Monday, July 23, 2007

Silver Linings

Most everything has a silver lining, or at least a perspective that makes a difficult experience manageable. The first couple days of this adventure have been full of silver linings. The first such experience occurred before we had left the tarmac in Atlanta. The culprit: a faulty o-ring in the right engine. The consequence: a five-hour delay, much of which was spent sitting in the plane due to “de-boarding complications”. This in turn led to a ten-hour layover in Milan. What were the silver linings of this seemingly unfortunate situation? A ten-hour layover in Milan! We hopped off the plane, exchanged some greenbacks for Euros, and trucked around the gothically-surreal 14th century Duomo Cathedral and it’s environs. Later, at a square enshrining the master Leonardo DaVinci, we befriended a herd of bickering old Milanese politicos who were arguing just to draw attention. I think every town square has this group of loveable aged fellows. And I’m forgetting the most obvious silver lining: they discovered the o-ring on the ground instead of in the air.
I cannot think of a simple way to describe the place where the 120 IBL players are living. It’s a joint boarding school, independent village and community center, children’s recreation locale, farm, and breeding ground on a few hundred acres that has is fenced in with armed security 24/7. To tell you how random the place seems, I was running the other day and happened upon a fully-equipped circus tent. Yeah. We’re living in the standard-sized dorm room—only there’s 4 of us per room. The tap water is potable if you don’t mind Montezuma’s (Antiochus’?) revenge. The food makes Haverford’s dining Center seem like Tavern of the Green. It’s very very simple food. The best part: right now I’m sitting in my bed listening to Hannum Overdrive with earbuds as loud as it will go on my itunes and the AC literally sounds like the plague of locust that swarmed the people of Egypt during the story of Exodus. Also, we Americans take for granted the amount of water that is constantly at our disposal. This fact becomes painfully (literally) obvious when you have to walk a half-mile across a highway to buy ice after practice instead just getting it from the training room or jumping in an ice bath.
So what are the silver linings? First, it feels like summer camp again. People living in tight quarters have the ability to connect with each other in a meaningful way. My roommate whose head is closest to my feet is a 30 year-old (real) professional ballplayer who has spent time in Major League (MLB) spring training before. He loves the testament, old and new, just as much as anyone I’ve ever met. He’s incredibly curious about Jewish customs and I’m sure he will challenge me in several ways this summer. On the other end of the spectrum, one of my teammates is a newly-turned orthodox college kid from Long Island currently studying at Yeshiva Jerusalem. In certain ways, I’m very jealous of the extent to which the orthodox community LOVES their own lifestyle and the intellectual and spiritual struggle that it presents on a daily basis. I’ll probably spend a shabbot or two in Jerusalem checking out his scene. Leave it up to the Israeli Baseball League to promote religious discussion amongst baseball players, whodathunkit?. I haven’t even mentioned my Dominican catcher who knows approximately 47 words of English and how I taught him the English slang word, “SICK!” today. Games start soon. Stay tuned.


  1. BEN! BEN! BEN!

    /Mechlowitz cheer ;-)

    I should have gotten your autograph before you left Philadelphia...

  2. Ben,

    Congratulations on being selected to the All-Star team!

    ( were probably going to save that information for one of your blogs. But knowing you, I'm sure that modesty would have prevailed, and the masses would have missed an opportunity to know that Haverford now has a professional baseball all-star!)

    Anyway, you, Nat and Travis are a big hit in the least on our campus. We're all thinking of you, and we wish you the best with the rest of your international experience.

    Keep up the great work, and please keep the blogs coming!