August 12, 2008
It has been a couple days since the Opening Ceremonies here and there isn’t that much to report. We had another game against China but we just weren’t that into it. I can definitely tell we are just ready to start playing. All this practicing and what not is getting old.
However, the President was at our game and that was really cool. I think he only stayed for an inning or two but he took pictures with us and talked to us a little bit. I felt like he just wanted to have a normal conversation about sports. He asked me where I was from and when I told him I was from Nebraska he said “You know I am a Longhorn right?” But then of course he brought up Alex Gordon and Joba Chamberlain. I just cant get away from those two. Even in the USA Baseball programs – our bio stuff in there mentions Gordon and Joba, tough draw I guess. I did get a picture with the President and it’s a good one too. He is looking one way and I am looking the other. It’s perfect.
I have been able to venture off of the village recently. We went to the Silk Market, which is a six story building that sells knock-off stuff and you basically negotiate with them and try and get it as cheap as you can. While I was there I bought two suits and each came with a dress shirt. However, the suits and shirts are custom made for me. So that is pretty cool. I also bought a couple of watches and a belt. But they have everything from golf clubs to electronics, watches to jeans, and even luggage. I will definitely have to take my dad there because in his world everything is negotiable, and he will tell you that too. Speaking of negotiating, I was hanging out with Lou, one of our catchers, while we were there and I tell you what, he is a dealing machine. It was so much fun to watch him work with the people selling him the stuff. They would get so mad at him but he would just keep laughing and smiling. He got everything he wanted at his price though.
I am excited today because it is the last day before the first game. We have just a light workout at about 5 and then we are good to go. Also, we actually saw sunshine today and it wasn’t humid either. It gave me the feeling of a college football Saturday. Its about that time of year.
August 8, 2008
Opening ceremonies were tonight. As many of you will see it was incredible. I have never been so lost in a presentation before. Everything that happened was magnificent and amazing. We actually started at about 5:00PM here. We all dressed at the village and then the entire USA team traveled in buses to the venue, I can’t remember what it was. Anyways, while every team was there we all took pictures with other athletes and got to know some of them. It was really cool because it seemed like everyone was ok with taking pictures because they were fellow athletes. I got quite a lot of pictures and actually wasted too much of my battery. By the time I got to the Opening Ceremonies, my camera died. At first I was really disappointed about it but then realized that I was able to get really captivated into the moment by just watching instead of always trying to catch a picture of it. Probably was for the better for me.
We got to meet President Bush and former President Bush last night as well. The current President took pictures with every U.S. team and wished us all luck. It was something that I won’t forget. He was a very down to earth guy and very supportive of us. He might have to be now that I think about it but he seemed genuine.
After meeting the President, we were put in the gymnasium so to speak. It’s the place where the gymnastic events will be held. Every country was in there waiting for the Opening Ceremonies to start and waiting for their country to be called to walk into the arena. Out of 204 countries, we were number 140. I heard that the order was determined by some Chinese alphabet they used. Didn’t make sense to me how it worked at all. What I am about to describe to you is going to seem probably very jumpy and sporadic but I cant explain all the feelings and sights that I saw. We entered from underneath this huge tunnel and right before we went out we all started chanting “U.S.A.”…It gave me chills and fired me up all at the same time. Then as we come to the opening to go out on the track, we were met by thousands and thousands of people, bright lights, flags, camera flashes. I felt like I was coming out of the tunnel for game seven of the NBA Finals or something, but on a much bigger scale. Then as we made our round in the stadium, we obviously waved to everyone but that is when I realized how much you really pull for your own country, because as we were walking we would see American flags every once in a while and you could tell that every athlete was doing there best to single them out and wave specifically to them. It was just breathtaking.
Then to fast forward through the heat, humidity, and sweated through clothes, we get to the lighting of the torch. That was the most unbelievable thing I had ever seen. To see this guy get hoisted up – I don’t know how many feet – and then basically swing through the air all the way around the stadium to stop and light the torch was just unbelievable. And when we finally witnessed the torch light up and heard the thunderous roar of the flame and the crowd we were so excited and relieved. Excited to get started and to play, and relieved that it was finally over. We had to stand in the heat for about four or five hours and sweat. So, when the torch finally lit, it was a mad scramble to get to the buses to get home. It was actually disappointing to feel like that because Jackie Chan was singing at the end. It was pretty cool to see him as well. But the sights, sounds, feelings, and experiences are ones that I will never forget. I will cherish them forever and will always remember the opening ceremonies of Beijing 2008.