Baseball Canadian style, eh?
By: Brian Harrison-July 17, 2007
Gretzky. Lemieux. Howe. Orr. Canada is a country rich in athletic history, but it is more known for its dominance on the ice than its success on the diamond. This past week our Diamond Devils baseball team took a trip north of the border to see what these Canadians could do with a round ball and a piece of lumber. This was not your typical baseball road trip, so we were anxiously awaiting what was in store for us in this hockey nation.
It proved to be a quite interesting experience for our group of southern boys who were now in a world where sweet tea was replaced with orange pop, and every sentence could be turned into a question by ending it with âehâ. We were forced to live without Sportscenter, the dollar menu and free text messaging. Every time we would ask for ice in our drinks, they would look at us as if we had lost it. Oh, not to mention we were thousands of miles away from our families and for that matter anyone we know. This meant that all that we had was our little group of 22, and of course our lovely waitress Megan from the pizza place. She does not play baseball, though, so it was up to the rest of us to see how good these Canadian baseball teams were.
We ran right through our first two games, racking up consecutive wins by scores of 10-0 and 7-0. The second contest was highlighted by an Alex Gilstrap (Easley) no-hitter and homeruns by Cody McElhaney (Midland-Valley) and Steele Myers (Jordan, NC). Our third game was a little more interesting as we played a highly-touted Ontario Blue Jays team, but we pulled out a 7-6 win with Andrew Turner (Hartsville) killing a late rally to earn the save. It seemed our most fun times in Canada were those when we felt most at home, playing the game of baseball.
In between games, and during them for that matter, we played a game of another sorts to pass some time. The way you play this game is you try to get someone else to say the word âmineâ and if they do, they have to do ten push-ups. For example, I could say, âHey BJ whose glove is this?â If he says mine, thatâs ten. âWhose sunglasses are those?â Mine. Thatâs ten. Even if there is a pop-up in the infieldâ¦Mine. Youâve got ten. I was a victim of that one. We did push-up in airports, food courts, parking lots, restaurants and in the grandstandâ¦You know you are bored in a place when it takes an elementary school game to keep you occupied. But, I do think we are all a little stronger as a result of all those push-ups.
While it is easy to look back on the trip and see all the negatives, which include hard-to-find gas stations and steep prices, there were some bright moments in the trip too. We got to see Niagara Falls, learn about a slightly different culture and some of us flew on a plane for the first time. There was no humidity, stress was nonexistent in Canadians as was any evidence of being exposed to sunlight. And police were almost as hard to find as a good meal!
On a serious note, we came together really well as a team over the course of the week. There was a friendly rivalry between our team vans that got us to stick up for each other, sometimes even helping out a fellow van member in, say, a wrestling match. Next year, all of us will go our separate ways, except for the Easley trio heading to Erskine together, but we strengthened some friendships in Canada that will keep us in contact for years to come.
There is no sugarcoating that Canada was somewhat of a disappointment, especially after losing the championship game 3-2 to the host team. At the end of the trip, we all could not wait to get back in the USA. It was fitting that as we crossed back across the border we heard the voice of Chris Daughtry assuring us that we were going home. I do not mean to offend any Canadians when I say this but if you ask me whose country I would rather live in, I would say âmineâ in a heartbeatâ¦wait thatâs ten. I had better go rep these out, eh?
About Brian Harrison: Harrison signed with Furman University in November of 2006 and was taken in the 29th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates earlier this month in the MLB Draft. Harrison is widely regarded as one of the top right-handed hitters in the Class of 2007.