I’ve mentioned a few times before that I play baseball. I’ve bragged about how good I am, about how hard I can throw. But I’ve never really talked about baseball – never said what I hope for, what my realistic prospects are, and what it would mean to me if I could nut up and get it done.
Instead, as anyone foolish enough to come back to this blog more than once can attest, I spend most of my time trying to be funny, or preposterously exaggerating a position I believe in. I don’t talk very seriously, because when you talk seriously, you’re asking people to take you seriously, and therefore becoming accountable for what you say. And obviously I’m not much for that… so I just goof around.
Baseball, though, has been the one thing I can’t even goof around about. But I’ve also not talked about it seriously – hell, no. Now, I guess I will.
Even though putting down in black and white what I want to do sets me up for a hell of a let-down if I don’t do it. Maybe a lot of you won’t understand why this is sort of a big deal, but maybe you will. A favorite professor of mine once told me to “be radically honest.” So I’m going to give that a one-time go.
I love baseball. I’ve always played (organized ball since I was six, yardball before that), and I’m pretty good. Four years I played in college, at a D-III school in a pretty good conference, and last summer (after graduation) I played in the Chicago Suburban Baseball League (former home to Tim Mahay, Curtis Granderson and Jerry Hairston) – where I was fortunate enough to be named to the All-Star Team: mine is one of these thirty names.
I’m a right-handed pitcher, I’m 6’6”, 225, and my fastball has been clocked at 92 mph. My slider needs work, but it’s not bad. My change-up is a good one as long as I stay on top of it.
My coach last summer asked me if I would be interested in playing professional baseball. I would. I’ve been fascinated with that idea ever since my pitching coach suggested the possibility my freshman year in college.
So hopefully, sometime near the end of April, I’ll have a private tryout with the coach of the Gary Railcats, an independent pro team that plays in the Northern League.
I’m pinning a lot on that tryout, and I’m nervous about not making it.
It’s a long shot. I tell everyone it’s a long shot. But there’s no way I’d do it if I didn’t think I could make it. I think I am going to make it. But it is a long shot.
I’ve been throwing into a tarp hung from the ceiling in the attic at my house to get my arm in shape. It’s not as good having someone to throw with, but hopefully it’s enough.
People have asked me if I have a dream job, and I always say no. People have asked me if I know what I want to do with my life, and I always say no.
This is my dream job. But I’ve been afraid to say so, because if I don’t make it, what does that make me?
It’s not like an interview. It’s not to see if you’re “a fit.” It’s not to find out if you’ll get along with your teammates, if you “mesh with the vision of the company,” or “correspond to the implementation of the mission statement.”
This is what it is: are you good enough? Do you throw hard enough?
They stick you on a short hill, sixty feet and six inches from the plate and you just have to throw the ball. Really hard, and really accurately. You have to be uncannily good. You have to be a sort of freak.
They won’t ask you “what’s your biggest weakness?” They’ll tell you. I’m not used to hearing that.
It’s April Fool’s Day, and I guess it’s ironic or appropriate or both that this is about the most serious I ever get. Every other day is a joke for me. But not today. Not this April.