Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Life of a Minor Leaguer: Locker Room Routines

I've come to the conclusion that the two most important things in life are good friends and a good bullpen.  ~Bob Lemon, 1981

Week one of Spring Training 2010 has come to an end and it hasn't taken long for me to remember all the oddities that a locker room full of 180 players contains. I've been really pleased with how things are running this year in the Mets organization. I'm healthy. I'm married. I'm a year older, and thus a year more acquainted with the ins and outs of pro baseball. I've learned how to pitch more efficiently, workout more intensely, and eat less terribly for myself. But there is one thing that I will never (prophetically speaking) get used to. What to do with my down time in the Locker Room.

We have to get to the field quite a while before we go outside to do our work, just in case there are announcements, early work, training room inquiries, etc. It's an inevitability. What is up to our discretion, however, is how to kill time. Some guys like to sit and chat. These conversations typically revolve around the weight and length of the fish they've caught...and the women they've been in the company of. Honestly, baseball players must be some of the best outdoorsmen in the universe based on the stories they re-tell. I, however, was voted least likely to survive a week alone in the wild. So my knowledge of the outdoors is limited to perfect tree planting technique (thanks Trees Atlanta). I, like my colleague in the picture below, prefer to spend my time in pursuit of academia...or reading. Right now I am slowly but surely working my way through Good To Great by Jim Collins, chronicling the rise to greatness of 11 companies as compared to the curse of mediocrity suffered by so many others. I really appreciate how this book relates to baseball and my career in particular. One point it highlights is taking whatever it is you can be the best in the world at and focusing your efforts on that goal. If you cannot be the best in the world at something, it should not be your main focus. For me: Command, Command, Command. I will never throw the ball harder than anyone in the world, but I am capable of having the best command. So that's my goal...have the best command in the world. Ambitious? yeah, but why not.

Jake Ruckle (top), Roy Merritt (left), Emary Frederick (right)

Others enjoy playing a rousing game of cards: Casino, 13, Poker, Uker, etc. These games get loud in all the different languages spoken around the locker room. We've got English (loud), Spanish (loudest), Quebec French, Dutch, and German. People start yelling and you just understand "he must of had a flush..."

All of us ballplayers adapt to the conditions we are faced with day in and day out, and while we may choose different activities and different energy levels one thing remains constant. Whatever your hobby, it's fun to have the guys around.

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