Life in the Minors Chapter 8: If It Wasn't Baseball
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, Drew Casey and Christian Goewey had some fun asking these players about what they would be doing if they weren't professional ballplayers.
The Staten Island Yankees with Drew Casey:
Although the Staten Island Yankees have been struggling as of late, they are still very much in the wild card race. The division is out of reach at this point with only 22 games remaining. The Baby Bombers, players and coaches alike, don’t want their hard work to go to waste this season and hope to play past Labor Day in the New York Penn League. This past week I was able to talk with some of the players during batting practice about what they think they would be doing if they weren’t a part of the Yankees organization.
Outfielder Devyn Bolasky had a very quick answer. His uncle was a professional baseball player, so from an early age the California native had his sights set on following in his relative’s footsteps. However, if he wasn’t fortunate enough to be in the minors, then Bolasky would most likely be working in law enforcement as a police officer or corrections officer.
James Madison product and second baseman Ty McFarland also dreamed of making it to the big leagues. He hinted at that fact that he still has not quite gotten to that dream. While that’s true, I’d say he’s gotten pretty close so far. A near .300 average in his first professional season is not too shabby. McFarland remarked that if he wasn’t in professional baseball at the moment, then he probably would be in the military in some form.
First baseman Connor Spencer out of UC Irvine, as most children do, dreamed of becoming a professional athlete. However, he did not dream of becoming a professional baseball player. Rather, he dreamed of becoming a professional hockey player. In middle school he made a choice and decided to stick with baseball exclusively. I’d say the eighth round draft pick made the right choice. The left handed hitting first year pro also said that if things didn’t work out as they have, then he would probably be involved in some form of broadcasting or media.
Clearly, if these players were not minor leaguers at the moment, then they would still be doing some very admirable things. The Staten Island Yankees are scheduled to play nine straight games starting tonight, three each against Batavia, Connecticut, and Tri-City, before the two day All Star break. Following the All Star break, the Baby Bombers will have 13 games remaining, 7 of which will be against Brooklyn.
The Brooklyn Cyclones with Christian Goewey:
Brooklyn is rebounding after a mid-season slump and is now holding a one game lead for the wild card spot at 29 and 25. There is no doubt that these mini-Mets are consumed day to day with baseball which makes it hard to believe that there were other career options at some point for these young men. So, that’s what we decided this chapter to be, if it wasn’t baseball what would it be.
As for first baseman Jeff Diehl, baseball was always his dream and nothing else. With that dream came doubt from his own teacher, who told him to think about something else, but that never stopped Diehl from pursuing pro ball. In fact, the 21 year old Diehl was selected right out of high school in the 23rd round of the 2011 draft. After playing in Kingsport last year, Diehl has proved his 3rd grade teacher, and I’m sure many others, wrong with two years of being a pro already.
Michael Katz, a rookie from the College of William and Mary, has transitioned smoothly to the pros. Batting .275 with 18 RBI’s, Katz leads Brooklyn rookies
in both of those categories. When asked what he would pursue outside of playing ball, Katz was so unsure that he said he might be coaching if anything else.
Left fielder Joe Tuschak has bounced around through the Mets minor league system since 2011. While it is obvious that Tuschak aspires to play professional baseball over anything else, he expressed another career that would be appealing to him, unlike his previously mentioned teammates. The Pennsylvania native said that if he wasn’t playing pro-ball, he’d like to be in the air as a pilot.
With just about 20 games to go, this tiring but valuable journey is coming to an end. The Cyclones have endured an up and down season which is similar to the lives of these ball players and their goal to make it to the big show. However, if it wasn’t baseball for these athletes, they might still be doing things to satisfy their life goals.