By Cassidy Dover: "Reconsider This"
Hi again. It's me, Cassidy. OK, I have something to write about today. I'm hoping it doesn't come across as my trying to tell you what to think or believe. I really don't. I'm trying to give you a different perspective on those players, who like my Ray, are "fringe" players or "journeymen." I ask you, who takes a job, year after year, where they are put down (literally) and told, "You're not good enough to stick around. However, you are good enough that we NEED you as our insurance policy. So, we'll keep you here, for less than a man your age makes with any other job, for the chance that we need you and then we'll give you a chance?"
As you sit in your cubical, or maybe you're at your desk in your office where you're the head honcho, think about this: How many times have you thought, "I hate my job?" When I worked in the corporate world, I hated it. Certain things made it bearable. I made a great salary and got to visit with physicians and nurses and talk to them all day long. I did fun teaching events with them as well. Basically, the social part of my job made the parts I hated worth it. When the bonuses came in they outweighed the dreary days I spent alone, or worse even being rejected by those I called on day in and day out. Sure, I knew their rejection wasn't personal. I knew that certain things controlled whether or not they could use my product. However, those were the days I hated my job.
Maybe you can think of something you hate about what you do. Bring it to the forefront of your mind. There it is. For the women out there (and some men) who stay at home, think of a job you hate - we all know for me it's kitty litter changing day or laundry day. On those days, what keeps you going on?
For myself, on these days, it's my family and my friends. They are my "why," if you will. To know that sometime in that day Sheridan will hug me and tell me she loves me, or Ray will call and I'll be reaffirmed how important I am to him, or my kitty will curl right up to me after I've changed that litter and purr, that makes the drudergy more bearable.
OK, back to the guy you call a journeyman - the guy you'd rather not see ever throw a pitch for your team or to get an at bat for your team because it would mean your team has hit rock bottom. Back to that guy.
Some of these guys may have not gone to college. For the most part, those aren't the ones who are still playing ball after all these years. I say that because those that are young and are drafted early, they get the signing bonuses. Guys like Ray don't generally get one. If they do, it's a few thousand dollars that are needed to pay off student loans (and those loans are more than the bonus, don't kid yourself). So it's not that these guys can't do anything else.
These guys have passed a threshhold wherein they are now looking at their friends who are established in their jobs. Most of their friends would have finished school, gotten a job, worked their way up for 8-10-15 years and are making money that actually may surpass the minor league salary of a journeyman. Why would a journeyman still push after all this time? Is it that these guys feel they have too far to climb in "real jobs," so they choose to stay in minor league ball to have that chance of making up for lost wages and time by making it to the show? Maybe.
Is it that these guys are clinging to the fact that they get to play a game for their job? Do they know that when the day comes and they take off their cleats, hat & jersey, and put the glove down one last time, they know they won't love what they do as much anymore? Maybe.
Is it that these guys need to have the accolades of fans and coaches? Are their egos so blown up that they have no idea who they are without the title "ballplayer" next to their name? I would tend to say that with many this is part of the case.
Could it be that these men, because they are men now, not prospects, have a strong work ethic? They stick to their guns, they give 100% and play with their entire heart and their entire souls. They don't give up even when they are succeeding and seeing the young guys get chances over them. They stay away from their families, their pets, their friends for 8-11 months a year (if they play winter ball) in order to make enough money to support their families even though they are told in direct and indirect ways that they aren't really "wanted." I have been known to say that Ray and baseball have an emotionally abusive codependent relationship. He needs baseball as much as baseball needs him.
I do know this. It's guys like Ray who can step in, no matter the situation, and find a way to get the job done. It's not going to be pretty all the time. You're not going to see a journeyman suddenly become a hot young prospect. It's just not going to happen.
What you are getting with a guy like Ray or others in his "class" is a guy who will go out there and do his job. He'll give you 100% because he wants to show you that anyone, even you, could live this dream. It's the guy like Ray who you should want out there because he's not going to give up and walk away because the going got tough. He'll perservere because that's what he's shown you for the past 10 years, the years he's been a "career" minor leaguer.
I ask you to reconsider how you look at those guys who are older, who have spent so much time in the minor leagues but who were also successful last year when your big league team needed them. They deserve to be given an opportunity. They have done their time and have shown success. Just as you hate your job and would love to walk away, there's a reason you can't. Your family needs the money, the insurance, the stability. You have bills to pay, trips to plan, memories to make and your job lets you do that.
Ray's job lets us do that, too.
Those on the fringe, the journeymen, they are the ones we can talk about because they represent the doubt, the weakness, and the fear in each of us. They make us realize that there are those out there who DID perservere, who DID push on, who would not give up. So we talk about them in the negative because if they succeed, then maybe if we had pushed ourselves harder somewhere, sometime, we could have, too.
When I see my husband, I see a man who takes nothing for granted. He sees every day as a gift. Each year someone offers him a deal, he sets goals for himself. He controls what he can control. My husband gives up time with his family, stability, and direct control of his destiny in order to continue at a job he loves.
Because my husband loves his job, he has more love to give to me and to Sheridan. He doesn't come home grumpy because, "The worst job on the baseball field is a dream job to 98% of the world." He knows that. He sees his position in this game for what it's been in the past but keeps one eye on his future because it's not impossible for him to get that opportunity and to run with it. That's the beauty of it all.
It's not all bad to have one of these guys on your team's opening day roster. You know why? Each time one of these guys makes it, a part of you makes it, too. That part of you that dreamed the dream, that part of you that has been told "You're not enough" but you knew you were. That part of you that may have doubted why you come back day after day, week after week, year after year. That's part of you that takes the field each and every time a guy like my Ray makes the team.
Ray, and those like him, represent that part of each of us that keeps reaching for the dream we dreamed. He represents who we knew we could be if someone had believed in us as much as we believed in ourselves.
Thanks for reading,
Cassidy Dover has been a baseball wife for more than 10 years. Her husband Ray, currently in the minor leagues, has spent part of 7 seaons in The Show. Cassidy lives somewhere in America with her daughter Sheridan. Right now, they're probably waiting for Ray to come home.