Tagged: Mrs. Disco

Mrs. Disco’s Toilet Revenge

The lovely Mrs. Disco is not above toilet humor; after all, she married a guy perhaps best known to many for his toilet exploits.

However, for this story we will pick things up with Mrs. Disco exactly there, above a toilet … or more correctly, standing on a toilet.

The quick back-story:

Immediately after surgery, functionally, I was down an arm and a leg.  Why a leg, you ask?  In Tommy John surgeries, the graft for the new UCL typically comes from the Palmaris Longus which, for you latin fans, means it is located somewhere below your Palmus and runs Longus-ly into your forearm.

The reasons are many why this tendon is used for typical TJ surgeries, but perhaps the most important is the fact that it is essentially biomechanically irrelevant.  As a result, something like 1 in 6 people don’t have it.  Going into surgery, it was noted I was Palmaris Longus-deficient in my left wrist, but my right wrist showed promising signs.  The story changed in surgery and it was determined my right PL would not suffice, so the doctors got a monster, hog-of-a-graft from my left hamstring.

Surgery went perfectly, but my Palmaris Wimpus resulted in my walking–er, waddling–out of the outpatient procedure with my right robot arm and my left leg able to (reluctantly) bear some weight, but with little to no ability to flex.  My left knee was badly swollen and any activity of the hamstring sent a nice electric-cattle-prod-shock down my hamstring, across my knee, and down my shin.

After a few days, I was proficient in contact lens removal/application left-handed, amongst many other tasks.  Most things were more daunting, but with the help of my amazing wife and some extra effort and patience, my daily life was mostly carrying on like normal-ish.  Except that, typically, I shower daily.

My sense of smell was un-effected by the surgery and after some time I decided I was past due for a shower (reports vary on how many days had actually gone by).  Maybe it was because she is insanely helpful and a godsend, or maybe it was because she didn’t want me to change my mind and go another day, Mrs. Disco immediately offered to help.  With that, I asked her to meet me in the upstairs bathroom in fifteen minutes or at the base of the stairs when she heard a thump-roll-roll-bang-thud; whichever came first.

In the bathroom, we started up the tub for a bath, figuring keeping my leg and elbow wounds dry would be easier if the water was more or less at rest.  As the tub filled, it was time for the undressing ritual.  This is just the back story, so maybe I’ll leave this for another post, but undressing involved me holding my right arm (sans brace) with my left arm and balancing on my one free limb, my right let.  Yeah, we won’t get into more details, lets just zoom forward to just before entering the bath, after applying water-proof bandages to my arm, wrist, and leg, Mrs. Disco passed a roll of Saran Wrap around my right arm to protect it from any errant water.  The tub was surrounded by walls on three sides and the water spout was on the right when facing the tub from the bathroom.  Left foot in, right foot in would be the ideal method of entry for this type of tub, but since my left foot could barely bear any weight, let alone all my weight while standing on a slippery tub floor, this was obviously not an option.  (Side note, and you cannot make this stuff up, as I’m writing this, Mrs. Disco’s iTunes account just fired up some Right Said Fred I’m Too Sexy.  Guess it’s time to just jump right in to how to enter a bathtub with a wrapped, braced, numb, swollen, and useless right arm and left leg.  If you have the song, I’d recommend finding your iPod and playing it now to get the full visual, if not, just by me saying I’m too Sexy enough times, the song is probably playing in your head right now.  I think the scene is set…)

So it was right foot in, spin around, slowly lower body so left arm can push bottles of shampoo and body wash off the ledge against the wall and brace my weight while Mrs. Disco carefully holds my right arm since I am sans-brace for the bathing.  Once slowly lowered down, use the left arm to hold up the dangling right arm and keep it out of the water.  Then, with no free hands, make sure the left leg stays elevated and ends up on the left edge of the tub and out of the water.

And I do my little turn on the catwalk
Yeah on the catwalk, on the catwalk, yeah
I shake my little tush on the catwalk*

*I’m not at all kidding, this is actually happening.  That’s what’s playing in the background right now as I type.  I hope you’re in the moment as much as I am.  To acquit Mrs. Disco from any scrutiny for her music selection (and indict me for much worse offenses), I downloaded the song a long time ago to turn it into a ring tone I could use as an alarm clock.

Let’s digress.  You’re caught up; the stage is set for the Toilet Revenge.  I’ve Patrick Swayze-d my way into the tub and have my leg awkwardly hovering up the wall.  Not quite a model, if you know what I mean.  I’m Too Sexy aside, when poor Mrs. Disco signed up for this baseball wifery, needless to say, I don’t think what she had in mind was the scene taking place.

So how do we end up with Mrs. Disco on the toilet?  The tub method just wasn’t working.  I think it was a combination of my incessant nervous laughter as Mrs. Disco tried to make some progress with a loofah and the fact I just couldn’t hold myself in a position with my arm and leg out of the water long enough without getting electrocuted by that missing tendon in the back of my leg.  So we decided to go with a shower.  The plan, as it was suggested to me, was we’d drain the water from the tub and Mrs. Disco would start the shower while aiming the shower head down to not get me wet.  Once the shower was running, she’d help me up.

The plan was flawless, yet at this point I still had the nervous giggles and Mrs. Disco was now cracking herself up with comments (however inaccurate they might have been) about how it was probably cold to have a tub drain out from around you.  My laughter made her laugh harder.  Her laughing meant we were still sitting in the cold bathroom, which only perpetuated more laughter.  We were an absolute giggling mess.  A brief thought-collecting sigh only preceded more laughter, but gave Mrs. Disco enough wherewithal to mount the toilet and from her tip-toes, she could reach the shower head to begin to execute the plan.  The shower head was one of those hand-held heads that “docks” onto a base high up in the shower so you can pull it down if you chose to, or leave it up like a normal shower.  She carefully kept it balanced in its dock, but aimed it down so when the shower started to spray, it wouldn’t hit me.  While holding on to the shower head and leaning against the wall, she then balanced on one tippy-toe and reached with her free foot to turn the water back on and then to shift the flow of the water from the spout to the shower head.

You know that brief moment of silence after you flip the switch in a shower to start the shower flow?  The time where there’s no water flow coming out of either outlet?  The time where you can quickly pull your head out of the shower and escape the shower’s downpour?  The calm before the storm, of sorts?  Yeah, at that moment, that exact moment, just as the water was gaining momentum vertically up to the shower head and about to unleash a spray of water across the entire shower that the lid to the toilet Mrs. Disco was standing on slipped a few inches away from the shower and she lost her balance.  Her foot was still dangling into the shower to keep pressure on the switch, and her only course of action to try to regain her balance was to quickly grab the shower curtain rod.  The plastic, spring-loaded, “tested to approx. 0.6 Newtons of force” curtain rod.

As I sat watching all this take place in the empty (potentially cold) tub, still with leg up in the air and left arm cradling my dangling right arm over the tub wall, waiting for my wife’s help to lift me up to a standing position, the shower curtain and rod came crashing down onto the tub millimeters before Mrs. Disco who crashed down milliseconds before the toilet seat broke and flew off the toilet and the flow of shower spray rained down.

Thankfully, Mrs. Disco suffered no injury in the fall and somehow she was athletic enough to fall clear of my limbs which were probably draped everywhere she would have ideally been able to land.  There was a split second of silence to assess the damage level, which upon realizing was nil, gave way to an eruption of hysterical, wet laughter.

If you were to walk in to the bathroom at that moment, you would have found a toilet seat and lid on the ground by the door, a fully-clothed, soaking-wet wife in the push-up position heaving with laughter while straddling a bathtub covered with a shower curtain and rod twisted up diagonally against the wall.  The hand-held shower head had been knocked off the dock by the shower curtain on the way down and now, powered by impressive water pressure, was swinging wildly across the shower like a live electrical wire.  Rugs, towels, walls, toilet paper, mirrors were wet.  After the dust had settled, we noticed standing water in the trash bin.  Back in the tub, the naked, wet, perhaps cold, baseball player with one leg elevated up the shower’s side wall and a heavily-bandaged right arm covered in a disheveled mess of Saran Wrap held by his left arm dangling out the side of the tub would have only been noticeable by the belly laughing going on under the shower curtain.  Thankfully for us, no one did walk in the bathroom at the moment.

