Four-year GRBL veteran Brandon Freeman and rookie Clay Murphy gave us a glimpse into this season and life in the Ducks dugout.
“By far been my favorite year,” Brandon said.
Clay agreed. “It has been a blast and it won’t be my last. I forgot how much I love playing this game. Being able to play again has been unbelievable. This league is a great way to get out and play the game and compete against a good group of people.”
Favorite memory from this season?
BF: It’s going to sound selfish, but the game I broke my bat with a single off Vargas, and proceeded to somehow run from first to home to tie the game.
CM: Jogging out onto the field the first night under the lights brought back so many memories. I didn’t realize how much I missed playing until that moment.
That first game of the season, Friday Night Baseball in the Ozarks, was pretty incredible. Perfect weather, a great crowd, and an all-around good ballgame. And this league is all about making those memories to help us survive the offseason.
What’s it like playing for AK and the Ducks?
BF: AK is what I like in a coach — stern, competitive, and fun at the same time. He is clear on the role you need to fill and expects results.
CM: It’s been great. AK is a guy who will be upfront and tell you what he’s needing out of you. As far as being a Duck, it is definitely an honor to wear the name. When I moved here in 2009 for college, I got to hear all about the Ducks from coaches and players in the area.
For the majority of the Ducks tenure in Ozark, I was living in Texas or in Kansas City. I made it to exactly one Ducks game in person. I vividly remember the yellow, plastic duck calls. We didn’t stay for the whole game, though, because we were getting eaten alive by mosquitoes.
How would you describe your team?
BF: “Jell – (of a project or idea) take a definite form or begin to work well.” I feel like everyone has accepted their role and works to be the best on the field.
CM: Pesky and resilient! We have been down multiple times this year and keep finding a way to climb back into it. That’s a quality that is tough to find.
Tell me some about your teammates.
BF: I have watched Henson for three years now as a teammate. The way he gets ready for a game, consistency on the mound, the way you can tell he is thinking about getting an out, he is such a trustworthy starter. He has been hit around, but still came out next inning and never got rattled. Jacob Colter’s swing is beautiful, his catching has been solid as well. Harrison Waters is going to hit a home run. I can feel it. Clay Murphy – effortless domination. Years ago the Herrera, Davis, Holland (also known as HDH) relief trio made watching the Royals easier once they got past the 6th. Clay has that kind of closer impact. The three-inning closer. I got to catch a bullpen before he went in one game, and there was a lot of movement.
Equation for a 3 Strikeout Inning following the Clay Murphy Theorem:
CM ꓘ3 = ⇜ ↺ ↶ ⇮ ➚K1 + ⇮↻↺K2 + ➠⤽⇮☼K3
CM: They are a good group of guys! Everyone is constantly joking around, having a great time.
I have no idea how to read the theorem you wrote, Brandon. There might have to be a follow-up interview, “An Engineer’s Guide to Baseball.”
Best baseball advice for Rob Neiss?
BF: Sprinkle more Yarberri dust.
CM: The more baseball movie quotes, the better.
I’m trying my best not to think, it can only hurt the ball club. Hopefully, Sunday’s weather won’t make anyone throw any pitches that are juuuuuust a bit outside. Anyway…
What’s the best part of playing in the GRBL?
BF: Simple. I get to play baseball. And my kids, parents, and wife get to watch me compete. My wife and I started dating my sophomore year of high school and she made it to most of my games.
CM: I have really enjoyed the team atmosphere and being around all the guys. Cracking jokes, breaking bats, it doesn’t get much better than that.
What is one thing baseball has taught you about life?
BF: Just get your butt off the bench and get out on the field to practice and compete. It teaches you to learn to fail and get back on your feet. You bat .300 and you are considered a great MLB player. Work sucks some days and you will fail. Don’t give up. Keep striving for the home run. Or accept you won’t hit a home run but accept you can contribute in other ways. Baseball literally takes nine different people with different skillsets and assembles a team to win. Just like the workplace.
CM: You get what you put into it. If you work hard, good things tend to happen. If you are unprepared, it tends to kick you in the rear.
What will you do this offseason?
BF: I say this every year. Lose weight and improve hip, and back flexibility. Work on arm strength. Pitching is my favorite position and I want to get back to a place where I can contribute. And also challenge Veit for best curve ball. Back in the day, that was my thing. Also want to learn more from some GRBL greats that went on to play past high school and come to play with a lot of knowledge. I’ve learned a lot this year from watching Clay and figuring out the way he puts spin on a ball and the way he pronates his wrist, specifically on a 2-Seam or Changeup. I went to a small school and was mainly taught straight grips for Fastball, Changeup with little arm side run. I feel like those two pitches thrown on the black are tough to hit, when a curveball is mixed in, it’s deadly à ↻↻↶ = ꓘ
CM: I am going to enjoy some time off for a bit, but I am definitely motivated to get some feel back when hitting.
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The Ducks and Mets will take the field in two days, playing for the right to be crowned the champions of GRBL Season V, ringing the Howard Bell Trophy.
How can you not be romantic about baseball?