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Off to Juan Dolio

A few of us are going to the Barcelo Talanquera resort hotel in Juan Dolio today, to while away our time with surf and sun until the camp reopens on Sunday. Most of the players and coaches are going to their respective homes for a few days and then, on Saturday, about half the players will report to spring training in Tampa. So, we’ll be getting a new group of players this Sunday to augment the remaining ones, who, most of them at least, will report to Tampa around the first of April. At any rate, I probably won’t be posting anything until at least Sunday. Enjoy your winter, wherever you are. 😎

End of Session, Dreamy Life

We’re almost at the end of the current session–practice wraps up on Tuesday, with the players leaving in the afternoon. As I mentioned, the Yanks are putting a few of us up at a hotel for several days. It’s just down the road in Juan Dolio at the Barcelo Talanquera Hotel, right on the beach. Should be fun. We’ll be going there on the 27th and returning to the campus on March 4th.

I was talking to Rex about the supposed trip to Samana on the 1st and 2nd, but his office has had no reply from the Samana mayor’s office. So, I don’t know if we’ll be going there at this time or not. The next time that I’ll be available, as far as I know, will be when I return to the DR next fall (assuming that the contract is renewed).

I was browsing around on the Internet early this morning, surfing through some websites based in my old hometown of Great Falls. I was looking at some of the local bowling websites, looking for familiar names, pictures and whatnot. Then I stepped onto the balcony outside my room to watch another tropical sunrise, and I was struck at how far-removed I am from my former life in Montana. I wouldn’t trade what I’m doing now and have been doing the past few years for anything, dream-like as it seems at times.

Speaking of Great Falls, someone there recently deposited some money into my checking account. I suspect it was either my mother or my brother or an anonymous benefactor. Whoever it was, thanks! and keep it up!

Well, it’s almost time to go over to the exercise room and work out on the weight machines, ride the stationary bike and do a little jogging, a routine that I’ve been regularly adhering to lately. As high class an organization that the Yankees are, I would think they could afford to buy some scales that actually work. It’s amazing that both the scales in the workout area show me as being 10-15 pounds heavier than I actually am. 😉 (What was that about a “dream-like” existence?) More later.

Andy Jackson

I was in Santo Domingo this past Saturday, buying some supplies for my classes. I went with one of the coaches (Raoul, from Panama), one of the trainers (JJ, from Venezuela) and one of the players (Ronny, also from Venezuela). All three speak fairly decent English, and Ronny is engaged to a German gal from Berlin. He was also in the market for a new computer, so I took them to a couple of shops that I know of near where I live when the Yankee campus is shut down. JJ took a wrong turn after we left the last shop, so we ended up on some side roads that were unfamiliar to me. Along one of these roads is a steak house with the unlikely name of “The Andrew Jackson Steakhouse” with a portrait of the president on its wooden facade. I’ve never seen anything of the sort named after Jackson; I suppose the steaks are aged and cooked over a wood fire, so you could say they are “Old Hickory” steaks. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera with me, but if my contract is renewed for next year, I’ll be sure to find the place and take a photo. More later.

Beach time, Fog

Not much going on here recently. I found out that we have about a week off beginning Feb. 24th and running through March 4th. The Dominican players will go back to their homes here and the foreign players are flying back to theirs. On Mar. 3 they report to the spring training camp in Tampa Bay. Then, new players will be reporting here on March 4th. They’ll stay until the end of March, when we’ll get another week off. Then, the regular Dominican Summer League begins, running through the end of August. Whew. Confusing? A bit.

Rex at the embassy wants me to go with him to Samana, in the northern peninsula of the country, to talk with the mayor’s office there about setting up an English program to help with tourism. Samana is famous for the humpback whales that congregate there at this time of year, so we’ll take in some whale-watching while we’re there on Mar. 1st and 2nd. In the meantime, during that week, the Yanks are putting up a few of us who are staying at one of the resort hotels just down the road from the campus. I have the option of staying here for the week, but there wouldn’t be anyone else around and I’d have to go into Boca Chica each day to get something to eat. Heck, who wouldn’t jump at the option to stay at a resort? Quality beach time, coming up.

