And so it Ends…

July 3, 2010

After taking nearly eight weeks to figure out how to put a 19-year career into words, I have realized that this is a feat nothing short of impossible.  Perhaps my recent job search and embracing the arduous task of breaking into investment banking or private equity in hard economic times allowed my mind to stray and enabled me to postpone this conclusion.  More likely, though, is that putting closing remarks on something that I have been doing for so long is a daunting task.  On the eve of what will be the first Fourth of July I have not had a game in as long as I can remember (with the exception of 2005 when I was recovering from thoracic outlet syndrome), I make my best attempt to transpire 19 years into words.

Baseball is perhaps the most unique sport in the world.  It is a team sport; though, it relies on collective individual performances for the team to succeed.  It is a sport rooted with failure; you cannot fail 70 percent of the time at anything else and still be considered one of the greatest players to ever play the game.  The presence of failure haunts you daily, and you fight to push it out of your mind, trying to flood your thoughts with as much optimism the failure lets in.  These thoughts escalate and compound every year you continue to play (fortunately, not until you grow a little older; any failure experienced by rookie Little Leaguers is easily overcome by a slice of pizza after the game).

So, why do players continue lacing up the spikes and keep going out there?  The easy answer is because it is fun.  However, this “fun” is driven by different motivators for different people.  For some, it is fun because they achieve more success than others (I do not know how many people continue to willingly do something without triumphs along the way).  Others, however, are driven because they were doubted.  These doubters, often those that were surpassed in skill and achievement by others, ridicule that continuing to pursue the game is a waste of time and effort; that chasing a dream is putting off the inevitability of facing reality that you are never going to make it.  My fun was driven by the thirst to prove people wrong.  By showing people that the player who was once the smallest and least talented of a team of 12-year old Little League All-Stars was going to amount to something one day, long after all of my teammates stopped played.  That was my fun.

Many grow up playing baseball; most yearning and dreaming that they will play professional baseball.  Sure, the ultimate goal is playing professionally in the Major Leagues, but the grim reality is that of those who even crack professional affiliated baseball, only 5 percent of those players will ever be on a Major League roster.  This ultimate goal is offset by sub-goals along the way, most commonly playing for a competitive collegiate program, a renowned summer collegiate team, and playing professionally for an affiliated minor league team. 

I can say that with the exception of playing in the famed Cape Cod summer collegiate league, I accomplished these goals and many others that sprung up along the journey.  I had a successful collegiate career at the University of Rochester for two years, prior to transferring to The University of Tampa.  Two NCAA National Championships and an Academic All-American honor later, I was signed by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  There, I was fortunate enough to win a Pioneer League Championship and was named Cedar Rapids Player of the Month in May 2008.  And then, after three seasons, it was all over.

Albeit shocking, it was more so facing the reality of the termination than the actual dismissal, because I saw this coming the last eight months of my career.  What had consumed my life for the better part of the last decade was gone.  However, even when I saw things winding down, I did not let it deter my efforts and my dreams.  I kept pushing the envelope, doing everything I could to make a break for myself.  I can say that I did everything in my power to advance in my career and kept a strong focus on thing things under my control.

I met many embracing families and knowledgeable individuals over my career.  I cannot be more grateful for the support and guidance provided to me by family, friends, and coaches through the years.  All of these individuals played integral parts in the success of my career.  Without those pieces, the puzzle is far from completion.  And while this is a puzzle with a few missing pieces, I am satisfied with the progress, as tough as it is to walk away from something incomplete. 

I overcame the odds and in the end, made it to professional baseball.  But, at what expense did my ability to claim a three-year professional career come?  Throughout my journey, I played baseball in 27 states.  I played in rain, snow, sleet, wind, fog, smoke, temperatures ranging from 20 to 110 degrees, and was even pulled off the field for tornadoes a few times.  I pulled four hamstrings, sprained my MCL, strained my oblique twice, dislocated my shoulder twice, suffered a hip pointer, overcame thoracic outlet syndrome and a first right rib resection, and was knocked unconscious twice (and those were just the injuries that kept me out of the lineup).  I endured 17 years of the perils behind the plate that come from balls in the dirt, foul balls, and collision-seeking runners.  My catching career only came about because no-one else would do it on my 9-year old fall ball team.  How fortuitous (and painful) that turned out to be.