But they came close.  The story ends here with an ironic twist.  Remember the amazing host family from Arkansas who we desperately did not want to saddle with a clogged toilet as we were getting moved to another city?  Yeah, them.  Well, since we’ve blogged, they happened to move to Cincinnati and were again hosting us while we were in Cincy having surgery and rehabbing.  The mom, who was at the store while we started the shower-scapade, had come home and undoubtedly heard a loud crash from the shower and ran up the stairs.  “Everything OK in there?”

It was all I could do through my laughter to hold back from eking out, “Yeah, we’re fine.  But we finally broke your toilet.”

Guided Imagery

It has been well documented we can be influenced by our surroundings or by what we hear even when our conscious mind is “turned off” or totally out of it, such as when we are asleep or under anesthesia.  As previewed here on this blog, Mrs. Disco and I are doing everything we can to have as positive an influence on my healing process as possible.  This meant we had a huge opportunity while I was “under the knife.  During surgery, a time when a patient is most vulnerable/susceptible to picking up on what doctors/nurses are saying, we felt it would be a great opportunity to apply a powerful technique Mrs. Disco is not only trained in, but also amazing at: Guided Imagery.

Guided imagery can be explained in many ways—many of which I’ve heard, but I’m still not confident enough to publish what it is. So I’m going to leave that to Mrs. Disco in the paragraph below.

We look at it as a therapeutic tool using carefully chosen language, suggestions, and visualizations to positively influence the mind and body.  What this means is that while Chris was under anesthesia for his Tommy John surgery, instead of listening to the voices of the medical staff and the beeping of machines, he was going through images and feelings of miraculous healing, among other things.

I find all of this fascinating.  Mrs. Disco teaches me more about this kind of stuff every day as we go along the healing journey.  There are some particular aspects of all of this we find truly intriguing.  First one is the mind, in an altered state (under anesthesia for example), is capable of more rapid and intense healing, growth, learning, and performance.  The other is that medical literature suggests when we have a sense of being in control, that, in and of itself, can aid in healing and recovery.

One of the things I was worried about with the surgery was that I would be able to feel what was going on, but be able to do nothing about it.  Not sure where I got this, but maybe I’d flipped through an after-school drama one day and seen this phenomenon.  Thankfully this didn’t happen, but based on how amazingly good I felt immediately after coming out of anesthesia, my mind was still working and listening.

So, if we can hear while we’re undergoing surgery and we heal better if we feel like we’re in control, then I’m pretty sure I don’t want to hear a doctor say, “I don’t think he’s going to make it” or “he’s bleeding all over the place” and I also want to feel like I’m in control in some way, shape, or form.   Thankfully, I had an incredible surgeon, Dr. Kremchek, who is not only all about this, but we’ve noticed, he is also someone who focuses on the positive, naturally and effortlessly.  So when Mrs. Disco came up with the idea for me to wear noise-canceling headphones to listen to an mp3 she made especially for my TJ surgery, Dr. Kremchek was all about it.

So how is someone supposed to feel like they are in control when they are actually completely out of it?  Good question.  I wondered the same thing.

I will add this aside…For some reason during the 2006 baseball season (before even meeting Mrs. Disco), I decided every time I wanted to sleep on a bus, I would play a mix of Radiohead songs.  I had a bunch of their songs, but never actually listened to any of them, so I decided to listen to them while I was asleep.  To this day, I have not purposefully listened to a Radiohead song while awake, but when one does come on the radio, I instantaneously know that I know the song and have heard it.  Interesting…huh?  I couldn’t tell you one lyric of any Radiohead song, but I have heard them—consciously or not—for hours and hours (long bus rides in the Midwest League) and they are implanted somewhere deep in my brain.

This brings us to my surgery.  Mrs. Disco’s research told us we are susceptible to suggestion while unconscious, her experience made her the perfect candidate to record an audio track with Guided Imagery, and I had experienced first hand already the effects of listening to something while unconscious.  It was all coming together perfectly.  So for my surgery, I wore noise-canceling headphones while listening to guided suggestions asking my body to move blood away from the surgical area for a clean working space for my surgeon, asking my body to regulate my blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing by keeping it stable and by telling my body it’s okay to accept the new ligament as if it belonged there all along.

I’m so grateful God gave Mrs. Disco this amazing and totally pertinent ability to motivate me and help me heal through language and imagery.  The mp3 is about an hour and twenty minutes long and its expansive content encompasses a bunch of stuff I don’t know much about, just know it works.  She included the three sensory modalities (visual, auditory, kinesthetic).  We all have preferences of how we like information presented to us and usually tend to respond better when they are presented in our “choice modality”.  For instance, some people are visual learners who like to see what you mean in a diagram or picture.  Auditory learners tend to “get it” when they simply hear an idea, while kinesthetic learners need to experience what you are talking about for themselves. Like learning to ride a bike – some may only need to see someone else riding the bike to know how to do it on their own.  Others may only need instructions given and are able to get on the bike and start riding.  While others need to actually get on the bike and try it themselves before they can fully learn.  Most people learn through a combination of sensory modalities, so Mrs. Disco included all three on my mp3.

Here are a couple very basic examples of the three modalities she used on my mp3 (Mrs. Disco asked me to tell you these are the most simplistic forms of applying these techniques)

Visual:  See your body healing.  Picture your elbow becoming stronger, now.”

Auditory:  “When you hear the beeping of machines, your body relaxes even more as you tune into your Inner Healer for a miraculous recovery.”

Kinesthetic:  “Every time air enters your lungs, you’ll be reminded to relax and experience pleasant sensations of healing”

The day of surgery, I asked the nurse to give me at least a ten-minute heads up before getting wheeled into the O.R. so I could start my mp3 to help me relax a little more.  All I remember is hearing my wife’s sweet, soothing voice calming my thoughts, reassuring me I was safe and in good hands.  Next thing I knew, I was in the recovery room elated with my amazingly strong, new elbow and telling anyone who walked by how awesome it was.

Today if you were to ask me what was on that CD, I would have no idea.  But the surgery went perfectly and from day one I have been healing amazingly well and have been ahead of schedule.  And every once in a while Mrs. Disco says something that makes me think…hmm, I know I’ve heard that before.

Next up: NLP & Hypnosis


Be the Change

Bout darn time we get back on the ball, eh?   So, we’ll pick up where we left off… answering the question:

How are we going to work together to get this elbow to heal miraculously and what do we need to do to make it happen?

We both truly believe the path to absolute optimum health and recovery consists of:

I) You

  1. Positive thoughts
  2. A true belief in your healing
  3. Realistic understanding of the process
  4. Ability to really listen to what your body is telling you
  5. Surrounding yourself with a healing/healthy environment

II) Add-Ons

  1. Guided Imagery
  2. NLP & Hypnosis
  3. Meditation
  4. Prayer
  5. Healing Touch
  6. Tapping

All of us have the ability to decide how we are going to feel about something – we can either complain about how something isn’t perfect or we can cheerfully, with gratitude see all the good things about that same situation. We can think of our aches and pains as “bad” or be grateful we are able to recognize the signals our body is trying to tell us and then figure out a plan to manage or even fix the source of the problem.

In this same manner, language and how we use our words holds more impact in our lives than we might imagine. If someone constantly identifies themselves as having a “bad back or bum knees or ‘what a pain the neck’ or ‘this is a pain in my butt’” – well, this may come as a surprise to you, but more than likely your back and knees aren’t going to get any better and if you hadn’t had neck or butt pain, more than likely you’ll eventually talk yourself into having neck issues and hemorrhoids…. unless you shift into using more positive language patterns like you may have already begun to start thinking about, now.

