In a cafeteria in Peoria, AZ, my life flashed before my eyes. I was filling my plate for the first of what ideally would have been two or three trips to the food line. It’s Spring Training 2009 and Major League All-Star, Cliff Floyd, is getting oatmeal in front of me.
“Man, Arizona and these speed cameras,” he complained to me. “Spring Training is speeding ticket season.”
I chuckled. I really hoped my laugh sounded normal as I tried to act cool in front of MLB royalty. You see, Spring Training is a blood bath, especially for minor league guys like myself. It’s not uncommon to head out to defensive rotations and hear the rumors circling, “Six more guys got banged after batting practice.”
That means six more players got “released”. Getting released is what getting fired is called in professional baseball. Oftentimes you’ll never see your friends and teammates again after they get released. It leaves the non-millionaires in the organization on edge. Everyone is literally looking over their backs and playing for their lives.
Getting released usually happens with a tap on the shoulder. Usually a clubhouse manager, or clubbie, lets you know that the manager (during the season) or the Director of Player Development (during Spring Training) needs to see you.
So, there I was about to dive into my first bite of breakfast at a table with my boys and our Director of Player Development, Grady Fuson, (who was the bad guy in the hit movie Moneyball,) tapped me on the shoulder. “Hey, Gelly. Come see me in my office when you’re done, will ya?”
The table went silent. My heart sank.
I’d never get a second or third plate. I had no appetite. I stood up and my teammates said nothing. You could have heard a pin drop as I followed Grady to his office. I could feel the eyeballs of the room watching me with every table I passed. They were watching the trainwreck that is the sports equivalent of a dead-man-walking.
There are just a couple of moments in my life where things slowed down enough for me to have such clear self-dialogue. As I got within twenty feet of his door, I became the most courageous person I think I’ve ever been and I said to myself, “You’re going to walk in there and look him in the face and take this like a man.” I closed the door behind me and sat down ready to listen to my childhood dreams get cancelled.
“Gelly, I wanted to sit you down, because I heard you were upset with the team assignments,” he said directly. “I’m not releasing you. No one came into camp more physically ready than you. You’ve been working your ass off and I want to thank you for your effort. It’s noticed.”
It was like pulling the trigger without a bullet in the chamber. I shook his hand and left. At my locker, players started forming around, not knowing what to say.
“I’m still here, boys,” I said.
I’ll tell you this. There’s no greater feeling than thinking you’ve lost it all and getting a second chance. I cried as I jogged out to the position players stretch that afternoon. I never thought I’d get a chance to live a dream again. And, I got another chance to live my dream and play a child’s game and call it a job. The reminder was so profound.
As COVID-19 chin checks us in ways we couldn’t have anticipated, I think about walking out of Grady’s office with a second chance. We almost lost the gym in this pandemic and you bet your ass we are going to the well of our greatest efforts to take advantage of this second chance.
I’d venture to bet you’re getting a second chance in a certain part of your life right now. Don’t waste it.
DEUCE ATHLETICS GPP
[Meet at Anderson Park]
DEUCE BACKLOT GPP
[Meet at Pan Pacific Park]
DEUCE GARAGE GPP
Make 2 attempts at the following:
Max Chin-Over-the-Bar Iso Hold
1-Arm Tempo DB Push Press (ea)
Then, complete 3 rounds for quality of:
Max Inverted Rows
12 DB Goblet Squats + 24 Alt DB Goblet Reverse Lunges
-Rest as Needed-
Then, AMRAP 8
15 Double Unders
2, 4, 6, 8.. Alt DB Snatches (70/50)