I gave up an education at a top-40 school to better my chances of playing professional baseball.  I suffered a career- and life-threatening injury, only to rehabilitate and get back on the field.  Then, I gave up another educational opportunity at a top-30 graduate business school to continue the pursuit of a dream.  If I was not going to make it, it was not going to be due to lack of effort. 

Life was full of sacrifices growing up.  I chose showcases and tournaments over hanging out with friends; hitting and throwing outside during the winter (as long as it was at least 25 degrees I was throwing in my road, and if there was no snow on the field, hitting) over staying in a warm house; running indoor track and enduring a mass-building focused football workout plan during high school off seasons over taking “time-off.”  I learned at an early age that most gains are made when no one is watching.

I made lifelong friends, lived the impossible, and have a storybook of tales that would take weeks to tell.  I passed up on an education, twice, that would most likely have me with several years of financial industry experience and a comfortable lifestyle.  I overcame a surgery to alleviate a blood clot and rehabbed numerous injuries to keep pressing forward.  I earned the right to endure the “famed” life of professional baseball through countless sacrifices; the below-minimum wage salaries, bus-rides through the night, and senseless flight connections travelling between affiliates are all a part of the game.  It is an opportunity most dream of but few experience.  Although the game left me jaded at times and lost in my thoughts, it gave back so much. 

After looking back on 19 years of accomplishments, triumphs, defeats, and pain on a long journey toward the top echelon of professional baseball, the Major Leagues, I conclude this blog, failing at achieving the ultimate goal.  Some will view this at a failure, while others will see it as a huge success.  How do I see it?  I may be hung up on that answer for the rest of my life but I have no regrets.  Another common question is whether it was worth it in the end, and that answer varies based on perspective.  But, there is one question I know I can answer for sure, considering all of the ups and downs of my career and current place in life.  It is often asked of people outside the profession looking for a way in, “So, you wanna play professional baseball?”

My answer is “Yes.”  Every single time.

Retired

May 26, 2010

After much thought and consideration, I have decided to retire from professional baseball.  I am currently in the process of assembling my final thoughts and will make that post shortly.  Thank you to everyone who has followed and supported my career.

The Last Frontier

April 23, 2010

I have agreed to terms with the Washington Wild Things of the Frontier League, an independent league located in the Great Lakes and upper Midwestern region of the United States.  Washington is located in western Pennsylvania, and opens the season May 21.  Spring training (for once, a spring training that is held entirely during spring) for the Wild Things starts May 6, with five exhibition games scheduled during the two week period leading up to the season. 

As an independent team, Washington has no affiliation with a Major League Baseball organization, and they do not receive any funding from Major League Baseball.  The Frontier League is a part of the Independent Professional Baseball Federation, a loose affiliation among six independent leagues that observe players’ contracts with their specific teams and allow for the trading and selling of players across leagues. 

While Pennsylvania is hardly the last frontier, this provides me the opportunity to play during the 2010 season.  Many Major League players have played for independent teams at some point during their careers, whether it was their first professional experience, somewhere in the middle of their career, or the culmination of their playing days.  Playing for an independent team is not a dead-end street during the Major League quest, and often gives players a rebirth that helps them get noticed by teams that wrote them off earlier in their careers.

With the next stop on this baseball adventure being Washington, Pennsylvania, it is a good thing I have already put myself halfway between Phoenix and Washington.  A recent trek has brought me to Texas, where I am currently working on my swing with swing coach, Jaime Cevallos (his knowledge and products are described on his web site here). 

Another season is nearing and it is another new state of residence.  One of my good friends called my girlfriend and I, “modern gypsies;” it is tough arguing that when you have called six states home in the last four years.  Coal country, here we come.

