Let me just throw this out there. Is anyone surprised that Mariano Rivera’s kid got drafted to the Yankees? And that it is a headline on ESPN? No. No, we’re not. Because baseball, like everything else, is all about business and who you know. Is little Rivera even any good? He was the 872nd pick for Christ sakes! Who even waits that long to hear their name called? Joe Girardi commented: “I know he comes from good bloodlines.” Oh, sweet Joe, which field on the scouting report should I check off on that one? Oh yes, here it is… “good bloodlines.” Wow. That 872nd spot with the Yankees organization was just ripped out of the hands of a player who’s primed to perform, and handed to some sophomore in college with a legendary last name.
Don’t get me wrong. If you deserve a shot, you deserve a shot. Maybe a Rivera without a cutter who throws low 90’s is worthy of a spot on the Yankees roster. What do I know? I’m just here for the hot dogs (and expensive jewelry, clothes, purses, shoes…oh, sorry).
Okay on a serious note, I’m passionate about these things because I believe in the ethic of hard work and perseverance. As an athlete myself (rather decent actually), rejection is not something I often encountered, or took well when I did. When you work so hard for something, you don’t expect that slap in the face. I can only imagine how much more that stings when you play at the level of exception that Anthony has played, and someone tells you no. Twice.
Before I was a part of Anthony’s life, he was busy making a name for himself in our local home community. Go ahead, Google him – it’s all there. I did it the day I met him to see what I was getting into – no shame in my game. Throughout his stint at college, he was named player of the year, became All-American, lead the NECBL summer league in batting average, won the championship against a team of 19 future draft picks, and was coached by Ryan Flaherty’s dad. Coach Flaherty, a close friend of the Mariner’s scout, was enthusiastic about Anthony being drafted, so much so that a draft party was held with family and friends. The draft started and ended, but his name was never called.Ryan Flaherty’s name, however, was. Listening to Anthony describe his humility in that moment was tough. Explaining it happening for a second time the following year was heart-wrenching. I can’t imagine the sting that’s left behind after the adrenaline of your dreams stops coursing through your veins, and broken promises leave you empty-handed.
Here’s what I can imagine, however: the sting of trying to get in someone’s way who has experienced this sort of set back. We all have been under the impression that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, but I assure you that trying to tame an egotistical, butt-hurt athlete is far more likely to set your whole world on fire. I mean, the insight to Anthony’s journey is to set the foreground with some inspiration, but this blog ain’t called The Bitching Mound for nothing people. There is crying in baseball, for the love of God. There is one hundred and fifty percent, without-a-doubt, ugly-face crying in baseball. Stick with me. You’ll see.
“the strongest people are not those who show strength in front of us, but those who win battles we know nothing about”