Remembering the Human Element in Baseball
Yes we've won more than we lost there have been a ton of positives (good starting pitching, good bullpen, good play from most of the guys we've acquired) and there's been some bad (some guys still hitting below .100, injury concerns) but overall this has been a great start to the season. Last year it took until April 21st (two weeks from now) before we got our first win. That's no bueno...right now; we're above .500 and things look a whole lot better than last year when you factor in our leadoff hitter isn't hitting, our catcher isn't hitting, our DH isn't hitting and our right fielder isn't hitting. Factor in those things; I'd say we're doing ok...
Here's something I wanted to write about but after almost 2000 words on my last post I felt it deserved more than just a blip. This tweet got to me...and hit pretty hard.
Look; I know I've been extremely critical of how the Jays handled Jose Bautista the last couple of years. Was he going to stick around, how much should the pay; is his career done? Did he bring a lot of that criticism on himself with the way he talked to the media and demands that were made? Of course. When you're winning; that usually gets dismissed; but when the team starts to lose...it becomes an issue.
Maybe it's being a father with a little girl and seeing Jose, his wife and three daughters standing all wearing the Jays jersey; maybe it's Neishas words that hit closer to home. Think about it. When some of us are growing up we dream of being a professional athlete of some sort. When we realize that we won't make it as that we move on to another dream. Some of us are lucky to find what we're looking for on the first try; others are still looking for their dream job most of their adult lives.
Jose Bautista was born to play baseball. He was born to hit and he was born to throw. That's the only way to explain it. From the time he woke up in the morning until the time he went to sleep; his sole mission was to become a professional athlete and a good one. He accomplished both. Now, at the age of 37 (two months younger than yours truly) is out of a job. The worst part is that most celebrated athletes get to go out on their terms. They get standing ovations when they leave a town to celebrate all they've done. Sure; Jose got that last year near the end of the season but there was always the thought that he'd hook up with another team. This offseason everything changed. Teams weren't looking to add anyone over the age of 35. Now; there are no calls, no prospects just waiting andanticipating his next move. Where does he go from here? He's an extremely young man but no considered ancient by baseball standards. It's going to be a process but the chances of him being back in the majors any time soon seems further and further from happening as each day passes. The good news is; he will be adjust and he will be fine. It will take time but it happens.
What I think about more than Jose after seeing and reading his wifes post is that I forgot about the human element. That he had a wife and three kids. That for 6 months a year; dad wasn't around. That family worked without him and loved him while he was there. I'm sure there were days when the girls begged him not to go on the next road trip and if he could stay a bit longer much like my daughter does before I go work a shift. It's heart breaking when your child looks up at you and clings to you and doesn't want you to leave but you do what you have to do.
There isn't a lot of info about the couple other than the fact that they've been together before 2011 (when they had their first daughter). So for the last 10-12 seasons (estimate of course); Neisha has been there to watch the home opener; to celebrate the accomplishments of her boyfriend and now husband (they were married this past offseason) and help out with fundraising projects with the Jays and Pirates as well as their own organization. Yes; having kids changes everything and having a lot of money helps to keep the household running but it takes a very strong women to be able to hold it all together when her husband isn't around all the time. To deal with temper tantrums in the middle of the night and lack of sleep, to fussy meals and not wanting bath time to happen just yet.
Neisha Bautista has done. Numerous other women have done and will continue to do it. She is lucky because for the first time in a long time; she knows when daddy is going to be home and be there to help out. Yes; the door on his baseball career appears to be closed but the one that gives him more family time when his kids are still very young is now wide open. He gets to live another dream that most of us with kids want...more time with our kids.
So yes; I'm sad for the family that they no longer get to celebrate opening day together but now I'm thrilled for them because they get to celebrate being a family full time and not just the in the off season. So when we harp on a player for not hitting or making an error or doing something that we don't like...maybe, just maybe take a step back before losing it and think "I wonder whats going on at home for him...," because if our home life can effect our work; then it can do the same to them as well.