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.”