The last few weeks of build-up to our “trip of a lifetime” to watch GB’s first-ever appearance in the World Baseball Classic have been filled with excitement.
I’ve been buying up everything on Amazon that has a Union Flag on it and building spreadsheets on Excel that help me maximise how much baseball I can inject into my veins while I’m out there. As well as GB’s four pool games, we also have tickets to the other six WBC games, two GB warm-up games, and thanks to a friend on the inside, the Dodgers game against the Angels on the eve of the tournament.
My travel buddy is a recent graduate of the Wendelstedt Umpire School, and he’s hoping to meet up with a few classmates while we’re out there, and we both have mutual friends from our decades involved in the game that we hope to raise a glass with.
At the time of writing this, I’ve just set my alarm for 4.30am and will be on the road an hour after that. We’ll probably get to the airport an hour or so earlier than we need to out of nervous excitement but we will tend to those jitters with a couple of cold beers before the flight.
Those nerves are real now… I would almost say that the nerves have taken over from the excitement. After all my years involved as a player, I’m no stranger to big-game nerves. The older I’ve got, the more I’ve come to embrace them, to use them to enhance my focus. I think I actually quite enjoy them when I’m a player, but this situation is quite different.
I think I’ve repacked my suitcase and carry-on a couple of times, and checked I’ve got various things so many times that I’ve lost count. There’s a Dodgers spring training game on TV later tonight, which I’m hoping will serve as a distraction, but I can already tell that I’m not going to sleep too much before my alarm goes off.
STOP PRESS: An email from British Airways to let me know that my 9.55 flight out of Manchester tomorrow has been cancelled. I suppose I better cut this short and see if I can find another route to Phoenix!
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Ian’s replacement flight to London touched down just 40 minutes before the plane to Phoenix departed. Only a true athlete could have made that sprint through the terminal to catch the connecting flight. It has been an eventful day but the guys are on their way #LetsGoGB]
Ian Blease is a guest contributor for Bat Flips & Nerds. You can follow him on Twitter @Bleasedog