Each year, early June can be a roller coaster of emotions for college and high school baseball players from around the country. With only 40 rounds in the MLB draft (not counting compensation rounds), hundreds of prospects unfortunately go undrafted each year. For college seniors, not being drafted could mean the end of a career; forcing them to hang it up and leave the game they’ve dedicated their lives to for the past decade or so. Of course, players who don’t get drafted have other options. Independent ball offers a way for guys to hold onto the dream of playing in the MLB, but chances of going from the Frontier League to the St. Louis Cardinals are slim to none. In 2012, outfielder Tanner Leighton, the #4 ranked NAIA prospect in the country from The Masters College in California was one of many players in the independent ball system who had been in contact with scouts during his college tenure, yet had no luck come June.
After a season of Independent ball, playing with both the Washington Wilds Things and London Rippers, Leighton went to play winter ball in Australia. It was in Australia, after speaking with a friend who asked Leighton, “would you rather see small town America or the world,” the decision to venture overseas was an easy one. Tanner soon found himself playing for the Solingen Alligators of the German Bundesliga (top league in Germany) in the spring of 2013 and returned this year for the spring of 2014 as well. Continue reading
To quote directly from the movie Bull Durham, “This is a simple game. You hit the ball, you catch the ball, you throw the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.” I don’t think two sentences can better describe the game of the baseball than that. It’s true. When you break down baseball to its basics, it requires those three things. Catching, throwing and hitting. Now of course there are rules to the game of baseball that can make it more complicated. If one were to dive into the depths of those rules even the veteran of 20 years could be caught befuddled by the difference between obstruction and interference or what happens if two base runners end up at the same bag. That’s what the umpires and managers are for. They get to sort out those dirty details that seldom happen yet can still be vital to the outcome of a ballgame. As players, we get to go out there on a beautiful sunny day and do those three simple things that have given us joy since we were little kids; throw the ball, catch the ball and hit the ball.
I have been playing the game of baseball for nearly 18 years, the vast majority of that time taking place in the United States. Late this May, I arrived in Austria to play professionally after the conclusion of my college career in New Jersey. Although those three basic entities are still at the core of the game, it is evident that baseball has a much different feel here in Europe as opposed to back home. Continue reading
It is said that life is just a metaphor for baseball. Sometimes we need a foot up the jacksy to realise it.
Here in Australia there is currently a huge emphasis on the effects of depression. The “Beyond Blue” organisation has been massive in raising awareness and assistance for those that suffer from the disease. Indeed, mental illness is no longer a taboo subject spoken of in hushed whispers but rather a conversation of mainstream Australia and as a result is becoming better understood. We, as a society, are slowly adjusting our behaviours to make the plight of those suffering depression easier by better understanding the disease and how we can best help those afflicted. Professional expertise is also benefiting from the raised awareness and increased funding and for those who suffer clinical depression, these professionals, their advice and assistance are crucial.
To my surprise a sibling of mine recently asked me ‘how are you going?’ Not such a staggering question, but the abnormality of it and the emphasis on the ‘going’ rang an alarm bell. Turns out, a friend of mine had suggested to my family that I was suffering depression. Yes, it’s true, I have been a bit down; things have been a bit of a grind. I never considered it myself. I just figured I was in a bit of a slump.
Spurred on by the suggestion, I checked the web. Surely the internet can tell me if this was true! I took a pop quiz, worked my way through an online assessment. Moderate depression was the diagnosis. Wow. Continue reading