Catcher for Hire, Will Travel

April 17, 2010

Tax season has finally finished in what was quite the flurry.  Our office was the only one in the district to meet (and exceed) our goals for new client growth and other office targets.  The stretch run this past three weeks kept my competitive spirit up and was full of many experiences I can draw upon during my professional career after baseball.

With the close of the tax office, I am left only with thoughts of a baseball season that may not come to fruition.  After some sleuthing by my girlfriend, she assembled the email addresses and fax numbers of all the Independent teams in four leagues that had less than two catchers on their rosters and suggested I use a page out of Chris Marchok’s playbook (he faxed flyers to Major League affiliations after being released by the Montreal Expos and was signed by Philadelphia) and contact teams directly.  While this may have been an ulterior motive to her getting itchy feet about being in Tempe for a whole four months, I thought it was a great idea.

The day after sending out emails with my professional and college statistics and resume attached, I received a phone call and three emails the next day (apparently the subject line, which is the title of this post, was catchy).  While one was a response saying the team had no availability at the present time, I had some bites and have a shot at signing on somewhere.  All I need is the opportunity to play to keep the dream alive.  I am looking forward to seeing my new swing and arm slot in game action, to see if my efforts this offseason were beneficial.

Released

March 27, 2010

It is the experience that every Minor Leaguer does his best to avoid, but for the majority, is one that is inevitable: showing up to camp for another day of the grind when you see that your jersey and pants are gone, with a note taped to your locker that tells you to see the Farm Director.  Some players know it is coming, while others are blind-sided by the news.  I was somewhere in the middle; I had embraced the concept that I had to make room on a roster for myself to last another year in the organization, but limited opportunities during Spring Training had me thinking that this could be the time.  After a brief meeting with Abe Flores and a few goodbyes to teammates and some coaches, I packed up my locker and started to think about what I would be doing during my newly freed up weekend.

What now?  What does a catcher with three years of professional experience and a Master’s degree do when he is told his services are no longer wanted?  The easy answer seems like it would be to settle down and get a job that pays a little better than a Minor League salary.  However, I am hung up on the fact that I invested an exorbitant amount of time and energy into preparing for this season, and I am not quite ready to give it up.  Granted I am violating the first rule in strategic economic decision making (sunk costs don’t count, which is another post in itself, but probably one that will not explored in this blog) with this rationale, I feel like not playing this season would be a waste.

So, I am left trying to find another affiliated team to get signed by, or try to find a gig on the Independent League circuit.  In the meantime, it looks like I will be back to work at the tax office, resuming my part-time job at H&R Block.  Hopefully, I will be able to trade my dress slacks for some baseball pants in the coming weeks.

Athletes’ Performance

March 7, 2010

It is the final baseball-less weekend before the 2010 season gets underway.  I use the term “baseball-less” loosely, seeing as I had to go over to the field for about a half hour yesterday to “report” for spring training, and three-hour physicals began at 7:45am this morning.  Today is last day without any baseball activity until April 6, the day after camp breaks.

For the last three weeks, my strength and condition workouts shifted from the Minor League complex in Tempe to Athletes’ Performance, a training facility located in north Phoenix.  Athletes’ Performance has four locations in Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas, and has earned an esteemed reputation for training elite collegiate and professional athletes.  Working out at Athletes’ Performance is one-stop shopping as far as an integrated strength, conditioning, agility, and nutrition plan goes.

All athletes undergo an introductory evaluation where body composition, functional movement, target cardiovascular heart rates, and goals are evaluated.  From there, a nutritional blueprint is constructed for the athlete to follow that identifies the proper carbohydrate-protein-fat ratio to obtain the target amount of daily calories.  This nutritional information is also used to develop the formulae for the pre-workout shooters and post-workout shakes that are given.  The shooters are consumed by athletes before workouts to increase workout capacity while minimizing fatigue, while the shakes are taken after workouts to repair and build lean muscle.

