Going Gray at the MSBL Las Vegas Kickoff

Ron andante suited up for the des moines grays
Little league isn't the only time your family wants to see this pose. 

A review of my second adult baseball tournament of 2022

First, I want to say thank you to John Linden for asking me to play with his team, the Des Moines Grays. It's always an honor to be invited to join a team for a tournament. I hope to play with him and the rest of the Grays again in the future. I wish them good luck in upcoming tournaments in Iowa and Kansas City.

Playing in adult baseball tournaments is something I always look forward to. If league play is the sustenance of the season, tournaments are the dessert. 

From the time I left home Friday morning to when I got home Monday night, I constantly reminded myself how lucky I am to be able to go on baseball trips like these. It's not always easy to do. Cost, time and distance can be a factor. Health, age and circumstance can stand in the way. I know there are many that would love to go, but can't make it happen. There are times I can't myself. So when I have the means and opportunity to play in a tournament, I don't take it for granted. 

I didn't take this last trip for granted either. It very well might not have happened for me. But it did and I'm very happy for that. I had a dugout full of awesome teammates, got to meet some players from around the country that I'd only talked to on social media, and I had a weekend away from the hustle and grind of day to day life. 

This was my second time going to Las Vegas. Last year I came to play in this same tournament right after adult sports were opened back up in Nevada. My experience then, while ok, paled in comparison to this year. The fields were better, there were more teams competing and on and off the field, it felt more "normal".

As I'm prone to do, I kept a narrative of my time at the MSBL Las Vegas Kickoff. You can see it wasn't all fairytales and roses. But it was still a fun adventure that I'll remember. 

A couple days before...

The next stop on my 2022 tournament play list is the MSBL Las Vegas Kickoff. Going from March 5-7, it looks to be a fun weekend of baseball. 

This will be different than the last tournament I played in back in January. For that one, I was playing with my regular tourney team, the Central Coast Outlaws. This time around, I'll be joining the Des Moines Grays 35+ team out of Iowa.

I was invited to join the Grays shortly after coming home from LA.  This wasn't a trip I planned for earlier in the year. After a week or so of thinking about it, and taking a look at my budget, I committed to going. 

I'm ready to play. I've been continuing to practice and train since I got back from playing the NABA Kickoff. My arm is good, my body is ready and my bp has been steady. Yes that was an old man joke. 

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't at least a little nervous. Playing with a new team is always fun. But at the same time, I feel added pressure to perform. I'm confident in my abilities, but baseball can be a tough game. I just don't want to let the Grays down. 

As I did for my trip to LA, I'm keeping an updated log of my experience. So we'll see how it goes. One thing I know for sure...it's baseball. So I have a smile on my face. 

Friday, March 4, 2022


I'm a bit tired. Time has been scarce the last couple of weeks so I've been scrambling to get things done. But i think I'm where i need to be. 

I've got a long but hopefully exciting day ahead. The car is loaded up and ready to go. I'm waking up with some coffee and thinking about the day ahead. I'll go in and work for a couple of hours, head home to get the car, then hit the road for the 6+ hour drive to Las Vegas. 


Finished with work. Kids are squared away and I'm ready to hit the road. 

Eastbound i-15 to las vegas
The drive to Las Vegas is a long one, but at least traffic was light.

Made it to Las Vegas. Traffic wasn't too bad. It rained a little going through Tehachapi, but was clear, if not very windy, the rest of the way. 

I might note, that the cost of gas is enough to make one hesitate. It was $5.25 in paso Robles before I left. $4.75 in Las Vegas when I got here.

Our lodging for this trip is at the World Mark resort condos on Tropicana Ave. Looks like a pretty nice place.  I'll be rooming with 3 other teammates. John, the team manager, David, and Josh Nichols, from BT⚾️P.

I'm looking forward to new friendships this weekend. And of course, lots of baseball.


I got settled in the condo. I've had a chance to relax after the long drive. Now we are heading out to dinner. 

My roommates are leaning towards Friday's at the Orleans on Tropicana. No complaint from me. It's only a block away. 

The orleans casino in las vegas lit up at night.
Friday night catching dinner at the Orleans Casino

Dinner was good. I met a couple of other new teammates too. Definitely some cool characters on this team with a lot of years playing baseball under their belt. Can't wait to get on the field with them. 

