Bat Demo Night

Bat Demo Night

Tonight I got a chance to demo a few bats and shake a bit of the off-season rust off.  Al Anderson’s Source For Sports had a bunch of the 2017 line of bats on for demo at Going Yard Baseball Warehouse.  This was my first visit to the complex, which was a nice place to work in the off-season.

First off, I was disappointed there were no Demarini demos.  Anyone that has played ball with me knows I have been a faithful Demarini guy for quite a few years, probably one of the few left.  I can’t say I was surprised at the lack of Demarini, they seem to have abandoned Canada in the marketing plan.  No one swings them, no one demos them, they have little presence out there.  To be honest, my opinion of last year’s lineup was that they opted for style over substance, with the custom line of products.  The hype has been good on the new line, but I’ve never been one to follow the hype.  Mizuno was also noticeably absent.

There weren’t many people demoing tonight, so I got to swing a LOT of bats.  It was nice as I got to compare them all.  I wish I had one of my Demarini there so I could compare against what I’m currently gaming, bit I did get a good feel for what I liked and what I didn’t.  Pictured is what I swung.  They are ordered left to right in the order I would rank them, favorite to least favorite.  Much to my surprise, a Super Z was my top pick.  I went back to it a few times as I was pretty surprised about that since I hated the Z’s in the past.  My least favorite was the Easton Brett Helmer.  It had horrible feedback for me and I could rarely hit the sweet spot.

Since I swung so many, I cant really do an in depth review, but here are my quick thoughts on each.

27oz Super Z End Loaded – wow, I was impressed.  This felt great, by far the best feeling off the barrel, nice and crisp.  I still don’t like the factory taper (an easy fix by regripping) and the bat knob feels a bit clunky compared to other brands, but this was easily my favorite of the night.  I’d love to demo this guy outside on a field to gauge distance, I could be convinced to add one to the bag.

27oz Freak 30 – I went in thinking it would be a toss up between this and the Jeff Hall legit as the make up resembled what I’m swinging now.  It felt great.  I hit this one consistently well.  I think you will see this one on the field a lot this year.

27.5 Worth Legit Jeff Hall – I didn’t hit this one as consistently as the Freak 30, but a did get a few in the sweet spot that seemed to scream.  This one could also be a contender get me to switch

27oz Worth Legit BJ Fulk – a bigger sweet spot than the Jeff Hall so I hit it more consistently, but I didn’t love the weighting.  I would say it was more of a mid load than an end load.

27oz Miken Freak Platinum Balanced – felt really nice, similar to the Freak 30 on the barrel, but I didn’t like the feel of the larger barrel.

27oz Miken DC41 – I got good results but I didn’t like how it swung.  It felt like swing a sledgehammer.  Just not for me.

27oz Louisville Super Z Balanced – I never gave it much of a chance.  I just liked the weighting of the end load so I only took a few cuts and moved on.

27oz Easton Brian Wegman – meh.

27oz Worth EST Balanced – another longer barrel.  didn’t love the feel.  When I got a few in the sweet spot you could tell it performed but anything that wasn’t hit just right didn’t feel great.  Just wasn’t for me.

27oz Easton Brett Helmer – hated.  vibration every hit.

I’d love to re-hit the top 3 on a field to get a better feel of how they perform, but all seemed great in the cage.  I could see any of those 3 being contenders for me to switch.

Thanks again to Al Andersons, Going Yard and JQFP Softball for hosting the demo night.  Now I have an itch to get back on the field, which could be sooner than later if the weather holds.

All for now,

J

 

Another ball season in the books… going out Champions!

Another ball season in the books… going out Champions!

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,

Jared

PS – Red, your picture is always creepy.

SPN Nationals 2016 Silver Medal

SPN Nationals 2016 Silver Medal

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,

Jared

 

PS – And “don’t think; it can only hurt the ball club” – Kevin Costner, Bull Durham

As another slopitch season is about to begin….

