If you want to play at the Major League level, you’ll need to start specializing early.

We’ll be generous and say 10 years old is when you started.

At 10 you realized you could throw thunderbolts. Pills. Ched. Heat. Smoke. Fuzz. Gas.

You could throw hard.

Ridiculous when you think about it. It’s such a trivial thing to set the sails of your life to, but, there it is. You can throw hard. Hard for 10. Maybe hard for 20, but it’s going to take you 10 years to find out.

And you’re left handed.

Oh shit. Now you just have to play baseball, right?

Hard and left-handed? Your parents have probably already started looking up the odds of this miracle.

People who know your family are uttering “you should make him a pitcher” like witches at a seance, “he could pitch in the majors.”

“you should make him a pitcher. He could pitch in the majors.”
“you should make him a pitcher. He could pitch in the majors.”
“you should make him a pitcher. He could pitch in the majors.”
“you should make him a pitcher. He could pitch in the majors.”

This prophecy must be fulfilled!

Can you throw strikes?


You throw hard. You’re left-handed. You could pitch in the majors. Full speed ahead, captain! 

Throw Until Your Arm Falls Off

From here, you’ll need to play a lot of games. Because other kids will be playing a lot of games (Other kids that want to play at the top, that is). And because it’s as much a competition as it is an audition.

You get better from playing a lot. You get seen from playing a lot.

You get hurt from playing a lot, which is something else you’ll need to navigate.

Injuries to young kids are real, but, young lefty, If you don’t take every chance you can to showcase your stuff, you might get overlooked.

I mean, we’re doing this to get you to the big leagues, right? To fulfill the prophecy.

If we’re doing it for fun, then, well, go ahead and believe all that stuff about throwing limits and curveballs. Getting hurt is not fun.

But since this is for ascension, for glory, you can get around those rules and limits by joining multiple leagues at once, and ping-ponging around to find all the innings you can to pitch.

Your competition will be.

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

If you’re still afraid of getting hurt, or not being showcased, don’t worry. There are literally thousands of hucksters and has-beens that will gladly take your money to teach you how to stay healthy and get noticed.

They come in all sorts and sizes.

They run showcases and clinics.

They run scouting camps and all-star camps and boot camps.

They preach mechanics that are “groundbreaking”.

They preach mechanics that are as fundamental as neutrons and protons.

The preach.

They preach and you pay and you hope.

I’m not saying good coaches aren’t out there. I’m not saying all-star leagues aren’t scouted.

What I am saying is, how the fuck would you know?

You’ve never done this before. And let’s just assume your parents haven’t either.

Mine didn’t. Mine were poor. Blue collar, middle American, conservatives with a kid who could throw hard. But sadly, only from the right side.

And they still did everything they could. Everything. And doing everything you can takes a lot of money, a lot of gas, and a lot of time. A lot of time.

So much time.

But you’re willing to put that time in. You are and so are your parents.

And the opportunity cost of that time is missing out on summer events, and turning playing trips into tournament/vacations. You’ll need to quit the math team and poetry club and theater guild and that part-time job.

You’ll need to focus your time on one thing—one skill—and you develop it.

Meanwhile, you’ll develop a family brand around it. A circle of friends around it. A wall of trophies around it.

It, you, the baseball. They are one. A siamese twin stuck to you and you to it, and every day the bond gets stronger.

Majoring in Baseball

I, for one, am proud of all that you’ve been able to accomplish—you and your siamese twin. Some people might tell you you suck because you didn’t get drafted out of high school, but not me.

College is nice. A nice place to discover yourself. And the girls are hotter.

Besides, you just weren’t ready yet. Didn’t hit your growth spurt at the right time. Didn’t project to throw much harder at your current size. Your parents were just too average to really get a gauge on you. No one really knew you’d blossom.

But that’s okay, a college will help. It’ll put meat on your bones and thoughts in your head. The right program could all but guarantee you get drafted.

Just don’t do anything stupid.

Drugs? Drinking?

No, silly. That’s fine. If you’re talented enough that won’t matter.

Don’t do anything stupid like picking the wrong major.

You need something that will work around your practice schedule, travel schedule, and won’t load you down with so much homework you run the risk of getting yourself an academic suspension.

Let’s be clear: You’re here to play baseball. The degree thing is just a bonus, if you even get it.

So forget about labs and studios and practicum and rehearsals. Get a plain, vanilla, degree that won’t rock the boat.

Business is good.

Marketing is better.

Communications? Perfect.

I would have also accepted History, if you really want to piss this whole higher ed thing down the toilet.

Speaking of pissing—do not piss off your coach.

Yes, I know that he recruited you to be there, but he did that to a lot of young boys. He’s kind of a serial offender that way.

Just know that you need him to like you because, while I’m sure you have talent, so do a lot of the other kids he has the hots for.

Obey, behave, and hope that you get some playing time. Then maximize it.

Unless you have skills so potent that you’re going to push everyone out of your way— which you don’t because you weren’t drafted out of high school.

