Kicking off baseball in 2022

My weekend at the NABA California Kickoff

I thought it would be fun to write a running chronicle of my experience over this tournament weekend. I'm sure many of you can relate. My experience may be different from yours or there may be similarities. It's baseball. 

I'm anxious to see how the weekend unfolds. This will be the start of my baseball season for this year. I've been training since early December. 

I've been looking forward to this trip to the NABA Kickoff Classic since my 2021 season ended in November. You can check out 2022 tournaments here

As it's gotten closer the excitement has built. I've gone through all of my tournament prep over the last month and am ready to go. 

Friday, January 14, 2022

5:49 am

I'm sitting on my front porch, having a cup of coffee as I look forward to my day. Already, there's been a surprise. 

Last night, NABA informed my manager that a team in our 35+ division had to drop out last minute. They had to restructure our schedule to accommodate that. 

So when I woke up this morning, there was a new schedule for Saturday and Sunday. I'm not complaining. Our previous schedule had us driving an hour between game 1 and 2. Now it's 5 mins. We will also get an earlier start. First game starts at 12:00. Second at 3:30. 

The old schedule had us finishing game 2 at 10:30 pm, 45 mins away from the hotel. The new one has us finishing around 6:30pm, 15 mins from the hotel. I'll take it.

Now I've got to get ready for a short work day. Hoping to be back home and ready to get on the road around noon. 


Thankfully, work went smooth today and I was able to finish earlier than expected. 

Car is packed, filled up and ready to go. 

Arrangements for kids, pets and the house are confirmed and a go. 

I double checked my equipment bag, bat roll, luggage and ice chest. They are all good to go. Loaded the newly made 805 bats to deliver when I get to LA. 

I'm ready to hit the road.


Arrived at the hotel and got situated. The drive was smooth driving down. At least until I was passing Glendale. Or should I say slowly crawled on the freeway from Glendale to La Mirada. It wasn't too bad. It only took an hour and 20 mins to go 20 miles. That may be a new speed record. 

If you know, you know.

Pro tip: whenever possible, avoid driving on LA freeways on Friday afternoons of a holiday weekend. Or days ending in "y". 


Visiting the restaurant attached to the hotel. It's pretty nice. Lots of decent food on the menu. Some "local to me" selections on the beer menu including 805 Beer and other Firestone selections. That's always cool to see. 

Hanging out with a group of teammates that all traveled to play this weekend. There's 5 at the table right now. Bob and I from the 805. Tommy from the Sacramento area. Tony from Phoenix and Silk representing Tulsa. 

It's a fun night of catching up and comraderie before we play tomorrow. 

Met a couple of players from the San Diego area that I've chatted with in a baseball group. They met me at the hotel and they checked out my bat collection. Always like meet people that love baseball. 

Saturday, January 15, 2022 

Game Day


I woke up and it's game day. That's 2 good things to start today. Coffee is three. 

First game is at 12:00 at California High School in Whittier. I'm scheduled to start on the mound. I start stretching and getting muscles loose early when I know I'll be pitching. 

I'm excited. Going to get some more coffee and game day breakfast (McDonald's). Then I'll come back to the hotel, relax and clear my head. 

I don't really know what to expect today.. Only five players from our original roster were able to come, for various reasons. In the last 48 hours, Bob (manager) was able to secure new players through his friendships with managers in the So Cal area. It's going to be interesting, but looking forward to meeting new teammates.

It's sprinkling out. The forecast yesterday was saying today would be sunny. They lied. Wondering if the volcano eruption changed the weather pattern. Who knows? Not the Weather Channel.

Thought: I know I can't control the outcome of the game on my own. I hope to perform well and give my team the best chance to win today. 


Just pulled up to California High School in Whittier. Excited to meet new teammates and reconnect with former ones. I definitely feel ready to get back to playing baseball. 

There is a lot of hype for the team we are going to play. I'm guessing for so many to have that impression, it must be earned. I like that, though, win or lose. The only way for me to get better as a player is to compete against higher competition. 


Well, we lost. The Las Vegas Warriors were definitely a solid team. 

There were highs and lows. I pitched a complete game (7 innings because of run rule) and lost 12-0. They scored 5 in the 3rd inning and 4 in the 7th. In the other innings, I was able to keep them off balance. It helped that our defense made some outstanding plays.