The actual workouts comprised of pre-movement prep, movement prep, speed work, plyometrics, and strength development.  Pre-movement prep involves trigger point release techniques and movement prep focuses on active stretching and movements to warm-up muscles.  Once the body is loose, speed work and plyometrics are integrated using medicine balls, bounding, resisted cables, and a variety of other toys only strength and conditioning coaches could find joy with.  After this is strength development, with three circuits of about four exercises comprising this phase.  Wrapping up the two-hour workout is cardio work, which generally involves interval training of some kind, whether that is shuttle runs or alternating stints on VersaClimbers and treadmills.

I have to thank Mike Roberts, head coach of the Cotuit Keetlers of the Cape Cod Baseball League and Director of Baseball Operations at Athletes’ Performance, for this great opportunity.  I also need to thank my beloved girlfriend, Juliet, who served as Coach Roberts’ Head Athletic Trainer at Cotuit this past summer, and was able to introduce me to him when the need arose for a catcher at Athletes’ Performance.  When pitchers and catchers reported to Major League spring training, the catchers who were catching pitchers had to leave, and a catcher was needed for the pitchers who had yet to report.  Juliet suggested that I could fill the void when she learned of the situation, and Coach Roberts presented me with the opportunity.

Training at Athletes’ Performance was an amazing experience, and I was able to realize improvements in running technique and overall movement coordination in the short time I was there.  I have John Stemmerman, GM/Performance Manager of Athletes’ Performance and my workout group’s coach, as well as the rest of the dedicated staff to thank for the gains I was able to make.  Their expertise and attentive instruction was invaluable and has given me useful knowledge moving forward in developing my baseball abilities.

No Negotiation Without Representation

February 22, 2010

These past twenty-four months have been trying times in the global economy, with uncertainty reigning king in all economic circles.  While this insecurity has become mainstream in today’s everyday life, it has been a part of baseball for decades.  Prior to the advent of free agency in 1975, Major League players remained property of their initial team until traded or released.  Free agency allowed players to sign contracts of a set duration, giving them negotiating power for more lucrative contracts and created the demand for agents.

Some agents have drawn the ire of those that follow sports for demanding salaries that many deem excessive.  While this aspect of sports agencies remains open to debate, there are many more benefits to having agent representation than just inking the big deals, especially for younger and less known players. 

Agents provide many of their players with equipment and clothing at discounted or no cost.  Things that are usually provided to collegiate players for nothing, like batting gloves, gloves, and cleats, are not given to professional players.  These expenses can add up over a few seasons for players on minimal minor league salaries that did not ink a large signing bonus to get their careers going.

Another benefit agents can provide players is helping them find another teams to play for if things go south with their current team.  While minor league players remain property of their first Major League team for their first six seasons, there is no obligation for these teams to offer a contract for all six years.  The nature of the business is very fluid, with players coming and going almost every month of the season through trades and releases.  The uncertainty that exists from the possibility of being released makes having an agent invaluable when it comes to finding another team to sign with as soon as possible.

This past offseason has brought several changes to my life both on and off the field, with my living and training locations being the most prominent differences from previous years.  Perhaps the biggest strategic difference I have made from a baseball career standpoint is a decision that has implications is that I have agreed to be represented by a sports agency.

While I was not actively seeking representation, the opportunity arose out of a connection I had with a former teammate of mine at the University of Rochester.  Mike Gerton, a teammate of mine during my 2003 season, gave me a call during November and discussed the prospects of the firm he works for representing me.  After some consultation with several people about the decision, I agreed to have Goldin & Waddell Management to represent me.  The decision to do this was twofold.  First, not having to pay for some of my gear is extremely helpful, especially on our salaries.  The bigger reason, though, is that this firm is going to be my hedge against the uncertainty of never knowing what the organization’s intentions with you are, and that they always have the power to release you tomorrow. 

I have been told by several Angels staff members that I am a valuable part of the organization.  However, I understand that nothing is guaranteed and that I have to fight for a spot on a team every year.  It is possible that they decide to head in a direction that does not include me in their plans, despite me having done everything in my power to stay.  Having an agent in this situation may provide me the opportunity to sign with another organization in what is hopefully a short amount of time.  The longer a released player remains a free agent, the lesser his chances are of signing with another team.

