CD's Phuture Phillie Phenoms... No Minor Matter

If the number of words written in an article could be used to build rooms in a house, I would live in the Taj Mahal. This column will be different; brief, succinct and right to the point. This article will serve as a reminder to myself of my role and my affinity for the very people who read this column. I hope that those who read this article will know of my understanding of the very reason that I write it; to reach out and touch the very people whose voices I represent. Allow me to explain.

My latest Phuture Phillies Phenoms article was entitled Three to Get Ready and in it I offered my thoughts of three prospects from each of the six minor league teams in the Phillie organization. I mentioned that I had chosen the number three because, frankly, a few of the minor league teams didn't have more than three prospects with seasons worthy discussing. I also mentioned that in the lower third of the system it became tougher because the talent level is deeper, and more difficult to separate. I still feel this way.

Still, I forgot one of the cardinal rules of my writing...remember to be credible yet charitable whenever possible. My Connect the Dots column is written about the major league team and is totally subjective. The thoughts are mine and mine only and I feel comfortable praising, criticizing, analyzing and theorizing about the Phillies. I write from a phans point of view, and the connection I have developed with my readership has always been based on this. I believe the Phillies understand that and my credibility has stayed in tact due to this.

Connect the Dots is a subjective column and needs to be so. They are my thoughts, my feelings and my opinions. Many readers agree and some take me to task but always with a respectful view that CD may be wrong but he is credible. Not so, Phuture Phillies Phenoms. This column was never meant to be subjective, it was meant to be an overview of the latest happenings with the minor league players and continual updates and progress reports on these players.

I take pride in knowing and understanding just what these minor league players go through, as I have been there. I remember the all night bus rides, the cities where restaurants close too early to eat a meal when you arrive, the rocky infields and the poorly lit stadiums. I remember the double-headers played after too much travel and too little sleep and I recall the pressure to perform at a high level every day not only with the hope that you might advance up the organization but to alleviate the fear that you will soon be replaced with the latest "flavor of the month" draft picks.

Yet most of all, I remember the pride my family had in me, their son, and how their views on my performance were never subjective. No one could ever tell my family that I was not the best player on the field, and if I did poorly it was due to extenuating circumstances and never because I just might not have been good enough. My parents would hear none of this, and I appreciated this greatly.

Better than most, I understand this when I write about the Phillie minor league players. I understand their hopes, their dreams, their fears and their concerns...and I understand how the families back home feel also. When I write about Phillie minor league players, I care as much for the undrafted free agent as I do the bonus baby top draft pick because at their core, they are the same. Same dreams, same aspirations, same hopes, same fears. And the same love from family members that makes it all the more rewarding.

When I wrote my latest piece I entered a realm I had no business entering...the realm of subjective reporting on a topic that is at it's core an emotional topic. I had forgotten the very reason for this column, to report on the progress of these athletes on the field, and to stay out of the murky waters of scouting and evaluating. I have no business entering those waters, and I won't again.

I have been told that for every one e-mail you receive from a reader, 100 more feel the same way. If this is so, then my latest article created many unhappy readers. For this, I understand completely. My mother would have been unhappy and she never claimed to be objective when it came to her son. Neither should the parents of these fine young men who someday hope to wear Philadelphia Phillies across their chests.

When I played, I would occasionally meet an old friend and he would ask me when I was going to join the pros. I would gently explain that the minor leagues were the pros and that we were in training for a possible advancement to the big leagues. They almost never understood and would say..."no, I mean when are you going to join the pros?" I would smile knowingly and walk away with the thoughts that most people could never understand the trials, tribulations and struggles of a minor league player. I understand.

More important, parents and family members understand. Those of you who have taken the time to write me have reminded me of a valuable lesson, one I will carry with me for as long as I write this column. Thank you for writing. Thank you for caring. But mostly, thank you for reminding me of why I write this column, and the very lives that are touched by the words I write. This, to me, is no minor matter.

Columnist's Note: Please send all comments and questions to allenariza@earthlink.net and I will respond. Thank you! Allen Ariza aka CD from the Left Coast


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