One of the toughest parts of playing minor-league baseball is trying to balance your time between the game and your family. When I say the game, I not only mean the three or four hour period that the fans get to see, but also the five hours before the game that we are there. If we have a seven o'clock start, most players are at the park by two to get prepared.
Preparation involves a variety of different activities, from getting in the training room to get treatment, tape etc. All the way to the required early work that the organization mandates we go through, and everything in between, which includes our own personal regiments each player has become accustomed to over the course of his career.
Family is a beautiful and logical way to help you through the end of the season. It is always great to get that emotional and mental break that a loved one can provide. For some guys, especially at this level it's a wife, a son or a daughter that you look forward to spending your free time with that helps pass the routine of doing the exact same thing every day. For me, a guy without a wife, fiancé or even a girlfriend - and certainly no kids; yet - having my parents and extended family visit from time to time is a treat. I also have a younger sister who is absolutely hilarious, so anytime I get the opportunity to speak with her or see her, it helps me take my mind off the game which is important to retain your sanity.
After last week's post I received a few questions, which I greatly appreciated, so I am going to attempt to answer a few of those: One fan asked "How has your life changed outside of baseball since you began playing professional baseball?" He wanted to know how "glamorous" the life of a minor leaguer is.
Let me be the first to tell you - not very. First let me say we are professional baseball players (FYI if you are ever at a minor league game don't ask a guy when he is going to go pro, or get drafted and make it to the pros; it's a good way to not get your ball signed.)
Our lives are very different than your favorite Major Leaguers. I remember a funny story from the Florida State League last August. One of our players grounded out and was not running to first as hard as a fan next to our dugout thought he should be and he screamed out in disgust "Explexitive! Hustle! Hell, I would at least run it out for six figures a year!" Instantly, everyone in our dugout lost it in laughter. I am not going to share what our salaries are, but I will share that the minor leagues does not have a union and we are anti-trust exempt so minimum wage laws do not apply. So Matthew, there are no personal assistants, we eat a lot of bad late night food on the road and for the most part it costs minor leaguers money out of their own pocket beyond their salary to "chase the dream" of playing in the Major Leagues.
The next question was about the trade rumors surrounding me in late July and whether or not I was surprised to still be in Philly? To be honest nothing in this game surprises me anymore, but I did think there was a very good chance at one time that I would be moved. That being said I am extremely happy to still be with this organization even though it may inevitably delay my chance to play at the highest stage of my profession. I am extremely comfortable in this organization and I have made a lot of life long friends in my two-plus years here, so it will be nice to continue to play with them for at least another one.
The last question before I start to pack up my hotel room, has to deal with what have I learned in the Philly organization that has allowed me to continue to raise my game as I progress through the system? Well that's a very complicated question with an even more complicated answer, but simply stated, I have learned a lot. Every level I have been to has its own set of circumstances and challenges that, if you're paying attention, you can take things away from to build upon your game. The key to this career choice is always striving for more. Anytime you get satisfied with where you are, your skill level or your numbers, the game will eat you alive and others will pass you by.
A sobering thought is there are only 800 spots in the Majors and the game is more global now than it's ever been. It is crucial to learn from every mistake, every success and every person you come in contact with. I am so blessed to even have made it this far, so everyday I do my best to look for a way to improve and I hope to continue doing that for the rest of my life in everything I choose to endeavor.
Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts and I look forward to reading your questions for next week.