After the 3rd, we changed up our pitch calling strategy and that kept them off the scoreboard for a few innings, until they figured out that strategy. Then they started finding gaps and hitting line drives just out of reach of our defense. 

Our offense never really materialized. We had a few innings where we got runners into scoring position, but then a strike out or double play would end the rally. 

I finished 1-3 at the plate.

Final Score: 0-12

Hats off to the Warriors. Now off to game 2. 


Just arrived at York Field in Whittier. I'm glad that both fields today are close together.

For game 2, we play a team called Sonora. They are another solid squad. I played against them two years ago at this same tournament and they blanked us. 

Going into this game with reserved expectations, but anything can happen. 


Another loss in the books. Sonora is still the same dominate squad they were before. 

We got a little offense going, but they had solid pitching and defense. We had alot of runners on base but they often were left stranded after a double play or a couple strikeouts. I drove in our first run of the tournament on a single to left field.

Bob pitched and went the whole way. I rely on junk as a pitcher. Bob takes that one step farther and makes the batter wait for the ball to arrive. Like really wait for it. 

It often frustrated the hitters, but eventually, they got into a rhythm and started driving balls. Our defense was good, but they found the holes. 

I was held out on defense in case I was needed for relief. At the plate, I went 1-3 with an RBI. 

Another fun game but the loss still stings. 

Final score: 2-12


I just got back to the hotel. I didn't even head to the room when I got here. Instead I went straight to the hotel restaurant to get dinner and watch the rest of the Buffalo Bills vs Patriots game. 

I'm a Bills fan, going on 30 years. So I definitely know the heartbreak of losing. But I know things can change when you start getting the right people and chemistry together. 

It reminds me, my tournament team is still in building and recruitment mode. So while the loses aren't what I hope for, I'm definitely seeing some of our fill-in players as people to try to recruit for future tourneys.


I'm heading to bed. I'm exhausted and it looks like I'll be pitching again tomorrow. 

On a bright note: I got to watch Buffalo send the Patriots home for the offseason. I've got a smile on my face. 

Sunday, January 16, 2022


Woke up ready for a new day of baseball. My arm is a little tight but should be OK with a long warm up. Right now, I'm pounding the coffee, stretching and thinking about today's first game. 

My manager is scrambling again to make sure we have enough to play. I don't envy the position he's in. 


I'm back at York Field. Picked up my Mickey D's game day breakfast on the way and am eating it now. 

I'm getting ready to start pre game stretching and warming up. It's a beautiful, sunny day in the 70s which should help my tired arm.  Win or lose, I'm looking forward to the game. It looks like I'll be pitching another full game today. 

Bob was able to make sure we have enough to play. But unfortunately, we are going to have a lot of guys out of their normal positions. Out of 10 guys, four say they are normally second baseman. 

No worries though. After all the upheaval of the roster this week, I'm just happy to play. Our opponent is the Silicon Valley Eagles. I watched some of their game yesterday against Sonora and they have a lot of talent on the field. 

We just need to go out and do our best. 


Another complete game loss. We gave up 10 runs, but only 4 were earned. Though I'm not exactly happy with the result, I'm not really upset either I'm grateful for the guys that showed up and did their best in new positions. 

My arm did start running out of gas in the 7th and I walked the bases loaded. I ended up giving up 3 runs that inning. But I came back out in the 8th and put them down in order. I see a lot of ibuprofen in my future. A lot. 

Once again, the lineup had a lot of opportunities to score, but couldn't get many runs across. 

I went 1-4 at the plate leading off. Just missed a second hit after the centerfielder made a great running catch. I scored the first run on a sacrifice fly by our #3 hitter. 

Over all it was a fun game considering the challenges we faced. I also got to make a new friend. A guy named Douglass, a friend of Josh Nichols from the BT⚾️P group, came out to watch part of the game and discuss customizing an 805 Bat. I love talking bats.

Final Score: 2-10


Back at York Field. After three games here, it's feeling like a second home. We are matched up with Sonora again for the night cap.

After the game earlier, I stuck around talking about the process of bat making for an hour. After that, I headed back to the hotel to grab some food and relax. 

I rested for about an hour, strapped a heating pad on my shoulder and pounded some coffee. Then it was time to head back to the field. 

I'm supposed to play shortstop tonight. I'm excited because that's my natural position. At the same time, I've been called on to fill in at other positions so much in the last 6 months that this will be my first time lining up there since July.  Hoping the instincts kick in and my arm holds up.

It feels like a wet noodle right now.

