Wednesday, December 29, 2010
MiLB LIFE: A Taste of the Minor League Off-Season
What other job requires you to work every day for seven months and then gives you a five month vacation? It's wild. The season is a grind, it wears on you, it beats you down, it's repetitive, it's monotonous, it appears endless- and then, well, it ends. And you go home. You have five months to do whatever you want. One hundred and fifty days to yourself. No baseball requirements. No bus rides. Nothing but an empty calendar. So what do you do?
The off-season is a time for bonus babies to relax on beaches for a while before eventually focusing all their time on baseball training and their Big League aspirations. It is also a time for lower draft picks to find a real job and use this reprieve from baseball as a chance to actually make some money so that they can afford to keep chasing their dream. I fall into the second category.
I'm working a desk job this off-season so that when the day comes that I get released- or whenever I retire after my Hall of Fame career- I will have more than my petite signing bonus in the bank and more than baseball statistics on my resumé.
As boring as it is, I'm actually thrilled to be working in an office. It's not exactly easy to walk into a job interview and open with "I play professional baseball so this job can only be for five months. Come late February, I'm gone. Yep, you'll need to start this entire hiring process over again for this exact position. But until then, I'm your man. I have zero job experience in any field because of my summer baseball commitments- no internships, nothing. You should definitely hire me." What a sell! Any company would be lucky to have me.
Most guys aren't so lucky- or simply haven't found a company as crazy as mine- so they end up going the baseball route: hitting lessons, baseball camps, batting cages, etc.- not a bad alternative but the money's not great and the idea of teaching an unathletic 8-year old how to hit makes me want to stand in front of a pitching machine. I like my little cubicle. The job's pretty interesting, I make decent money- not a lot relative to real people, tons compared to MiLB checks- I'm pretty removed from baseball for a while, plus it gives me time to write this wildly successful blog. Not too shabby.
"Pretty removed from baseball" is a ridiculous understatement. I have swung a bat once since getting home in mid-September. Well I've hit once. I take swings all the time- I can't help but pick up a bat from the big pile in my bedroom when I walk by and take a few hacks, usually shirtless, in front of the mirror. But that's merely a combination of narcissism and boredom taking over. My philosophy is that the season is long enough- I want to head into it fresh and excited, not already bored and burnt out. With less than two months to go before spring training my baseball workouts will increase rapidly, although two months is a total guesstimation- there is essentially no communication between my organization and me during the off-season. I'm hoping for at least 12-hours' notice for when I have to report this year.
While my off-season baseball training has been pretty minimal, my strength training is intense. These five months are used to basically max out your physical potential. With no games to rest up for and no worry of being sore, every trip to the gym is full out exhausting. I make up my own regiment comprised of exercises learned in pro-ball and college, peppered with a healthy share of 'beach body' work as well- as one of my old coaches used to say: "Ultimately, it comes down to looking good naked." I work out two days in a row and take day three off. It's frustrating to think about how much strength I've gained these past few months and how much I'm gonna lose over the course of the long season, but it's inevitable. In-season lifts are all about maintenance and not losing strength, the off-season is when we get huge.
Each minor leaguer spends his off-season differently. It's a time that I have always greatly enjoyed- I get reconnected with my family and friends, my life has some semblance of normality, I stay in the same city for more than a week at a time, and I'm able to make some money. I'm living a double-life right now: I spend half the year as a poor, traveling ballplayer, and the other half as a real person. Once I get sick of one, it’s time for the other to start up. Not a bad balance.