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High Desert Diaries: Mark Ernster & Mike Lindskog

Ernster & Mike Lindskog
on 06/22/2003 wishes to thank the folks at the Victor Valley Daily Press in Adelanto, California, for allowing us to re-print the following diaries:

From June 11th:
A change in pace will be good
High Desert Mavericks Infielder

How trying and strenuous the life of a minor leaguer can be. We come to a point in the season where days blend together and baseball hits the "wall." When Tuesday seems like Friday and Friday feels like Tuesday. The only obvious day is Sunday. It's somewhat of an exciting day with the early game but only a reminder a new week is beginning. These are the dog days of June, July, and August. It seems we have been playing forever, then you look at the schedule and you realize "70 more games to go. Can this be right? Can we only be halfway?"

It's obvious we all need a break, not only from baseball, but everything. A little time away from the game and each other to relax and recharge our batteries for another two months ahead. Everyone has their plan; some visit home and others will take a road trip. The All-star break seems to be the topic of the clubhouse as well as a new beginning. It won't come fast enough and definitely will be over too soon. More importantly it serves as an opportunity for a new "season." It's time to forget what happened in the first half and look forward to winning the second.

It could make or break some of our careers. It could mean a late season call up or falling off the charts as a so-called prospect. For some a strong finish could make the difference in becoming a future big-leaguer. These three days are needed to clear our minds, forget about baseball, and enjoy time away.

As we finish up the next 12 days leading into the break, it would be so easy to relax and coast on auto-pilot. However, the easy thing is not always the right thing to do. We must realize that only the strong will survive.

Baseball is a mentally draining game, but in the scheme of life it is short. We can only play and compete for so long. We have the opportunity to play a game for a living; a life most people only dream of. As we all sit back and look forward to the break, maybe realizing how incredibly fortunate we are to put on a uniform is what we need. Personally I have been away from the game a year and a half, struggling to make ends meet and wondering what I'll do next. Time away made me realize our opportunities as a professional athlete happens once in a lifetime. Giving up should never happen.

I hope the All-star break becomes a time we can all enjoy and more importantly realize how lucky we truly are. Whether we know it or not, we are role models for young children who someday dream to walk on the same field on which we play.

We represent a fraction of the population who are given an opportunity to play professional baseball. Our experiences and memories will last a lifetime and be shared with our grandchildren. How ever we look at it, we are still little kids playing in the dirt and hitting a white ball at the park with our friends. For most of us, real life will begin soon. I sure hope this break allows us to put in perspective our lives, and gives us new drive to win and leave all we have on the field until they tear the jersey off our back. Baseball is only a game, and we need to be thankful we play for a living.

From May 28th:
Being `the radio guy' isn't always easy 5/28/03
Radio Voice of the High Desert Mavericks

"I love winning, it's like better than losing!" Tim Robbins' line in Bull Durham says it all.

Losing streaks are rough and fortunately the month of May has the Mavs at 13-13. Lately, things haven't been going too well for the team though, as we've now dropped five straight and are coming off a terrible homestand.

Monday night, we were one hit away from what would have been a huge lift, but instead lost, 2-1, as Stockton scored in the bottom of the ninth in a heartbreaker.

I absolutely live and die with every pitch. Every win puts me in a good mood. Every loss means my wife puts up with me being cranky. Sometimes I'm just as frustrated as our manager, when our guy can't get that sacrifice bunt down. Yet sometimes it's just like I'm in the high-five line after a nasty palm ball from our closer leaves a guy looking at strike three to end it.

Walk-off home runs are the best. I get to blow up on the radio! Unfortunately, none for us yet this year. Regardless, if I'm up or down on the team, I always try to remain positive on the radio, because somebody's mom is always listening. It's a good rule to live by as "the radio guy."

Monday was our first game on our first Northern road trip this year. Being away from home for eight days at a time is tough but it definitely has its perks.

So much work goes into putting on a home game at Mavericks Stadium. People always ask, "what do you do during the day," as if the staff just unlocks the gates at 6 p.m. and comes in with the other fans. Trust me, there's plenty to do.

Being on the road means I get to catch up on everything that I miss out on while I invest between 12-15 hours a day at Mavericks Stadium. Sleep is definitely at the top of that list. After a six-hour bus ride to Stockton, in which I slept the entire way, I checked in to my hotel room and went to sleep. Your body gets messed up on the road though. Right now it's 12:30 on Tuesday morning while I'm writing this and I've just finished my dinner from a gas station in the hotel parking lot. Mom and dad would not be pleased. At least I mixed in a half-gallon of orange juice. That's healthy, right?

Tuesday brings new life and hopefully a victory. That's the great thing about baseball. There's always tomorrow. Hopefully you'll be listening, and we'll be winning. See you when we get home.

From June 5th:
Life on the road tough
Radio Voice of the High Desert Mavericks

This week's entry comes to you from a typical California League bus headed for Lancaster


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