Saturday, April 28, 2012

Acupuncture. Unfortunately.

As promised, I got acupuncture. I even filmed it so people back home would believe me. 
Let me tell you, I've been a little bit more excited for other forms of torture that trainers come up with. I would even take the metal tools that our Michigan trainer (Wil the Thrill aka best trainer on Earth) decided to take to my bicep last summer. Literally he dug flat metal tools into my muscles, leaving an oh-so-attractive bruise that took up half of my arm. The funny thing about getting these bruises is the looks you get from people in public the following weeks. I always get looks of grave concern from people in supermarkets and restaurants. As if they want to walk up and tell me that everything is going to be okay, and I shouldn't put up with his abuse anymore. Do I look like the kind of girl that could get beaten by someone?!? Thank you, concerned people, but I can definitely hold my own...

So, obviously I was a hot damn mess prior to getting the needles shoved into my muscles. But I decided to just bite the bullet and do it before I chickened out. The trainer said he was going to just loosen my muscles in my shoulder beforehand. I figured I had about 5 minutes or so before I turned into a pincushion. FALSE. By "loosening up my muscles" he meant lightly pushing on the spot just prior to stabbing me. This, obviously was a surprise to me. My relaxed (fake) demeanor was quickly thrown out the window when I heard him ripping the packaging. I jumped a solid 5 inches off the table and immediately started demanding answers. Our trainer, June, doesn't speak a lick of English. He understands "OUCH" and "stop." And that's about it. Luckily, Maki our translator was there to harass him with my questions and yelling. 
Once the needles were actually in my muscles, June then hooked up STM to it. If you don't know what STM is, it's electric currents that are sent through your muscles. Usually, you just hook up a pad that attaches to the surface of your skin. This time, it was like June was jump starting a car, hooking up clamps to two of the prods. Felt a bit non-human for a hot sec. Apparently, this STM works better since the electric current can reach to the middle of my muscle instead of just the surface. I don't care if it "works better," it felt SOOOO weird. Not a fan. 
I added some pictures and made a video of the actual process. Enjoy!
Wiggins was a little curious haha.

Her feelings towards it...hahaha

Probably will be doing a few more acupuncture sessions considering these next 2 weeks are full of all-day practice. Yup, that's 12 out of 14 days of ALL-FRIGGIN-DAY practices. Oh, and I'm starting the workout Insanity. I'll see y'all in 2 weeks when I'll either be stick thin or dead. Til then....

