These are the characteristics you must adopt. Its dog eats dog. I was abrasive, but I wasn’t about to get eaten. So, I ran up and I grabbed two waters before we even started moving. One for me and one for Jerome, but I called him, “Pena”. We had been together in instructional league prior to the 2012 season and we instantly formed a bond.
Once we started moving, we started talking — Pena and I.
“Bro” I said. “This is crazy, it’s so different from college.”
“Dude, its unbelievable.” Pena said with immediate understanding.
I am getting uneasy and homesick at this point. We are both nostalgic.
“Well, there isn’t much we can do man, just sit back and relax”, I said.
We both agreed. Pena is the guy you want in a foxhole with you, the guy that makes every situation fun. We feel asleep, I think at one point I was even sleeping on his shoulders because, I had the aisle, and you do what you need to do to find a comfortable position for your body to find rest in.
The Lonely Low A Downgrade
Everyone did the same, the bus got quiet, the cards stop being shuffled, and the iPad’s shut off from, “Subway Surfer”. It was quiet, if you weren’t sleeping you were thinking — what am I doing here. I am a professional baseball player, yet I feel so far away from my dream of playing in the Major Leagues.
We woke up.
“Pena…I think we’re here.”
“Really?! Finally, I’m so tired. I barely slept!”
This is the norm — I assumed, because I felt the same way. We grabbed our stuff, our lives — mostly everything we owned and got off the bus, and waited in line to get our room keys at the Quality Inn — it was cheap. We were just Low-A players. But it was a huge disappointment, I usually stayed at Hiltons, Marriott’s, and Embassy Suites in college, but its Low-A now, I have to get use to that. It became one of my biggest struggles, adjusting. Adjusting to the sights, sounds and personnel.
It was different, we all wanted to do better than one another — even if we won our games, if you didn’t get a hit, you were miserable. Its self-centered, its not a team game anymore. You try, you make it about winning, but its not the same camaraderie as you get when you break a huddle after practice, screaming “OMAHA!.” It wasn’t the same as seeing your brothers next to you, fighting to win, to get Vanderbilt University one game closer to a National Championship.
All things considered, I made friends, I made ever-lasting friends in professional baseball, Jerome Pena is one of them, but every year in college I had 35 brothers on my team and I know they felt the same.