Happy to be Back

This is being written from an Interstate somewhere in Illinois.  It is 1:30am and most of my teammates are trying to catch a few bonus hours of dozing before our expected 2:30 check-in at the hotel.  The early morning hours are not deterring the card players, and there are a few quiet words of Spanish being spoken elsewhere.

Tonight’s win was big and we were able to salvage a split with first place Burlington, keeping our distance behind them where it was when we arrived in town, two games.  We just completed day four of a quirky seven-day, eight-game road trip.  The cause of this is twofold: Burlington (Kansas City affiliate) is a commuter trip and we have been going back and forth the past three days; and, tomorrow’s meeting with Kane County (Oakland affiliate) will be a continuation of a game suspended in July, followed by the regularly scheduled game.  Tomorrow, we will have to overcome the short turnaround of playing a game in excess of three hours tonight, a three-hour bus ride through the night, and a modified doubleheader in order to continue our playoff push.

My arrival back in Cedar Rapids has been about as seamless as I could have expected.  I have gotten back to the routines I was accustomed to prior to my departure in early July and it almost feels like I never left.  I have played in two of the five games since my return, and I am pleased with the results. My knee is holding up, in part to a good daily tape job, a brace that I don for games, and the continuation of my rehab exercises several times a week.

The past six weeks have been a blur to me having traveled across the country, only to get back to where I started.  However, as much as I was dreading Iowa at the beginning of the season because of the cold weather, I am very happy to be back.  Being back with most of my original teammates, the coaching staff, and stadium and support staff is a comforting feeling.  It seems that this is what baseball players are trying to do: find something that is comfortable, whether it be new mechanics or a living situation.

It is still tough driving around the area and seeing the devastation from the flood.  It seems like it was ages ago, but it was only two months ago that the city was inundated with water and placed the lives of many people in peril.  However, I see the city being cleaned up and there are signs everywhere of support and a city that will be rebuilt.  Situations like these put the game in perspective and you are able to realize things that are more important than your at bats that night.

Despite the flooding situation, the support of Kernels fans has been fantastic.  While we know we are not going to get sellout crowds every night, we are exceedingly appreciative of the scores of fans that have still been coming to games considering what must be weighing on the minds of many.  I was definitely taken aback by the energy of our fans during our 3-1 victory Friday night.  It was awesome to be able to play in front of 4,400 fans my first night back as a Kernel, and there was a playoff-like atmosphere that made the win feel that must more important.  Every bit of enthusiasm helps during a playoff run and players definitely respond to fan support.

As we arrive at the hotel, I will close by saying that I cannot thank enough all of the people who have wished me well upon my arrival back in Cedar Rapids, either in person, email, or through the blog.  There is nothing more comforting than playing in front of hometown fans who are passionate for their team and its success.  The support all year has been phenomenal and I know it will continue as we continue to battle for a coveted playoff spot.

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