Friday, July 25, 2008
It's been an exciting week. On Tuesday, I committed to starting and running a new biotech company with two brilliant scientists at the University of Virginia. Our new company, Key Genomics, will develop and apply proprietary software to predict patient chemotherapeutic response. This is in the area of pharmacogenomics - how genetic differences affect drug response.
The sky is the limit for this company, and I'm very, very excited to be a part of making it happen. What makes this even more exciting is knowing that if successful, our technology will - through better (personalized) treatment decisions - improve the outcomes for many cancer patients.
It will be years, though, before our technology earns regulatory approval and is used in the clinic. Until then, we'll be swinging for the fences.
In spite of the big career move, I'd still say that the most exciting thing for me this week occurred Monday night, at the tail end of a meaningless baseball game.
For those who don't know, I'm a baseball nut and player. I have enjoyed continuing my post-college playing career in the local 18-and-over men's league, though at 38yrs old, I'm on the downside of my career.
For most of my career, I've been a catcher, though from time-to-time I've taken the mound to pitch. I think this may have less to do with having pitching talent, and more to do with my coach indulging every catcher who thinks he can pitch, possibly for a good laugh, possibly to remind said catcher how hard it is to pitch.
You can probably see where this going: I got to pitch in a game on Monday.
I took the mound in the last inning against the Orioles. I started off by walking the first hitter on 4 pitches - not good.
Next up was the cleanup hitter, and at this point, I realized that I had nothing in my arsenal except a fastball. I like to think I can throw a curveball, and on the sidelines I have a decent change-up, but for whatever reason - jitters, lack of talent, bad atmosphereic conditions (!?!), all I had was a fastball.
Fresh off the leadoff walk, I threw another ball. At this point, I was thinking this might be a short outing, as I'd told our coach Joe Hart that he ought to hook me if I walked 2 guys.
Luckily, while I didn't have great control, I had loads of movement on the fastball, and with nothing to lose, I just concentrated on pumping fastballs. I came back from the 1-0 count on the second hitter to strike him out swinging.
And then, unbelievably, I struck the 3rd hitter out (swinging), all on fastballs.
I was hoping when taking the mound to throw strikes and hopefully the hitters would put the ball in play on my terms - and with no expectations at all for a strikeout.
So, you can imagine my surprise, when I struck out the next hitter swinging too!
I sure won't win any awards for my performance the rest of the way, though. I went to two strikes on the 4th hitter, and then promptly plunked him. (I'll bet he's got a real nice bruise - I got him mid-thigh.) The 5th hitter hit a hard single to left, scoring both runners. The next hitter popped out to end the inning.
So, no Cy Young award for me, but loads of fun, and what a rush it was to strike out two hitters.
This is my last year of playing baseball competitively. I expect that age, injury, and my commitment to Key Genomics will take precedence next season, but I will definitely be replaying my strike outs against the Orioles over and over again in my mind for a long time, alongside some of the other great times I had on the field. I'll miss the game, but I'll miss my teammates even more. Check out some pictures of them in action here.
So, I have a few more games to enjoy this season. I doubt I'll get back on the pitching mound, but at the plate, and with Key Genomics, I'll be swinging for the fences.
Uncommon Man's Creed
"I do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon -- if I can. I seek opportunity -- not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me. I wish to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed. I refuse to barter incentive for a dole, I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence; the thrill of fulfillment to the stale calm of utopia. I will not trade freedom for beneficence, nor my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any master, nor bend to any threat. It is my heritage to stand erect, proud, and unafraid, to think and act for myself, to enjoy the benefit of my creations, and to face the world boldly and say, "this I have done." All this is what it means to be an American." -- Anonymous