I believe there is a sense among some baseball fans that the players we cheer for and against live something of a charmed life, and while there’s certainly some truth to that sentiment, most of the benefits that baseball players receive is well earned.
It’s true that even on the very pages of this blog, from time to time, we will poke fun at Adam Jones’ inability to take a pitch or Brad Penny’s grease ball or even Adam Lind’s confounding inability to lay off breaking pitches, but our irreverence doesn’t mean we don’t understand just how hard the majority of baseball players work at being the elite athletes that they are.
It may appear as though we are forgetting that baseball players work hard. Rest assured, we understand that they work very hard. Day in and day out, they work hard through the longest schedule in professional sports.
I was reminded of this after reading a recent feature on WEEI.com on Dustin Pedroia. Initially perusing the piece resulted in a shaking of my head at all of the opportunities and benefits afforded the life of a baseball star. You see, Pedroia recently switched up his off season workout regime after the Athlete’s Performance gym moved an inconvenient 45 minutes away from the Boston Red Sox second baseman’s Arizona home. Now, instead of relying on an outside location for his work out regime, he and Andre Ethier of the Los Angeles Dodgers have built something of a compound on Ethier’s property.
Inside the semi-massive “shed” is a layout that includes a batting cage, artificial turf, a kitchen (complete with chef and daily menu), workout room complete with a multitude of weights and exercise items, a lounge area with big-screen television and even a penned in play area for kids the size of [Pedroia's son].
It’s easy to get caught up in the luxury of being able to construct such a thing as part of one’s home, but the real story here is more about the effort in which these baseball players are putting into their preparation. Typically, fans see nine innings of a game being played and make their opinions known based on that. However, we take for granted the time and energy spent merely on being able to play at such a high caliber. The bottom line is that it’s not always fun being a professional athlete.
According to Pedroia:
I think of it as work. That’s how you have to do it. If you want to be a good player you have to put in the time to prepare yourself to do that. Preparation makes you good. If you surround yourself around guys who work their butt off, you’re going to be one of those guys right there with them. We have a good group of guys. It’s fun getting up and going and just putting in the time. We’re doing the stuff we need to do to further our careers and be great that year, that’s how we look at it.
I realize that this verges on a Suzyn Waldman type of sentimental admiration in the style of “Yay, aren’t baseball players awesome,” but as we near the beginning of the season, we’re quite likely to engage in large amounts of mockery and sarcasm directed at these athletes. It should be known that underneath all of that poking of fun lies deep rooted respect for all of the hard work that results in our entertainment.