Baseball is a game where nothing is certain, and the personnel decisions that parallel the balls and strikes can be just as ambiguous.  All I can do is be prepared for as many situations as possible and put myself in good positions on and off the field.  Having Goldin & Waddell Management in my corner affords me comfort knowing that I am not the only one looking out for my career and they will do everything in their power to put me in positions to succeed.

Another Week, Another Zip Code

February 6, 2010

When the holidays, a move, a new job, and baseball workouts run together, the result is a two-month blog sabbatical.  Although my offseason entries are not as frequent as those during the season, I at least try to do two or three a month. 

During my holiday trip home to New York, I worked a youth catching clinic with a former coach of mine, Norm Hayner, at his Sports Barn facility.  Coaching kids is always a beneficial experience for several reasons.  In addition to the fulfillment of being able to share knowledge with aspiring players, it helps reinforce the finer details of the craft into my workouts and remind me of the basic skills necessary to play the game consistently.

After returning to California after New Years, Juliet and I packed up our cars and headed east to Arizona.  Although early Angels’ workouts did not start until the third week of January, Juliet began her internship at Athletes’ Performance January 4, so we had to get there as soon as possible.  Until the Angels complex was opened for the players to use, I worked out with a teammate at Arizona State University.  This was just another facility I have used his offseason in what has become a laundry list of locales.  I have worked out in four states at seven gyms and four batting cages.  While my traveling this offseason has exponentially increased, I have always found the time and locations to get my working out and baseball drill work done.

Optional pre-spring training workouts with the Angels just finished their third week.  So far, it has been some light hitting and throwing, with a lot of running.  The first things players lose in spring training are legs, followed by arms.  Those who can bring conditioned legs and arms into camp are the players who are able to handle the arduous workload of the four-week crash course for the 140-game season. Position specific drill work will start this week as more players continue to arrive.

With the absence of school due to my graduation from The University of Tampa (again) in May, I have not had textbooks and case studies to occupy my free time.  Finding a job was the next logical progression, especially considering Juliet was tied up all day with her internship six days a week.  I knew the combination of finding a job flexible enough for me to maintain my workout regimen and the sluggish economy would make this a difficult task.  However, there two sure things in life: death and taxes.  On the suggestion of my brother, I put in for a job at H&R Block, a tax preparation company that makes almost all of its revenue between January and April.  This seasonal position is perfect for the baseball player who is only available until spring training begins in March.

While being slightly overqualified for their Client Services Representative position that pays just over minimum wage (which is about twice as much as my hourly baseball salary), I was grateful for the opportunity to earn a little income and be able to put some pseudo-financial industry experience on my resume.  One day, I will be ready to pursue a career in finance and put my degrees to use.  Until then, I am along for this baseball ride where you never know the final destination.

California Dreamin’

November 28, 2009

It is the official start of the holiday season, and also the beginning of Looking Through the Mask, Season Three.  As I did last year, I will do some posts during the offseason, albeit less frequently than my in-season postings.

While only ten weeks old, my offseason has been exceedingly hectic compared to years past.  Who would have thought that my first offseason after finishing my MBA has me busier than ever?  A lot of the young offseason has been occupied by my travels (like we do not have enough during the season).  My most recent travels brought me home to New York for Thanksgiving.  It has been great to be home and see my family; this is the first time I have been home since last December.

The biggest travel was my recent move out to California with my girlfriend, Juliet.  My apartment lease in Tampa was finished at the end of October, and I was making plans to go to early Angels workouts in Tempe that in January.  Since I was heading out west anyway, it made sense for me to move to California and live with Juliet before we head to Arizona in January. 

