October 14, 2010

Catching up with "Rosey"

When I first started writing True Grich I hadn’t really read a lot of other blogs. If I did, I probably didn’t even realize they were blogs.

All that changed in the past year as I went looking to find the best baseball blogs on the internet. Turns out there are quite a few of them. Some are written by professional writers like Sports Illustrated’s Joe Posnanski and many of them are written by every day folks just like me.

And then there are those that are actually written by professional baseball players. You might be surprised by who actually blogs (I have a list of some of them on the left).

I recently found a real gem called “Looking through the Mask” written by Chris Rosenbaum (Rosey), a former minor league baseball player from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim farm system.

Chris does an amazing job of telling his audience what it’s like to be a professional baseball player who is trying to achieve the ultimate goal of making it to the major leagues.

He had this to say in 2008:

For the lay baseball fan, it often goes overlooked that we are really baseball players in training, and that the final product on the field every night is not always going to be well polished. The time put in everyday working on hitting, fielding and pitching mechanics often goes unnoticed during days that usually begin five to seven hours prior to game time. Playing at the Class A level, we still have four more rungs to climb to get to the Majors (A-Advanced, AA, AAA, MLB). While we go out every night trying to win a baseball game, our primary objective is to develop as a player so that we are better players at the last day of the season than we were when we arrived in Cedar Rapids.

As you read through all his blog entries, you get a sense of what it must be like working your way through the minor leagues. He talks about his interactions with the fans, his relationships with teammates, the struggles of making it on a meager salary, the long days and so much more.

I found this piece regarding his relationships with teammates interesting:

Everyone in this business is trying to make it to the top. It is paradoxical that while no one can get to the Major Leagues by themselves, there is not enough room for everyone to make it. This is a team game played by individuals. While everyone is striving for the team to win, players are looking out for their individual success along the way. This balance is often strained and is a major reason why the relationships you develop with people should be kept professional with minimal vested emotion. There is only so much of the pie to go around, and no one around you is afraid to take your share.

Since Chris was a catcher and more importantly a catcher in the Angels organization that has Mike Scioscia’s thumb print all over it – it was a natural for Chris to talk about what it meant to be an Angels catcher.

He said this:

If there is a common thread throughout all of the teachings throughout the organization as it pertains to catchers, it is the strong emphasis on the pitcher and catcher relationship. When a pitcher is comfortable with his catcher, he is confident and will perform at his highest level. For this reason, fostering and maintaining these relationships is crucial for a catcher’s success in the Angels organization. These working relationships are so strongly valued that they are viewed at the same level of any other stats kept track of by the organization and can be enough reason to keep a mediocre performing offensive catcher around for several years.

Chris’s love for baseball was evident throughout his posts.

Several people have questioned why I put myself through this lifestyle when it appears that I could take my Bachelor’s and almost Master’s Degrees and go get a lucrative job in corporate America. I stick around because I love to play the game. I love the challenge that every day presents and how you never know what the next baseball discovery you will uncover. I stay in the game to experience the moment I did when we defeated Clinton in the divisional semifinals Thursday night. The excitement that our team shared that night with each other and with our devoted fans that made the trip is something I will never forget. This was the first playoff series Cedar Rapids had won since 2000, and it was amazing to see the energy of the team and the fans after winning that series.

More revealing tidbits from his blog:

The hardest part about minor league baseball is that there are no guarantees. What I mean by this, is that tomorrow is never guaranteed; you never know if you will have a job tomorrow, nor can you even be certain where you will be and who will be around you….

It is unfathomably hard to invest so much time and energy into something that can be gone without warning. Playing baseball is such a fickle profession where knowing the right people and being in the right place at the right time can be just as important as performing well on the field. However, the love of the game keeps most going during the long bus rides, minimal pay, unjust personnel decisions, and time away from home. It is the dream that most of us have had since we were young of playing in the Big Leagues that gets us through the setbacks to face another day.

Chris’s blog is all about his journey through baseball and like all journeys they eventually come to an end.

His final post “And so it ends” was posted on July 3, 2010. In this post Chris says good-bye to baseball. This post was actually the first post I read by Chris. It was so compelling, that I foun myself going back to read all of his previous posts. When I was done, I decided to reach out to Chris to find out what happened to him.

So I emailed him and much to my surprise he replied. We exchanged a few emails and Chris gave me an update on what he’s been up to. That will be the subject of my next post (coming soon). So… stay tuned.

In the mean time, I encouage you to visit his blog. If you really love baseball, you will probably enjoy learning about "Rosey." I encourage you to read all of his posts. Trust me, it will be like reading a good book.

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