Saturday, November 27, 2010

To Be Decided....And That's Final!

So as you may have noticed, I still have not come up with a final name for my blog (for those of you who haven’t noticed, its been titled “TBD” this whole time).  Well, that all changes today.  From today forth, the title of my blog will be…TBD (I know, kind of anticlimactic, right?).  Now, before you jump on me for being “unoriginal,” let me explain myself.  I have been searching high and low for a title that would be both clever and fitting for my personality, but the more I looked at my life and blog, the more I started to understand that I already had a fitting title.  You see, my life thus far has been nothing short of unpredictable (at least he past few years have been), so I decided why not just call it what it is: “To Be Decided.” 

On a lighter note, I’d like to send a birthday shout out to my dad, William (November 21) and my mom, Rhonda (November 27), love you guys!  Also good luck to my girlfriend, Julia, as she competes in the Canada Cup of swimming in Toronto this weekend (I’ll be there watching, so if you don’t hear from me for a while, I’m probably frozen somewhere in Canada..).

Well, that’s all I’ve got for now Internet World, so until next time: “Be good.”  

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My "Dream Off-season"

off-season \ȯf-sē-zən\  n  1 : a time of suspended or reduced activity

                Judging by Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s definition of off-season (listed above for those of you who couldn’t wait to read my thoughts and skipped over it), I should be enjoying some nice rest and relaxation, right?  Wrong.  I’ve come to realize that this “off-season” that you hear athletes speak of is anything but “a time of suspended or reduced activity.”  I mean, sure, I’m not playing baseball every day, but that’s about as far as the whole “reduced activity” thing goes.  Since the end of the minor league season in September, my life has in fact seen a HUGE increase in activity. 

                Before I go any further, I know what you’re thinking. Well hell Shane, you’ve been playing ball for most of your life. Surely you know what the off-season is like by now, right?  Well, not exactly.  You see, for the past eight or so years of my life I’ve never had an off-season or any other “time of suspended or reduced activity.”  In high school, there was always football, basketball, or baseball during the school year and summer baseball and basketball during summer break.  Alright, fair enough, but what about college? I mean, you only played baseball there (You were too slow to play college basketball or football.).  Well, true; on both accounts.  But that still doesn’t mean that I had a break.  If anything I had considerably less “time of suspended or reduced activity” in college:  fall ball from mid-August to October; strength and conditioning in November and December; and then the actual season from January to mid-June.  Then, after nine to ten straight months of baseball, when you’re finally starting to think that you’re actually going to get a break, you get sent off to play summer ball in exotic places like Beatrice, Nebraska (I played for the Beatrice Bruins for three summers).  As I stated before: no breaks, no off-season, and certainly no “time of suspended or reduced activity.”  Are you done with this rant about how long you’ve gone without a break yet? Seriously, it’s getting old.  Yes, imaginary person I’m being questioned by, the rant is indeed over.  Let’s move on actual purpose of this entry.

                Ok, let’s rewind to September 6th of this year in Great Lakes, Michigan, where my first season of professional baseball had just ended with a 7-1 victory over the Great Lakes Loons, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ A-ball affiliate.  Sitting on the bus after the game I started to think about what I was going to do with myself over the next few months; I had never gone that long without playing in a competitive sport.  The more I thought about it, the more excited I got.  I mean, I had THREE WHOLE MONTHS before I had to even THINK about spending a whole day at the baseball field.  No more early mornings, no more long practices, no more long bus rides…think of the possibilities!  This was going to be the best three months of my life.  Period. 

                That thought lasted about four days.  I guess you could say that as soon as I got back to Texas, reality punched me in the mouth…HARD.  All the things I didn’t have to worry about during the season: rent, bills, food, etc, were now all a part of my life again (disclaimer – I still had to pay all of these fees in season, they were just conveniently taken out of my miniscule paycheck every two weeks).  I was broke and I had bills to pay; I needed a job (dun-dun-dun!).  But where was I supposed to work?  What employer would take a guy who would only be able to work a few months and has little to no working experience?  My head was spinning, again.  So I waved goodbye to my dream off-season and picked up the wanted ads; I guess that “time of suspended or reduced activity” would just have to wait.  

                Now fast forward to today, November 16, 2010.  I find myself a bit more relaxed about my situation (I may have overreacted a tad a few sentences ago), but that doesn’t mean that I’m not as busy as ever.  I did end up finding a job (two actually) and I am able to live comfortably (or at least something close to comfortably).  But I’m finding that between work and baseball workouts there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day.  I guess the point that I’m trying to get across is that I was W-R-O-N-G about this off-season being the time of my life.  In fact, I had it completely backwards.  The time of my life thus far was actually spent this past season, in the early morning meetings; during the long practices; at the field playing the game I love and even on the long bus rides.  You see, that is where I belong: on the field or on a bus headed down some lonely highway.  So if you see me around, be sure to tell me hello, because I won’t be here for long.  Come March, I will be back out on road, chasing my dream, having the time of my life. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Here Goes Nothin..