xo Jordan 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Two Month Point

Cannot believe that I've been here for 2 months. It feels way longer but the time is going by pretty quickly. I caught myself today in somewhat of a routine. Since our days are scheduled from Breakfast to Dinner, I'm basically doing the same thing day after day. My "free" time is filled with going to the store, cleaning, doing know all the fun things! I randomly schedule "appointments" to Skype with my mom and friends. My mom has adamantly followed my career from every pitch, information is her second life form. The time difference and only being able to talk to me when I find internet has proven thus far to drive her crazy with how little information can be provided. Luckily, our games have been streamed live. Not too sure if they always will be.....
But, the link is and you type JSA16 into the search box. 
There are some recorded games on there, I think. I would go look for y'all, but the only thing that would currently be on there would be footage from our 9 inning loss to Toyota (last years champs). So I hope you understand that I do not want to see any part of that game. At all. 
Speaking of that I already said we lost. We played the entire game in rain. Not a fan. Although it wasn't that cold, so it could have been much worse. The absolutely worse game I ever played in was last year's conference opening game at Northwestern. That game alone caused rule changes to be made about the minimum temperature that teams can play at. 12 degrees. That's what we played in. Absolutely MISERABLE. I couldn't feel my fingers, let alone feel the ball. I actually sprinted back and forth in between innings to their indoor football facility to keep warm. It only took about 3 innings for people to realize this and Northwestern fans would come "visit." Adam Arbour, our amazing, awesome, everything great in this world, manager acted as my bodyguard. It was kind of hilarious. I watched our offense through a fogged up window and Adam and I would have our own mini-celebrations in the empty tunnels of the building. Every inning felt like I was a major leaguer sprinting in from the bullpen. And, let me tell you, that sprint sucks. I would totally badass walk my way to the mound if I was a major leaguer. I mean the games are already long enough, it's not like anyone could really say you're taking up too much time. Plus, you'd be way less out of breath than the other guys. And you get to hear more of your entrance song. Win, win. Kate Drohan, Northwestern's head coach would later call me a "pansy" for hiding in the warmth. I gave full credit to Hutch and her genius idea of keeping me from getting frostbite on my fingers. (Ok, fine, it wasn't THAT cold). But, we won both games, so I guess I can see why she was a little upset. 
Anyways, we had 9 innings in the rain. Our rookie pitcher started the game and pitched phenomenally. She just turned 18 and graduated high school last month. You could say the professional leagues are a bit different here. After 4 innings, she hit a little rough patch. The coaches were scared of her inexperience in stressful games, so they put me in in the middle of the 5th. 
Our team played really well, nearly getting to Toyota and their superhuman pitcher, Monica Abbott. If you've never seen her pitch, you need to. She throws 70+ and has movement on top of it. If you don't know what 70 mph at 43 feet equals out to, it's about an 100 mph baseball pitch. Crazy fast. She's arguably the best pitcher in softball today. 
We played strong and kept them off the board, while threatening on offense. Unfortunately, we fell apart in the top of the 9th. A misplayed ball, pop-up, walk, fly out, base hit that scored a run off an error, all resulted in 2 runs scoring. We ended the game with a goose egg in the bottom of the 9th, and a disappointing loss. We had beat Honda 11-1 the day before. High of highs to low of lows. That's definitely something I've learned from this game: as soon as you feel good, the game will knock you on your ass and keep you humble. 
Some pictures snapped on the move on the bus

The tournament we were at this weekend was in Toyama. Not a clue where it was. All I know is about 3 hours into our 4 and a half hour drive, I woke up and saw snow. SNOW. I immediately ran through in my head whether or not I had packed long sleeves and my jacket (that would be a no, as it turns out). I had literally just taken out my winter coat from 
my travel bag thinking the weather wouldn't turn back to winter from spring. Rookie move, obviously. So, basically I froze my butt off for 3 days. Good thing Michigan prepared me for brutal cold!! (sarcasm). The snow did make for a very pretty drive, however. I swear everywhere we go is a scenic route. Every place we drive is gorgeous. 

This was just outside the stadium we played in. Everywhere is a postcard here, I swear. 

Almost forgot. Warming up for our game vs Toyota was impossible to do outside since it was pouring rain. So, pictured above is where we warmed up. "The BIG EGG" indoor batting and pitching lanes. All 24 of us warmed up in the bullpen, the top picture. It was slightly disastrous. Balls were flying everywhere. Several people were hit by mishits. No one got hurt thankfully. I spent my time in the safezone aka the lobby. 
I also almost got acupuncture this weekend. Let me run you through my relationship with needles.....
Not a fan. Not in the least bit. We had blood work done at our doctor's visit. It took me a solid 15 minutes to stop hyperventilating and actually sit down at the nurses station. I paced, fake to sit down about 20 times, and eventually plopped down on the bench. They didn't even have the cookies and juice that the U.S. doctors give you!!! Disappointing. I at least wanted a sucker or something. Would've settled for a piece of gum or skittle. I was the kid that took about a dozen nurses to hold me down while the doctor gave me a shot. I was THAT kid at the doctors office. I'm going to go ahead and blame this on my first doctor. He told me to look outside and count all the white cars in the parking lot while he snipered me in the arm with a huge needle. I vividly remember whipping around and giving, quite possibly my first, a death stare. My death stares only took off from that moment on. I would say I'm a black belt death staresman now. 
I have 1 tattoo on my foot. It took me quite awhile to gain the courage to get it, given my hatred of needles. My friends can attest to the fact that I was a nervous hot mess before getting it. I got it done at Venice Beach. If you don't know what that is, educate yourself....IMMEDIATELY. I told my mom that I was getting it the morning of my appointment. She laughed and thought I was joking. It was only when I came home with my foot wrapped that she panicked a little. It didn't help that the wrappings - which was COMPLETELY LEGITIMATE - looked like a trash bag. It looked like I got it done in some back alley shack and the guy strapped a hefty bag over my extremity. I got it done by the shop owner, who was one of the scariest people I've ever met. He just kept randomly yelling my name, which continued as I left the shop and walked down the boardwalk. I could still hear him yelling about 300 feet away. His scary demeanor did not help the situation whatsoever, as I almost fainted (literally) off the second floor loft that was rigged within the building. 
There's my history with needles. So, you're probably asking why the hell would I consider getting acupuncture, when I'm scared to death of needles? I'm freaking curious. And, I promised to be more adventurous. Not about to look like a porcupine, though. Not happening. And no weird needles sticking out of my feet or hands or head. Meaty parts only. Limiting this adventure. Honestly, I'll probably pull the plug after a single needle, which probably will do absolutely nothing to help me. So, readers, next time I post, I will have pictures of my acupuncture experience. Lord, help me. 