There’s some pretty dense fog here today, making fly balls hit to the outfield very difficult, if not impossible, to see. The sun is trying to burn the stuff off, but now, at 8:30 a.m., it’s still very thick. The players haven’t gone onto the fields for practice, yet, so it seems that they’ll be getting a late start today. Later, I’m going into Santo Domingo to pick up some supplies for the classes. Some of the Venezuelan players are going also, so I may share a taxi with them. More later.

BIG Television

I went up to the big conference room/player rec room yesterday to begin my classes. A few players were watching TV (if they’re not in the particular class that day, I have to ask them to leave), but next to the 21″ television, on the floor, is this very large (50+”?) High-Def television. Wow! It’s not new and I was told it’s been in the shop for repairs. I suppose I might be watching a few more movies with the players at night! Hopefully, I’ll get the old 21″ set, since I don’t have one in my room yet. I’m also hoping the internet in my room will be hooked up some time next week. Aniuska has to check with Abel, who has returned to the campus. Unfortunately, the projector he bought is back-ordered until the first part of March.

The English Language Fellow program coordinators at Georgetown have asked any of us who keep blogs if we’d care to share with everyone else. I might do so, and if I do, I’ll be adding quite a bit more academic information about what I’m doing here, since that is what they want to focus on. However, I’m sure there are quite a few folks who would be interested in everyday news about working here at the Yankee campus.

I’m hoping to get a good turnout for a new beginner’s class on Monday. This one will be geared to those who don’t speak any English, including the tryout players who are in camp until the end of the month, coaches and members of the staff (cleaning ladies, for example). Since it’s Saturday, I’ll have a good excuse to run into Boca Chica for a while to make copies of the lessons for next week for all the classes. Oh, and I might soak up a little sun on the beach while I’m at it. 😎

Here’s a photo of the position players (outfielders, infielders and catchers) in class posing for the camera (along with Yours Truly–I think you shouldn’t have too much trouble picking me out). I’ll have to get one of the players to help me with some of the names, since I don’t remember all of them. I can remember them in class, when I have my list in front of me. I’ll post them below the picture when I get them all. I haven’t taken a photo of the pitchers, yet. I’ll try to get one soon. More later.

groupphoto2

Back Row, Left to Right: Ron, Kelvin Castro, Melky Mesa, Jimmy Paredes, Zoilo Almonte (somewhat below the others), Wangel Baez, Geraldo Rodriguez, Andreas Dionicio, Elvis Rodriguez, Josue Calzado
Seated, Left to Right: Julian Herrera, Alexis Arosemena, Alex Ramirez, Carlos Hernandez

Cows and Horses

Robbie Cano continues to take batting practice most days, and an interesting situation arose on Wednesday. He switched fields from the northwest to the northeast field. His power is to right field, and the outside perimeter fence of the campus is only about 6 or 7 feet beyond the right field fence. Outside this part of the perimeter is a cow track, where cattle wend their way to and from their pastures. It just so happens that a rather sizable herd happened to be wandering along the fence that day, and many of Cano’s line drive homers were clearing the perimeter fence. I kept watching and waiting for one of the cows to get smacked–fresh meat for dinner!–but it never happened. Still, it was fun watching some of the coaches making their way through the cows, gathering up the baseballs.

Yes, we have quite a pastoral setting here. In addition to the cows, there is a rather nice horse ranch adjoining us on the north side. A few of the horses wander over at times, peering through the fence at the odd doings of the players. They seem interested at times, aloof at others. Occasionally, a caballero from the ranch comes along to round some of them up, but I’ve no idea where they go or why. The horses seem to love trying to evade the horsemen, preferring, instead, the enjoyment of watching their favorite team. More later.

