Life in the Minors: Chapter 6 - Down Time
For the fourteenth consecutive year, WFUV talks to the members of the Brooklyn Cyclones and the Staten Island Yankees in the New York Single-A Penn League about the trials and tribulations of being minor league ballplayers. The long bus rides, the low pay, 76 games in 80 days. This is a look into Life in the Minors: How the Other Half Lives.
This week, Brendan Bowers and Drew Casey discuss what these ballplayers do when they aren't playing baseball.
The Staten Island Yankees with Brendan Bowers:
When people see baseball players on the field at Yankee Stadium, or even down in Staten Island, they may think that these players have it all, they get paid for playing a children’s game. Well, although the players of the Staten Island Yankees love baseball, it is now a profession where they have to work twelve hours a day, seven days a week. Because there is so much baseball in their lives, it is good for the players to get away from the game and enjoy down time on off days, or the hours they are not at the park.
Austin Aune, a third year player out of Argyle, TX says that when he has down time he enjoys hunting as well as working out. Aune has been hitting a decent .243 in his last ten games played, with nine of his ten hits being extra base hits (six doubles, two triples, one home run).
A first year player picked in the 26th round of this year’s draft, outfielder Collin Slaybaugh out of Washington State, enjoys playing table tennis in the clubhouse when he has down time. Slaybaugh has been struggling as of late, hitting only .212 in his last ten games, going 7-33. This brings his average to an even .200 for the year.
Left handed pitcher Justin Kamplain, another first year player who was taken in the 18th round out of Alabama, spends his downtime fishing and playing golf. Kamplain has been doing an excellent job on the mound this year with a 0.53 ERA in 17 innings pitched. He has also recorded 20 punch-outs and is holding opponents to a .123 batting average.
Manager for the Staten Island Yankees, Mario Garza, also makes good use of his downtime. When away from the game, Garza enjoys spending time with his family and golfing, which he states he doesn’t do nearly as much as he would like.
The players of the Staten Island Yankees have been doing a good job over the past 10 games, going 6-4. They are in the middle of 20 straight days of baseball, which includes road trips to Williamsport, Jamestown, Tri-City (Albany) and Connecticut (Norwich). Just like how a person who works a 9-5 job wants to get get away from their job for a few hours, the players of the Staten Island Yankees enjoy doing non baseball activities during their down time.
(Photo courtsey of Robert Pimpsner : Pinstriped Prospects)
The Brooklyn Cyclones with Drew Casey:
After beginning the New York Penn League season on a tear at 11-4, the Brooklyn Cyclones have cooled off substantially in the past three weeks. Currently, the team is 19-22 and has lost 11 of their last 15 games. While the players and coaches are not pleased with the team’s performance, there is still almost half a season remaining. They may be pushing extra hard, but it is still important for these players to let loose during their down time.
Cyclones first baseman Jeff Diehl recognizes that this is an important part of his development as a ballplayer. During his limited time off, the Rhode Island native enjoys sitting back and relaxing. Diehl, a Mets 23rd round pick, also likes watching movies and hanging out with his teammates. The fourth year pro even enjoys playing video games.
Recent ninth round draft pick Michael Katz has taken a slightly different approach to his down time. The outfielder has embraced his new home by visiting some of New York City’s attractions. The College of William and Mary product has visited the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center and plans to visit the MLB Fan Cave in Manhattan very soon.
Fourth year pro Joe Tuschak both relaxes and has fun to let loose. Similar to Diehl, the Northern High School product enjoys catching up on rest and hanging out with his teammates. The sixth round draft pick likes to explore and has recently indulged in Coney Island’s amusement rides, notably the Thunderbolt.
While down time is necessary, these minor leaguers must be careful as not to lose sight of their job as a professional baseball player. The Cyclones have a good chance to get out of their funk this week when they visit Lowell and host both Auburn and Connecticut.