Since Bob and I are the only starting pitchers on the roster, we are turning to position players to fill the role for this game. Starting this one is Andrew who has been my catcher in my two starts. 

He's kind of new to pitching and says he usually only goes an inning or two. I have a feeling, this will be his first long outing though, out of necessity. Trial by fire. 


Andrew did a great job on the mound. He gave us 6 solid innings, but errors gave too many runs away. Our offense stayed quiet again, too. 

Sonora is a solid team from top to bottom. I bet their championship game against the LV Warriors will be a battle. 

Frankly, I'm exhausted. I fielded well, but my throws didn't have a lot of juice on them. Skipped at couple to first base. Like pushing out those last reps on a set to failure. Still, I had a couple of double play turns that felt great. 

I went 1-3 batting again with a run scored. That completed one of my goals for the get a hit in each game. 

Now I'm packing up my gear for the drive back to the hotel. I'm going to enjoy sleep tonight. 

Final Score: 1-11


I'm back at the hotel fighting to keep my eyes open. I want to get an early start home in the morning to beat the traffic. Hoping that with it being a holiday Monday, it won't be heavy.

But it's LA. There's no predicting it. 

Good night. 

Monday, January 17, 2022


Well it's another travel day. My Kickoff Classic experience is over for this year. I'm going to get my fill of coffee and then hit the road for home. 

It looks like I'll be battling rain on the roadways. I'm still happy to get going. I'd rather be staying and playing for a championship, but it wasn't meant to be this weekend. 

I look forward to seeing my kids, my cats and my Lathe soon. It's been a lot of baseball in a short weekend and I've loved every bit of it. 


I made it home. Happy to be here.

On the drive home, I got a call. It was about a potential opportunity related to baseball. Since it's not a done deal, no details yet, but check back later as I may nave some fun news. 

Hope everyone had a nice weekend. 

Update: Sonora beat Las Vegas Warriors 9-4 to win the 35+ Kickoff Championship. Congrats to them. 

Take Aways

It would be easy to get frustrated by the scrambling of the roster and the losses. No doubt, every time I step on the field, I want to win. 

At the same time, baseball is about more than just the outcome. That's especially true when it comes to tournaments. There's only one winner. If you don't find the positives when you come up short, you are likely to get discouraged from going again. 

With the troubles over the weekend, I still had a great time. I got to play with a couple of teammates from the Oklahoma Baseball Club that joined us for the tourney. I got to meet and play with a lot of good ball players from So Cal that stepped in when we were in need. 

All of the teams in our division were really cool guys. There was a lot of joking between dugouts. Everyone seemed to have a good time. 

I definitely wasn't expecting to pitch two full games. Originally, I was supposed to be our reliever over the weekend. But before we even got to LA, plans for the tournament were out the door.

It was fun to take on the challenge. In 2 days, I pitched 15 innings. For reference, my longest start in 2021 was 5 innings. Would I do that on a regular basis? No. But my team needed it. So be it.

I gave up more runs than I would have liked. But, out of 15 innings pitched, I only had 3 innings where I was hit hard. That's something to build on for the future. 

At the plate, I would have liked to do a little better, but I did meet one goal of getting a hit in each contest. Facing solid pitchers on the mound, it felt good to contribute on offense. 

I struck out 3 times which I think was too much. I hate striking out. I hit 4-13 (.307), 1 RBI, 2 runs scored. I hope to improve on that, especially the average and on base percentage. 

Maybe the best part of the trip is hanging out with teammates off the field. The friendships you make through baseball can last a lifetime. 

With the start of our league season a few months away and our next planned tournament in late May, I have time to work on the things I need to. I'll be back to practicing this Sunday. 

Final Thoughts

I hope you enjoyed reading about my weekend at the NABA California Kickoff. 

I always love the tournament experience. Facing off against teams from other areas is a blast. Seeing a higher level of completion serves is a reminder of where I want to be a player. 

If you haven't played tournament baseball, I recommend it. It's some of the best baseball you can play. I hope to see you out there.

I'd love to hear about your recent tourney experiences, too. Tell me about them in the comments.


Play ball


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Very sorry to hear you had a bad experience at your tournament. I'm glad you are getting back on the field after a 24 year lay off.
      Definitely find a league team and use this as motivation.
      It can be rough coming to a new team. Especially when expectations and promises aren't kept. Don't be discouraged. Use it as fuel on the field.
      Good luck!


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