Friday, December 31, 2010

SMALLS TALK: Pre-Draft Medical Questionnaires

94 on the gun, but does he have any allergies?

How can something so boring be so exciting? When I received my first pre-draft medical questionnaire, in my mind I had arrived. I was a HUGE prospect. This was an exclusive piece of paper, only to be filled out by the most elite talent in the college ranks. I never really considered myself the focus of any major league scout, but this little envelope with the Royals emblem hovering over the return address told me otherwise- I had Big League written all over me, why else would they send me this questionnaire? You think they just hand these things out to anyone? Ok yeah, they pretty much do.

I remember looking at the envelope thinking to myself all excited: "This is the Kansas City Royals!" Twenty-four hours earlier, if you had asked me to go see a Royals game I probably would have responded with an unenthusiastic "I'm not sure what I'm doing, I'll get back to you." Hell, if you had offered me Royals season tickets I probably would have come up with a reason why I couldn't take them off your hands. Not interested. But now all of a sudden, with that KC logo in my hands, this wasn't the franchise that had become synonymous with mediocrity and anonymity, this was the Kansas City Royals! A Major League team, a big deal! And boy was I excited to mindlessly check off countless boxes revealing my medical background.

Realistically these forms are useless. Teams basically want to let you know they're interested in you while making sure you have all your limbs in tact and you're coherent enough to sign your name. I mean there's no possible way they believe that a kid is going to reveal to an interested buyer that he's damaged goods. "Hmm, 100% of the players we contacted said they've never felt soreness in their elbow. That's ten years straight!" You gotta be kidding, my elbow's sore for days after my six warmup throws from the outfield. I bet according to these forms no one's ever pulled a hamstring or has less than 20/20 vision either.

These questionnaires are painfully boring to fill out, but I'll be honest, I didn't mind doing it. For the first time, I thought of the possibility of getting drafted and it was pretty cool to me. Sure, all the big time prospects on my team were getting sick of them and complaining each time another one came their way- and I admit filling out one for all thirty teams would be brutal- but I only received thirteen, and I can remember all those teams. On draft day I remember zoning out when a team that had not contacted me was making their pick, knowing full well that if they weren't interested enough to ask me if I had syphilis then they probably weren't planning on grabbing me.

The medical questionnaires were the first indicator to me that I could possibly play professional baseball. They were long and boring and repetitive, but God they were exciting. I still have all the envelopes and business cards of the team scouts that accompanied the forms. Pretty embarrassing, but there's something about getting mail from a Major League team that gets the blood pumping. The logo on the envelope. The Letterhead. Or maybe it's the idea that this organization even knew who I was that got me excited. Either way, I was more than happy to inform them that I was STD-free and that I considered myself a "casual drinker." After all, isn't that what baseball is all about?

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