In the final installment of this series before the new year begins, Bus Leagues Baseball writer Brian Moynahan (follow on Twitter at @OMDQ) writes about his passion for MILB.
I've been reading this "Why I Love Minor League Baseball" series here on JQ's little corner of the internet for awhile now, and eventually, the wheels started turning in the ol' noggin.
"Brian," I said to myself. "You write a blog that's all about enjoying minor league baseball. This is your THING. You HAVE to add something to the discussion."
So I took my brain's advice and fired off a Direct Message to JQ on Twitter, begging to be included. She said yes. And, after roughly sixteen and three quarters seconds of elation at the prospect of seeing my name in lights elsewhere on the blogosphere (it just never gets old), I started another inner conversation.
"Brian," I said to myself. "What exactly IS IT that you love about minor league baseball?"
And I thought about it, and thought about it, and thought about it, and thought about. Then I talked to my brother on the phone for awhile. I had a computer question and he's in IT. Then I ate dinner, started reading The Junction Boys, half-watched Night At The Museum 2 with my kid. Then I got back to thinking about the minor leagues, and why they're cool. Came up with some ideas, wrote some words. Didn't really like the words. Deleted the words. Bye, words! Gave the kid a bath. He cried the whole time. Got him dressed, put on Diego, sat down again, and thought some more.
And now you're caught up. And probably wondering what I came up with. And hoping that I get to the point already. Me too, friends, me too.
Well, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the answer is both simple and complicated. I mean, the thing I love most about minor league baseball is that it's a shape-shifter, constantly changing and adapting to become whatever we want it to be. I can go to the ballpark on some nights, sit with a couple friends, and just shoot the breeze. Not even pay attention to the game at all. (It's always fun to look at the scoreboard, realize it's 7-4 in the seventh inning, and be like, "Wait, what? Wasn't it just 2-0? What the hell happened?") I can go another night and watch top prospects battle it out, each guy trying to prove his worth over the other. On still another night, I can take my 11-year-old nephew to one of his first games, watch his face light up when a player throws him a ball, see how happy he looks as he downs a churro, even though he has no idea what a churro is. (I'm STILL not sure he knows.) And that's just the tip of the iceberg. There are a thousand different ways to enjoy the same game. It's such an individual experience.
I also, somewhat selfishly, love minor league baseball because it allows me to touch greatness. This season, I spoke with people like Kyle Drabek, Zach Stewart, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Austin Romine. All of those players will, barring unforeseen circumstance, reach the major leagues. Some of them will be stars. I got the chance to talk to them, sit with them, hear their voices, watch their minds work, because of the easier access granted by the minor leagues. And sometimes, those interviews open other doors: after I wrote about Romine and his baseball-playing family last spring, his MOTHER left a comment on the post, and we exchanged a couple emails. I mean, his MOTHER. The wife of one of my favorite players ever. And it was only possible becuase he came to a minor league ballpark near me.
And lastly, maybe most importantly, I love minor league baseball because of the people, guys like Moe Hill, who continues going to the ballpark and putting on the uniform every day because, even at 63-years old, he still loves a game that hasn't always loved him back; Shawn Roof, of the Detroit Roofs, who may never reach the major leagues as a player, but works hard, keeps a positive attitude, tries to help the team, and waits for a break, just in case; and Damien Sapp, who caught 78 games and hit 25 homeruns for the Nashua Pride in 2003, playing almost every day on knees so bad it hurt to watch him try to walk, let alone run. You see guys like that, right up close, it shows you something, makes it easier to crawl out of bed on those mornings when all you want to do is call in sick and pull the covers up over your head.
I'm sure there's more - there's always more - but I've taken up enough of your time. Thanks, JQ.
Read Brian and other fantastic writers at http://busleaguesbaseball.com.