Next time, I will be porcupined.....xoxo Jordan 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Game

The game of softball here is SO incredibly different. Did not expect that at all. I've known the sport since I was 4 years old. I feel like I'm just starting to play again. It's crazy. The way they think about things is completely different from the way we do in the states. (P.s. it will never get normal to say "the states." I hope it's as weird for you to read as it is for me to type.)
Literally, all aspects of the game are different. Their approach to defense, offense, training, pitching, what the strikezone is......EVERYTHING.
So, let's start with the strike zone. If you have ever seen me pitch for even an inning, you've most likely seen me give a death stare for a blown call. Umpires and I never seem to see eye-to-eye. I tried the sugary sweet approach and nothing changed. So, I take the more fun approach of letting them know just how I feel about their calls. Way more fun that way! My relationship with any umpire was completely altered in 2010, the infamous Illegal pitch season. My dislike for umpires quickly turned into a loathing. I get it, they're doing their job and are probably really sweet people. But, on the field, I hate them. I'm sorry but when you call an illegal pitch after the girl pops up to right field after striking her out 4 different times, we're going to have problems. Or when you're as caught off guard by my change-up as the batter is that you don't realize it's PIPED right down the middle, I'm going to want to kick you in the shin. 
HOWEVER, I'd like to apologize to every U.S. umpire that has received the wrath of my glare. I know, it can be a little scary. Batters I've faced or ex-boyfriends can testify. Japanese umpires take the cake. Actually, no. They take the whole damn bakery. Good lord I've never seen such a small strikezone. I'm pretty sure I had about 5 called strikes the entire game. The first inning I thought I struck a girl out because she watched a FATTY screwball on the inner half of the plate. I did a half skip/fist pump off the field before realizing he didn't punch her out. Half embarrassed, half confused, I fumed my back to the mound. 
Let's just say, thank the Lord that no one on the field can understand what I'm saying. Had a few sailor-mouth moments in the circle. Actually, a lot of them. And the umpires didn't understand my "Oh, apparently I need 4 strikes?!" comments. Or the "You cannot be serious." Or "What the *#*$!" 
Let's hope when I get back in the states that I don't forget everyone can understand what I'm saying. 