I am going to hang out at the condo and socialize a bit with my roomies. Relax and rest up for tomorrow's doubleheader.

Saturday, March 5


Up early as usual. I'm sitting outside with a cup of coffee, enjoying the quiet morning in the courtyard. While it's warmer than home is at this time of day, the wind is adding a chill to the air. I'm bundled up but cozy. 

In a little while I'll start my game day stretching routine. But for now I'm just sitting here typing as I think about the day ahead. 

We start the tournament off against the Utah Dodgers at 10 am in Henderson. The game is at Heritage Park. I'm still not sure where I'll be playing on the field today, but I'm ready for wherever the coach asks me to play. 

After game 1, we'll stay at Heritage Park to play a game against the Indy Bluejays. I don't know anything about them, but a fellow member of BT⚾️P, Henry C., is on their team, so I'll get to meet him in person for the first time.

I expect this wind is going to be a factor today.  

Heritage park field 2 in henderson
Hertitage Park field #2 on Saturday morning. Beautiful view, but very windy.

Just got to Heritage Park. Sitting in the car, eating my McDonalds Sausage McMuffins, a game day tradition. 

Josh and David are riding with me and the conversations along the way are great. I played with Josh back in October at the MSBL World Series in Phoenix. We've kept in touch regularly through the BT⚾️P group and hanging out in person again, haven't skipped a beat. 

I'm really looking forward to this game. I don't know what to expect from the team since I haven't played with most of them before. But I expect a good dugout climate based on the personalities of the players I've met so far. 

Well it's time to start warming up and see what the plan is. 

Des moines Grays team huddle before game 1
The Grays huddle for the pregame meeting before Game 1 against the Utah Dodgers.
Photo by Teresa DeVan

Wish I could say we got the win. I mean I could say it, but I'd be wrong. We got beat pretty bad.  On offense we did pretty well. The whole line up was productive at the plate and we put up 8 runs. Joe D., our catcher who plays in SLO  where I'm from, hit a big ground rule double early on. Our bats stayed pretty hot. But it wasn't enough runs to overcome the Dodgers. 

We had Jake S. starting for us on the mound. He gave up a couple walks early, but then started getting the contact he was after. Our defense made a couple errors early on, including a double play ball getting under my glove at 2B. That allowed them to extend the 1st inning and eventually score 6 runs in that half of the inning. I'm still kicking myself for that. 

The wind was reeking havoc too, blowing between 25-40 mph out to left centerfield consistently throughout the game. It made fly balls hard for both defenses and killed velocity on pitches. 

I can't put it all on our defense or the wind though. The Utah Dodgers hit with great contact and kept finding holes. Not many balls were hit super hard, but they were consistently finding gaps in the defense. Hats off to them for a good offense. 

I started the game at 2B for the Grays. After that early error, I made plays on the balls hit to me. In the 4th inning, after the game had become lopsided, I went behind the plate to let Joe have a break and rest up for the next game. John Linden, our manager, got on the mound. Unfortunately, the strikezone was the size of a tea cup, belt to mid thigh and 6 inches wide. The Dodgers put up more runs, dropping hits into the shallow outfield and just past outstretched infield gloves. The final Score was Utah 32, Des Moines 8.

At the plate, I went 2-3 with two singles batting in the 8 spot. 

Now I'm sitting in the car waiting for the next game against the Indy Bluejays. Trying to relax and reset before taking the field again. It can be hard to go out after a game like that but in tournaments, it's important to forget the last game and play with refreshed confidence. 

I'll let know know how it goes. 

Team celebrates at Hammers in Henderson
Getting dinner and celebrating a win with Grays teammates at Hammer's in Henderson.

Game 2 was almost a mirror image of game 1. We were the home team and had Jose starting on the hill. He's a hard thrower with a good breaking ball. He got in a little trouble early and loaded the bases. But a strikeout and then a 6-4-3 double play got us out of it with no damage. 

Then it was our turn to hit. Their left handed starter had a hard time getting into a groove. He walked multiple players and got hit hard when he was near the plate. I was batting in the 9 hole and he got pulled for a reliever just before my at bat. 

The reliever threw a little harder and had a little better control, but I drew a walk in my plate appearance. They finally got an out when our number 10 hitter grounded out. 

