Monday, February 7, 2011

MiLB LIFE: Universal Big League Dreams

Every day, minor leaguers of all levels come to the park with the goal of making the Big Leagues in the back of their mind. It's a daily motivator, the ultimate goal, and, hopefully, the big payoff after years spent in Pittsville towns and rundown motels.

But it's not just the players on the field that are dreaming big. Take a look around any Minor League Stadium and you'll see people who work in all aspects of the game doing the same thing- paying their MiLB dues with the hope of someday fulfilling their Major League dreams.

I remember one game late last season, I sat in the dugout having one of those profound moments that could only happen during a baseball game. Our team was up at bat and I had made the last out of the previous inning, so I grabbed a spot on the top dugout step nearest the bullpen and just zoned out.

I looked around at all the fans and stadium employees, peeked up in the booth at the PA announcer and the play-by-play commentator, even checked down the line for the concession stands and the fan shop- I remember thinking, 'this is some production!' But it wasn't any special night, it was simply a Minor League baseball game, just like the other 139 I would play that year.

I thought of how many baseball games were likely going on at that exact moment- hundreds, I thought. Thousands. Ehh, thousands? Maybe.

I assumed that at each higher level, the production becomes a little bigger- a little more professional. The stadiums get nicer, the crowds are larger, the fans are more devoted, the promotions are more impressive, the announcers are more polished, the coaches are more knowledgeable, and, of course, the players are better.

Just as minor league players climb the ranks and must prove themselves from level to level, so too must the rest of the ingredients of the baseball production. Everyone present at the ballpark comes to work each day hoping that they have what it takes to make it to the next level- and ultimately, the highest level.

Look around the stadium- the players, the coaches, the umpires, the clubhouse managers, the stadium PA announcer, the play-by-play guy, the newspaper reporters, the team's front office staff, and maybe even the field crew- they all likely have aspirations of something bigger.

The Minor Leagues are a means to an end, but the games are competitive and the stadium experience is memorable because each night you are getting everyone's best effort. Similar to the players, all of the organization's staff are under the microscope- their work is being analyzed on a daily basis, and you never know who is watching. No one can afford to take a day off because there is always someone after your job. You must prove you are great before you are offered a position at the next level- and then you must prove yourself again.

I sat in the dugout blown away by my own thought process. We were all after the same thing- we pay our dues in these little towns with our own dream destination in mind.

Take a look at a Major League production- it's as sharp and crisp as the play on the field. That's because almost everyone's been battle tested, and after years of proving their worth, the Bigs can rest assured that they have the very best that the Minors have to offer in every aspect of the game.

It's a long road ahead for a career in baseball, but everybody's gotta start somewhere.

*Thanks to Zach from USF for the email.

MiLB LIFE Series
Explaining My Profession to Non-Baseball Minds
Bus Rides
Wasted Hat Collection
Draft Day
Dealing with Heckling Fans
Clubhouse Rules
Drug Testing
Being the New Guy
Fat Camp
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
Kangaroo Court

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