Just in case you thought I was kidding about his name being Mr. Data.
Oh, and yes they spelled Trainer as "Tariner"
Scouting here puts the states to shame. Actually a lot of the aspects of softball here put the states to shame. Their work ethic is beyond anything I've ever witnessed. When were done with our 8 hour practices, most of the girls immediately go into the weight room and keep working. I crawl up the stairs and immediately fall asleep....on the floor. Because I don't have the energy to get to my bed. The night before our first game, we had a battery meeting (for those of you who don't know softball/baseball, that's the pitchers and catchers). Our data guy, who's name is Mr. Data (not kidding), sat down and pulled out a binder of papers. These papers had the craziest diagrams, drawings of at bats, hits, etc. Anything you could possibly record on a batter, pitcher, runner, position player, was all in this book. He had percentages, location of pitches, pinpoint location of where they hit it, including bounces of the ball. I was seriously waiting for the statistic of how the girl hit when she ate a hot dog for lunch instead of a salad. RIDICULOUS. He had stats for scrimmages, games, and league games. Everything was meticulously organized. Never experienced that much scouting in my life. And this team, according to Mr. Data, didn't have that much relevant information. He noted the "small" amount of information. I asked "Homeboy, what in the hell is a lot of information?! There's more papers in that binder than I had in an entire semester of school!"
Apparently, the other binders are much MUCH bigger. I'm dreading the scouting report of when we play the 1st place team.....which coincidentally is this weekend. Yay!
I guess I shouldn't be surprised at the scouting, though. When I first pitched in the scrimmage game, I turned around to find 9 cameras in center field. There were 4 teams at the tournament. I came out of the game for the middle innings, at which time about 4 cameras disappeared. When I came back in, a total of 12 cameras magically popped up. There are only 12 teams in our league, including us! Craziness.

The other aspects of the game that are different are far too difficult and complex to type. And quite frankly, I don't understand them. At all. We're constantly getting corrected on things we've been doing since we picked up a softball. Highly confusing and a little frustrating. The work ethic though......I can get with. These girls are by far the hardest workers I've ever witnessed in my life. They do everything with precision and meticulousness. It's amazing to watch sometimes. I can't even imagine how much better some U.S. players would be if they had the same work ethic. They'd be superhuman. Scary to think about. 
There's just a completely different outlook on life and softball by the Japanese that completely boggles my mind. Still trying to form some thoughts to blog about. 
Til then...
xo Jordan 

First Games Down!!

As you could probably guess, #7 and #17 were both taken.
I feel like a linebacker now. Lovely. 
So....after 6 weeks here in Japan, we FINALLY got to play our league games, aka the only games that count. The league here is very different from what we know in the U.S. We only have 22 League Games. Other than that there are just scrimmages. FAR fall from the 60+ games in a college season. These games are spread across a 3 month period - mid-April to beginning of June, then September to end of October. We break during the summer because 1. it is too damn hot here to even breath outside, let alone play a sport and 2. they break for National Team members. The girls who don't play on the National team stay with the team and train. Brutal. Summer here in Japan somewhat compares to Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, etc. Except way worse. Think 100+ with about 90% humidity. HELLLLLL NO. Not happening. So, huge thank you to whoever thought up the summer break in season, you're my new hero.

The stadiums here are amazing! They double up the baseball and softball stadiums. But we get just as many fans as baseball does. 
Our first game was in Kyoto, one of the bigger cities in Japan. Absolutely GORGEOUS cherry blossom. They were huge and so pretty. Literally took my breath away. The city is one of the most historic in Japan, so there were a bunch of temples scattered throughout the city. Was a little weird to see these ornate temples from centuries ago mixed in with extremely modern architecture. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to site-see at all. Our schedule was jam-packed with practice, meetings, and, of course, our game.

Our first game went pretty well. We played Taiyo Yuden, who placed 5th last year (we placed 6th). We won 1-0. Pretty nerve-wracking game. I NEVER get nervous. Like ever. Well, for softball anyways. I know, I'm weird. But the atmosphere at a Japanese game is unlike anything I've ever experienced. Such high energy. And sooooo LOUD. The noise never stops. Literally there was not a quite moment for 2 hours. I felt like I was in the middle of a bee hive. A bee hive equipped with amps. The nonstop noise and extremely high energy definitely gave me some butterflies. I've played the game for so long, but it felt so different here. 

Chiaki, our AWESOME drummer/translator!

We have a "cheerleader" who is freaking amazing. Every team has a designated cheerleader, equipped with a full uniform, drum, and incredibly loud voice. Our guy is super cool. His name is Chiaki and he works for Denso. He yells out all these crazy cheers, and the best part is everyone in the stands knows every cheer. Perfectly coordinated. I feel like our fans barely get the Hail to the Victors down in coordination. Step up your game America!!