This cross country task included the arduous task of packing up my apartment into storage that took nearly a week to complete.  Five years in one place causes you to amass many belongings, some things I did not even know I had.  After packing up, our five-day trip across the country included stops in: Mobile, AL, to visit friends Juliet went to school with; Bulverde, TX, to visit my teammate, Clay Fuller; Carlsbad, NM, to visit Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands National Monument; Lordsburg, NM, to spend the night after our long day of being tourists in New Mexico.  And I thought that driving 1,300 miles back and forth between Albany and Tampa was long.

Another offseason trip to Georgia and Alabama was mixed in before the cross-country move.  Juliet, a graduate of The University of Alabama, is a former intern of the Atlanta Thrashers, and knows the Athletic Trainer and Strength and Conditioning Coach.  We traveled up to Atlanta to take in a Thrashers game, before taking the train over to Tuscaloosa so I could attend my first big-time college football game (the University of South Florida cannot hold a candle to the SEC).  Juliet wanted to show me SEC football, and thought that the rival game against the University of Tennessee would be the perfect stage.  A blocked field goal in the closing seconds was one of the many highlights of a great weekend in the South.

While I have done a lot of travelling this offseason, the biggest distance I have travelled has been with myself.  As I progress through my mid-20s, I have had to make some big decisions about moving forward with my life.  While I have done good things in the past, I have made more than my fair share of mistakes.  However, I have learned that hiding from your past does nothing, because it makes you who you are in the present and who you will be in the future. 

These are mistakes that I have come to terms with and have made changes so that I will not make the same errors again.  I have gone through some tough growing pains, but they are things that I had to face in order to move on with my life.  The biggest supporter throughout all of this has been Juliet, and I cannot put into words the thanks, love, and admiration I have for her through everything.

My next travels have me headed back to California, before returning to New York for Christmas.  My travels and baseball preparations and will continue as I ready myself for the 2010 journey through baseball, but more importantly, life.

So, You Wanna Play Professional Baseball?

September 17, 2009

It is finally February 3 (for those of you just tuning into my blog, I have made past references to the industry’s acceptance of every day being Groundhog Day).  This will be the first day since the start of spring training that my mind will be clear of baseball.  While I try to escape it on off days, I never completely succeed.  To fill the void, I will address my travel plans back to Tampa and try to pin down some offseason jobs that I have spent the last two months investigating.  Since I have completed my MBA in May, this will be the first time in seven years that I will not be attending a college class.  While this is a relief, it is also a detriment in that I need to figure out what I will be doing with my life for the next six months.

This was a season that started with tragedy.  Nick Adenhart’s sudden and unexpected death sent a shock through baseball and the Los Angeles Angels organization.  While I did not know Adenhart personally, it still struck a painful nerve that he was no longer able to live out his dream or his life.  I was able to see his teammates past and present, an organization, and all of the Angels affiliates remember him.  We wore his number 28 on our jerseys in Rancho and his number 32 on the Salt Lake jerseys so we would never forget.  He will never be forgotten and will always be part of the Angels family.

My second full season in professional baseball seemed to go by faster than my first.  Some players feel the seasons get longer; I, however, oppose that notion. I have bussed across the Golden State, making stops in San Bernardino (Inland Empire), Lake Elsinore, Adelanto (High Desert), Lancaster, Bakersfield, Visalia, Modesto, Stockton, and San Jose.  I have flown to Salt Lake (via three cities) for a three-day stint with our Triple-A affiliate and back.  I also made a brief trip to the disabled list after injuring my left shoulder in early May.

This season was absent of the tornadoes, rainouts, and subsequent doubleheaders that are part of the norm in the Midwest League.  We did, however, endure frigid nights in Lancaster, and sweltering heat at Inland Empire (and pretty much every other city in this league), and a rain-shortened game at High Desert.

Time off will be greatly appreciated.  140 games in 152 days takes its toll on everyone and warrants serious decompression.  After a few weeks off, I will begin working out again in preparation for the 2010 season.  I made some improvements this season, but a lot of work still needs to be done to win a job during spring training next March.

