If your mind went anywhere other than pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training then there is still hope if your next thought was realizing it’s baseball season again!
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks because spring games have begun in Arizona and Florida. Prospects are getting their first taste of big league camp, vets holding on for one more year, and everyone else who isn’t named Mike Trout or Garrit Cole trying to remain relevant enough to stay employed somehow, somewhere. Young stars like Washington’s Juan Soto even recognize that this is a new season and world series, heroics aside, he was signed to
Playing professional baseball is hard. The few who have the luxury to do so and succeed are athletically gifted, extremely driven, and focused. Having just the opportunity to play this game for a living is a dream of many, including myself, but it’s far from just fun and games.
I have been fortunate enough to cover the Sacramento River Cats day in and day out the past two seasons, and have gotten to know a handful of players along the way. One of the things I took away from these encounters was how normal many of these players’ lives are during the season. The money at the Triple-A level isn’t horrible, but most of these guys aren’t making the millions or even hundreds of thousands of dollars many assume that they do. Yes there are some “Bonus Babies” out there that allow some to indulge from time to time, but the reality is that most are just young men doing their jobs, enjoying themselves when they can, and then going “home” at the end of the long day like the rest of the world.
Players are pulled in so many directions simply for being a professional athlete, that it’s difficult to open up easily to others and it’s mentally and physically draining just to be in the public eye. How difficult it must be to try and figure out someones intentions and if they just want to use you. I even recognize as a writer and photographer that in some way, I’m using them too. Over time though we each get to see the person behind the mask or the lens, and that’s how the magic happens and the story develops.
The original concept of my book was to write a retrospective of the Sacramento River Cats as their 20th season approached. I had an outline of what I wanted the book to look like. I reached out to past players, including Sacramento’s first superstar Barry Zito, and asked them to share their memories about their time in Sacramento. I knew exactly what my plan was, but even the best laid plans of mice and men…
The 2019 season unfolded exactly like I dreamed but never how I expected. Part way through the season I slammed the brakes to the story I was writing, for the story taking place right before my eyes. 2019 was a magical year so I don’t know how much I planned in 2017/2018 will end up in the final book as real life is filled with uncertainty.
The plan was to release my book in the spring of 2020 to coincide with the new season, but life happens, and I’ve been forced to lay this book down for a few months. What is a personal nightmare may have just become a blessing in disguise for my story. I had been so caught up in editing that I lost track of what I wanted to do, and that was to write a piece that captures the excitement that River Cats baseball has provided for 20 years.
I hope you enjoy this blog as I handle life’s hiccups and finalize “Let’s Get It All.”