Same goes for this miraculously healing elbow. The mind and body are more powerful than we can imagine. The body has the ability to heal itself, but we end up talking ourselves out of it. We started thinking, well, what if we instead talk ourselves INTO it… what if we can be a catalyst for encouraging a positive healing experience?

Mahatma Gandhi said: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  This also goes for our immediate surroundings and relationships with others.  If we want to live in a more positive, healthy environment or have better relationships, then we have to look inside ourselves to begin that change. You can’t expect other people to change for you.  But if we gradually shift our own attitude, we then begin to see the world around us shift as well.  So that’s what we did with the elbow.  We truly believe the blowout was a gift from God.  We’ve dug deep; taken an honest look at ourselves to figure out our fears, our faults, our short-comings and as hard as it is to do, it’s what gives us the ability to make progress; to be the change we wish to see in our lives.

So, as we share these next few blogs, as much as it seems we are writing them to share with others, (which we are), we are more so writing them for ourselves to help us grow.  We pray for you and hope at the very least one-person smiles while reading this and thinks to themselves, “yes, I also want to be the change I wish to see in the world and in my own relationships and surroundings” and in turn, a small piece of your world is just a tiny bit better because of this.  It’s the least we can hope for.

Next up: Guided Imagery (during surgery)

Connecting the Dots

I’m bequeathing the blog reins to the Mrs. again for a while.  Don’t worry there’s some good parts…er, I mean some parts I wrote (found in italics)…sprinkled in there as well.

Lately we’ve gotten in the blogging mood while I’m at PT and typing while doing elbow flexion and extension exercises ad nauseam has proven messy. I’ll be back on board soon enough…until then, here’s the better half:

So why the heck are we so excited about all of this?  During that first week of ups and downs, yeses and nos, we had the opportunity to sit back and reflect on what all of this means for us and our future in baseball.

The first radiologist’s phone call was actually the toughest.   That night we had company over, so Chris took the phone call up in our bedroom.  He was taking longer than I expected so I excused myself to check on him and instead of finding him talking on the phone about rehab options, I found him lying on our bed face down in a pillow – silently crying.  He was crying hard enough that I could see his back shaking with the sobs.  While I doubt he’d really want me to tell everyone that he was bawling, the way I look at it is in that moment who wouldn’t cry if someone just gave you news that appeared as if your boyhood dreams were officially over?  I’ve seen Chris tear up here and there and even cry once or twice in our 4 years of marriage, but I’ve never seen him like this.  I climbed on his back and kissed the back of his neck while he sobbed.  As he choked back tears, he took his head out of the pillow and said, “It’s over.  It’s torn.  Baseball is over.”

For me the craziest thing was that instead of breaking down into a hot mess of tears, I instead was filled with a very calm and peaceful clarity.  For the first time in my life I actually had nothing to say, but I knew I had to do something.  So I said, “Get up.  We’re not crying over this.  Get in the car.  Let’s go watch the sunset.”

Ever feel like you’re in a dream-world and crazy-talk just starts spilling out of your mouth?  Don’t try to tell me this has never happened to you.  While we were watching the sunset from our daze of a dream-world, staring blankly into the distance, a thought popped in our heads, “This isn’t what you think.  Baseball isn’t over.  Rather, it’s just the beginning.”

Try to wrap your heads around that one – 28 years old, highest level AAA, independent ball, tommy john.  Just the beginning, my ass.

We tried to put the reality of the situation in perspective – it just seemed a little too far-fetched to actually believe this crazy thought, but then suddenly new questions quickly started coming up, one after the other, as quickly as we could say them out loud.  Little by little it all started to make sense.

What if my elbow actually started deteriorating years ago without even realizing it?  This idea forced me to think back over the past few years and with surprise started recognizing more and more pieces of the puzzle starting to connect themselves.

Was the cause of my drop in velocity over the years not related to the addition of new arm slots like we had thought, but rather a deteriorating UCL instead??

I’m going to add a disclaimer here on behalf of orthopedic surgeons across America.  The Tommy John procedure in itself doesn’t make you throw harder.  Some have this misconception and want to bring their 11-year-old in to get Tommy John so he throws harder.  In my isolated case, I believe that in the past, my body was protecting itself from further injury to the UCL and in turn wouldn’t allow me to “let go” and throw hard.  If I have had 106mph in me all along, my body was only allowing me 75% throttle so to speak, because it knew that kind of force on the kinetic chain would cause further injury.  I started off in college throwing mid 80s from my low arm slot and every year for the next six years steadily dropped one or two mph each season.  It could make sense my body needed to provide more and more shelter and continue to throttle down.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Disco, but by this past season I was throwing 74-76mph.

Is that why I struggled with controlling my slider over the past couple seasons, even though it was my original go-to pitch?

It’s not a secret breaking balls put a lot of stress on the elbow.  But over the past 3 or 4 years as my slider has up and left me, I never had a reason to question if health were the cause.  I have been wracking my brain for years now on this exact issue.  I’ve likened it to dogs and cats.  My slider used to be like a well-trained dog, it was always by my side and did what I told it to do with precision and obedience.  One day (probably in 2008) I woke up and my slider was an unruly cat.  Many days I couldn’t even find it, and when I did, it had a mind of its own going seemingly wherever it pleased with emotions ranging from apathy to boredom. It made no sense, and worst of all, it made me a one-pitch pitcher. As I said, when health wasn’t a concern, the mystery was –well, a mystery. If it turns out my body’s been protecting itself from injury and holding back through the cat-ification of my slider, it’s a mystery no more.

Disco just shout across the room, “hey you should say, ‘bullet point number seven: Is that why he sucked the last two years in AAA?’”  🙂

Is that why he always felt like he should be able to throw harder, but could never convince his body to actually break through that barrier?

What we find most cool about this one is that we both truly believe God gives us opportunities when we’re ready for them and not a second sooner.   In the exact moment we become ready for something, its like the ‘that was easy button’ BAM – here’s your new opportunity.  This is exactly how we feel about the torn UCL. Chris’s body must have subconsciously known it couldn’t handle a 105 mph fastball with a sub-par ligament, so it prevented him from throwing anything harder than 86 (overhand).

Maybe that blockage was fueled by a fear of not being ready or good enough for the big leagues; maybe the body knew it wasn’t ready, so it caused that fear.  The instant Chris recognized this hidden fear might be holding him back, with the help of his teammates, he dug deep to release that barrier.

It was in that very INSTANT when we feel he actually became mentally ready for the big leagues, in turn producing the fastest pitch of his life. This is the EXACT INSTANT that God smiled and BAM, hits the ‘that was easy button’, saying, “let’s blow this pop stand (er, elbow) and give you a new, stronger, and better elbow that can handle the speed you are truly capable of”.

Where can we sign up?

After all of those plausible thoughts came streaming through, one last crazy-talk idea came up:

Now what if we revolutionized recovery time for tommy john surgery by getting Chris’s elbow to miraculously be 100% in only six months after surgery instead of 10-12 months?  Imagine that?!  We could totally do it.  We have all the tools we need.  He could be ready for winter ball, throwing 120, big league spring training invite, breaks out of camp less than a year after TJ as opening day starter for the Cubbies.  (We’d even be okay if it weren’t the Cubs…. It would just be so convenient for us.  We live a mile from the stadium, we have family there, all of our friends, Tracy’s business… list goes on).

Obviously we acknowledge this last part is just pure crazy talk, but it’s what fueled us that first week through the seesaw of medical opinions and is most importantly what led us to this uber-ly influential question; the crux of our motivation:

How are we going to work together to get this elbow to heal miraculously and what do we need to do to make it happen?

1 week roller-coaster ride of emotions

For those of you incessantly checking the blog, all one of you, (hi Mom) – we apologize for way too long of a delay in getting blog post number dos up here.  Mrs. Disco writing, Disco is currently whipping a BodyBlade around in physical therapy in hopes he’ll actually learn how to fly.

