I think what you need to understand right off is, I’m not doing this because I want to be famous. Yes, I know Italy is not a path back to the majors. Yes, I am scared that it could hurt me financially, wont help me build a big brand name for myself, and wont give me access to the book selling power of our omniscient American sports media coverage. This is a huge life decision, a completely new direction, in a totally different continent— believe me, I know what I’m up against.
But you only live once. I could go back and try my hand at filling out someone’s Triple-A roster on the hope that if enough guys above me get hurt I could sneak back onto a big league roster. Yet, after spending as much time in this game as I have, I can honestly tell you that the chances of me making it back to the top are relatively low, while the chances that I grow resentful to the grind as it eats yet another year of my life are relatively high.
And there is something else: making it back doesn’t excite me, at least not now.
I set out to make it to the big leagues, and I did. I didn’t stay long, but I stayed as long as I could, if that makes any sense. I got hurt, pushed to come back and got hurt again, then found myself next to a silent phone and no offers to return. My options were Independent ball, or something completely different.
A lot of guys would go to Indy ball and push back into the game anyway they could. I respect that. I appreciate their will to never give up on a dream, and maybe if I hadn’t reached the Bigs myself, I’d be right there with them. But, after much soul searching, I know we no longer share the same dream.
My agent said that I could make the jump from Indy ball back to Affiliated ball just as soon as I showed everyone I was healthy. But I didn’t want to make that jump. I wanted to leave the quest for Big League ball, even though it was contrary to what most American baseball players believe is the only reason to play. I wanted to see what else the world of baseball had to offer. And, in a way, I wanted to see what else I had to offer.
Baseball is played in so many countries around the world—so many beautiful countries with fabulous cultures. True, America may have the most competitive league with the most glorious venues, but baseball is more than competition and expensive stadiums. It’s a reflection of the cultures that plays it. It’s a measure of history. It’s a tool, a release, a distraction and a refinery. And for me, it’s now a passport. I don’t just want to play the game in other countries, I want to experience other countries through baseball, and I can think of few better places to start than fabulous Italy.
I’m okay with trading a chance at being famous, celebritized, and even well compensated for a chance at priceless experiences and life enrichment. I know most wont understand this, but the Big Leagues are not everything, at least not to me. They’re Big, and great, but they are just one part of a life that can be filled with an infinite number of wonderful experiences. I have a chance to chase down a few more of them, and, in my opinion, I’d be a fool not to take it.
My new dream is to catch as many of them as I can. Wish me luck.