Xavier Scruggs from Colombia, Week 6

St. Louis Cardinals first base prospect Xavier Scruggs continues his reports from winter ball in Colombia.

I had thought the last couple of weeks were crazy, but little did I know what would be in store for me this past week. All four of my American teammates decided that they wanted to go back home. They all told our General Manager that they wanted to leave before the New Year. Each one of them had their personal reasons for wanting to leave, whether it was because of injury, tiredness, or the need to head back and start preparing for spring training. I don't blame them and I can understand their want to get back to familiar territory.

However, this imposed a problem for both the GM and the team altogether. When they first presented the idea to the GM, he wasn't having it. He didn't want the players to leave and especially all four at the same time. I can understand his effort to want to keep them on the team because three of the Americans are starting pitchers and the bulk of our rotation. Like I said in the previous blog, without pitching, you can't win games. No Kenny Moreland (Orioles), no Rick Zagone (Orioles), and no Zachary Varce (Yankees). Also our center fielder and the player I have probably become the closest with, Deangelo Mack (Yankees) has decided to leave as well.

So when it came time for the players to meet with the GM face to face and express their sincere desire to go home, I joined the meeting as well. It was only to listen to the conversation though. Your boy is sticking it out for the next three weeks. I wanted to listen in on the conversation and see how the Americans would be treated. That way I have an idea of how I will be dealt with if I have any issues or concerns in the future. So yeah, basically I wanted to be nosey.

The GM told the guys how he wanted them to stay but he didn't want them to be here if they didn't want to be here. He wanted to come to an agreement with the guys and have them pay for their own flights home. I told the guys from day one that it wasn't going to go smoothly. I just knew the GM wasn't going to let them go that easily. The guys knew that they didn't have to come to an "agreement" because there is an 'exhaustion clause' in the contract. It basically states that if a player wants to leave due to tiredness or injury, he could do so. In addition to that, the team still has to provide transportation back home.

Our GM knew all of this too, but he was just trying to get some sort of compensation for these guys leaving because he knows he now have to pay to fly some more players in. You could see the sweat dripping off of his forehead and the frustration in his face. I felt a little bad for the guy because he was in a tough position. However he stayed calm and so did my four teammates.

There were a few moments of silence in the meeting. That's when I started day dreaming and imagined what if the GM and the assistant GM pulled out guns and hold them hostage. After all, this is Colombia. I remained relaxed and knew I didn't need to stress because I was on the good side of things.

Also during this meeting, the players stressed they weren't happy about how our manager, Julio Vina (the guy that basically convinced us to play for him) had resigned. This is where it gets good. I might be airing some dirty laundry, but if I didn't tell the whole story, it just wouldn't be right.

Earlier in the week Julio (White Sox) had done the ultimate no-no during a game. After he was tossed out of the game for making crude remarks towards the home plate umpire, he ran up to the umpire and proceeded to yell and push – no, shove - the umpire. The umpire swung his face mask at Julio causing Julio to retaliate by punching him in the face. Then the bell rung and the slap boxing match began. The umpire and Julio began dancing around one another and throwing hands, open hands. Not too many slaps were landed on either side.

Honestly, it looked more like a cat fight and I was wondering who was going to pull whose hair first. It was the girliest fight I have ever seen in my life. I'm guessing the umpire was maybe 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds. Our manager Julio is a heavyweight in every sense of the word. Maybe 6-feet, 280-300 pounds. He should have had some real force behind his slaps.

However, this real-life E. Honda (Street Fighter) just embarrassed himself in front of every spectator, player, and coach present at the game. Trust me - I had the best seat in the house because I was on deck. If that wasn't bad enough, he resigned and flew back home the next day without addressing the team. This is the same guy that brought all the Americans here to play. I'm sure you can feel a little of my frustration.

That being said, all four of the players eventually got out of Colombia. So now I'm here and it's going to be different to say the least, these next few weeks. One thing I did do is move into Julio's apartment which has wireless Internet! Can you hear the bells from Heaven?! It was a blessing in disguise. Now I can do more of what I like to do with my free time. This includes downloading music and movies. I can more freely Facebook, tweet, and YouTube. I am addicted to all three. Free time comes sparingly, but when it does, I like to do those things as well as go to the gym and beach. The beach is probably where I encounter most Americans and especially this week with a lot of tourists coming for Christmas and New Years.
(Photos: Isabellas Coffee Shop (basically Starbucks), Deangelo (left) and me (right) with the strongest 17-year-old ever, New Year's at the gym, gotta' hang dry my clothes because I don't have a dryer)

The day before New Years and right before Deangelo left, he and I went out to a club here in Cartagena. Before heading to the club, we stopped at a little bar/restaurant for a bite to eat. There we met a few Colombians who spoke English and decided to join them to go out to the club. We knew we would eventually run into some English-speaking Colombians because there are a good percentage of them here in Cartagena right now for the holidays. We knew it would be best for us to be with Colombians so we would not be overcharged and also they could show us the best places to go.

The Colombian club experience is similar to America in most ways. Dancing, drinking and "hooking up" are the same three priorities. Not to be confused with my priorities. Ha. The differences at the club mainly have to do with the music and the styles of dancing. Obviously the music is mostly Spanish but they did mix in some American songs that are known all over the world. No Justin Bieber though. Thank God.

The dancing was a little different just because they would slow it down and that's when the bumping and grinding turned into salsa. It was pretty cool to watch and I can say I now want to learn how to salsa. We had a nice time with the Colombians who showed us some great places. It was a good night overall.

New Years was crazy here with a lot of people roaming the streets and many fireworks shows. I didn't do anything special. We get back to playing games on Tuesday and it has been a nice four days off that we have enjoyed. I'm excited to get the second half of the season going. It's going to be much different than the first half, but you guys know the drill, #balltillyoufall.

Hope everyone enjoyed their holidays and Happy New Year. 2012 is going to be a great year! I feel it.

Follow me on Twitter @Xavier_Scruggs.

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