In all, we scored 10 runs in that first inning. It got a little closer in the 3rd inning when some errors and hits allowed them to scratch 6 runs across. But that would be all of their offense for the game. 

We continued to have good at bats and their defense had some errors that helped us out as well. We kept putting up 2-3 runs every inning. Jose pitched great and our defense solidified to prevent any more runs from scoring. 

Their pitcher was good, but he was allowing the frustration to affect his performance. My hats off to him for hanging in there and giving his team the best he could, coming in on short notice with a big deficit. I've been there and know it's not easy. 

In the end, we walked away with a 20-6 victory to finish the day 1-1. It felt good to get a win to close out the day 1. 

I ended up 1-3 with a walk, 3 RBI and scored 2 runs in Game 2. 

Now, about half the team is hanging out at Hammers Grill and Bar, not far from the field in Henderson. I'm enjoying getting  know the guys I'm playing with. Most are a little older, have been playing longer and have great stories of past tournaments they've played in. This type of atmosphere is one of the things that sets playing tournaments apart from league play. It's also a perk of playing with a different team from time to time. 

I'm going to head back in to the table. I imagine my Hot Hammer Sandwich is ready and I need to rejoin the party. 


Back at the resort. It was a fun day of baseball, new friends and good food.  I really like my teammates and the fields today, while very windy, were nice to play on. 

Getting ready to head over to the hot tub and relax. It's cold but I think a good hot soak will do me good. 

Sunday, March 6

View from Watermark Resort on Tropicana in Las Vegas
A morning view outside our condo at the Watermark Resort on Tropicana Ave. 

Slept well and now I'm up having some coffee while sitting in the courtyard. The wind died down so it feels a lot warmer this morning. David and Josh want to hit a grocery store this morning so I'm going to give them I ride over there in a bit. 

Today we play at 11 am at the Desert Diamonds facility in southwest Las Vegas. I've never been there, but I've heard it's an awesome baseball complex. I'm looking forward to it. 

Our opponent is the Montebello Angels. If you've never heard of them, they are a perennial powerhouse in MSBL. This will be my first time getting on the field against them. I look forward to seeing them in action. At the same time, I want to have a good showing against them. There's a possibility I'll be starting on the mound today. 

We'll see how it goes. 

Walk up to Desert Diamonds baseball complex
The walk up to the fields at Desert Diamonds Baseball Complex in Las Vegas.
10:00 am

I'm here at Desert Diamonds and I have to say, I'm impressed. This is a nice facility for baseball. You can tell a lot of pride goes into this place. I'm grateful I get to step on the field here. 

I found out, I will be the starting pitcher for this game. I'll go through my pitching pregame routine here shortly. I'm trying to just think of this as another game. No matter the outcome, I'll put in my best effort.

Desert Diamonds field #2
Field #2 at Desert Diamonds. Another beautiful view to hit by. 
1:45 pm

The Montebello Angels are as advertised. Top to bottom, they are a good team. Solid hitting, near flawless defense and good pitching. It was a pleasure to see them play and have fun at the same time.

It was a fairly close game (6-3) for 4 innings. Pitching was tough as the strikezone was tiny. Nothing above the belt was a strike. It took some time to get used to it. My slider was hit and miss, which is unusual. My curve was good and fastball OK as long as I left it outside. They crushed it on the inside part of the plate. 

In the 5th and 6th inning, their 3rd and 4th time through the order, they started hitting with ease. I came out of the game in the 7th with the bases loaded and 12 runs against me (one more scored after I came out to make 13). I don't know how many were earned, but most of them were. They kept finding the gaps. Hats off to them. Jake came in after me to finish up the game. 

At the plate, I went 1-2 with a walk, so I was happy with that. Right now I have a 7 game tournament hit streak. That might seem like a small thing, but after my tournament performances last year, it's a step in the right direction. 

We are supposed to be back here for the quarterfinal round, starting at 5:30. Going to head back to the resort to eat and hang out until it's time to come back. 

Baseball statue at Desert Diamonds
Also at Desert Diamonds, this statue was a surprise. Theres a lot of pride in the baseball experience here.
6:00 pm

Hanging out at the resort, getting ready to head back over to the hot tub again. 

Shortly after getting back after the early game, we were informed there would be no game tonight. The team we were scheduled to face backed out due to depleted pitching, so we are automatically in the semi finals tomorrow morning. 