So keep your nose clean.

Make sure you always have a designated driver.

Make sure she’s sober and you have consent.

Make sure you know what’s in those supplements.

Make sure you go to class—or have a good lackey that takes notes for you.

It’s not that hard, so don’t fuck it up.

If you help your coaches, they will help you. They have jobs to protect, and if you’re borderline draftable but keeping your coach up at night, when the scouts come to ask for the truth about your makeup, he might just tell them.

It’s about projection, friend. You produce for your coach. You project for scouts. That’s how you get yourself a contract. Stay healthy, stay productive, and project.

Your First Contract

This is what you wanted, right? You wanted to spend the last 10 years of your life pushing your body to the limit and beyond, playing politics, auditioning, learning to evaluate your future through stats so you could make a few grand signing for a team in a late round?

Well, enjoy it. You’ve earned it.

And, just so you know, you have to do it.

You have to sign. You fucking have to.

If you stop and think about doing something else, even for a split second, you will literally be the biggest idiot ever—ask any of your friends that would trade places with you in a heartbeat. Ask all the seniors from your college team that wept minutes after the final out was made on their playing careers.

Ask your mom and dad who sweated blood over your performances for a decade straight.

Ask your siamese twin who wouldn’t know what to do without baseball.

Ask your girlfriend who only likes you because you’re a letterman.

Who walks away from this chance to be the thing that so many people covet? Not you. Hell no.

You need to commit to this now. If not for you, then for all the other people who have been on this journey with you.

I know. I know. It all felt so glorious a minute ago. Why did I have to go and piss all over it?

I dunno, kid. It’s just what I do. But enough about me. Let’s focus back to that contract.

If you made any money at all to sign. Any money. Buy the following three things first.

  • Shower shoes
  • Noise canceling headphones
  • A glass Pyrex bowl with a microwavable lid

Forget the SUV. Forget the Lexus. Forget the toys and devices. You don’t need them.

Open a Vanguard account, put your money in a low-cost ETF with a little left in cash, and forget you have it until this is all over. Because it’s going to end. I know you don’t want to think about that, but it will. Save your money.

Yes, yes, I KNOW: you’re going to make so much more, and soon. But, you know, just in case you don’t, save it.

That’s assuming you got any. Chances are you didn’t.

If you got a thousand bucks or less. Dude, blow it all!

It’s going to be a while before life is this good again so blow it all—right after you get those shoes, headphones, and the bowl (do not forget the lid).

Welcome to the Grind

Word of advice: No one cares about how good you were in college.

Well, your college will when they ask you for donations, but that’s about it.

You’re in the minors now. It doesn’t matter if you were a Tiger, a Husker, a Tide, a Yellow Jacket, a Tarheel, a Flash, A Golden Flash, a Dirtbag, a Bear, Beat or Battlestar Galactica.

It all resets here, so buckle up.

Years are going to pass. Hard years. And I’m not going to shit you, you’re going to start to hate baseball.

You may have loved it back when you were 10, but you will think of it very differently when you start to starve because of it. When you see your paychecks are less than a part-time fast-food worker.

When the sleep deprivation hits. And keeps hitting.

When you do well and get passed over for promotion because a higher rounder has too much invested in him to not get promoted first.

When the folks who cover the sport start to mention you as roster filling fodder.

When the same folks that encouraged you to start chasing start asking why you suck, “because I read your numbers online and they aren’t good.”

You will think of it differently when you see the reality of it: a mill of talent burned up in sacrifice to the game, all waiting to get their shot. All believing they will. All waiting to get a shot at a shot. Waiting to get healthy. Waiting to get in. Waiting to get seen. Waiting to get promoted.

Waiting for you to get released so they can pass you.

And while you wait, you will become institutionalized.

Not that you weren’t already. I mean, what do you think has been happening all this time?

You made a religious conversion 10 years ago and just didn’t know it. You changed your diet to please the Baseball Gods. You changed your friends, your hobbies, your major, your body and your interests.

You changed.

You’ve been changing. Growing inside a baseball-shaped jar. You’ve been trying to widen an opening so dogmatically that others have shut, many of them just as enriching, fulfilling, and easier to attain.

Pull back for one second and look now at all you’ve done. Consider the math of it all. The odds you beat. All the instances when it could have gone wrong, horribly or nominally. Just a titch wrong. A near miss. A near miss and you are not here. Not now.

And where is here, now?

How old are you now?

Do you really want to be here now?

You’ve been in the minors for years now.

What else can you do now?

You can hold on.

Because that’s all you know, now.

Hold on.

Because, because… hehehehe…. If another left-hander goes down, and the guy in front of you gets hit by a bus, and the big club trades that bullpen guy (because they’re having a shit year and he’s having a career year), then there is a chance you could have a September call up as a back filler. Assuming, of course, you keep pitching the way you are right now for another month against a favorable schedule.

Yes, the odds are astronomical, but your entire world is astronomical odds.

This is just a normal Tuesday night conspiracy theory for you.