I need to thank the numerous people who have supported me throughout this season and made this blog worth writing.  I must thank my family, as well as all of my friends from home, Rochester, Tampa, Tempe, Cedar Rapids, Rancho Cucamonga, Salt Lake City, and acquaintances I have met along the way for their continued interest and support in my career.  Juliet needs to be thanked for coming along and helping Romine and I outfit our apartment and provide some functionality to our initially barren setup.  I thank my adoptive family, the Young’s, as well as the Booster Club for their relentless efforts of keeping us fed throughout this long season.  I also thank Ryan Garrett and Ringor, for providing me with spikes and turfs this season.

I thank Gerry McKearney and the front office staff for providing the Quakes the opportunity to play in Rancho and the many great things they have done for us this season.  That grounds crew must be commended for maintaining one of the best fields to play on in the California League (and professional baseball).  Our bus driver, Jimmy, must be thanked for keeping us safe through our many bus excursions in the commuter-heavy league.

With regard to the blog, I must give many thanks to Lisa Winston, who found my blog this offseason and provided me with the opportunity to contribute to MLBlogs.com this season.  I must again thank Amy Gunnells, the former sports editor at one of my hometown papers, The Independent (which, unfortunately, had to be shut down a few months ago), who got me started on the idea of keeping a blog last season.  Stephen Smith with futureangels.com has also been key in the publicity of this blog, and I thank him for all of his help.  I also want to thank Anita Tsuchiya, who has aided in increasing my readership by writing about my blog in hers (which can be found here: The Sporkball Journals). 

While assembling this final post of the 2009 season, I have referred to my concluding remarks from last season and feel that they are still valid and worth mentioning.  With this in mind, I have simply reposted certain parts to conclude this final post.

Several people have questioned why I put myself through this lifestyle when it appears that I could take my Bachelor’s and Master’s of Business Administration Degrees and go get a lucrative job in corporate America (if the economy ever comes around).  I stick around because I love to play the game.  I love the challenge that every day presents and how you never know what the next baseball discovery you will uncover.  MI stay in the game to experience the moment I did when we defeated Lake Elsinore in the wild card series last week, and the 6-3 comeback we pulled off in the bottom of the ninth inning on Sunday night to force games four and five of the divisional finals.  The excitement that our team shared those nights with each other makes the long ride worth it. 

As I have said from the beginning, it is every little boy’s dream to play professional baseball.  Yes, baseball is a fun game to play, especially when you are growing up.  But, when that decision is made to seriously pursue that dream and do everything in your power to make it, the only thing that is going to stop you from playing is your body telling you you cannot continue, or all thirty professional baseball organizations telling you that you are not good enough and cannot continue to play.

Once someone has vested a certain amount of time and resources into something, it makes walking away impossible.  Last season, we were told that ‘Every day you spend not working on one aspect of this game, you slip one day farther away from making it to the top.’  While I only recently heard this, I realize that I have had this attitude ever since I made the commitment to chasing my dream of playing professional baseball.  This is not to say that you cannot take any off-days, but the biggest thing I could advise anyone is that I was able to become the player I am through hard work when no one was watching.  I was not blessed with much God-given ability like the players I have always been playing with.  I do not have the speed, arm strength, or power that some of the other players have.  However, I have a work ethic and the knowledge to work on only the things I can control, and get the most out of the ability I was blessed with.

This journey has always come down to making sacrifices and dedicating myself to becoming the best player possible.  I played with many players growing up who had more talent than I did, and everyone thought those would be the players that would be playing professionally one day. Of those teams I have been with, I am the only player still playing today in affiliated professional baseball.  So, it really comes down to making a commitment to yourself that you are going to put the effort into achieving whatever your goals are.  Some people realize along the way that it is not what they really want to do, and that is fine, but if you really want it, give it everything you have.  You have to put your energies into the things you can control.

In closing, I thank everyone again for keeping up with this blog this season and everyone who has given me words of encouragement and support.  I will conclude with a quote I have had hanging in my room for as long as I can remember, and it is one that I feel everyone can grasp and apply to their lives: “For those who dream, there is no such word as impossible.”


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.