Friday, March 5, 2010

The Life of a Minor Leaguer: Saying Goodbye

Don't tell me about the world.  Not today.  It's springtime and they're knocking baseball around fields where the grass is damp and green in the morning and the kids are trying to hit the curve ball.  ~Pete Hamill

Part of being a ballplayer is picking up and leaving. You play 100+ games in 5 months, with the longest stretch in one place being roughly 7 days. Fans wait all year to see big market teams or big time players come into their home ballparks and play. 3 days later their gone. Professionally it's hard. Personally it's even harder. 

I got married this the girl of my dreams! We planned the wedding around baseball season so that we could delay the inevitable goodbye for as long as possible. 5 months and 2 days later, today was that dreaded day. Sitting in a Starbucks parking lot with Ashley watching the seconds roll by on my watch, my emotions were torn. I have spent the first 5 months of marriage enjoying every second that I get to spend with my wife, trying with everything I have to cherish and remember each moment because I know I will never get them back. However, since I threw my last pitch in early september, the itch to get back on the hill has been working it's way towards the surface. Every ballplayer faces it in pro ball. When we were kids, we played  in the spring, summer, and fall then took 2 weeks off for Christmas and were back playing catch before the snow had melted. Now we play every day for 6 months, then we are instructed not play for the other 6. It's hard to take away something so important to a person for half the year and tell them not to miss it, think about it, dream about it. You get so rusty, you start to think, "Have I forgotten how to pitch?" It's like all of a sudden someone took the game away from you and for 6 months you have to fight to get it back. Week after week things become more natural. You see a little getty up on your fastball, your breaking ball starts to bite again, day after day the soreness wears off. March 2, 3, 4...5th!! Report date arrives and you realize "Oh wait, I have to start saying goodbye again." Every few days I have to look the person I love in the face and tell her I'm not coming home tonight, then try to reassure her that everything will be fine and that i'll be home before she knows it. 

My wife is strong and independent, but even she gets teary knowing that she must share her husband with a game. But she knows she's married to a ballplayer, and she knows I mean it when I say, "I love you, and I'm gonna miss you...but damn I'm happy it's time to play ball again."

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