As we mentioned in the last post, Chris’s injury came out of left field.  As bummed as we initially were, the week immediately following his injury was filled with such contrasting medical opinions that we had the opportunity to step back and do some serious self evaluation.  We were obviously hanging on the hope he wouldn’t need surgery, so the stark contrasts in each doctor’s opinions really threw us for a loop.  Going from one extreme to the other was emotionally draining and by the end of it, it got pretty ridiculous.

So, to bring you on our journey of the emotionally radical highs and lows, I’ll give you the timeline rundown of what we were told the week following his injury.

Basically, this is how it went down:

1.    Mid game, Chris leaves the mound for elbow pain.  (Emotions: Oh crap!  How bad is it??)

2.    Immediately upon entering the clubhouse he passes initial elbow stability tests, which lead us to believe it’s not blown out. (Emotions: Pretty bummed he had to come out of a game b/c of pain, but figure with a couple days rest he’ll be ready for his next start.  We are optimistically cautious.)

3.    Next day Chris is examined by an ortho surgeon.  Ortho says, “nope, you didn’t blow out your elbow; probably just a forearm strain.  Rehab it and you’ll be back in a couple weeks”.  Trainer pushes for MRI anyway.  (Emotions: Yes! Feeling relieved it’s not serious.  Can’t wait for MRI confirmation.)

4.    Later that evening, radiologist calls to say, “Sorry, rehab isn’t an option because you have a torn UCL.  Surgery is the only answer.  You’re out for the rest of the season.” (Emotions: Shocking, shocking blow.  Lots of tears.  How could it be torn??  Surgery?  More tears.  Really, really sad tears.  Sad. Sad. Sad.  Feeling pretty darn low right about now.)

5.    First thing the next morning, two new orthopaedic surgeons examine Chris’s elbow and decide they disagree with the initial MRI report.  They believe there is no tear, just a forearm strain.  They recommend 6 weeks of rehab.  Surgery not needed.  (Emotions: Relieved there isn’t a tear and feeling lucky that he doesn’t need surgery.  At this point we are feeling hopeful, like we got a second chance after enduring last night’s sadness.  Dodged a big bullet.  Today is a good day.)

6.    Later than night, right before bed to be exact, the chief radiologist calls to confirm doctor’s thoughts.  Says, “definitely NO tear in your elbow.  No tear at all.  Initial radiologist was wrong.  You definitely do not need surgery.  You just have an over-stretched UCL, making it appear “wavy”.  You only need rehab.”  (Emotions: Holy roller-coaster ride the past few days. Up, down, up, down, yes it’s torn, no it’s not, etc.   Still bummed about Chris having to sit out for 4-6 wks, but thankful it’s only a month compared to a year.  Hoping to get one final opinion from one of the top sports surgeons, we overnight Chris’s MRI to a few of the best elbow surgeons in the US.  We go to sleep feeling very happy and very blessed.)

7.    Late the following night, 10:30 pm to be exact, we get a text from Dr. Timothy Kremchek (doc for the Cincinnati Reds) asking if we have time to talk.  Dr. Kremchek says, “Absolutely no question about it, Chris’s UCL is definitely torn.  Text book MRI.  He further explains that a “wavy” tendon does not mean stretched; it means torn.  If Chris wants to continue playing baseball, rehab will not solve the problem – he will need surgery.”  (Emotions: Impressed at the personal attention from this amazing surgeon.  He made us feel like he genuinely cared about Chris’s well being.  BUT… now with those new results, we are back to being bummed, a little discouraged and confused.   NOW what are we supposed to do?? hrmph.)

8.    Next day, we get a call from a different ‘top surgeon’.  He’s very rushed and says, “yes it is a tear”, but gives generic information about rehab and says he’s “got 50 more MRIs to review today so if we have any questions to call his fellow”.  Fellow says Chris could try rehab for 6 weeks to see what happens.  (Emotions:  Not feeling very important to this particular surgeon.  More confused.  A little more discouraged.  Should we try rehab? Should we not? What the heck are we supposed to do?)

9.    That night we talk to Dr. Kremchek again.  He is confident it’s a complete tear.  Doc explains Chris could try rehab, but a torn ligament is a torn ligament is a torn ligament.  Kremchek understands all of the recent conflicting medical opinions causing our current state of uncertainty, so he suggests Chris try to throw.  He says, “the proof is in the pudding.  If Chris can’t let loose, if he can’t just ‘let it go’, he’ll have his answer”.  (Emotions:  Bummed, but feeling optimistic about gaining clarity.  Thankful for Kremchek.  That night we pray for clarity and nervously await the next day when Chris will throw for the first time since his injury.)

10.    The next afternoon, Chris goes out to the field to play catch with a teammate while I watch nearby from the bullpen.  It’s not good.  He feels pain through the first couple soft tosses and is afraid to even try and let loose.  He sucks it up and tries anyway.  No chance.  No matter what he tries, his body just won’t let him throw any harder than the 38 mph heat he’s currently throwing.  (Chris’s addition: “At this point he’s barely throwing hard enough to be a tee-ball pitcher” nyuk nyuk.)  Exactly as Kremchek said.  He finally convinces his body to throw a tiny bit harder and it doesn’t go well.  At all.  Significant pain in his elbow.  He can’t put anything behind it.  He catches one more ball and instead of throwing it back to his teammate, Chris walks towards me… head down, shoulders defeated.  He looks up at me with tears in his eyes and says, “well, at least we got our answer.”  (Emotions: Tearful relief.  Feeling grateful God granted us the clarity we prayed for the night before.  Sad to acknowledge Chris’s season is officially over.)

11.    We walk in from the field together with the amazing trainer, Jess, and call Kremchek.  We’ve got some serious questions for him.  He patiently and thoroughly answers each and every one of them.  We know some surgeons don’t actually do their surgeries, so we ask Dr. Kremchek if he would consider doing Chris’s surgery start to finish.  Kremchek says he does all of his surgeries and explains the entire process.  We ask him to explain his “docking” technique of how he attaches the new ligament and ask why his is a little different than Jobe, Andrews, and Yocum.  Before hanging up, we learn one final piece of information we feel valuable enough to choose Dr. Kremchek to perform Chris’s surgery.  Kremchek makes a strong effort not to disrupt the ulnar nerve during surgery unless absolutely necessary because some patients experience nerve pain, tingling, or other side effects.  We don’t want Chris’s ulnar nerve touched.  We schedule surgery 4 days away.

12.    The next day we pack up our car and make the 534 mile drive out to Cincy to meet with Dr. Kremchek.  He is amazing.  He does a saline MRI and as he noted earlier, this new MRI confirms a full and complete tear of Chris’s Ulnar Collateral Ligament.  Because there wasn’t obvious trauma to any of the surrounding structures, the doc and radiologist concur that the UCL had probably been tearing little by little over a long period of time.  This piece of information is unbelievably paramount to us for so many reasons.  It is the final nod, the official “yes”, the complete confirmation that we are officially on a new journey better than we could ever imagine and we are oh so excited for surgery.

Emotions:    bring.  it.  on.  tommy.   john.

The Rupture

I guess it’s a sign Tracy and I are on an amazing journey that seemingly every step of the way we look at each other and one of us will say this is going to make a great chapter in the book. The book itself doesn’t exist in paper form, yet as each page turns in our life, it’s so good, we just can’t put it down. But then again, we don’t really have a choice.

I don’t know if we’ll ever sit down to write our story years after the baseball journey has come to an end, but seemingly countless “low points” have, at the time, looked like perfect opening chapters. Ours is a story of progress—ascension, in a way—and we’ve thought it would only make sense to start at the lowest point and let the reader work “up” with us through the book. Yes, there have been peaks. Almost always they have been more spectacular than we could even dream up. But there have also been plenty of “valleys”. And as the journey continues to unfold, each new “valley” we’re mired in makes for the best opening chapter yet.

Two weeks ago, I tore my Ulnar Collateral Ligament.

