Well, another season of slopitch has come and gone. We wrapped up the weekend in style. After over twenty years playing ball, I finally was a able to cross one goal off the list. Our team won the SPN Coed ‘C’ division provincial championship. We started off so-so on Saturday losing 2 of 3 with a really tough schedule. We held tight for a while against one of the best teams in the province, The Dream Team (2016 Intermediate ‘A’ NSA World Series champs) but came up just short. We then lost a heartbreaker to the PA Astros (eventual SPN Coed ‘B’ division co-champions) before we righted the ship against Regina Reign. That put us in the tough ‘C’ division (2nd from the top, SK doesn’t run an ‘A’ coed event).
We started off Sunday with all guns blazing against a tough veteran Pilsner Power team. We were able to hold off a late rally to pull that one out. Next up came a VERY tough Steelers team (2014 Coed D National Champions, 2015 Coed C Silver medalists, currently the top team in the Saspa league). Luckily we were able to keep the hot bats rolling and we were able to upset the Steelers. That put us in the final against Got Bush from Unity, another very solid team. Defense was the focus of this game, as both teams put on a display. We were able to put up a few early and hold off a last minute charge to win by 1 run. Winning a championship is always rewarding, but when you do it against very tough teams, against friends/players that you respect a lot, it means that much more knowing how tough the road was.
It was a nice way to finish off a tough season. This year I’ve been battling illness a bit and to be honest, for the first half of the season even going to the diamonds was difficult. It is the first time I can recall not wanting to play ball. The coed team also struggled in league this year, and I struggled a bit to find my place on the new squad. The men’s team (White Sox) had a pretty decent year and is a great group of guys, so that was a bit of a pick me up when I was fighting to enjoy the season. Things finally started to pick up in July and it started to become fun again. I was finally starting to feel a bit more like myself, and we had a really fun tourney in Aberdeen that helped a lot. We wrapped up with a silver medal at Nationals with the Jays, a 3/4 finish at Provincials with the White Sox, and this Provincial Championship with the Jays. I was happy to have accomplished a lot. As I told my teammates, my one goal this year when joining the Jays was to help this team get over the hump, so getting a Provincial Title was extra rewarding. I finally felt like I contributed what I was hoping for, and they reward me with helping me accomplish something I’ve wanted for so long.
So, the gear is going to be packed up again for another winter. Now I get to take a week and head to Winnipeg with the family for a vacation to make up for some lost time. They sacrifice so much by allowing me to be absent and enjoy my biggest passion. So next week I hope to make up for a bit of lost time and have a really fun week off with them. I then look forward to the fall when I get to start curling again for the year. The White Sox qualified for Nationals next summer, so I’m looking forward to taking the men’s team to a Nationals event for the first time next year. I’m sure I will be doing a little bit of fundraising and sponsor hunting this winter to prepare for that (anyone looking to sponsor a competitive team heading to Nationals, please let me know!), so I guess ball won’t be completely off my mind until spring 🙂
Thanks for a great season everyone, and I look forward to next year,
PS – Red, your picture is always creepy.
Be forewarned….. this is gonna get a bit techy.
This past weekend I was home alone. Erin was off to Medicine Hat for a wedding shower, and Cole was at the lake visiting Grandma and Grandpa. I don’t often get a solo weekend to myself, so I did what any guy *batching it* would do….. work on the computer? I spent a good chunk of time on the weekend (when I wasn’t watching baseball, football and catching up on Making a Murderer) tweaking another project on a Rasperry Pi. I have 3 in the house and another couple on the way (upgrades).
What is a Raspberry Pi you ask? I talked about it briefly in a previous blog post. It is a small, barebones, low power computer. It comes with a board/cpu/memory/usb ports/sd card slot/video out/nic (and wifi/bluetooth on the model 3). No case, no keyboard, no power, no storage. But it is all about the size of a wallet and can be had for around $50. These little mini computers are just perfect for building projects that require low power (you can run from battery if you like), small footprint, and little storage. Since initially being released a few years back, they have upgraded the machine to be more powerful and have a few more bells and whistles while keeping the same price point.
At the moment there are 3 projects I have worked on using a Raspberry Pi:
This is what I started with. I have a big storage server (unraid, a topic of a future blog post) that I have all my media on (TV/Movies/Music) so I was looking for a small/low powered computer to hook to my TV and allow me access to all those items. Openelec was a perfect fit. It was a relatively simple install to an SD card. Then you hook up to your TV and off you go. The Pi has an HDMI port built in so it was a simple hookup to the TV, pointing Kodi to my network storage and it was pretty much setup. If your TV supports CEC (pretty much all new TVs do) you will even be able to control the device with your TV remote. It is a great/low cost way to access all your media you have available. If you hook up an external drive to the Pi you can run everything right from there. With Kodi you can add a tonne of plugins. There is streaming, integration into other devices, etc. There is so much it can do. This is a great way to get started in the Kodi world. If you want a full featured home theatre computer, her is a great project to look in to.
