Who are these guys?
Monday was a day unlike any other that I have seen since I began working in baseball. Which, by the way, is one of the reasons I love this business. Whether its on the field or off it, you never know what the next day will hold. Every day brings new challenges and keeps you on your toes.
Yesterday, there were 14 transactions made affecting the River Bandits roster. After I sent out the official moves, I had about 10 responses from my peers around the league, all of which featured some sort of sarcastic yet witty comment. Seven new players officially joined the team, while seven others left town.
And from the first pitch fired off by Kevin Thomas last night, you could feel the new-look River Bandits getting a burst of adrenaline. Not only did Thomas throw seven dominant innings, but Quad Cities exploded for six runs in the first and led by as much as 9-0 in a blowout win. New first baseman Xavier Scruggs made the biggest splash of all, clubbing a pair of two-run homers to the delight of the excited crowd.
There are just 33 games left, and the Bandits are right in the thick of the playoff race.
But in addition to the tremendous boost provided by the seven new River Bandits, the flurry of roster moves also gave me a moment to reflect about the human side of the game. It is easy for fans to forget, after all, that the players between the white lines are real people, just like you and me. For them, baseball is more than a game – it is their livelihood, their future, their hopes and dreams.
For a player, there is nothing more rewarding than earning a promotion. Matt Carpenter, Arquimedes Nieto, Osvaldo Morales and Jose Garcia all moved up to Palm Beach. Conversely, a demotion can be pretty demoralizing for the guys. Jon Edwards, Travis Mitchell and Kyle Conley were all sent down to Batavia. What is sometimes difficult for players to realize, however, is that there is a difference between a promotion and a setback.
For example, one of the players that joined the River Bandits yesterday was Jermaine Curtis, a third baseman that was sent down from Palm Beach. But you have to remember that Curtis was just drafted last summer, and he skipped the Quad Cities in the first place when he started the season with Palm Beach. A shortstop named Tyler Greene immediately comes to mind. After initially skipping this level, Greene was struggling at Palm Beach and was sent down to the Quad Cities midway through the 2006 season. He went on to hit 15 homers and drive in 47 runs in 59 games in the Midwest League, and broke spring training the next year at Double-A – staying right on track. As many of you likely already know, Greene made his big league debut earlier this season and has played 41 games for the Cardinals.
What I guess I’m trying to say is that it is important not to lose sight of the bigger picture. Today’s setback may simply be a short-lived one, and in the grand scheme of things may even turn out to be a positive. Just ask Tyler Greene.
By the way… T-minus two days, 11 hours and 57 minutes until the Professional Pillow Fight League rolls in on Thursday! (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)