It was Saturday, May 21st and I was pitching in Somerset, NJ against the Somerset Patriots with two outs in the bottom of the 3rd inning. After five submarine offerings including a foul ball on the last one, I decided to throw Josh Pressley an overhand sinker. I came set and delivered the pitch. Upon the release I felt sudden and sharp tightness in my forearm.

The pitch was fouled off and the count remained 2-2. My heart began to race and as I got a new ball from the umpire, I shook out my forearm to evaluate what was going on in my arm. I knew it wasn’t good, but adrenaline was in charge and a fair assessment was near impossible. I remember thinking in the next 10 seconds before I should deliver the next pitch, I easily could either grossly under-diagnose the issue just as easily as grossly over-diagnose it.  Neither were good options.

I don’t normally check the radar gun in the ballpark while I’m pitching (the ego can only take so much), but I wondered if the pitch, despite feeling like it came out with good velocity, actually was insanely slow.  I figured if I had blown out, which I didn’t think I had, I’d turn around and see a big FIVE-EIGHT. Turns out I was wrong…on both regards.

I should take a step back and acquaint people new to this blog. Ever since I was a tiny child I have thrown things, balls, rocks, crunched up paper. You name it, if it could be thrown, (even if it couldn’t be thrown) I’d throw it.  It just feels like the right thing to do.  I remember one time throwing a Nerf baseball against a door and counting how many times in a row I could do so error-free.  I honestly don’t remember what the number was when my mom asked me to stop, but I do remember saying “one-thousand” to myself a lot of times.  I’m not saying this to brag  (frankly it wasn’t very difficult going error-free for so long when I was only five feet away from a perfectly flat surface) I’m saying this because despite knowing I would no doubt make an error, I still did it over a thousand times.  I don’t know how old I was, but I do know we moved out of that house when I was eight.  In that same house I remember breaking countless artifacts my mom held dear to her heart.  At that point in my life, I threw harder than I should safely throw in the house.  And come to think of it, I guess my aim pretty lousy.

From those roots, I became a soft-throwing control pitcher in professional baseball. The Disco nickname comes from my fastball not being able to get out of the 70s. Overhand I have thrown as fast as 86 and maybe on occasion I’ve been lucky enough to have hit 87; but then again, I’m not quite sure.

The stadium radar gun in Somerset read 91mph.  That is faster than any radar gun has ever clocked me, ever, in my entire life, even on a good day with a fast gun.

I don’t remember experiencing any excitement over the 91; I was still in diagnosis mode and this was just another data point.  It couldn’t be blown out if the pitch came out that well.  I stepped back on the mound and found the rubber.  The pain wasn’t in my elbow; it was in my forearm.  Our catcher called for a fastball.  Just throw it, don’t baby it.  If it’s blown out, it’s blown out.  I came set.  What if it’s just hanging on a thread?  The submarine offering was again fouled off and the count remained 2-2. The tightness continued to clamp down.

After two more non-competitive pitches out of the zone, the batter headed towards first base and I began to pray.  I started to pray for health, but then without any conscious intent to do so, my prayers shifted towards asking for the strength to summons the trainer and our manager out to the mound to let them what was going on.

I have been blessed to wear a professional uniform for over 1,000 games in my career and up until this point had been unavailable to play in exactly zero of them. Gaining the courage to admit I actually had an injury was significantly harder than I thought it would be.  I surely didn’t have the strength to do so, but my prayers were answered.

When I told my manager what had happened he immediately signaled to take me out of the game.  I was hurt.

That night, my arm numb from the effects of the ice, we couldn’t help it… This is going to make for a great chapter in the book.  Heck, THIS has got to be the opening chapter.

I’m going to ask Tracy to write this section of the blog. I will preface it by saying I sit here absolutely thrilled about what comes next for us.  We have talked about this for hours on end and we both feel exactly the same way, but my perfect and pretty little wife has an amazing knack for making things especially uplifting and it wouldn’t be fair to you to have me try to write this and obstruct her energy even in the slightest.  Without further ado, here’s Tracy:

Honey, first let me say, I’m so grateful you decided to start blogging again.  (Holy cow!  I already have to add a side-note here.  Sheesh!  Before I started writing my little portion only moments ago, I quickly prayed for the perfect words.  A simple and quick prayer to help me engagingly express our excitement with the perfect words and as soon as I said Amen, I felt the urge to start typing and this is what came out: “Honey, first let me say, I’m so grateful you decided to start blogging again.”  Then craziest thing happened (at least for us anyway), as soon as I typed that sentence, a beautifully hovering hummingbird appeared right outside my window!!  You see, hummingbirds are incredibly, incredibly special to Chris and me and have appeared out of nowhere, more times than we can count at the perfect times… just like now.  We’ve never seen a hummingbird in this area.  Ever!  Didn’t even know they existed here!  For me, it was just yet another little wink and thumbs-up from God showing we’re still on the right path and most importantly for right now, He’s glad Chris is back, too.  So cool.

Okay, I’m back.  I’m not sure how much or little Chris wants me to write, so I’ll pick up where he left off – the night of his first ever game-removing injury.  That night was especially peculiar for us because he had never been hurt.  Together we’ve dealt with rough games, tough calls, disappointing roster moves, you name it – baseball related stresses – we’ve been through almost everything… except an injury.  That night and over those next few days, the list of unknowns, what-ifs, and the inherent fear of what a real injury might mean for us were with no doubt at the forefront of our thoughts.  Will he be ready to go before next start?  What if he’s not?  How long should he rehab?  Can he even rehab from this?  What if it’s a serious injury?  What if he needs surgery?  “Could you imagine if you needed surgery, honey??  Ha!  You? Surgery?  Mister always perfectly healthy.  That would be crazy.  So didn’t see that one coming.”  How long would it take him to come back?  Would he come back?  What would we do if he didn’t come back?  Is it even possible to come back?  28 years old in independent ball and now with a potential injury.  At first glance, a future in baseball ain’t lookin’ so bright … or is it??

I don’t know how or why, but over the days following his injury we can honestly say God did some serious intervention with our thoughts and has shown us so many irrefutable signs and reasons why playing baseball is not only still very much a part of our future, but that He is preparing to absolutely blow us away in sheer amazement and awe of what is in store for us and what has already begun unfolding before our eyes.

I think I’m actually going to end my portion here.  I didn’t even get to the good parts yet, but I’m getting the sense that for now, this is perfect and I will trust my next guest appearance will begin sharing the stinking awesome and amazing things that have happened to us recently.  I can’t wait to share them!!!

In 2006 I had already begun writing down some stories from my experiences early on in baseball. The first one I ever wrote was my first professional appearance as a pitcher. I gave up something like 4 runs in 0.2 innings. At the time, it was a crushing experience. But there was a story within the inning that, despite not making any sense at the time, I knew was noteworthy.  So I wrote it down.  It was such a miserable performance on the field and a miserable feeling wondering if I just wasn’t good enough, I remember thinking at the time this is the perfect start to the book.

Since then, I had supplanted the story of my first outing countless times with other deeper “valleys” that have been “better opening chapters”.

Which takes us to the present.  I get Tommy John surgery this week.  I’ll miss the remainder of the season and be in a brace for weeks.  We’re left hoping my left hand can step it up and Tracy won’t have to wipe my valley in the meantime.  I’m 28 years old in independent ball and hurt for the first time in my career.  Can’t get any lower, right?  THIS is going to make for a great chapter in the book.  Heck, THIS has got to be the opening chapter.

It may very well be the opening chapter.  But if it is, it won’t be for the reasons we used to think.  True, ours is a story of progress—ascension, in a way—but we have seen time and time again without exception that the supposed “valleys” turn out not to be “valleys” at all.  Remember that confusing, noteworthy part of my first outing? Now it makes perfect sense and has perhaps helped me as much as anything I’ve learned in my entire career.  I won’t share it here (this is painstakingly long enough already), but suffice to say each and every low point has proven to turn out in such a positive way.  We could go on and on.  We are grateful we have been more blessed by our low points than any other points along the way.