Once I set up my Plex server (see my previous post), I wanted something that integrated a bit better than Kodi did (with PlexBMC/Kodi plugin, which works OK if you want Plex with Kodi). RasPlex is an alternative project to take your Raspberry Pi and make it into a Plex client. Again it hooks direct to your TV with HDMI and with a CEC TV you can control with your TV remote. If you get the new Model 3 Pi you have wifi built in. Otherwise you need to hook up to your network via a cat5 cable or an add on wifi usb device. Setup is even simpler. If you have a Plex server already running, it is usually as simple as writing the SD card, hooking up to your TV/Network and powering on. Then you are off and running. If you run a plex server, this project is an absolute must for the TVs in your house. RasPlex is one of the best clients around.
RetroPie is my latest project. RetroPie allows you to hook up video game controllers to your system (usb/bluetooth), install rom dumps of old video game systems, and then allow you to start gaming like you did in the old days. Lots of old systems are supported. I spent the better part of my weekend configuring it to run Nintendo, Gameboy, Gameboy Colour, Super Nintendo, Sega Master System, Sega Genesis, Turbo Graphics 16, Nintento 64, TRS-80 CoCo (my first computer as a kid), Sony Playstation and more. It requires a lot of patience and some techy know-how to get setup, so it isn’t for the faint of heart. But with a little time invested you can re-live your youth with this system. Some folks have taken this to the next level, building fancy stand up arcade boxes to house this Pi and give your basement rec-room that vintage arcade feel. Once I get the project set up the way I want…. I may even tackle that as a project. For anyone that lives the old retro gaming vs the new systems, this project is a must.
OpenHab is my next planned project. I have a few devices that are taking advantage of automation. I have a couple lights on remote. I plan to expand adding other devices (smart thermostat, computer controller, etc). The OpenHab server (which you can run on Raspberry Pi) will allow you to manage all those devices and control with phone/computer/controllers. In there you can write programmatic control of your devices (turn the lights on at random times while you are gone, email me if someone opens the door, phone me if the furnace quits, etc). I’m pretty excited to get this one going.
So that is a summary of the projects I have on the go, but there are many more on the net. Many peripherals have been built for the Pi that have allowed people to use them in new/creative ways. Touch screen monitors, environmental sensors, robotic controls, unique power systems with device control are just a few. People are building smart touch screen calendars and smart mirrors for the home. Others are building smart in vehicle entertainment systems. Security monitoring, portable gaming, inexpensive internet appliances, the combinations are endless. And you can pretty much get started for under $100 all in (that will get you a kit with Pi, case, power supply, memory card and cables). If you are technically inclines at all, I highly recommend giving it a try.
This year I switched co-ed slopitch teams to play with the @JaysSloPitch. I was looking to play a bit more in tournaments and the Jays were off to compete in SPN Nationals to try and improve on their silver medal from 2015. The team is a great group of folks and I thought it was a great opportunity to play some more tourneys, maybe help them improve on that medal and win a National title. (another one for me I should say :P)
So this past weekend we were off to Calgary to compete for a National title. We ended up bringing home the silver again. I know it is something to be proud of, but I have to admit it was a pretty frustrating weekend of ball. Let’s just say mother nature really didn’t want to cooperate. We had rain and hail pretty much every day. The Jaycee crew did an AMAZING job. The diamonds had lakes in them every day. They worked long hours to get us playable diamonds between the downpours, but it did end up effecting the tournament a lot. First delays, then round robin games were shortened to 5 innings and hitters were started with a 1-1 count to speed the game. Then…. more downpours (and hail!)….. and the rest of the round robin games were cancelled. All teams made championship Monday with single life. We were seated 2nd based on record and runs for/against, giving us a first game bye. We wheeled off a couple quick wins and made it to the final. It was a hard fought, very competitive and very close game all the way. We ended up losing by 3 to a VERY solid team… Konfusion from Red Deer, AB.
As a competitor, it is easier to get over a loss if you lost to a better team, and left it all on the field. Konfusion was a great team, they definitely deserved it. But for me it was frustrating that I can’t say I left it all out there. With the shortened schedule and the winning streak in earlier games, that meant it was tough to make changes and turn the lineup over. That meant I missed playing in most of the Championship Monday games. I got the opportunity to get in in the last inning of the last game (hitting a double, making the best of my AB) but was left frustrated that I couldn’t be on the field to help the team over the top and win that elusive championship. I did my best on the weekend to be a great team player, contributing the best way I could (coaching 3rd most of the weekend, catching a few illegal bats in play, etc). I think that contribution helped, but as I said, it was frustrating not to be able to be on the field and do more to help the team to victory.
So right now I still look back in frustration, but I know in a few weeks that will be gone and I will be able to look back at the weekend for what it was. We can be proud of a silver against a very good team. I had a lot of fun, met a lot of great players from other teams (shout out to the @FNFSlowpitch team) and I was even able to catch up with a couple of Calgary-transplanted former teammates. Something I can look back on and be proud of.
So as the season winds up, I’ll remind everyone to enjoy your time out there on the field, take the opportunity to do your best when you get your shots, contribute anyway you can, and most importantly, have some fun out there. After all….. it is a game 🙂
All for now,
PS – And “don’t think; it can only hurt the ball club” – Kevin Costner, Bull Durham