First, my official picture, with a bit of a funny story.
Traditionally, baseball pictures are done with either a bat or a ball and glove; pitchers will opt for the latter, due to the fact that most of what a pitcher does involves the ball/glove, and not a bat. This policy was especially enforced by one Rick Robinson, head coach at Young Harris College, back in 2002 and my freshman year. He made it quite clear to everyone that pitchers were not to hold bats for their pictures, and everyone obliged without much of a fuss. Being the stubborn and naive ne'er-do-well that I was, I insisted on holding a bat in addition to my glove for my picture. The picture turned out great, but I became not only the target of a verbal lashing, but also the subject of Robinson's constant watchful eye. I had tipped my hand, and he would now monitor me especially well for instances of not falling-in-line.
It was this type of decision that characterized my first few months of college baseball - doing what I wanted and thinking that I had that right, no matter what the authority figure told me. My parents had always taught me to be independent and think freely... but I think they failed to foresee two things; first, the extent to which I would take heed of their words, and second, the overbearing slave-driver of a man that was my head coach for 3 semesters at YHC. His objective was to have a fully homogenized team with no individuals and no room for personalities - and for good reason: baseball teams are best made when everyone works and plays as a team, without ego or individual deviation. However, he took it to an extent, like in this case with our photographs, that went beyond any baseball purpose and became a situation where his players became his personal targets for self indulgence.
So... that all sounds pretty depressing, but I am at a point where I can look back and laugh - both at my own sillyness and ignorance of the right decision, but also at Robinson's lack of reason. Contrast that instance with this latest addition to the Mike Kerfeld photo archive, where no one questioned my decision and a few even cracked a smile at the 6'7" goof that stood perched in a questionable batting stance.
This time, however, it was more out of necessity - I did not have my glove with me, and the glove that others were using was right-handed. Rather than take my picture with a wrong-handed glove, or with no glove at all, I opted for the bat, and upon seeing the result, am quite happy with what transpired.
And now for some interesting facts about the league and where we're living:
The IBL roster of 120 players includes 77 Americans, 15 Dominicans, 13 Israelis, nine Canadians, six Australians, two Colombians and a native of Japan (I'm fortunate enough to be teammates with Ryoju Kihara, the representative from Japan)
From the IBL website, which I already knew but thought I'd share:
"The rules of the IBL are a little different too, all aimed at enhancing fan experiences. Our games are seven innings in duration and in the most exciting innovation of all, if games are tied after seven innings, they are decided by a Home Run Derby!
Baseball in Israel. It’s nothing but fun!!"
About Kfar Hayarok, the place we're staying:
"The fully-equipped farm includes such departments as animal husbandry - cows, chickens and horses - field crops, fruit-orchards and a modern garage which services the mechanical equipment. There is even a small zoo!"
...and now some photographic evidence of the zoo that exists not in a contained area like American Zoos that I'm accustomed to, but literally everywhere, including on the walk to the library: