There’s nothing like a firm punch in the stomach to wake you up in the morning, especially when it comes on the last day of spring training.
My roommates and I reported as normal on this solemn day. We cracked jokes while walking, trying to distract ourselves from the inevitable events weighing upon our minds. Moves remained to be made, and this was the only day left to make them. The puppeteers would no doubt be tolling their bell today, and all of us tried to ignore this devilish drone.
Ryan Sadowski and I both clung to the Fresno roster (AAA), while my other roommate, Dave McKae, occupied the Connecticut roster (AA). All of us had survived several rounds of cuts, and each of us hoped our sweaty palms would in fact remain in these positions.
“Well, today has to be the day,” one of us said, as if we needed a reminder of the 800 pound gorilla escorting us to the field.
As we rounded the corner, we saw the door to the coach’s office abruptly open. A coach appeared and pointed at one of us. He motioned for one of us to come into the office. My stomach went to the ground and my knees shook. He was pointing to me.
Thoughts immediately went to going back to Connecticut and spending another year in AA. I had hoped that I had pitched well enough the previous year to escape the tar pit, but perhaps I hadn’t.
I sat down in a chair, surrounded by a roomful of baseball men who possessed more baseball knowledge in their mustaches than I possessed in my entire body. I wasn’t expecting the glum news I was about to hear.
I would go to neither Fresno nor Connecticut. Instead I would remain in extended spring training. With no room in AAA, they threw me into baseball limbo, waiting for something to open up.
The rest of the day a feeling of shock overwhelmed me. The events blindsided me, and so I tried to make sense of it all and to ponder the possible outcomes. In reality, I had simply entered a waiting game. I simply had to let the uncertainties unravel in their own chaotic, unexpected fashion.
I reported the next day and took the field while the rest of my teammates packed their bags. While I shagged fly balls during live BP, they caught a flight. I threw a bullpen and prepared for another intrasquad game while they would be playing other teams in games that people actually attended.
I soon convinced myself of the futility of feeling sorry for myself. This is my situation, and I have to make the most of it. It is time to go back to work.
It is a sobering reminder of the illusion of control that one has over a baseball career. It reaffirms a need for me to re-commit to one of my most important tools: my work ethic. This is all I can control.
I haven’t gotten to this point by passively allowing talent to carry me. There are a plethora of more talented players in this game. For me to advance, I will do so through hard work, persistence, and dedication.
With this in mind, I joined a circle of youngsters in the outfield performing a rudimentary version of PFP. Rockets were soon hit at my ankles, and I did my best impersonation of Patrick Roy. Throwing my body around, stabbing at spinning white orbs with my glove, a slight smile came to my face. It felt good to be going back to work. It was good to still be in this game.
One roommate, Ryan, survived the day and reported to Fresno. The other, Dave, wasn’t so lucky. He soon found himself being led to the same exact room in which I learned my fate less than an hour before. His news proved even more dire, as his career with the Giants has ceased and he’s now looking for a job elsewhere.
A few days later, I turned on the TV to view the celebration that is opening day. The beginning of the baseball season remains special, as hope reigns strongly within every team. After a little contemplation, it still reigns within me as well.
I’ll be waiting longer than most for my opening day. It will be work that will carry me towards it. And it will be this work and this game that will deliver a little smile on my face.
Since writing this piece, Broshuis has been assigned to high Class A San Jose. You can contact Broshuis at firstname.lastname@example.org.