As another slopitch season is about to begin….

The other day my uncle asked me how long I have been playing slopitch. After a quick little bit of math, I realized I have been playing slopitch for 21 years this summer. WOW! I played baseball a lot as a kid, early on I was pretty decent, but when I started getting busy with other things in high school, including my first job, first car, first computer, baseball kind of fell by the wayside. When I moved to Saskatoon to go to school in 1995, our CST class put in a slopitch team in the school league, we quickly found success, and I was hooked. It was a great social outing, a way to meet some new friends, and a great excuse to have a beer.

In the early days I was pretty much living it up in the beer leagues. Playing was fun but winning the beer race was the big championship, and luckily we did both with regularity. After a few years of that, I started playing competitive slopitch, first a men’s team and then a coed team. I’ve since left the beer leagues mostly behind (I still sub on occasion), but I’m still in the thick of things in our saspa.ca league. Looking back, here is a list of the teams (best that I can remember) playing on:  Horny HounDawgs, Hustin’ Hangovers, Memory Makers, Bugsy’s Bluesox, Piston Broke, Beer Barons, Expos, The Fuze (2006 Coed ‘D’ National Champions), The Machine, Toon Town Twisters, Bombers (2010 NSA Rec Provincial Champions), Longhorns, Whitesox, Thirsty Dozen, Jays (2016 Coed ‘C’ Provincial Champs), and countless other pickup and tourney teams. I’ve travelled to Calgary, Leduc, Lethbridge, Niagra Falls, and all the way to Mazatlan just to play ball. I’ve had the chance to play in my share of championship games, and even won a couple. I’ve met countless friends along the way. This winter I was even able to go back to Mazatlan to see the friends we met during our slopitch trip and had a blast. I consider myself quite lucky for all the slopitch community has given me.

Sometime along the line I stumbled across SportsFreaksOnline, a website of slopitch players across Canada. I’m fairly active on the site (I am one of the moderators assisting the guys doing all the real work) and have met even more fantastic players across the country there. For a slopitch player I highly recommend checking out the site. You will meet great people and find some great deals on gear.

So I wanted to take the chance to reflect, post a few random photos from the few random teams I have played on, and gear up for another year on the diamond. Looking forward to seeing everyone on the diamonds and in the gardens. Play Hard, Get Dirty. – J

Hello?  Is it me you’re looking for?

Hello? Is it me you’re looking for?

I’ve noticed a couple things lately, I have the urge to write and that my personal website is stale as stale can be. So I figured this would be a good opportunity to fix them both. I’m not sure where the urge the write came from. It isn’t often that I pick up a book to pass the time. I often have to pause and really think about my their/there/your/you’re and other intricacies of the English language. I’m sure my writing will be filled with no-nos like spelling errors, acronyms and winky faces. But I think writing can be a bit therapeutic, a good tool to clear your mind and focus which I admit has been a challenge of late.

So what will I write about? What shall I *blog*? Well, anyone who knows me knows I’m a passionate Saskatchewan Roughrider fan, I’m sure there will be lots of that. I’m also an avid slopitch player and curler, I’d bet I’ll banter about that. But I want to share more than just my passion for my sports. I’m also a bit of a techy guy. I often get asked questions about how my home media is set up, what apps I run on my phone, do I have any tips or tricks that I can share? So I figured this would be a great place to start. I’m primarily an iOS guy when it comes to phone/tablet and a Windows guy when it comes to the home computer, but I also have plenty other cool like gadgets and such that I will blog about. I hope to share enough tidbits to keep you entertained.

And yes, I have an amazing family, so you will definitely be hearing about that. My wife is a wonderful photographer (see Finelite Photography & Design), so I’m sure I will steal the odd photo to keep things looking pretty around here.

And lastly, there are a few random website links I visit often. I have included them all here, partly for you to explore, and partly so I don’t lose them. Either way, it is useful to someone 😉

Talk Soon,
J

PS – Notice the winky face?