Dreaming of baseball, hot dogs, freshly cut grass and the Great Smoky Mountains

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Matt Shalbrack/Winonan

Baseball. It’s a wonderful game, isn’t it? In my eyes, it’s the best game on Earth. That’s why my dream job has always been to work for a Major or Minor League Baseball team.

The best part about that dream is that it’s now a reality. I now work for a Minor League Baseball team. I am a Media Relations and Marketing assistant for the Tennessee Smokies – the AA affiliate for the Chicago Cubs. This dream job turned into an even dreamier job since the Smokies are affiliated with the Cubs and I’m a Cubs fan.

Feb. 5 was unofficially my first day. The team hosted a luncheon with Cubs’ Director of Player Development Brandon Hyde. He spoke about the how the Cubs’ minor league system has developed under Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. I even got to be part of a media session with him.

I met the other assistants I would be working with during the season and met other staff members as well.

After a 10-hour drive from home, I finally made it to Knoxville, Tenn. where I will be calling home for the next eight or nine months. During the drive, I went through Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and finally Tennessee. I drove through snow, sleet, rain and sunny weather. It was 38 degrees when I finally arrived. I’ll take that over temperatures in the single digits and snow any day.

Apparently, I have an accent. I think the locals have accents too. I can’t call a water fountain a ‘bubbler’ anymore, which is going to take some time to get used to. They don’t call it ‘soda’ or ‘pop,’ it’s simply ‘Coke.’

During my drive down, I thought of a bucket list of things I need to experience before my time is up in Knoxville such as learning to square dance and eating at a Waffle House restaurant, both of which I never have experienced.

My refrigerator is stocked with $136 worth of food. I’ve got a new mattress, although a lot smaller than my old one, it’s still just as comfortable.

There’s 64 days until the Smokies’ home opener. Once that countdown gets to zero, I’m going to need to be pinched to make sure that it’s real life and that I’m not actually dreaming. Tennessee Smokies here I come!

Contact Matt at [email protected]