The only difference is this time—for this Tommy John chapter—we didn’t have to wait until after the fact for the low point to reveal it is actually a true and amazing blessing.  This time it hasn’t taken us until after the fact to see that we’re not actually in a valley at all; we genuinely feel how blessed we are as each new page turns.

Here’s Tracy again with the final run down:

Much to Chris’s lovingly adoring chagrin, I admit, I can sometimes be the kind of person who needs a little explaining during a confusing movie, “Wait, so how did that guy end up there?”  Like Inception with Leo DiCaprio, for instance.  Confusing, yet amazing movie that I intentionally mention here because it also just so happens to have NLP (neuro-linguistic programming), subconscious suggestions, and hypnotherapy mixed in all over the place… which is a foreshadow into our coming blogs.  See, instead of just leaving those comments here for someone to hopefully pick up on the foreshadowing in later blogs, I will just spell it out for you:

Here’s what’s to come –

    • Disco officially back to blogging.  Yay.  Took ya long enough!
    • Blog posts catching you up to the present day are coming, so if you read this and, like me, get confused when timing isn’t what it should be… I promise in a week or so, we will be up to speed, in real time, everyone all caught up, fully understanding what the heck is going on.
    • Very cool, very awesome happenings we can’t wait to share
    • Robotarm.  It’s a thing.

Can I get a woop woop?

Roger.  Over and out.

Wed=Wife, 2 Frees for the Price of One

As promised: an elaboration to Disco’s 1 Minute Monday mention of getting stocked up on Nike gear.

So, let me first start off by saying I love Nike clothing.  As someone in the fitness profession, this kind of gear has been my entire wardrobe like Banana Republic might be for you business folks, so the opportunity to be a Nike VIP for a day was pretty awesome… especially under the top secret conditions by which we were admitted.

The deal is if you work for Nike, you get a 50% discount off Nike merchandise and have premiere access to their Employee Store (the only one of its kind) in Beaverton, Oregon.   Each Nike employee is allowed five guest passes per year for family and friends, but come on, how many Nike employees do you actually know who would also be willing to share their coveted guest passes?

Well, this is where we start feeling like total VIPs.  Somehow, some way, someone within the Portland Beavers knows someone who knows someone who was able to put the entire Omaha Royals team on ‘the list’ for admission to the Employee Store on Saturday, August 15th between the hours of 9:30 AM and 4:30 PM ONLY.   If you’re not on ‘the list’, no matter how you swing it, you will not be admitted.  In fact, my name was not on it and when Chris inquired about getting my name on, he was met with, “Sorry, ‘the list’ already went out and we can’t get anyone else on it.”

Chris says, “Okay, I’m sure they’ll just let her in right?”

“Oh heck no.  They are super tight with security over there.  She has to be on ‘the list’ or she won’t be allowed in.” 

So, not only do I need to be on the list like everyone else, but the team was strongly advised not to wear any athletic items that didn’t say Nike.  If you only had Adidas shoes, you had to borrow a pair or go barefoot.  One player admit that since he was sponsored by a competitor, he had nothing to wear except his dress slacks and button down he wore on the plane, so he was strongly advised to wear that while everyone else was in jeans.    

They run a tight ship over there, huh?  In an effort to get me in, Chris made a call to the Beavers front office to see if they could help, but their response was,  “We’re really sorry, but once the list goes out, there’s no way to put anyone else on and if she’s not on it, she can’t get in.  Heck, we’re not even allowed in.”

“Well then who do I call?”  Chris practically has to beg to get the number of a guy who knows a guy over at Nike, who might be able to help, but it’s now 6 PM on Friday and we’re supposed to be going at 10 AM tomorrow.

Chris leaves a message for the guy who knows a guy, pleading to get me on ‘the list’ and when he doesn’t hear back, he calls his agent who is all sorts of connected.   They’ve got big leaguer after big leaguer, and a bunch of clients with Nike deals, so piece of cake, right?  If the guy who knows a guy doesn’t call back, at least we’ve got a full proof way through the agent.   

Well, come Saturday morning, Chris’s agent calls back shocked to admit he doesn’t know what kind of store we’re trying to get into, but he went through every contact he had and they weren’t able to get me on.  If Chris had a Nike contract, I could get in with no problem, but not otherwise.

You’ve got to be kidding me.  

So now we’re on the train heading to the Employee Store and I’m still not this secret list!  Chris decides to try the guy who knows a guy one more time and if he couldn’t reach him we devised a method where Chris would take a picture of something he thought I’d like, email it to me standing outside the security gates and we’d make purchases that way.  I was totally about to be the ugly girl eagerly waiting outside the velvet rope while all the cool kids walk right past me into the hottest nightclub in town.  Sigh.  But I was prepared.

We get off the train in the middle of NOWHERE, look around, and there are no signs, no arrows, nothing pointing us in the direction of the store.  Luckily one of the guys knew where to go, but even he had a little bit of trouble navigating the team through tall grass, roaring streams, and barbed wire fences in order to spot a “big building with a white roof” as we were told.  Okay, we didn’t have to jump a stream, but it is in the middle of nowhere and only if you know where you’re going would you be able to find it from the train.  Just as we’re walking up to the entrance with a line out the door jetting into the parking lot, Chris’s phone rings and it’s the guy who knows a guy!  Good news.  I’m on ‘the list’!  Ahem.  I can now huff on my fingers and shine my nails on my shirt cause I’m now kind of a big deal, too.

After waiting in line for thirty minutes amongst all the other VIPs, we were called to a counter where our IDs were checked with ‘the list’ and given a small piece of paper with the date, which goes to the cashier when you check out.  So, even if you’re able to find this place and somehow sneak past security, without the piece of paper, you’d be sh!t out of luck and shown the door. 

We walk in to find a huge warehouse filled with Nike everything: clothing, shoes, golf clubs, bags.  You name it they had it.  And it wasn’t the stuff you’d find at the Outlet stores, either.   This was the real deal, a Niketown on steroids.  It was huge and I was in heaven.  Chris and I split up and as we browsed separately, the store just continued to get more and more jammed with people.  After our second hour there, it was hot, the aisles were packed, and luckily for me, everything was my size; unlike Chris who only found “ah” shirt.  That’s it?  Just one shirt?? The only downside to the store is if you weren’t an X-Small or an X-Large, you might only luck out with a single shirt like Chris did because by Saturday all the middle sizes had been picked through already.

Once you’ve battled the crowds and survived the line to check out, your last step is making it past the cashier cause as soon as you hand that little piece of paper over, that was it.  No turning back so you better make sure everything fits and you like what you got, because they don’t allow exchanges; just returns.

In the end, I made out pri-tty darn well with two pairs of Nike Free 5.0s for the price of Chris’s single pair he got two weeks earlier and workout clothes for half price.  Can I get a heellllls yea!  And just to make sure we were getting the best of the best, we checked out a Niketown in Seattle today to find the exact same stuff, but double the price.

So, moral of the story here is if you want Nike gear for half the price, you have to be a pretty darn big deal, have a contract with them, or know a Nike employee who doesn’t mind sharing one of their passes.  Otherwise, plan on paying full price because getting into the Nike Employee Store is harder to get into than a virgin’s pants Harvard Law.  

Fan Mail Friday, July 25th

Dear Disco Hayes,
As a long-time fan who has followed your career for upwards of two months, I find myself curious about your success. I see that you finished the 2007 season with a 3.10 ERA in A ball–which is obviously pretty damn good. But the following year, you had 1.64 ERA in AA which is–to use a baseball word–“better.” You may have noticed that this year was even better. So the question is: to what do you attribute your improvement?
Dan O., Topeka, KS

Dan-O!  Good question, and thanks for your amazingly loyal fandom.  Can you believe it’s already been two months?  Man, time flies.  I typically answer with off-the-wall, smart-alec answers (see below, or most any other fan mail question I’ve answered ever), but aside from calling you Dan-O, which I apologize for, I feel compelled to answer this one honestly and seriously.  But, I can’t answer it completely.  I have many secrets, and to be honest, I don’t feel right now is the ideal time to reveal my best ones.

