Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Transactions: Legends' Hallock, Bushue, King Sent To Extended ST

MAY 1st, 2012-Sometimes, when the baseball season is underway, when the big club has had a few sit-down, come-to-Jesus meetings with players or staff, the result of those meetings is invariably unpleasant.

Because I love this game, like so many of you out there, I try my best to get to know the players I follow. Not as professional athletes, but as individuals, as human beings. When you get to know players on a personal level, you often develop friendships with them.

And when the big club gets down to making the hard decisions, some of your friends end up being demoted or traded or, even worse, released. Then it becomes very personal, because at that point we're talking about having to watch helplessly as your friends' lives are disrupted dramatically. Being sent down means that you might possibly get to see them again. If they're released, you may never see them again.

Kyle Hallock pitching in his first Class A game; photo by
Clinton Riddle
I don't know about you, but I have a hard time with standing by while my friends are tossed about emotionally, while their dreams are deferred or crushed altogether, and I fumble for the right words to say when I know there's nothing I can say that will help.

Tanner Bushue comes in from the 'pen; photo by
Clinton Riddle
I'm sure that this might sound a little dramatic to some of you, but I have a passion for baseball that defies explanation. I know I'm not alone in my love for baseball, and I think I might be sharing an opinion that is held by many baseball fans. Sure, these players become professionals with the understanding that someday their careers could come to an abrupt end. They know this, it's a dismal thought that lingers in the back of their minds. Knowing it could happen (and for many of them it will) doesn't make it any easier to accept. Not for them, and not for us fans. 

Today, on a travel day for the Lexington Legends, we found out that LHP Kyle Hallock, RHP Tanner Bushue and RF Emilio King were sent down to extended Spring Training by the "big club". Just a side note: somehow, referring to the major league team as the "big club" makes them sound like something used to bludgeon players into submission. Or is it just me?

Emilio King takes a powerful cut; photo
by Clinton Riddle
Anyway, Kyle was one of the players that Heather was hosting. We both took it kind of hard, but I'm not about to compare our sadness with what Kyle, Tanner and Emilio were feeling. That would just be insulting. And I'm not naive enough to ignore the cold, hard fact that baseball at this level is a business, and as such there are sometimes tough decisions to be made that will alter the course of organizational employees' lives, from time to time. In fact, players are traded, sent down and released every day during the season. It's just a fact of life when you're a pro baller.

I know all of this, and I accept it. Again, that doesn't make it any easier. These things happen. I get it. All this rambling is leading to a point, trust me.

This is something I promised myself I wouldn't say, since the stark details of this whole transaction business are even colder and more impersonal than most fans would ever know. In fairness to the players involved and in the interest of remaining (somewhat) professional and polite in expressing my feelings about today, let me just say that things were handled rather poorly. It's my feeling that the way these players were treated in the process of removing them from the Lexington roster was somewhat impersonal and inconsiderate.

Telling a player that he's being sent down/traded/released can be a rather delicate conversation. Some players take it better than others. Some are more sensitive, others not so much. They are all human beings, and as such deserve at the very least a modicum of courtesy and respect, regardless of what the big club wants to do with them. For example, leaving a player with no itinerary when they're 1000 miles away from their new assignment is unacceptable. Just an example, you know. That's all.

We got to see and talk to Emilio before he left to pack. Kyle and Tanner spent their time in the clubhouse. My feeling is that they really weren't interested in visiting with us. I probably wouldn't want to be mixing with the crowd after getting news like that, either. I feel for them. I really do.

We know we're probably going to see all three of these guys again, and maybe very soon. It doesn't always happen that way. In the bus leagues, you never know when a player is going to be suddenly and inexplicably out of a job. Because of this and many other reasons, I never go to a game without my camera. That's one huge difference between the Majors and minor league baseball: if you make it to The Show, there's always going to be a fan somewhere that remembers you. In the minors, thousands of players pass in and out of organizations, teams and leagues and may be completely forgotten, altogether. It's a sad, cold fact. Just like most decisions made in professional baseball.

And while that may never change, one thing remains the same: there are several thousand young men chasing after a dream that may never come true. Still, they keep on running, and because they sacrifice so much to make their dream a reality, because they give so much back to the fans and spend half of every year far away from friends, family and home in unfamiliar towns, I believe they deserve our respect and support.
If they can't get that from the very organization of which they are a part, there's something seriously wrong.

Simple, common courtesy. Doesn't seem like a lot to ask. Or maybe it's just me?

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