Rachel Levitin: Fans often forget that baseball’s still a difficult job

A couple weeks ago when the Giants were in town, I got to talking with Orioles Buzz guest blogger Anthony Amobi of Oriole Post. Pitchers Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson of the world champion San Francisco squad were the topics of conversation.

We threw around ideas of what it would be like to hang out with those guys, even if just for a few minutes. I wondered, “Gee, I bet that Lincecum fella is a hoot to be around.” As for Brian Wilson, well, I still haven’t figured that one out, but I’m sure he’s an entertaining guy, as well.

That’s when Amobi threw in his two cent’s worth.

Amobi had the honor and experience of lending a hand at the All-Star Game. He shared stories of the trip and what he saw on a first-hand basis from deep inside the world of the players, managers, and coaches who roamed the grounds.

There was one particular story about White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen that I remember. It wasn’t of particular interest for content’s sake, but it did spur the following thought: To ball players, no matter how much they love the game, baseball is still job.

Baseball, no matter how wide-eyed and doe-like we get about the game as spectators or as kids, is still someone else’s livelihood. It’s not a 9-to-5 job like the ones most of us have, but rather an occupation that puts a player’s face in the public. Professional athletes become public figures due to their proficiency in a given sport. That means the public at large has its eye on their every move, whether it matters or not.

In the present economy where hard-working people find themselves jobless for a multitude of reasons, it’s important to remember that we’re all going at it together. We’re all just trying to make enough money to get by and live our lives. So are ballplayers.

Sure, they make a lot more than someone whose working part-time at a McDonald’s or a desk job at Goldman Sachs, but ballplayers are like the rest of us. They just so happen to be way better at baseball than the rest of us who may have tried their luck at the game back in elementary or high school.

Major League Baseball has a tradition of honoring American holidays throughout the season as they arise. Mother’s Day yesterday is one of those days. Nationals Buzz’s Kristen Hudak did a nice job of sharing one of modern baseball’s best family stories about the Hairston family.

And how about Ian Desmond? Since becoming a father, there’s been a little something extra behind each throw, play, at-bat and running the bases.

Although there’s really no way to know the thoughts inside Desmond’s head, there’s a line from the 1994 children’s sports film “Little Giants” that fits the scenario. Former defensive end Steve Emtman tells the kids, “Just remember, football is 80 percent mental and 40 percent physical.”

For obvious reasons, the word “football” in that phrase can be changed to baseball (although, let’s be honest, baseball is not 40 percent physical). The reason for this quote is that a sport - whether it’s football, baseball, basketball or hockey - is a mental game, too. It’s not just about skill and talent.

Imagine having to sideline personal feelings while on the job. It’s not easy, but most of us do it every day. So do the ballplayers. But despite that, they still keep playing for all of us to sit around and enjoy each and every spring through fall.

Rachel Levitin blogs about the Nationals for We Love DC, and will be sharing her observations about baseball in the nation’s capital this week as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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