Dentist, Traffic and Rain

I had to go into the capital Monday for a dentist’s appointment to check on a filling. I was a bit nervous about the professional quality, but Rex Moser (the Cultural Affairs officer and my supervisor) told me that he had seen a guy who spoke very good English and seemed like a very good doctor; he was. He works in a very modern office, with all the equipment, aides, etc. He did a couple of fillings and found a cavity, which I have to go back in for this coming Tuesday. The price is right–less than $100 for the two fillings and about the same price for Tuesday’s appointment.

Getting to his office was a nightmare. The appointment was for 10 a.m., but I didn’t arrive until 10:30 due to the unbelievable amount of traffic pouring into the city at that time of day. It took about an hour and fifteen minutes to travel a distance that normally takes 20 minutes. The taxi driver decided to get off the main road and went to Washington Ave. (the Malecon), because normally the traffic is lighter there. Unfortunately, it was just as clogged. I would have expected traffic jams earlier in the day, with people trying to get to work, but what’s up with the snarl at 9:45 or 10 in the morning? Really incredible.

The doc told me that the next appointment date is considered an “unlucky” day in the DR, where Tuesday the 13th corresponds to Friday the 13th in the States. Interesting. I jokingly told him that I might change the day, but he laughed and said don’t worry, it wouldn’t affect his expertise. Check out this site for many more DR superstitions and beliefs.

I spent a pleasant afternoon at the beach in Boca Chica this past Saturday. My first impression of the place, back in October, was that it wasn’t the nicest of areas, but I’ve changed my mind. It’s ok, though compared to the world-class beaches on the east coast, the Boca beach leaves a lot to be desired, I’m sure. Still, it’s a nice enough place to while away the time, though it’s very crowded on the weekends.

We had a driving downpour last night, the first rain to speak of since I posted about the frequent afternoon showers in Santo Domingo several weeks ago. The centerfield areas of the fields have a lot of standing water this morning, so that gives me a reason not to go jogging today. :)
More later.

Cano, Photos

Robbie Cano showed up at the camp yesterday to work out the kinks. He took about 30 minutes of batting practice and a little bit of infield work. He blasted at least a dozen balls over the outfield fences. I don’t mean to jinx him, but this guy is going to be one of the All-Time Yankee and baseball greats. His work ethic is fantastic. He played in the Dominican Winter League and now he’s getting in shape before the opening of spring training the first of March. His record with the Yanks so far speaks for itself. He’s got such a sweeeeeet swing. The great players make it all look so very easy; watching the younger guys, you can see how much they struggle to put it all together. Here’s a shot of Cano taking batting practice.

Cano_2

Abel Guerra asked me to take some photos around the campus for possible inclusion into the upcoming Yankee Yearbook. I took a bunch yesterday, but I’m getting ready to head out onto the fields to try to get some action shots of the players. More later.

This ‘n That

Yes, I’m happily back at the Yankee campus near Boca Chica. Classes start Monday, though the players have been working out all week. I emailed Abel, who’s in the States right now, about getting a projector to use for Powerpoint presentations and other applications to integrate multimedia activities into the classes, and he wrote back that he found a very good deal on an entry-level Epson S4 projector, so that’s great news.

There are 46 players here now, and 33 of them will report to spring training in Tampa Bay on March 1st. The other 13 go there near the first of April. Meanwhile, new players will be coming in on those dates, including some of the 20 or so who are here now trying out for a contract. So, it’s going to be a challenging couple of months, in so far as designing the classes to accommodate for all the comings and goings and the different language levels. After April 1st, though, things should settle down.

The intense Dominican Summer League (DSL) begins in June, though there will be training games against the other teams before then. The DSL finishes near the end of August, something that I’ll miss, since my contract is up on July 15th. In communicating with Eran, my supervisor in D.C., it appears that next summer, if the project is renewed (as it appears likely to be), I may be able to stay on into August. Excellent!

If the current weather pattern holds, I’ll not be taking any sunset/sunrise photos. We’ve had clear skies at those times, nothing to give texture to the events. The sun just plops down in the evening, very quickly; the colors are rather bland. The same can be said about sunrise. More later.