Unlike youth baseball where kids play around 50 games per year if they are lucky, or high school baseball where you may only sneak in 20-30, the professional baseball season at the minor league level is 142 games long, not including the postseason. Even more incredible is the Major League level where all 30 teams play 162 games in their regular season.
Throughout the regular season in the minors which spans between the months of April and the early portion of September, only about 10 days off are given to the teams. This leaves the other 130ish days to be filled with either baseball, prepearation for baseball, or thinking about baseball. Sounds like a drag?? Well, unfortunately for many talented players playing at this level, it is. But why? It’s every kid’s dream to play baseball for a living right? So many people would give anything in an instant to be in our shoes. This is all true. But still, many professional players cash it in around the halfway mark for a variety of reasons. Here are a few that may surprise you…
A.) Physical Unpreparedness- Inexcusable? Yes. Prevalent? Yessir. Whether it be arm care, mobility, strength, conditioning, arm strength, arm speed, ext, the vast majority of professional baseball players move poorly, train improperly, throw too much or too little, and take care of themselves in a way that you might expect a college freshman in their first time away from mommy and daddy.
B.) Lack of Mental Fortitude- This can be very problematic for a player who experiences thier first setback of their life in the pros. With such high demands to perform, a person who is weak mentally may never recover due to their lack of adversity in life and sports. Much better to get your knocks early in your career, so you are prepared once the stakes get much higher.
C.) Poor Lifestyle Choices- One of the biggest reasons for poor performance and burning out early. Its easy to slip into a routine of getting out of bed at 2pm after a late game, getting something quick and unhealthy to eat for your first meal, and relying on caffeine to carry you through the day. Believe me I’ve been there before, its a vicious cycle that you don’t want to fall into.
D.) Realization That You Aren’t As Good As You Thought You Were- Each level a professional baseball player moves up to, the competition gets sharper. Fastballs are located better, curveballs are breaking later, and hitters are more and more and more ready to hit your s***. When you throw your best stuff up there and you leave the game having been tagged for 4 runs in an inning, its easy to question your ability. The elite player shakes it off and comes to the field the next day ready to get thrown back out into the fire.
E.) Realization That Their Are Still 70 Games To Go- “Wow that first half flew by!” Me after our record setting first half this season with the Ft. Myers Miracle. But once the second half gets rolling with only 4 off days in 70 days, 3 game losing streaks feel like theyll never end, players and coaches are now family members, and once that elusive day off comes, your arm feels like its filled with concrete the next day beacuse you didnt throw. Weird right? The “dog days of summer” are in full effect and the work you’ve done to prepare yourself in the preseason is now on display. This is where great players hit the gas and lesser players ease up and coast to the finish line.
With all this said, I feel lucky to know all this information about the game inside the game if you will.
For once, I feel lucky to have experienced career threatening injuries. It taught me perseverance.
I feel lucky to have learned how to train properly, eat right, and rest at the right times.
And ultimately I feel lucky to have been there through the ups and downs of professional baseball to get a shot with another team. A team where I was healthy for the entirety of the season.
In part 2, I will share a few things I learned this season that may help you avoid the physical and mental pitfalls that happen to players so frequently. Until then, think about this….