Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Age-Old Question

It's not everybody else's fault. How can I (we as a collective group of ballplayers) expect people to know how frustrating of a question it really is. It seems so straight forward. So simple. The truth is, however, it isn't simple at all.

"So, when do you think you're gonna get moved up?"

The problem with this question doesn't lie in the sentiment behind it. When most people ask, it comes out of pure (even encouraging) motives.  If the ultimate goal is to make it to the big leagues, then it would seem a logical assumption that we would have some sort of time table laid out for us. The unfortunate reality is that there is no said time table. It's not a video game where levels are passed once a certain amount of points are amassed. There are no shortcuts. There's no certainty that we will even make it. Therefore the question, asked out of a pure heart, brings to mind the reality of the odds against us. 

We hear rumblings. The tremors that shake through an organization can be heard and felt through a few different channels. First, and most reliable, is through the players themselves. We don't always hear that a guy is getting moved right away, but usually within a few hours the phone tree has made it's way to our clubhouse/cell phones. That's usually followed by some educated guesses of the trickle down effect caused by the move. Who's coming up? Who's going down? Did someone get cut? The second, and less reliable, is the internet. Twitter, Facebook, and blogs pontificate about moves all the time. People have adopted it as their job to make millions of assumptions and/or guesses, then claim internet dominance once one of them inevitably comes true. While fans can listen to the these claims and enjoy the drama of the minor league soap operas, the players cannot (for our own sanity) get caught up in it. If we gave validity to every claim that was made about our careers, most of us would cry ourselves to sleep at night from the brutality of people's words. The rest of us would be eternally bitter at our stagnate progress. Either way it ends up hindering our careers. 

What never happens (I use never because of the serious infrequency of it's happening) is that the administration/front office/coaching staff tells us what we should and can expect. It's hush-hush not out of spite, but out of self preservation. If the organization told every player what they thought would happen with each of their careers, it would be very hard to manage our expectations well. The nature of our job is volatile and to predict where a certain player will end up is next to impossible, even for the decision makers. Injuries, transactions, and personal development can't be divined. Careers can't be placed on train tracks. Honestly, it's more like a tight rope. You try to stay balanced and hope for the best. 

All of this to say, we don't know when we're getting moved up. We never will. Don't ask. Let me offer a different inquiry for you...

"You enjoying yourself? Good. Keep working hard."

12 comments:

  1. I enjoyed this. Thanks for writing.

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  2. So, when do you think Wheeler is getting moved up?
    I kid, but for every guy like you on a minor league squad there are 5 to 10 who aren't even being considered for a move up, and they get asked about you or Wheeler instead. Has to be even more frustrating.

    I think you both have done an excellent job so far this year and deserve a shot at AAA before the end of the year. Best of luck and health when you do get the call.

    NateW

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  3. I remember one player, years ago, who played for Rochester in Triple A. I think his name was Kelley Paris (it has been over 20 years so I am not sure). I think he was in his 30s. Watching him in the ballpark and reading in the local paper, we thought he was fantastic. He hit for average and power, but he never got a call up. In retrospect, I guess he was a AAAA player, although I did not know what that meant at the time and I never heard it applied to him. He probably knew (or strongly suspected) he was not going to have a major league career, so my question is this. If a player reaches a point where they know they won't play in the majors, but they are doing well in AAA and can do it for a few years more, can they and do they just sit back and enjoy it? I know they are giving up years at a different career, but I switched careers in my 30s. I would have been thrilled if my first career had been professional baseball. By the way, I am asking you because of the topic of your blog. I am NOT suggesting you are one of those players. --Jeff, formerly of Rochester, NY

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    Replies
    1. Kelley Paris:
      http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/p/pariske01.shtml

      He had a couple of decent years in the 80s in the minors. And he did get that call up a few times. 231 plate appearances in his big league career.

      This speaks to what Collin is saying a bit. Kelley Paris was a 2nd round pick. He had a nice year as a 24-year-old in AAA. Got a call up that year and the year after but never stuck in the bigs. You just never know.

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  4. These are what they call the "trappings of success." As you continue doing very well, you'll also continue to get this type of attention. It comes with the territory. You seem to have a great attitude about everything, though, which is good because I think that speculation will only heat up as you prove that you can help the big club.

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  5. Congrats on the great game last night, despite the "L". Probably gonna have to deal with "the question" again due to yet another good outing.

    I love your blog, intelligent, articulate players like yourself make being a Met fan a lot of fun. Best of luck and health!

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  6. Collin, congrats on a fantastic last two years! How much scouting and prep work goes into a minor league pitcher's preparation for each start? Do you have access to video of your opponents and do you go over scouting reports or, as I would expect, are those items just reserved for the big league team? From a fan's perspective, I'm thinking the "cerebral" player has an advantage when he gets the call to the bigs because there is so much more information for him to use....

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  7. Wiser words may never (and I don't use that word lightly) have been written! Timing, like in comedy, is everything in the game of promotion!

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  8. Congratulation on the call up to Buffalo, Collin! I have been a reader of yours for over a year, and I really enjoy your stuff. Your perseverance and perspective make you easy to root for. Look forward to seeing you get your shot in Queens sooner than later. Keep pounding the zone, in the game of baseball and in life, and you'll come out alright. Best of Luck. - TH

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  9. I'm a Berry alumna and long-time baseball fan. This morning, a faculty member forwarded me a message about your promotion today with a link to this blog.
    I read your blog back to spring training and am quite impressed with your terrific writing and keen insights! You are wise beyond your years, and I am going to share your blog with my favorite players here on the Rome Braves. I think I already knew better than to ask the question you addressed today, but I love the replacement question you suggested. Glad you are enjoying yourself, and I feel confident that you will keep working hard and making us proud!
    - WD

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