In a way that's good. At the same time, I'd have rather played. I love doubleheaders. 

My roommates want to go out and experience Vegas tonight. I'm on the fence of whether or not to go. While I think it would be fun, I don't do great in the morning if I stay out late. And we play at 9 am tomorrow. 

But for now, we're going to head over to get a soak before deciding what to do. 

9:30 pm

The guys went out. They didn't want to do the strip, so they are going to check out Fremont Street. 

I ran down the street to grab dinner. Now I'm kicking back with my eye lids getting heavy. 

Monday, March 7


It's Monday morning. Instead of heading off to work, I'm in Las Vegas preparing for a baseball game. I call that a win. 

Once again, I'm sitting out in the courtyard, pounding the coffee and thinking about the day ahead. We play the Houston Gamblers at 9 am. We are back at Heritage Park this morning. 

I played against the Gamblers last year at this tourney and they won it. In fact, they are the only team to hit a homerun against me in a game. They are a tough team. 

After we are done playing today, I'll bring my teammates back to the resort, pack up and head back to California. No matter the results, today is a travel day. 

Ron andante at bat against the houston gamblers
Me up to bat against the Houston Gamblers in the Semi finals. I hit a 400' bomb...I wish. I struck out.
8:15 am

I'm at the park. This game is going to be tougher than it might have been. Troy, our shortstop and number 2 hitter can't play because of a work meeting. 

We have a local player that works graveyards and could work on communication. He's made it for 7 innings out of 3 games so far. No idea if he will show. 

Injuries to other players depletes us further. We are going into this game with 11.

The wind is back too, though blowing in from left center today.

No matter the outcome, I'm glad to be here and taking the field with this group of guys.  

John made everyone in our condo breakfast, so I skipped McDonalds today.

11:45 am

Well, it wasn't a pretty game on either side of the ball for the Grays. One highlight  was our pitcher Ruben's performance. He had some good zip and a good breaking ball. He collected a handful of  strikeouts. 

Unfortunately, we collected a good amount of errors in this game along with the wind turning flyballs into singles. They hit a few hard hits to the gaps that stung, including an inside the park homerun. It was rough and we had a lot of long innings on the field. 

We never got the bats going. We had hits here and there along with one inning where we were threatening to put up runs, but the Gamblers closed us out in most innings. 

I won't sugar coat my performance in this one. I was horrible. I had 2 fielding and 2 throwing errors at second base. Both throwing errors were from about 20 ft away.

Hitting, I didn't do any better, going 0-2. More disappointing than ending my hit streak was that both outs were strikeouts. I hate striking out. 

I blame it on skipping the McMuffins. That's my story and I'm sticking with it.

The Houston Gamblers, American Division champions. Photo courtesy of Pedro Rivera Jr.
At the end of the day though, I have to tip my cap to the Gamblers. They were the team I remembered them being last year. They faced the same wind and cold we did.  But their play was just better. Good luck to them in the championship game.

1:30 pm

I'm sitting in the car, preparing for the 6+ hour drive back home. 

After the game, I drove Josh and David back to the resort. I packed up my bag and loaded the car. 

I said my goodbyes and now I'm sitting here. 

This trip was full of great moments, new friendships and a good tune up for the upcoming adult baseball season. 

It provided a lot of good memories and  reminders of things I need to work on in my game. 

It will give me much to think about on the way home. 

7:45 pm

Got home a few minutes ago. The kids had a pot of coffee ready for me and the cats came running to greet me. 

I found out that the Montebello Angels beat the Utah Blues to win the National (upper) title. The Houston Gamblers beat the Indy Heat for the American (Lower) Title.

The drive home, while long, was uneventful. I'm grateful for that. One of the greatest blessings is getting home safely.  

My final stat line for the weekend was 4-10, 2 BB, 3 RBI, 2 runs scored. 

Des Moines Grays team pic
Des Moines Grays team pic after Seni final loss. Left to right, top: John, Jose Shawn, Phil, Gary, David, Josh. Bottom: Ruben, Joe, Ron, Guy. Not pictured: Troy, Jeff, Jake, Skoti.
Photo by Teresa DeVan
My thoughts and impressions

Every tournament I go to is a different experience. This one was no exception. 

