How do the players maintain friendships when they are also on the diamond competing for spots on the various affiliates and ultimately for the big league squad? Although we are all on the field competing we also understand that this is now a business and the ultimate decision is not down to us. Everyone understands that the only control you have over what is going on is what you do in between the foul lines, if you go out there, compete and are successful, it doesn’t matter what organization you are in you are going to move. As a player, if you sit and fret about why a certain person was moved and you were not, you will make yourself crazy! You have to learn very quickly that you have to only worry about what you can control which is your own work ethic, preparation and performance between the lines. If you can concentrate on these things and be successful at them then good things are bound to happen to you. There are very rare exceptions in which they will move a person when they have struggled at a certain level, but the truth of the matter is that everyone in the organization is friends with one another. You have to treat your organization like a family when you are out here, everyone out on the field is in the same situation and they are going through the same process as you, and although the affiliates might be different the experience is going to be about the same. A lot of my close friends are fellow pitchers, and there has never been a time when anyone has rooted for a pitcher to fail or to do poorly in any situation. It’s actually quite the opposite, everyone is pulling for each other and they want to see each other succeed because when individuals succeed then the team excels and if that continues to happen then championships are won. Every affiliate is going after their league championship; because everyone wants to win a ring, there are a lot of things that can be overlooked on a team if you win a championship. No matter what level you are at, championship rings are very much coveted and every person is trying to win one whether you are in short season A ball or in the big leagues.
Competition is a funny thing, as it can bring out the best in people and make them excel or they can shrink into oblivion never to be heard from again. The competition that the nationals have forced on its players is going to tell a lot about the personality of the organization and its individual players. Since they have been drafting and trading so well, there is a stockpile of talent in the minor leagues which is a good thing for the organization. They are creating internal competition to see what guys are made of, and too see who wants their dream the worst. There is no time to sit and feel sorry for yourself, yet it is time to step up and show what you are made of as a person and ballplayer. As of right now there are about 98+ pitchers for 72 spots available which includes Florida and extended spring training rosters. There is never anyone that is safe from not making a team or starting a level lower than where they expect to be, everyone has something to prove and when we all step in between the lines it’s all about business and making sure that you show what you got to the fullest of your ability. But when we all step off the lines, we are all still that same family and baseball is pushed to the side and the focus shifts away to other things. There is a time and place to think and concentrate about baseball, but there is also a heavy need to separate from it as well and think about other things and be with the people you care about the most. No matter if you have a good or bad performance there is a time and a place to think and analyze it, and then it’s time to move on. The nationals have promoted a lot of guys from within to the big leagues, which doesn’t go un-noticed by other players and there is a lot of excitement in this organization because we all know that we are going to get our chance to excel if we can prove we got the stuff to do so.
During spring training it is a time for the individual player to show off what he has worked on, and what kind of direction he can take. When we all leave our affiliates we all know certain things that need to be worked on, and when you report its chance to show that you were motivated and disciplined enough to do those certain things and it’s a chance to show the club that you are dedicated to do whatever it takes to win and to be successful. Many people have the misconception that people report to spring training to get into shape, and although that might have been the case a few years ago now this is the time to prove your worth as a player and to show continue to grow as a player. The baseline of the performance is started in the off-season and spring training is a chance to continue to get better and get setup for a successful season. If you are unable to prove your worth down in Florida, then when the decisions are made they will not be able to send you to an affiliate in full confidence knowing you can compete and be successful. The organizations are not going to set a player up to fail, in contrast they want everyone to succeed and develop to their fullest potential and ultimately help the big league club so sometimes you are put on a roster that you might not think you belong on.
Out of the millions of kids that play little league ball we were 1 of 1500 that had their name called on that fateful draft day. You only get one chance to chase down your dream so doesn’t it deserve everything you got? I truly believe that the biggest regret in life is saying what if……..