The game seemed to take 30 minutes. In actuality it was about 2 hours. The constant action and nerves made it seem so much shorter. We had some touch-and-go moments. We scored our first run in the first inning and only threatened about 2 more times. They didn't get a hit until the 5th inning. It got a little chaotic in the 5th. Hit up the middle (right past my ear, I might add), an error by me (dammit), bunt which we got the runner at 3rd, a hit batter on a 1-2 count (again, dammit), followed by a pop-up, and a play being described by everyone as "the first cute softball play ever" by me - caught a liner on one toe, ballerina-esque, and we got out of the inning. They only threatened again in the 7th with a lead-off hit, followed by a strikeout and 2 pop-ups. All-in-all it was an okay game. Hopefully, we'll get much better through out the season. At this point, I'm about ready to make some sacrifices to Greek Gods for my change-up back. My change-up is my bread and butter. It's my go-to, my first love in my life. It's treated me so well thus far. It ran away and I want it back! Suggestions for it's retrieval are welcome. 

Wish us luck this week as we take on Toyota and Honda!
Til next time....
Here's my team. They're hilarious. 
These are some of the fans after our game.
They learned how to say "I want to be just like you."
in English and repeated it to me. FRIGGIN ADORABLE!

xoxo Jordan 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pichawaa Shi

They have a Cherry Blossom festival all over parts of the country. Basically you sit outside and eat underneath these gorgeous trees. There's vendors and you can drink. It was SOOOO much fun! Kinda weird having a festival for a tree though....

gorgeous trees!
This is my teammate Sachi and her awesome outfit

They asked if I wanted a beer and I said sure since we had an off-day.
Then they handed me this......sketchy, no?
For those that don't know, I LOVE doing anything creative, including sewing.
So here's project #1.....
......and here's the completed version. I can't buy any long dresses since I'm too tall...
so I just made my own!

Keeping a bit of the States with me here for project #2..

The battery (pitchers and catchers) had an awesome dinner with the pitching coach. We got to cook our food in front of us (notice the flames)


Sorry, friends. I know it's been awhile. But, you have NO idea how hectic things are. Season is FINALLY here!!! Which apparently means crank up the practice hours and vice grip of the coaches....oh wait, that's the same in the states, whoops. The all-day practices have been a regular occurrence, rain or shine. The latter being a somewhat rare happening, unfortunately. The rain has been non-stop. Typhoon-type rain. That's not a joke. I know at least I always refer to crazy buckets pouring from the sky as typhoons (I'm the only one? Ok, fine.) Anyways, these are literal typhoons. Think hurricane without the eye of the storm. Fortunately (well, kinda) we have an indoor facility that's about an acre of dirt. The word "indoor" should be used as loosely as possible. This building has a tin roof, on which one drop falls and I immediately feel like the entire thing will collapse. It also has metal-curtain-type walls on the long ends of the rectangle building. Basically it opens for when it's hot. But they don't stay stable AT ALL with the slightest breeze. All-in-all every time we're in the building and there's even the smallest storm, I want to run for a more stable place. 
So, we have our 8 hour practices inside this tiny building. I have to pitch in between people hitting. I like to look at this as dual training for the rare but possible occurrence of a ball flying at my face while in the middle of my motion (only been hit once). The head coach has this semi-annoying habit of crouching behind the catcher while I'm pitching. He used to be a major league catcher so I'm guessing he just wants to see the movement (????). Needless to say I panic a little bit every time I throw a drop ball or change-up just in case our catcher misses a ball. He also has the lovely habit of getting up after 5 pitches, kind-of shrugging/looking disappointed, and then walking off. If he understood English I would probably ask him what the eff he wants to see, since clearly I'm not pitching well enough. Frustrating. Slightly. Actually, very. Very frustrating. 
The other coach also has a tendency to be a bit of a dick. A couple weeks ago, when I was warming up for the game, he kept talking to our translator. I asked her what he was saying. Conversation: 
Maki "He wants to know if you are throwing full speed?"
Me: "Uh, yeh........."
Maki: "Ok, he just wanted to make sure."
Me: "So, does that mean he thinks I'm throwing slow?"
Maki: "Umm I mean yeh I think so. He just wants to make sure you know the games are on April 14."
Me: "Yup. I'm fully aware."
Maki: "Ok, he's just making sure you're gonna be ready. You're gonna be ready, right?"
Me: *death stare* "Yes, I'll be ready...."