Alright guys, so I’m a little green to this whole “blogging” thing (notice my blog doesn’t even have a name yet ), so bare with me through this first post; I promise I’ll try to be interesting!
Ok, here goes nothing..  Let me start by giving you a little background information on myself.  I’m pretty much your basic, everyday Texas male.  I grew up in a small town; I love the outdoors, sports, beer, and pretty much everything else that comes with growing up Texan.  There is however, one thing that kind of sets me apart…I’m a professional athlete (kinda cool right?... I thought so too when I finally realized it was true).  But before we get delve into that portion of my life, let’s go a little deeper into my background (I know you’re just dying to know EVERYTHING about me!). 
As I said before: I grew up in a small town.  How small you ask?  Well, let’s just say that when I got a low report card grade in Spanish my freshman year of high school, my dad knew about it before I did (the rest of the town knew in a matter of a couple days).  But anyways, small as it may have been, West Columbia, Texas, really was a nice place for a kid to grow up.  The people are nice, gas prices are low and on fall Friday nights you can ALWAYS expect a fight out of the Columbia High Roughnecks! 
I grew up in a family of five as the oldest of three children.  We were pretty much your basic American family, my parents (William & Rhonda) worked hard for everything we had and did their best to give my sisters (Madison & Taylor) and me everything that we wanted.  If us kids decided to step out of line, Dad would….well, let’s just say he would give us some “physical encouragement” to act right (something that I believe should be implemented more often in some families, but that’s another issue). 
As you may have guessed from one of my previous pride-filled statements (the one about fall Friday nights for those of you that aren’t paying attention), I attended Columbia High School, where I was a three year letter winner in football, basketball and baseball (I also lettered by default in cross country and swimming my freshman year because the teams were so small, but I don’t claim them because I was awful at both sports).  Although I had successful careers in each of the three “main” sports, it wasn’t until my junior baseball season that I started to believe that I could play beyond high school (sure I thought I could play, but I didn’t know it. I mean, come on, what 16 year old kid doesn’t think they’re the greatest at everything?).  Anyways, after my junior season, I joined the Columbia Angels, a select baseball team that plays in front of numerous college and pro scouts, and eventually accepted a baseball scholarship to Texas A&M University. 
While at A&M, I found that at the collegiate level EVERYONE was a superstar in high school.  My freshman year was a rough one; I got off to a slow start and ended up only appearing in 4 games the entire season.  But after a full season of summer baseball in Beatrice, Nebraska, and a few mechanical adjustments to my delivery, I had a productive sophomore season and finished with a 4-1 record and a 3.27 ERA (I’m a pitcher by the way…guess I should have mentioned that earlier).  After another good summer season in Beatrice and a less than stellar junior year at A&M (1-1 & 6.45 ERA in 19 appearances) I found myself staring reality in the face.  I had one more year of eligibility at Texas A&M left and wasn’t real sure whether or not I was going to be able to play professionally.  So I had to get serious about my back up plan – graduation and getting a real job (DUN-DUN-DUN!!) 
I only had 28 hours or so left until graduation, so when I returned to Texas A&M for my senior year, I hit the books harder than ever and graduated on time in four years (a pretty good accomplishment for a student-athlete if I do say so myself).  I also had a pretty good senior year on the diamond (2-2, 3.74 ERA in 22 appearances), but after my name wasn’t called in the 2010 MLB First Year Player Draft, I found myself back in the same place I was at the end of my junior year: staring reality in the face.  “You mean I’m not going to get to live my dream and play professionally? Well what am I supposed to do? I don’t know where to look for jobs!” Those were just a few of the thoughts running through my mind.  Needless to say, my head was spinning.
And then it happened…
I had just returned from a job interview at Dickinson High School that had gone great.  I loved everything about the school and staff and was planning on accepting their job offer of JV baseball and freshman football coach.  Everything was falling into place.  And then there I was sitting on my buddy’s couch playing MLB 2010: The Show on PS3 when my phone rang.  I didn’t recognize the number, but I decided to answer anyways.  Turns out it was a good thing I did, because on the line was Pat Murphy, an area scout for the Tampa Bay Rays.  He told me that he had seen me throw and asked if I was interested in signing a free-agent contract with the team.  I immediately put off all other job offers and accepted (I mean come on, this is my dream! Real jobs can wait; I’m a baseball player again!!).
So that’s pretty much how I got to where I am today in a nutshell. I hope you all enjoyed reading my first ever blog entry and if you didn’t well then I promise to do better next time. Till then this is Shane Minks, signing off: you stay classy internet world.