a good chance that I could get myself back into what I would consider a "respectable" form of throwing around upwards of 70mph with a presentable (and, sadly, QUITE hittable) slider. My curve and changeup ain't nothing to write home about, but if I could manage my control issues, it would certainly be fun to go out and TRY, and get a good piece of writing out of it to boot. Also, of course, would be the added benefit of a strong motivation to get back in some semblance of "shape."
Unfortunately, I fear that in order to do this properly, I would inevitably need to get surgery on my shoulder. When we had the Madison Underground Baseball league a few years back, I pitched the few games I pitched in relative pain, as 9/10 throws were accompanied by a click in my shoulder. The pain, and click, would go away somewhat once I got in a groove, but it was always at least minimally evident. These days, an attempt at a hard, over the shoulder throw of a tennis ball, baseball, or other object is often accompanied by relative extreme, if somewhat short lived pain. I attribute this to making these throw attempts without any semblance of a proper warm up. But still. My dream, of course, is to go into shoulder surgery for a minor repair, only to have them accidentally tighten the tendons and ligaments up there, leaving me with an inexplicable ability to throw a baseball @ 95mph+. Unlikely.
But without a regimen in place yet, and without a catcher willing to spend hours helping me hone my craft, I am lost at sea.
Do other people, those who have played baseball, golf, guitar, or any other hands and arms related activity get the urge throughout the occasional day to swing something?? Sometimes, without warning, I am struck with the strong desire to swing a baseball bat, or pick up a guitar and strum out some big power chords. I recently went to the golf ball driving range to avoid embarrassing myself during an upcoming golf expedition. My success was limited to the fact that I did not end up embarrassing myself completely, and this singular trip to the range was enough to secure this fact, barely.
A few weeks ago, I was struck with the desire to swing something, and the golf ball driving range popped into my head as an appropriate destination. However, the driving range is well out of my way home from work, and in the end, do I really want to go back to doing something at which I am no good, only to be easily frustrated and annoyed in the end.
My thoughts quickly turned away from the skinny silver sticks toward the sticks of a shorter, straighter, thicker nature.... BASEBALL! I would love to go to a batting cage, thought I. But the closest one is Vince's in Newark, even further out of my way than DelCastle driving range. What to do? What to do?
The internet is often helpful for such things! So I took a look to see if there are any batting cages in the Wilmington area. Sure enough, Wilmingtonians, you have a BRAND NEW Batting cage and sporting complex, directly across from the Lowe's & DMV on Rt. 13, just outside of the city! How exciting is this???
So that day, I went to check out Thunderstix. They have four cages each of which offers baseball or softball pitching, from slow pitch action to upwards of 70mph baseball pitches. The system is newly purchased, and definitely the nicest one I've seen. Also, they have three batting/hitting tunnels, which look great.
For me, this new complex is perfect, because it is literally directly on my way home. So I made my initial stop there at 5:08, having left work @ 5. I went in, played three rounds of hitting, and made it home about 15 minutes later than I might normally arrive. Perfect!
When I got there, I was the only customer, which is just how I like it. Robert Banner, owner of Thunder Stix and head coach of A.I. DuPont softball, is a very nice gentleman, who seems dedicated to providing a quality experience from batting cages, lessons, and areas to practice pitching.
I have been back once since, and hell, I may go back today! On my second trip, I jumped my speed up from 60 to 70mph, and I must say, I am hitting now better than I have in my whole life. This can be attributed to: a.) a pitching machine is easier to hit than live pitching for many reasons; and b.) my hitting has always been notoriously horrendous, such that any level of acceptable contact would qualify as "better than ever." Still, I am happy to be able to go in there and make contact and let off some steam. I could never, in a million years, try out for a minor league team for any position that requires hitting without being cruelly laughed off the complex. Should I go through with trying out as a pitcher, I will be politely asked to leave, quickly. But the laughing won't start until after I've left (I hope).
I took an extra round of swings, and then the aforementioned owner was kind enough to give me a free token. I wanted to say "Thanks Rob, but I am already exhausted!" But my pride took over and I accepted the token in gratitude and took my additional swings.
Overall, this is a great place and you should definitely take the time to check it out! Patronize the establishment, and help ensure its success. Wilmington needs a good batting cage, and now we have one! Get to swinging. Play ball!
THUINDER STIX Baseball & Softball Academy
Batting cages & Quality Instruction
4060 N. DuPont Hwy
New Castle, DE