Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

Archive for the tag “Major League Baseball”

Moving On

Sugar took my Bronco jersey and threw it in the wash.  Football season is over — until April O.T.A.s, i.e., “official team activities.”

Now baseball is appealing, especially since Arizona is warmer than Colorado and many Major League teams go there for spring training, playing in the Cactus League.  I told Sugar that I might mosey down there and play a little ball.

You are probably wondering how an N.F.L. free agent such as myself can find time to play baseball too.  Isn’t there something in my contract that prohibits it?  Well, remember, I am an unsigned free agent, so there is no restrictive contract provision.  How clever of me!

Also, I remind you that Bo Jackson played in both the N.F.L. and the Major League Baseball.  A lot of us extraordinary athletes have transferable skills.

I tried to explain that to Sugar.  She is too conservative about my ambitions as a professional athlete.  Get a load of this — she actually told me to stick with swimming in the Senior Olympics.  Been there.  Done that.  There is no money in it, whereas the league minimum for a regular season in the N.F.L. or M.L.B. is more than some people in the general public earn in a whole year.  Sugar needs to be more practical.  She needs to see the earning potential.  She thinks I play these games for the fun of it, even the glory of it, when actually, I am doing it for her.  I am thinking of her financial security. 

She doesn’t listen to me.  I suppose I should have Bo Jackson’s wife give Sugar a call and clue her in about the advantages of being married to a two-sport professional athlete. 

I was not exactly drafted by any of the Major League Baseball teams yet, so I am basically an unsigned free agent.  Again.  Keep your fingers crossed.  When I bring home that M.L.B. contract, Sugar will be glad I had the foresight and fortitude to provide for her in this manner.  She can thank me now or thank me later.     

Victimhood as a Choice

The advantage of being a victim of life’s circumstances is that you are not at fault and thus can blame others, including God, for your problems and failures.

I am not talking about  fault as in causation; obviously, crime victims or accident victims harmed by the negligence of another did not cause what happened to them, but neither do victims of disease or abuse.  I am talking about choices in how to react to what happened.

I am talking about making excuses rather than making efforts to overcome even things that are not your fault.

I am talking about the dangers of self pity.

For example, if only Archie Manning was my father, I would be an NFL quarterback like Peyton and Eli, but as it is, I did not have a chance.  All of us whose fathers are not Archie Manning have a great excuse.  Let us blame our own fathers and, of course, God.  Life is so unfair to people who see life that way.

I admire people who do not see life that way.  Wise people know that there are blessings and troubles in everyone’s life, even for Peyton Manning.

My Uncle Luke was an excellent athlete.  He was actually a Major League pitcher.  God blessed him with talents that he used.  He also had an injury to his throwing arm.  I never heard him say if that was his fault or his coach’s fault or God’s fault.  It is just something that happened which ended his pitching career.  But that was a small part of his life.

Luke played the organ and had his own radio show.  He was a local celebrity.  He was a top car salesman, even with a bum arm.

Luke had the gift of enthusiasm. He was cheerful.  He was friendly.  He would greet people from across the street, calling them by name.  People liked it that he knew who they were, that he liked them, and that he knew their names.

When he changed from the Ford dealer to the Chevy dealer, most of his Ford customers decided to buy Chevrolets because the brand did not matter as much as it was important to buy their car from Luke.  What mattered was that Luke knew them and would take care of them.  They trusted Luke more than the car manufacturers.  Plus, it was fun to make the deal with Luke and enjoy his sense of humor.  Everyone felt that Luke gave them the best deal, so they came back again and again.

Luke had a habit of creating nicknames for other people.  I liked my nickname.  He called me Tarzan because I was a competitive swimmer.  He did not pressure me to be a pitcher in Little League.  I was a catcher and that was okay with him.  Imagine how fun it was for me to introduce Uncle Luke to my Little League friends.  (You will be surprised to read herein that I did not play in the Major Leagues.  Sad but true.  How unfair of God towards me.)

Another baseball connection was that Luke, like Lou Gehrig, was afflicted with A.L.S., commonly called “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”

I never heard Uncle Luke complain.  If he did not complain, maybe I should not either.

Thanks, Luke, for the example of excellence, cheerfulness, and courage.

Thanks, God, for Uncle Luke being in my life.                              

Riding for the Brand

In the Old West, the phrase “riding for the brand” referred to loyalty to the ranch where a cowboy was employed.   Their identity was tied to the name of the ranch, which often described the brand that marked their livestock, such as the “Lazy T.”  When trouble came, it was good to know someone “had your back,” literally, a reference to gun fighting.  The boys of the Lazy T would not put up with rustlers and banded together to protect the herd and each other.  That is what riding for the brand meant.

During these modern times, loyalty is not out of style.  We should be loyal to family, friends, employer, team, school, and country.

My wife and I watched the movie “42” about Jackie Robinson becoming the first Negro player in Major League Baseball.   His own teammates were won over from loyalty to race to loyalty to him as a member of the team (who was being abused due his race).

It was heart-warming to see the change, especially when a white player told off the opposing white manager who was verbally taunting Jackie for being black.  The teammate walked over to the other dugout and threatened that racist manager.  He had Jackie’s back.  Jackie and he were on the same team, riding for the Brooklyn Dodger brand.

We all treasure the feeling that someone has our back.  Then we don’t feel alone, but part of a group that values us and protects us.

That is a good feeling.

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