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.