Life in the Minors Chapter 2: More Than Just Winning
The Staten Island Yankees strive to win as many games as possible, even though some say minor league baseball is only about development. (Nick Racioppi: WFUV Sports)
For the fifteenth consecutive year, WFUV talks to members of the Brooklyn Cyclones and the Staten Island Yankees in the Short Season Single-A New York Penn League about the trials and tribulations about being minor league ballplayers. The long bus rides, the low pay, 76 games in 80 days... This is Life in the Minors: How the Other Half Lives.
In the second edition of 2015, Nick Racioppi and Dan Bradley delve into why minor league baseball is sometimes about more than just winning.
The Staten Island Yankees with Nick Racioppi:
Competition occurs at every level of athletics.
From the little league fields to the massive MLB stadiums, athletes from around the world strive for both individual and team greatness. For the members of the Staten Island Yankees, the Bronx Bombers single-A minor league affiliate, winning is the number one priority.
The desire to achieve team success has helped these young athletes win games and come together in the clubhouse. Right handed pitcher Chance Adams, put it simply.
“As a team everyone’s goal is to make it to the postseason and have a successful season," Adams said. "Right now we are trying to take it one game at a time and focus on winning series.”
Although most strive to win above all else, players also have many personal goals in baseball. Yankees left handed pitcher James Reeves has some serious goals for himself and a desire to help the team succeed.
"Every time I go out to pitch, [I] try and put my team in a position to win and focus on executing pitches to get better and better,” Reeves said.
The desire for both team and individual success was present in almost every player in the young Staten Island clubhouse. The group is committed to winning and now shares the same goal: to win the New York Penn League Championship.
The Brooklyn Cyclones with Dan Bradley:
For the men of the Brooklyn Cyclones, another summer brings with it another chance to start anew – both as individuals and as a team. Not only do players want to work on their personal development, but they also want to nab a New York-Penn League championship ring.
This is a difficult balance to strike, because the purpose of playing in the minor leagues, for every player, is to one day play in the majors. For first-baseman Michael Katz, fresh off surgery on his left knee and ACL, improving his performance could not be more important.
“Getting back…playing in games is big for [me],” Katz said. "[It's about] getting back into being consistent.”
Center fielder Tucker Tharp, in his second season with the Cyclones, echoed Katz.
“You just want to come out and compete against somebody," Tharp said. "You play for somebody next to you.”
However, both Katz and Tharp emphasized how winning a ring was very important to them.
“It’s always a goal, to get a ring,” Katz said. “[The Binghamton AA team] came out and won the championship last year…It was kind of motivation for us…We could already imagine the bling that we would get playing for the Cyclones.”
“Obviously, we came up short last year," Tharp said. "We were like two games back, so I think it’d be cool this year if we could find a way to win those last two games.”
From rehabbing from an injury to finally getting to hoist that trophy, the goals of the season all have to do with improving on the past.