I have done a lot of work on the mental side of pitching, and competing for that matter, which has helped me greatly.  In my first two professional seasons (and in my collegiate and independent ball seasons prior) I went the majority of the year with an ERA under 2.00 and then would have one or two games where I’d give up runs in bunches and end the season with a 3.00-ish ERA.  Still good, but not amazing.  In the last two years I have been able to limit damage for the most part (for example since the start of the season in 2008 I have given up one or fewer earned runs in 69 of 71 appearances, and the other two I gave up two each time).  I don’t feel like I’m throwing any differently or doing anything significantly differently aside from just not having my bad days be quite as bad.  In an interview in February with Baseball Prospectus’ Rany Jazayerli I talked in a bit more detail about mechanical changes that have made me perhaps more consistent with location and movement so if you want more detail, you can read more.

Just came across your blog yesterday, thanks to a shoutout you received from www.thebiglead.com.  I’m a big fan already.  I also saw that you did an interview with Rany Jazayerli.  Do you read Joe Posnanski’s blog?  He is far and away the best sportswriter on the planet, and his blog is always thought-provoking, informative, funny, and completely random.  I think we need your blog to go on a blind date with his blog, because I feel like there’s real potential for at least getting to second base on the first date (see, I threw a lame baseball analogy in there too that was also a double entendre).
Keep up the good work,
Craig B., Kansas City, MO

I wasn’t that big into Joe’s work until recently.  However, recently we have exchanged emails a few times and it’s funny you dropped this entendre because it is so apropos, we had actually been working on a book together which we had preliminarily titled, “Getting to second with Joe Posnanski – The blogs of Joe and Disco.”  Our love child (there must have been a throwing error somewhere, if you get my entendre) has already started to lay claim to some royalties from the book, so we may not end up going to press with it, I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

P.S. – Were you a wrestling fan?  The Disco Inferno was a real treat

I was not, nor am I currently a wrestling fan.  If I become one, I will be sure to feast on tapes of the likes of Bret “The Hitman” Hart, Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, and Ric Flair, and will occasionally “treat” myself to the Disco Inferno

Hey disco, is there anyway I could have your autograph?
CJ V., Everest, KS

Does your name mean like nine billion nine-hundred ninety-nine million, etc. and five in roman numerals?  I’m unfamiliar with ‘J’ but I’m sure Will Shortz will make me learn it some day soon in a crossword puzzle, i.e “42D. Ceasar’s 999,999…999,999,905.”

As far as the autograph, I’m really not sure.  You’re in Everest which sounds far and I happen to be extremely intimidated by post offices.  Most public government buildings as a matter of fact, freak me out.  As a product of generation X or generation .com or whatever we are, I’ve found everyone in post offices is at least three times my age.  So, when I do step foot in, I get the feeling everyone stares at me and thinks to themselves, “Ahhhh sonny, found something you couldn’t email, didn’t you?  Well, welcome to my world.  If you don’t like it here, you should have tried sending things on the Pony Express.”  Besides that, when you get to the counter, you have already passed everything you can buy in the store.  It never ceases to amaze me.  That being said, I tried to send you a ball, and this is what ensued:

Disco: “I would like to mail this autographed baseball.”
Clerk: “Do you have an envelope or a box?”
Disco: “Yes, it’s invisible though, is that OK?  No, lady I don’t have an envelope, that’s why I came to this counter.  To purchase an envelope or box.”
Clerk: “Well the envelopes are back there, you’re going to have to get one, next in line please.”
Disco: [Goes and looks at a wall of options which make no sense whatsoever and picks out a box that more than triples in size once it is assembled and now he has a small indoor dome within which he could play catch using the autographed baseball.  He then goes to the front of the line thinking he’s done his time waiting, but the octogenarian in front shoos him away with a cane.  After five more minutes in line, he is back at the front] “Hi, I’d like to mail this autographed baseball.”
Clerk: “Well, do you have stamps?”
Disco: “What the heck are you here for lady?” [Hangs head and retreats]
[Minutes go buy, repeat of beginning of scene]
Disco: “Hi, I’d like to mail this autographed baseball.”
Clerk: “Flat rate or ground?”
Disco: “Those don’t seem to match as options.  Something like ground and air I would understand, but ground and flat rate?  I’m confused.”
Clerk: [Rolls eyes] “Where’s it going?”
Disco: “Listen I’m just trying to find a way to get an autograph to CJV in Everest, KS”
Clerk: “Is that some type of code?”
Disco: “I said the same thing, lady.  I don’t know what it is, but it wants an autograph.  Can I just send it the cheapest way please?”
Clerk: “Well the cheapest way is to use that little machine in the corner with no one in line waiting for it.”
Disco: ” “
Clerk: “Next in line please.”

First of all thank you for your response to my Yabuta question.  Although I’ve never met him, he always came off as a great guy and I’m happy to know my perception was correct.
I have a new question, although it seems like it should have been asked already.  I did a quick search through old Fan Mail Fridays and did not turn up an answer so… Now that you are just a step away from Kansas City and have Rany’s full endorsement, I can’t help but wonder what will be your entrance song.  Might I throw into the ring “Disco Inferno” by The Trammps?  I know, I know, it’s a bit cliche as far as disco songs go but imagine the great opening rhythm as your image emerges on the giant “crown vision” and a close up of your eyes appears on the long outfield wall screens followed by highlights of you getting weak ground balls and striking out Matt Wieters (it will happen) all while you jog in as the Trammps
repeat “burn, baby, burn, disco inferno”.  If that would not be a sight to behold then something is wrong with the world.  It might be a fool’s errand to suggest disco music to disco incarnate, but I couldn’t help myself.  Just wanted your thoughts.
Will G., Omaha, Ne

P.S.  My longtime girlfriend will get yoga trainer certified in a few months.  She’s always spouting of Indian yoga terms like it’s everyday language and expects me to understand what she’s talking about.  Does it ever get any easier?

Will, Will, Will.  Three questions?  Two in one email?  Trammps?

I have had a fan in the past use a phony email address and an alias to trick me into answering two of his questions.  Apparently it was a “vetting process” to have me fill in as the next governor of Alaska.  To quote the fan, “With Sarah Palin stepping down, who better to fill the position of “mavericky” Governor than a “mavericky” relief pitcher?”  I’m not making this stuff up…because you can’t.  Unless you’re Aaron D., of course.  I will say, he had me laughing with a very clever email, I shouldn’t pick on him…I digress.

Alright, on to your first question.  So far in my minor league career I have come out to “Down Under” by Men at Work.  Now, before you all get your Disco Judge Hat’s on and bark that Down Under isn’t disco music, keep in mind, the whole Disco thing has only really taken off in the last year or so.  When I picked Down Under, I picked it because (A) it is an outstanding song, (B) the chorus alerts the other team “I come from a land down under”, (C) it alerts the other team they “better run, better take cover,” and (D) it includes the word “Vegemite” in the lyrics.

I used to call myself Disco sometimes in A-Ball, but no one else really used it much.  Whereas now Disco is the “Honest Abe” of nicknames, it used to be, say, the Rutherford B. “The Dark-Horse President” Hayes of nicknames.  Sorry Uncle Rutherford, I had to go there.  Rest In Peace.

Now that Disco is a household name across America, we may need to rethink the intro song.  It won’t be without some tough consideration, though.  First off, Down Under first came out in 1981.  The boys in Men at Work were years ahead of their time, but I just wish they could have been 2-5 more years ahead of their time and come out with this ballad in the late seventies.  Either that or I wish I could throw 81.  Nah, who am I kidding, Viva le Disco!

So, it will be with a heavy heart, but I think it’s time to abandon the Vegemite and embrace disco.

