Monday, July 09, 2012

This Is The Business We Have Chosen

JULY 9th, 2012-We're halfway through the season, and things have been about what I expected they would be.

3B Matt Duffy, putting a hurt on the ball.
The team as a whole has been reasonably successful, playing some pretty exciting games and more than holding their own in what has turned out to be a somewhat competitive division. Players have come and gone, been promoted, demoted, released (we still miss you, Tyler), injured, all of what you'd expect to see in a typical baseball season. Several of the players I've known and hosted while here have gone up the chain (Jason Chowning and Alex Todd, for starters), new players have come to take their place on the roster (happy to see one of my personal favorite players Mitchell Lambson joining us), and business has been pretty much "as usual", as they say.

The Moon Man, firing away after a great hustle play
Business. I've never gotten used to hearing that word associated with baseball. Somehow, it doesn't sit well with me.

I've never been naive enough to think that, at this level, it's first and foremost a business. But when you get to know these kids, when you learn about their lives off the field, what they're like when they're not ball players, you can't get totally accustomed to the fact that, in the end, their status as a professional baseball player is strictly subject to the whim and will of the parent organization. The "big club". Somehow, "big club" is a very appropriate nickname for a Major League team...after you've been released, you probably feel like you've just been smacked over the head with one.

CF Drew Muren just knocked the crap out of this ball. Trust me. 
Anyway, I continue to take hundreds upon hundreds of photos at every game I attend. It sometimes gets to feeling too much like actual work (which it shouldn't because I love doing it), and when it does I back off a bit. But I spend countless hours working on those photos, and sometimes a player will thank me for taking them. In the end, besides the fact that I feel like the time spent by these young men in professional baseball is worthy of remembrance, I do it for them. At the last potluck I was able to print some 200 of these photos out to distribute to the boys. Many of them were very grateful to have shots of themselves playing this game, and I imagine they seldom get to see prints of their own unless someone is asking them to sign one, but I love being able to do this for them. I genuinely feel that it's a small gesture, considering all they give back to the fans. And yeah, I like the feedback I get when they see the pics, too.

RHP Murilo Gouvea waits for the call. 
I say all this because I feel that minor league baseball players have so much asked of them by their team and their fans, they're paid peanuts for what they do, they endure eternally long road trips and have to share space with 2 or 3 other players just to be able to afford a place of their own, and honestly they are given little in return when you think about it. Consider: after all they do to make their way in pro ball, only one in 11 will ever step foot on a major league field for even one at-bat, one inning, one play. That's a lot of work for such long odds. But they do it, and every year another 1500 or so new faces fight for their place in the game, veterans keep working toward their dream, and some are just praying for one more game, one more inning, one more moment in the sun.

Now I'm not mentioning the photography bit because I think what I do deserves any sort of praise. I love doing it and I'll keep on doing it as long as God allows. But in a small way, it affords me a tiny window into the life of a player, a look into who he is instead of what he does, and it brings me that much closer to the game I love and the players I respect.

Flamethrowing prospect RHP Dayan Diaz. If you don't know
about him yet, you will.
Simply put, while one player may be here for the long haul, another may disappear without warning. We all remember the ones who make the All-Star Games, who lead the league in homers or who win batting titles, but let's not forget the ones who are here and gone before we knew them.

Let's not forget that the business can be harsh and unforgiving. Keep that in mind the next time one of your favorites leaves the diamond, perhaps for good. Remember what it meant to him, and what he meant to you. And it won't seem like such a business, anymore.

Find more Legends photos in my 2012 Lexington Legends Flickr set. I'll be adding to it all year. 
Post a Comment