|"Heading into the clubhouse now, I'll call you after the game." 140 times.|
Relationships are never easy. In addition to the obvious time commitment, they require compromise, trust, patience, and endless support - and that's just for normal relationships. For romances involving a minor league ballplayer, multiply all that by about 100.
The baseball lifestyle is not exactly the most conducive for budding romances. First off, there's the distance. Sure there are a few rare instances when the team's location is conveniently close to a girlfriend's residence - and, of course, some players acquire local gal pals throughout the season - but assuming you have a girlfriend "back home," distance is a major issue. Long-distance relationships are nothing new, however, and they are far from impossible - people all over the world deal with this scenario on a daily basis and find a way to make it work. The key is to be flexible and compromise.
Unfortunately for a ballplayer, flexibility and the ability to compromise are perks we're not privileged to have. Over the course of the season, we'll play 140 games over the span of approximately 150 days. Throw in a month of spring training and that adds up to six whole months on the road away from your home, your family, and your sweetheart.
While away, you'll surely miss out on countless big events: birthdays, holidays, family parties, reunions - a teammate of mine was even forced to skip his best friend's wedding, and yep, you guessed it, he was supposed to be best man. It's a cruel business. You're only useful to the organization if you are there in the flesh helping the ball club. For six months, your life is baseball.
And while you're off blistering your hands with your daily 200 swings, what about your poor girlfriend back home? Unfortunately for her, the burden of keeping your relationship together falls squarely on her shoulders. Ultimately, her ability to handle the distance will determine whether this partnership will sink or swim.
Being a ballplayer's girlfriend is no easy task. First off, from 3 o'clock in the afternoon until 10:30 at night, your boyfriend is inaccessible. Whether he is in the training room, the cages, the clubhouse, the weight room, or out on the field, he is consumed by baseball and removed from the outside world - every single day. And even during the span when he is accessible, it is merely in the form of a phone call, or on good days, video chat.
And on the occasion when a girlfriend is able to come visit, you must be prepared to deal with countless factors - travel expenses, game schedules, time off from work, flight arrival and departure times - it's never an easy operation. Sometimes, however, you're able to hit it just right: home stand Thursday through Sunday, with a couple of day games thrown in the mix - perfect visiting conditions. BUT, don't make those travel plans too far in advance, because who's to say that boyfriend of yours will even be on that team once that date arrives? Promotions, demotions, releases, trades - they all come without a moment's notice, effectively taking all the certainty out of early planning. You've simply got to adapt, adjust, and work with whatever baseball throws your way.
As for the All-Star Game... this may be the only case when girlfriends catch themselves enjoying your baseball shortcoming. Don't get me wrong, if you're named an All-Star they'll be ecstatic and proud - but three days of no baseball, well that sounds pretty good too. In this situation, fellas, get to the nearest airport and consider this a half-week window to make it up to your girlfriend for bearing the load for the other 147 days. It's your turn to play hero.
There's no denying, baseball girlfriends put up with a lot. They know firsthand the frustrations of a life in baseball - they tolerate the mood swings of a slump, the late night calls, and the uncertainty of not knowing just when you'll see each other next, all while offering endless support and encouragement. My hat is off to baseball girlfriends everywhere. It takes a strong and special girl to love a ballplayer - we don't make it easy on you, but I hope we're worth the trouble.
Shout out to @MiLBgfProblems - follow them on Twitter for a humorous take on what being a baseball girlfriend is really like.
MiLB LIFE Series
Pitchers' Batting Practice
The Clubhouse Barber
Extended Spring Training
Big League Picture Day
"The Manager Wants to See You"
First Day of Spring Training [Part One]
First Day of Spring Training [Part Two]
Packing for Spring Training
The Dip Police
Do You Have an Agent?
How Long Until You're in the Bigs?
Being a Senior Sign
Universal Big League Dreams
Explaining My Profession to Non-Baseball Minds
Wasted Hat Collection
Dealing with Heckling Fans
Being the New Guy
My First Call-Up
A Typical Game Day [Part One]
A Typical Game Day [Part Two]
Being the 'K-Man'
A Taste of the Minor League Off-Season
New Helmets Issued, Players Respond: "Are You Joking?"
The Fines of Kangaroo Court