Just in case you were wondering, I threw 67 mph that game and didn't allow a hit. If the coach understood English, it'd probably take all of my self-control not to tell him to kiss my ass....DON'T DO THAT KIDS! 

So, now that I'm pretty sure I've proven I'm ready for's finally here!!! We leave for Kyoto (one of the main cities) tomorrow morning and join the other 11 teams for the Opening Games. We play Taiyo Yuden, the team that placed 5th place in the league last year (we placed 6th). Hopefully, our team can pull through and get the first win of the season and start league off right. We've definitely been off-and-on, with a lot of key players missing from the line-up. The coaches are constantly saying to myself and Wiggins that they're depending on pressure right! 
It's crazy to think that our season is just now starting and we've been here for almost a month and a half. I've been keeping up with baseball and softball seasons, and everyone is playing in conference and have in-state rivalry games, while I'm still doing 8 hour practices to prepare for our opening games. CRAZY. Little shout out to my baby Wolverines for sweeping Ohio State. Nothing better than going into Columbus and taking all three games. 
I promise I'll try to pick up my blogging game. But between practice, cleaning, eating, and dancing to Call Me Maybe almost every hour, I'm really busy, guys! With us starting to travel, I definitely should have time to keep everyone updated. 

Also, shout out to my amazing mother for sending me a little care package. LOVE YOU!

Gamba Denso!
xo Jordan 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Quote it up

We had to decorate this little card thing for the Denso newsletter today. And we were supposed to put our favorite quote on it and sign it. Then we're taking a picture with it. If you ask me why, I will not have an answer for you. But when someone says decorate something, I don't ask questions....I immediately map out what I'm going to draw. It's kind of like that guy in Beautiful Mind that sees crazy numbers and signs and stuff. But I'm not crazy. I promise. Anyways, it got me thinking about some of my favorite quotes and I thought I'd share. 

This is probably gonna be my only "motivational" type post. My form of motivation is telling someone to "just freaking do it" or "stop bullshitting and get your head right." That's about how far I get in the motivational department. 
So.....yeh. Here they are!

"All of our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them." - Walt Disney
 I try my damnest to live by these words with everything I do. I truly believe those who are successful are the ones who give their all into accomplishing what they want. The ones who go after what they want. If you don't have the courage to go after what you want when, completely attainable and right in front of you, then I don't think you have right to feel regret once the opportunity to obtain it has passed. 

Some of my other favorites...

"You can't put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get." Michael Phelps (gonna chalk this intelligence up to the Michigan Difference)

"The scoreboard doesn't say 'this team traveled for eight hours while this one slept in their own beds' or 'unranked team playing the best team in the country.' The game doesn't know who is supposed to win. It knows 7 innings; 3 outs; 4 balls, 3 strikes." - Carol Hutchins (I would say the Michigan difference but she came from that other school in Michigan.....)

"9 times out of 10, David loses to Goliath. It's just no one wants to hear that story." - Anon.

"Wow, that's a great looking pair of crocs." - No one

"What you have experience, no power on Earth can take away from you." Viktor E. Frankl

"All you chumps are gonna bow when I whoop him, all of you, I know you got him, I know you've got him picked. But the man's in trouble....I'm gonna show you how great I am!" Muhammad Ali

"Those who stay will be champions." -Bo Schembechler 

"Things do not happen. Things are made to happen." - John F. Kennedy

"Life is about finding out what you truly want, then finding the backbone to do it." - Me. 

xo Jordan