The big day is finally here!!! Great Britain will make their debut at the World Baseball Classic. It’s a moment I’ve been waiting for my whole life, and somehow I’m going to get to be there to see it.
The game isn’t until 7pm local time here in Phoenix, but that didn’t stop me from waking up at 4am with my heart pounding through my chest. If you can’t tell by now, I’m so freaking excited I feel like I could burst!
Yesterday was the first day since I arrived that GB didn’t have a game. Instead, they were down at Chase Field making their final preparations, and that was firmly behind a closed door for those without press credentials.
However, this provided me with an opportunity to do something else, something that I’ve wanted to do for years… to watch Clayton Kershaw pitch for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Those of you that have known me for longer than the last couple of days know that I am a huge Dodgers fan – I frequently tweet about them, and help to host the “Dodging Sleep” podcast with my friends @DodgersInTheUK.
Kershaw is, in my opinion, the greatest pitcher of his generation, and before he had to withdraw from Team USA, he was a massive reason that I was able to convince myself to spend all this money to fly out here and watch the WBC.
For this to happen, though, I got lucky in so many ways. First, GB Head Coach Drew Spencer saw one of the tweets about coming out here and asked one of his team, Jesse Guffey – a trainer with the Dodgers organisation – if he could hook me up with a couple of tickets. He was only too happy to oblige, despite the fact he’s never met me. I am truly grateful; thank you.
The next act of grace from the Baseball Gods was that Clayton Kershaw was announced as the starter for the very game I was attending. My heart skipped a beat when I found that out the day before – what are the chances!?
His first start of Spring Training didn’t exactly go the way he would have liked as he gave up two jacks on five hits across three innings, but, you know what, I don’t care. I can now say that I’ve seen one of my heroes pitch live, and that’s a memory I’ll keep forever.
I could go on about a few other things I saw and enjoyed, but I’m well aware that most of you reading this aren’t interested in my opinions on the Dodgers so I’ll leave that there – other than to say that I’m very excited to see what Miguel Vargas and James Outman can achieve this year.
Sadly, we had to rush away from the game after seven innings as John had an umpire gig at a Thunderbird High School, and I had to get over to the GB fan meet-up organised at The George & Dragon pub by the BBF.
There were all kinds of people there – Long-term friends such as Gavin Marshall and Will Lintern, both coaches on the GB staff after a lifetime involved in the game; One of TS Reed’s buddies, Eric, with who I had a great time debating the Dodgers v Angels; and I finally met BFN’s own Gav after months of talking to him on Twitter. However, there was no doubt who the star of the show really was.
Sat with his family in the corner of the room, was none other than Harry Ford. The GB catcher, Seattle Mariners’ top prospect and home run hero of the WBC Qualifiers. I only had a few minutes talking to him, a couple more talking to his father, and an even shorter time conversing with his brother, Kyle. From these interactions, though, it was clear how excited they all are to be here. There is no act for the cameras; this means just as much to them as it does to anyone reading this… maybe even more!
So here we are; it’s game day, and I’m so glad it’s finally here. I don’t think I could have waited any longer. #LetsGoGB
Ian appears to have become Bat Flips & Nerds’ correspondent on tour in Arizona. You can follow him on Twitter @Bleasedog