It felt good to be invited to play with the Grays. In them I found a group of characters bonded by the love of getting on the field. The Grays were made up of players from Iowa, Oklahoma, Texas, California, Nevada, Washington and Minnesota. We ranged in age from upper 30s to the 60s. All meeting up in Las Vegas to play baseball. 

Ron and josh taking the field again
Me and Josh Nichols.  Ready for game 1.
Getting to know the other players was a highlight. Josh I've known for over a year, through is BT⚾️P group. I also played with him last October at the MSBL World Series in Arizona. We talk regularly about baseball related stuff. Still, I was able to get to know him better on the personal side. At the plate, Josh is a Slugger. There's no other way to put it. He made that new 805 bat I brought him shine. 

David is a quiet guy, but has a great mind. He is a heck of a ball player and a pure hitter. It was unfortunate that he was injured on day 1. Losing him in the outfield was a big loss. Still he stayed in the lineup for us and played a couple of innings at first base when we needed him in the last game. He could barely walk at times yet still gave what he could often producing big at the plate. That's toughness and grit. 

John, our manager, is a guy with a lot of stories and a lot of knowledge. He did what he could as far as lineups and positioning even though we got bit by the injury bug and he'd never seen some of us play. He cares about the players and the team as a whole and tries to make the games worthwhile for everyone. He also has a rubber arm on the mound, something i can relate to. I'd definitely play for him again if he wanted me back. 

Jose and Ruben are originally from Venezuela but now live in Iowa and Houston, respectively. Both are good pitchers, good fielders and good hitters. They are also fun guys to hang out with and have good senses of humor. They stayed at the same resort as us. 

Guy and Troy are brothers and both are good players. They were our 1-2 hitters and gave us production at the top of the order. Troy was our shortstop and played solid at the 6 spot. Guy bounced around where needed between 3B, 2B, SS and outfield. He is hilarious, no matter the situation. 

Shawn mostly played DH, but he did play the entire last game in the field. He's a guy that makes it easy to carry on a conversation. I wish I'd had more time to chat with him.

Gary is an old timer but a good timer. He took a few at bats, but spent most of the games base coaching for us. He was a good guy to talk to and was quick with words of encouragement for teammates. 

Jake is a Las Vegas local, but through conversation, I found out he's originally from the 805. From Lompoc in Santa Barbara County, but still part of the 805. That made for a cool connection. He's a lefty pitcher. He doesn't use velocity to get outs, but he has some nasty breaking balls in this arsenal. I know he's looking to get back out on the mound again soon if anyone is looking. 

I met Jeff on the first day at dinner. He ended up getting injured in the first game, pulling a hamstring. He didn't play after that. He is an interesting guy. He's got a PhD , he's a flight instructor in Northern Nevada and is a professional gambler. Definitely a thrill seeker. 

Phil and Teresa were also a pleasure to meet. Phil served as a bench and base coach and is very knowledgeable in baseball. I didn't get to chat with him as much as I would have liked. He was a valuable contributor to the team. Teresa loves baseball as much as anyone out there on the field. As with Phil, I didn't get too many conversations with her, but the short ones I did have were a pleasure. She also helped out as the team photographer. I look forward to seeing her work. 

Joe is a fellow player from home. We play on different teams in the SLO MSBL. I've played against him enough to know he is a solid player. Playing on the same team though, I got to see how good he really is. He is a workhorse behind the plate with a whip for an arm. He threw out a runner with me on the mound (2 if the umpire didn't make an egregiously bad call that he admitted an inning later he got wrong). That's not an easy thing to do with my middling pitch speed. And his bat was one of the most potent in our lineup. His dugout demeanor is hard to match too. 

All of these people helped make this a fun and unique tourney experience. It's not always easy to step in on a new team not knowing most of the players. But this group made it feel like I'd played with them for years. 

While I wish our on-the-field results were different, it was still an experience I'm going to have fond memories of. And it will keep me hungry for the next tournament. 

Every time I get to play baseball I remind myself it's a privilege that many don't have. I don't take it for granted and am grateful for every pitch. Even the ones I strikeout on. 

I hope that's reflected here in this article and on this site. 

If you are interested in playing in tournaments this year, check out my tournament list

If you are in need of a league to play in, you can find a league here

As always, if you are looking for new baseball equipment, check out our affiliate partners here

As long as you can, keep swinging away.


Play ball


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