The Dark Side Of The Ball

Everyone laughed at the line in "Wedding Crashers" when Luke Wilson jokes about how he lost a lot of good men playing for the Yankees; and they should, its a really funny line. Today's post is not going to be funny, today I'm gonna talk about something that is a serious and frankly. a dark and overlooked aspect of the game.

For most of you, your relationship with baseball is being a fan. And that's perfect - without fans there is no game, y'all are the life blood of baseball. Today I wanted to show you guys a backstage view of the game, and not to cloud your idea of what happens, or take away from the brilliance of the sport in any way, I just think it's worth sharing - and I think that as fans, and friends of players, you will want to read about it.

Today we had our third day in a row of cuts. Three days of watching your friends, your teammates, your family, have their dreams crushed. I'm not going to say that this means the end of the world for them, or that they will never work again, or that they will never be in the big leagues. I will say, that for most of the these guys, this is the end of a very prominent chapter in their lives. Baseball has been present in these guy's lives for 15-20 years and now they'll either have to swallow the fact that its over for them at a professional level, or have to start the uphill to try and get with another team. For players with families, this means a time of uncertainty. For players from other countries, this usually means having to go back home where things usually aren't as good as they are here. For all of them, it means having to pack up their locker, and walk away from a clubhouse into an uncertain future.

It's one thing to see a great like Jorge Posada leave the game after more than a decade in the bigs, knowing that he has money and a pension to fall back on. It's another watching a 22 year old clean out his locker and hold back tears so he doesn't cry in front of his teammates. He gets hugs from his buddies, everyone saying the one of a handful of token phrases. Some players will avoid eye contact, as if by not acknowledging the guy who's leaving, they will escape a similar fate. They walk out the doors, and we stay - putting on the same jersey that just got taken away from them, readying ourselves for another precious day on the diamond.

I know that the fact of the matter is, that he may not have been good enough, or that there are just too many people behind him that need a shot, or that he wasn't healthy enough to do this job at a big league level. But no matter how it happens or why, it's never going to be anything but heartbreaking to see that look of loss in a friends eyes as they walk away from the game for the first time - and not on their own terms. There will no press conference for them. No one will see them tomorrow on ESPN, shedding tears for time passed. They'll be traveling home tomorrow, desperately trying to right the world as it spins faster and faster in front of their eyes.

I'm not trying to say that this shouldn't be a part of the game, or that cuts are absurd, or that the wrong people are getting cut and there has to be something done about it. All I'm trying to do, is honor these fallen soldiers in my own way. They deserve statues. Monuments to their triumph. For years, these men have been perfecting their craft, missing spring break and long weekends to slave under the hot sun at tournaments. They've given up time with friends and family to grind out long nights in cages, working on that perfect swing. They've missed birth days and anniversaries and weddings to long bus trips. Every sacrifice in the hopes of one day stepping onto a big league field. All that work is washed away in one meeting with the head of player development. A handshake, a bidding of good luck and like sand through and open hand - it's gone.

I'm not trying to gain pity for the ballplayer. The opportunity that we are given is unparalleled. Each of us have been given an chance that is unlike any other, I don't mean to bemoan the profession. We get to wake up every day and live not only our dream, but the dream of countless others. We respect that - we honor that. All the sacrifices we made, we made on our own. We know what we were getting ourselves into. Cuts are a part of Spring Training. Some people stay and some people go, and next year the Baseball Reaper will be back again, but no one sees it coming. So when that icy finger taps you on the shoulder, it's like getting that phone call in the middle of the night - it's never good news.

I love my job. And I love my teammates. And I just wanted to do get on my soap box for a bit and give them as close to the 21 gun salute they deserve as I could.