The Call Up

And then, it happens. All of it. A meteor gets struck by a lightning bolt, twice, and you’re heading to the big leagues.

You go into the office of the skipper. He tells you you’re heading up. There has been an injury. A trade. A vacuum. A bus accident. You’re 26 and heading to the show.

You’ve done it. You’ve finally done it.

Done what?


It. You’ve done it.

Not out talent-ed the competition, or outplayed them… you’ve outlasted them.

It’s as good as anything, so don’t waste it.

Now off you go. Off to The Show. Jets and hotels and big paychecks. Groupies and autographs. Off to the biggest most emotional, most validating moment of your life.

You have spent 16 years— if you started at 10 years old— and let’s be honest, most kids start way before this—and now it’s real.

There will never, ever be anything better than this because what else could you dedicate 16+ years to accomplish? 16 years that spanned from childhood to adulthood.

This was the singular guiding force of your existence. Where does it stop and you begin?

Can you even tell anymore?

It was the ultimate sacrifice, which makes it the ultimate achievement.

And in your second outing, your arm blows out, and your career is over.

Just. Over.

No consolation prize. No job to pivot into. No road back. No funeral. No closure.

You don’t throw hard anymore. You don’t fool anyone now.

It’s over.

Good luck, old lefty. You had a good run.

Clean out your locker, and take your dead identity with you.

Welcome to the End Game

What you’re feeling now is shock. Shock, with maybe a bit of post-traumatic stress for flavor.

I mean, when you think about it, you just witnessed a murder. 16 years of you, dead in one office meeting.

I know what you’re thinking: did this really just happen? I mean, just one second you were there, actually there, and the next you were nowhere.

Yes, it happened. I don’t give a shit what they say, listen to me. Listen. You won’t miss baseball because you love it. You’ll say you do, but you won’t.

You’ll miss it because you rewired your brain to depend on it.

I dunno. Maybe that’s what love is.

But ask yourself, how would you really know the difference? You ever even took the time to feel this way about anything else?


Hey, bartender, 2 more of whatever Lefty here is drinking.

Mmm… Remember back when all those other kids were doing other things besides just playing baseball?

Remember when you used to talk about how they didn’t want it as bad as you. Remember when they quit to do something else and you said that was a shame because they had real talent?

Well. Where is the shame now, huh?

…..Too soon? Sorry, dude.

When you retire from baseball it’s not the same as retiring from a job. People will talk to you like it is, but it’s not. I mean, you just got fired, but you’re saying retired… ever think about that?

It’s more like an amputation. A part of you— A big part— lopped off and put in a jar. Or a picture frame. Or a shadow box.

You pick.

There will be no other occupation like it. You’ll try and find one, but you won’t. And that’s going to be hard.

And you’re still going to feel baseball. Maybe for the rest of your life. That phantom pain gnawing away in your brain. That urge to migrate in the Spring. The feel of leather in your hand. The smell of sunscreen and fresh cut grass…

Fuck. I can feel it now. Just talking about it.

This is why I drink now, you know.

This is the cost of playing… one of the costs of playing. When it ends, it ends. No resuscitation. No prosthetic. There is no time stone to reverse the effect. It ends.

Someone once said to me that playing baseball is like being an entrepreneur.

Yeah, I know. It isn’t at all, but that’s what I mean. People will say things based on what they know. They’ll project on you. They’ll say things like, “you took a big risk. You knew the chances of it happening were slim. Why didn’t you have plan B?”

Exactly. Fuck them. It’s nothing like being an entrepreneur.

You could finish this drink and go be an entrepreneur. Sell doilies on eBay. Make a storefront on Amazon. Start a donut shop. Mow lawns. Consult about mowing lawns.

You can’t go play professional baseball. It’s over. It’s not coming back.

Not for any of us.

I get that you’re feeling lost. Alone. Hollow. Everything you’ve ever known, now a wrecked ship in an ocean with no stars. That’s par for the course. You’ve injected yourself with baseball for years. Consumed it, and only it, until your body can’t take in anything else.

You’re toxic now. It’ll take a while to get it out of your system. And it’s not going to come out without a fight.

You can keep telling me you weren’t ready for it to end, and I hear you, but, hey, no one ever is.

No one is ever ready for something like this to end. It’s the end of a life. The end of an era.

But it doesn’t have to be the end of you.

Did you save any money?

I know you have bills, but, didn’t you save that money, in that ETF, like I…. yeah, that’s right. You signed for nothing. Nevermind. And I know you didn’t put anything in your minor league 401k because you were never paid enough to save anything.

What about your Big League salary? Did you keep any of that?

I see.

So you’re house poor.

Well, Sell that car and pay that off. Get something economical. And maybe sell the house, too? I know, it’s hard, but you have to practical. The sooner you start understanding that “for the love of the game” doesn’t apply to you anymore and start realizing that “for the lack of any other employable job skills ” does, you’ll get through this.

Incidentally, have you ever written a resume before?

Google it.

You’ve got a lot of catching up to do.