Pampered, spoiled, and famous. They are filthy rich celebrities who get the chicks.
Sums up the life of a Major League baseball player, doesn't it? We, as fans, get carried away with obsessing over the money and fame of professional athletes. We see their six, seven, and sometimes eight figure contracts and forget that they used to be Little Leaguers playing for fun just like us.
I see a player like Domonic Brown and see a rich, privileged, arrogant kid who has had his butt kissed since he was two, who even now at the minimum salary makes more money in a year than many of us make in a decade. In his first taste of the majors he acted the part of a superstar with his gaudy wardrobes and leisurely strolls around the bases as if he had a small stash of MVP trophies in his mother's basement. He acted like the majors were his right and he deserved the privileges that went along with it.
The thing is, few of these impressions have anything to do with Domonic Brown the person. These are the meandering thoughts of a jealous blogger who expects all ballplayers to kiss the green grass in the morning, arrive home bloodied and battered for literally giving 100%, and thanking the good lord each and every night for the opportunity to play this wonderful game.
Even now, I listen to Brown's interviews and he doesn’t seem particularly thrilled to be here. But there is a huge problem with this line of thinking: I have never met Domonic Brown. I recognize dollar signs, TV cameras, and sound bites, not the years of baseball practice and weight training, not the back-and-forth trips from the promised land and back to minor league bus rides, and not the perseverance of fighting to live up to his untouchable status.
This all came to the forefront when Dom Brown acknowledged the realization that he will be wearing Phillies pinstripes on Opening Day. "It's a dream come true for me," he said. "That's what I've worked for, be in the Opening Day lineup. I've got a lot of goals I have in my mind for this year. The biggest thing is I'm just having fun: 0-for-4, 2-for-3, or whatever.”
That’s when I realized what a special thing it is to watch a youngster live out his dream. Domonic Brown and Erik Kratz will be two of hundreds of guys starting in their first Opening Day. The meaning may vary greatly from an untouchable prospect to a 32-year-old who a year ago was planning his 11th season of bus charters, awkward promotions, and the ire of his wife. Maybe so, but “dream come true” is great to hear from any Phillies prospect.
Did I allow a couple sentences delivered to a reporter manipulate my thoughts? Probably, but that has been the nature of our relationship all along. I think my point is that it doesn’t really matter, because we are all living out our boyhood fantasies through grown men anyway.
Do Brown, Kratz, and the multitude of first time Opening Day-ers appreciate the moment as much as they should?
For one day I like to pretend that the answer is yes.
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