By Cassidy Dover: "Child Be Still"
The season is upon us. Just like that I have some time alone with my thoughts. This is not always a good thing for me, but for you all, you get to know what I'm thinking.
Ray has a friend he's pitched with in the past who is in independent ball right now. This guy is really talented - he almost made it to the big leagues last year. He doesn't have a blazing fastball, or a bank account that allows him to walk away from the sport. He didn't get any offers from an affiliated team so now he is playing in this league. You'd think someone who had done as well as this guy last season would have an agent who stood by him.
But he doesn't.
See an agent makes money based on a guy's salary. He gets paid when his players make over the league minimum and couldn't have gotten that contract on his own. This friend has no earning potential to assist his agent, so his agent dropped him.
When your agent drops you, you have no one to get your shoes, gloves, or clothes to play in. These items cost money and when your pay doesn't cover your living expenses, you find yourself in a bind. How do you get them? Ray is trying to help his friend out by sending slightly used items his way. In this life you have to believe in Karma. If you help someone out, they will do the same for you. You must stick together when there is no one else who is there to help. But when you are faced with the fact that someone who had done so well just a few months ago is now in this position, you begin to really realize how fortunate you are to be where you currently happen to be.
When you play in independent ball, you are playing hoping that scouts from affiliated teams see you and pick you up when their minor league team needs someone to fill in a gap. You are willing to get paid less than $1,000 a month with no insurance hoping that it brings you an opportunity to get back on track with your career.
Baseball is funny that way. There are many former major league players who play trying to revive their careers. One year a friend of ours was trying to get back after surgery. He had done well prior to his injury. In fact, he had been in the big leagues right before he got hurt. But in baseball, it's a "what have you done for me lately" sort of mentality.
Our friend, after rehabbing for over a year, found himself with little money and no job opportunities. He went to the Indy leagues and played. He pitched and lived with a family. His own wife and son visited when they could. After a few months, our friend was picked up by a AAA team needing a lefty. He went to the new town and pitched. Then he was on the phantom DL, but at least he still had a job.
As the season wound down, he was doing great. His E.R.A was low and he was moving between starting the bullpen. His wife even had hopes he may be called up in September. But that didn't happen.
Ray and this guy went to winter ball together. Again, the friend did great. He waited for some opportunities to come. Nothing. The next step for our friends was to play in Italy. I didn't even know there was a league in Italy. The family all went there. The team in Italy played three games a week. The team would pay for housing and they had a chance to travel and see a part of the world they never thought they would have the chance to live in.
When they got home, we went to see their photos and their new wine collection. What an amazing place! I told Ray I'd love to travel like that some day. We have other friends who have played in Japan and Korea. These leagues are amazing opportunities as well. Again, the teams pay for your housing and you get to live in another part of the world. We have friends who have travelled to these Asian countries as part of MLB goodwill trips and they've loved it. However, for our friends who have gone there to play for seasons on end, the reasons are for another chance to build a career and a savings for their family.
Our family has, at times, looked into playing overseas. The money there is better than the minor leagues in the states. However, there is always a tradeoff. If you play in Asia, you give up a chance to get a call up. Call ups lead to, obviously, great pay, but also days of service time which will later in life lead to a retirement pension. Is the immediate paycheck worth the loss in potential at the time of retirement? If you stay in the states and never receive a call up, was it worth it? It's a tough call.
As Ray and I talked about his friend, I was suddenly filled with such a feeling of gratitude that as crazy as Ray's career has been, we've had some sort of stability. Ray can always seem to create the opportunity for himself to find a job that pays our bills. He's always been resilient enough that his agent has stuck around. Already, this month, we've seen our share of the unexpected. Spring training was great but didn't turn out as we had hoped for since, on opening day, we were not in a big league city.
Not being on a 40-man roster can also cause some frustration. As a big league team struggles, you see guys on their roster called up. By calling up the guys who are on the roster, they can move them up and down and not risk losing them the waiver wire. As a veteran who is in AAA as insurance to the big club, this can be really tough to deal with.
Maybe not for Ray, but for me.
Then there is the big league roster that has guys with options and guys without. As players who have been hurt come off the disabled list, guys must be moved. Does a team risk losing a young guy with potential to keep a veteran who may not be as flashy but you know what you'll get or do you risk the veteran not passing waivers?
See in baseball, you can't get comfortable, unless you're a guy with a multi-year deal. You hold your breath with each passing move. Again, maybe it's only me that does that.
Because Sheridan and I are at home and not with Ray, it's tough at times. I have great friends, but they don't know exactly what I'm going through. They don't understand the uncertainty that comes with each day. At this point in Ray's career, we are truly thankful for each and every day we have. This job is a blessing we never take for granted. However, this is more than a job. In all reality, it's Ray's identity. To a certain extent, it's mine as well. I can't imagine who I am if I'm not a baseball player's wife.
Tonight, as I put Sheridan to bed, she cried. She said, "With Daddy gone all the time, sometimes I feel like I don't have a dad."
I turned to her and said, "Don't say that! You have friends whose daddy's must travel for work. Your daddy is working. He loves you so very much that he HAS to leave us for his job. It's because Daddy wants you to have the things you have that he leaves. It's because of how much loves you that he travels. I need you to know that."
My sweet daughter said, "I know he does, but I still miss him."
As I think of the trials and choices of many of those we know I am grateful that Ray is only states away from us and not oceans apart. We are fortunate that Ray is a valid and useful player to teams here in the U.S. Things could be far more stressful than they are today. Again, I am trying to see the positive this year. I am determined to focus on that which we have. The gifts that are ours are far more plentiful than the sacrifice that this life requires us to make. Make each day a day to count your blessings.
I run to a song that says, "Help me, let go of the chaos around me, The devil that hounds me I need you to tell me, child be still." (P!ink - Ave Mary A)
That, tonight, is what I am thinking. "Child be still."
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.