Close your eyes for a minute and picture this with me: Manager walks out to the mound and lowers his right arm to ankle-level and points to it.  Everyone knows what’s about to happen…Kauffman Stadium turns into a full-on seventies dance club.  Cue the “Disco Inferno” or the “I Love the Nightlife” or any Hues Corporation, Marvin Gaye, KC & the Sunshine Band, Kool & the Gang, Rick James, Chic, Sister Sledge, Donna Summer, or Diana Ross and the place is up for grabs.  I want people tearing off jeans to reveal a polyester base layer and then taking off their hats to the explosion of a full-on afro on their heads.  Lower the world’s largest disco ball in front of the world’s largest Big-Tron in center, cut the lights, and start flashing a strobe and other colored lights throughout the stadium.  Not a fan will be seated, as vendors will gracefully make their way through the stands on roller skates with trays up above their heads.  I’ll Travolta it out of the bullpen and strut my blue suede cleats on to the mound.  After eight warm-up pitches everyone, including the other team will forget there’s a baseball game going on in the middle of the “dance floor.”  And even if the opposition does remember, the lights will be off, there will be a huge ball of reflective shards sparkling behind me, and lights will be flashing everywhere.  If that won’t make me un-hittable, I don’t know what will.  I’m picturing my best outings are ahead of me at the “K”.

Now that we have a game plan, the first step, as you have inquired about, is the music.  I hate to limit myself to one amazingly bad Disco song, so I think we’re going to have to come up with a list of 25 or 30 songs and provide the media people with the 12″ vinyls.  That way the DJ can pick the song and each time out, there will be some new groove that will make you stand up and say “mmm MMM mmm, this is my jam,” as you get up and get funky.  Any suggestions?

Woo, I feel like we are spinning back to earth rapidly and I don’t want to land, but alas, here we are at your second question.  “Does the yoga-speak get any better?”  No, it doesn’t.  I struggled for years to try to understand it and just when I thought I had it all down pat I found myself in an embarrassing situation at a local Mexican Restaurant.  My wife said something out loud and I immediately hopped on the floor in a push-up position, lowered my torso to the ground and pulled back with my arms swooping my body forward Zeta-Jones style until I found myself in Cobra and then Up-Dog.  Turns out my wife had not said “Chaturanga, honey,” but rather had asked me to order her a deep-fried burrito:  i.e  “Chimichanga, honey”.

It hasn’t gotten much better, but more and more I have taken the route of any time I hear anything in sanskrit from Mrs. Disco, I just say “savasana” and she immediately lies down and goes into a deep meditative state in which, most importantly, she can’t talk.  Try it out next time, “savasana”.  I think they kind of say it with an ‘h’ like “shavasana”, but don’t take my word, you may end up with a shaved ice or something.

Hey disco, Dan O. here again…I have a second question: Can I be your craziest fan? If you make it to the majors, you’re going to need a crazy and obsessive fan. Everyone knows this. Although I have a pretty busy schedule, I still think I would do nicely. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about being a super, ultra-crazy guy fan who will Selena you, but a more tempered crazy where I send you collages of your face I created in Microsoft Paint. It is a nice balance between “Wow–this great fan is always behind me one-hundred percent,” and “I hope this fan isn’t literally behind me because I think he has mental problems.” Plus, you can take comfort knowing that no matter how far you go, I was there from the beginning.*

Craziest fan, Dan-O!? Your first question seemed so normal.  This may work, though.  I plan on having hundreds of crazy fans (it’s always been a goal of mine) and I will need one ring leader.  It may be a good idea to get a half-crazy, half-normal fan to be a liaison between the rest of “The Inferno” and the real world.  Let’s revisit plans for an intro at “The K”.  Perhaps we can set up a Mannywood-esque “Discotheque” somewhere in the upper deck where every night hundreds of crazy Disco Fans sit around all game and share printed out quotes from my blog, charcoal drawings of my face, and paper mache figurines of my mechanics, and Disco-autographed plungers (that’s right, I have actually autographed a plunger) and stories about how they can throw harder than me.  Then once I get the call from the bullpen and the lights go out and the music comes on, the Discoteque will proceed to go absolutely nuts with all the cameras turn to them for entertainment.  I’ll consider you as perhaps being the head of my crazy fans, and will bestow you the position I will call “DJ at the Discotheque”.  You’re the front-runner for the DJ position at the Discotheque but I’m going to need at least two emails per day and a few more collages wouldn’t kill you chances.

*about two months ago

Mach 3, Disco 0

After waiting in the clubhouse in Omaha for the rain to finally suspend our extra inning game and allow the fireworks to go off on July 3rd, we got home from the game around 11:30pm.  The next morning we had to leave the house at 4am to get on a plane to fly to Oklahoma City via Dallas and play a 4th of July game in OKC again to a sold-out fireworks crowd.  On about 3 hours of sleep and seemingly amidst a layover all day, I was dragging a bit in the clubhouse.

With the Royals we have a no facial hair policy in the minors, and prior to the game I went to shave.  I don’t know if it was the lack of sleep or lack of decent shaving cream, but by the time I had finished shaving, I was bleeding from my Adam’s Apple, had 3 parallel horizontal cuts just below my right ear lobe, and was missing a piece of my cheek just to the left of my nose which was bleeding profusely.  No facial hair though.

Much like Mother Nature did to the fireworks in Omaha, she rained on OKC’s parade as well and washed out the game on the 4th.  Again, like Omaha, they set the fireworks off so the fans wouldn’t leave unhappy, but by 9pm we were dressed and out of the clubhouse.  Right across the street from the field is a movie theater, so Mrs. Disco and I decided to utilize a rare night “free” to go see a movie.  We walked over to find a movie we wanted to see that started at 9:15.

Due to the rain out, there was no post-game spread provided by the clubby, so I was starving.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it through the movie without food, so I had Mrs. Disco go get the tickets and ran across the street to an Italian place that had calzones pre-made.  I ordered mine To-Go and on the short walk back to the movie theater I ate as fast as I could to get as much nourishment, such as it was, before I entered the theater where no outside food or drinks were allowed.  Between bites, I got a text from Mrs. Disco saying she went in to get us seats, but told the guy taking tickets I would be coming.

I walked into the theater but still had half my calzone left.  I was late at this point, but figured the previews were still going on, and after all it was the Proposal we were seeing, so I wasn’t going to die if I missed the very beginning.  Either way, I still rushed the food down my throat.  The ticket-taker was watching me curiously, and I figured he knew I was the guy who was coming in late without a ticket.  He seemed appauled at how fast I was eating my calzone, but once it was safely in my mouth, which no longer made it against the rules to bring in, I walked towards him to enter.

As I finished up chewing, I said to him, “Hi I’m Chris, my wife came in a minute ago, she showed you my ticket,” he smiled and acknowledged I need not go further with my story.

“Go ahead,” he said timidly.  “Um, but sir.”  I had started to walk towards theater 11, but turned back around.


“Um, I think you have a lot of sauce on your face.”  He used his finger to mirror on his face  the part of my upper cheek where he suspected I had sauce.  I fist got the little bit of sauce I could feel on the corner of my mouth, and then felt across my cheek for the sauce he was pointing out.  When my finger got to the right spot he nodded to show I had found it and I jumped a bit in pain as I was scraping across the open wound that was still healing.

Embarrassed, I said thanks and started to walk away.  I heard him say, “Sir, sir, there’s more…” and he trailed off.  I realized he must have thought I was an immense slob to get sauce on my left cheek, right ear lobe and Adam’s Apple and I sulked to the theater, blushing, bloated, and bloody.

1 Minute Monday, June 29th

My hair had gotten too long and I wanted to make it shorter.  You see, we have been on the road for…well…ever it seems.  Yesterday was only my third home game in the entire month of june.  And hair cuts are expensive, so I just hadn’t gotten one in a few months.  I usually have Mrs. Disco cut it, but it’s hard to do on the road and we didn’t have the clippers anyway.  So today I decided to cut it myself.  but I was only half way done when i realize