One of the things I like about baseball is the opportunity to watch people who are living their dream. It makes me happy, and on some days it also reminds me to count my blessings and focus what I might achieve in my own life.
Of course, there’s more than one professional baseball dream, from being drafted, to stepping on the field for a major league debut, to winning the World Series and everything in-between. I’m sure a lot of major league players pinch themselves every day and say, “Damn, I play baseball for a living. How cool is that?”
On one end of the continuum, September call-ups mean that Nationals fans are likely to see several players make their major league debuts. Infielder Steve Lombardozzi and pitchers Tom Milone and Brad Peacock have been identified already as likely call-ups, and other names have been floated, including first baseman Chris Marrero, outfielder Corey Brown and pitcher Atahualpa Severino.
I can’t wait to cheer for all of them and see how each player experiences his moment. Will he appear nervous, workmanlike and serious, or obviously joyful when he takes the field? Who will be in the stands to support him, and how will the story play out?
Will it be jubilant, like Luis Atilano’s amazing day on April 23, 2010, when he threw six innings to his childhood hero, Ivan Rodriguez, giving up only one run and earning a win after seven years in the minors? Or more painful, like Brian Broderick’s debut on April 3, which featured two hits, a walk, a balk and four earned runs in 2/3 of an inning?
On the other end of the continuum, the Nationals won’t be winning a World Series or even making a playoff run this year, but fans should savor every opportunity to watch baseball dreams embodied in Rodriquez and Livan Hernandez. Here, I’m not talking about the former being a likely hall-of-famer and the latter a durable Nationals classic. Instead, I’m cheering both players for being examples of loving what you do, every day.
Recently, I watched a game from President’s Club seats behind the Nationals on-deck circle. Rodriquez, still on the disabled list with an oblique strain, was not playing, but I could see him in the dugout, watching every play and appearing to die 1,000 deaths because he couldn’t join his teammates on the field. For a long time, Pudge held a bat while standing in the corner of the camera bay, as close as possible to home plate without actually being in the game. It was obvious that playing baseball is still his dream job after 20 years in the major leagues. Maybe we’ll see him a few more times in September.
And then there’s Hernandez. I think a lot of people love Livo not only for his slow-pitch magic and cool-as-a-cucumber presence on the mound, but also because he obviously loves to play baseball. He may not appear to exert much energy when pitching, but Hernandez can move quickly to celebrate wins and recognize teammates’ accomplishments. And when he gets a hit, you can pretty much count on a big smile from the big guy standing on first base.
If you’re really lucky, you can play baseball for a living. And if you’re a fan, September is a great time to watch a few young players realize their dreams, while a couple of veterans appreciate every day they can still play the game.
Jenn Jenson blogs about the Nationals at Nationals Fangirl and has joined MASNsports.com’s initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. 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.