This is about the pitfalls of a superstar athlete who is trying to remain true to himself.
|As the season went along more and more scouts were at the games. Just before a playoff game started A.J. was interviewed by a gentleman from the Phillies organization named Oscar Sanchez. During their conversation the scout told A.J. that they were interested in making him a priority in the upcoming draft. Officially he was not allowed to make an offer to a high school student but by using vague language and subtle gestures he was able to get his message across. He communicated that the team wanted A.J. to be the future of their franchise and would do whatever it took to make the deal happen.
A.J. decided to lay his cards on the table and see how strong his hand really was. He told the team representative that he would agree immediately to play for the Phillies organization. He promised to stop talking with other scouts and pledge his allegiance to the team on one condition. That condition was that Teddy Wilcox also be drafted by Philadelphia. The scout reiterated that he was not allowed to make deals and that he could not control the draft or if another team took his friend before they could. A.J. looked at him with a very unemotional look on his face that said I don’t want excuses just results. And with that he walked out of the coach’s office and headed towards the field.
While warming up A.J. began to rethink his recent actions. He started worrying that he overstepped his bounds. After all he wasn’t Hank Aaron or Babe Ruth. He had only been playing baseball a few years and he acted as if he was better than everyone else. His stomach tightened and he became nauseous. What if he played horrendous in today’s game? What if the scout laughed at his level of play and left before the second inning? What if he just ruined his chances of playing professional ball? The scout could go back to his bosses and tell them that A.J. had an attitude problem and not worth the effort! Then they could turn around and relay this sentiment to other teams and before you know it A.J. would not be able to do anything except get a job at the local Taco Bell! Now A.J. was breathing heavy and he started feeling dizzy.
He began to sway like a cool spring breeze through the trees and it was only a matter of moments before he puked, passed out or both. He tried to tell himself that everything would be fine but his subconscious mind would not listen. He heard someone calling his name but when he looked around all he could see was darkness. His breathing began coming in shallow gasps and then his knees buckled. He dropped to the ground and his body turned to jelly. Later that night A.J. will remember that he felt like an ice cube melting under a scorching summer sun but for now all he felt was disillusioned. He wasn’t having an out-of-body experience, he didn’t think so at least, but he felt like he was unattached from his body. The sensation continued as he heard people running towards him and screaming his name.
Although he wasn’t the fastest guy on the team, Teddy was the first to reach A.J.’s motionless body. Teddy dropped to his knees and winced as they struck the solid and unforgiving earth. He ignored the pain and focused his attention on his friend’s lifeless body. He started shaking his shoulders and yelling in his face.
Buddy, are you okay!? Talk to me! Say something…anything!!!!
Dude relax. You sound like a little girl. I’m fine. I just lost my balance for a second. Now help me up and let’s get back to practice, A.J. said as he propped himself up on his elbows.
No way man you dropped like a sack of potatoes. You need to sit tight until coach can check you out. And with that Teddy pushed down on A.J.’s shoulders which caused him to fall back to the ground and smack the back of his head on the ground.
Would you watch it! You’re gonna give me a concussion and then I won’t be able to carry your sorry butt through this game; he said trying to keep a straight face.
Teddy could see his friend was back to his normal self, if you could call it normal, and let him sit up just as the coach was arriving. A.J. felt a little hazy but better than before. The nausea was gone and his vision was returning. Coach insisted on him being checked out in the locker room or he wouldn’t let him play for a week.
Paramedics had been called and A.J. was drinking a cup of Gatorade when they stepped through the locker room door. His vital signs were normal and they said it was probably heat exhaustion that made him faint. They left and A.J. had to beg and plead with coach to let him play today.
Come on coach! I have to play today! There’s that scout from Philly in the stands and I can’t let this be his last impression of me!
I don’t care if Babe Ruth came back from the grave to watch you play. My first concern is your health.
I know and I promise that if I feel so much as a gas bubble start to form in my stomach I’ll tell you immediately.
Don’t be a wise guy Smith.
The coach paused and looked into A.J.’s face. His color had returned and he had a look in his eyes that said nothing would stop him from competing in this game. Okay but if I see anything that even remotely resembles this incident you’re coming out of the game no questions asked.
And with that he sprinted out the door towards the field, yelling “thanks coach” over his shoulder. He made it onto the field just as his teammates were taking the field for the top of the first inning.
Their pitcher was on fire and struck out all 3 batters with a total of 11 pitches. A.J.’s first at bat came in the bottom half of the inning and he crushed a change up over the right centerfield fence. As he jogged around the bases, he looked into the dugout at his coach. The coach was at the top of the steps and chuckling. When A.J. made his way back to the bench coach patted him on the back and said,” I guess there’s nothing you can’t do”.
A.J. finished the game with 2 homeruns, a double, a triple and 5 runs batted in. The team followed suit and batted .458 over the last 4 games of the regular season. They would take that momentum into the playoffs and made it to the semifinals where they lost by a score of 7-6.
A.J. showered and changed faster than ever before. Teddy was getting dressed 2 lockers down and babbling aimlessly about nothing. After a few moments of silence Teddy looked up to realize that he was talking to a lone audience. Teddy pulled his shirt over his wet hair and darted towards the exit. The door popped open and he scanned for his teammate. He saw A.J. walking in the direction of the park and he yelled to try and get his attention. Either A.J. was too far away to hear his friend calling or he didn’t want to answer. Teddy hoped for the 1st possibility and he sprinted towards his friend. Fortunately for Teddy, A.J.’s pace was much like a snail and he caught up to him within seconds.
He grabbed A.J. by the arm and spun him around. Dude I was calling you from way back there.
Huh? Oh yeah, sorry about that. I was just thinking and needed some air.
So what’s on your mind?
I was just trying to sort all this baseball stuff out. I mean we bust our butt, try to say and act like we think these scouts want us too and we drive ourselves crazy worrying what round we’re gonna be taken in. But who’s to say that we get drafted at all? What makes us so special that we should believe that this team or that team can’t function without us? After today’s disgrace I should give up baseball all together and start taking cooking classes or something.
What are you talking about? You had a great game and several teams are looking to draft you.
Not after that scout tells everyone what a retard I am.
Get serious! You think you are the first guy to pass out on the field? Not likely and I guarantee that you won’t be the last. Now relax before you pass out again and I have to carry you all the way home. The boys both chuckled and started walking side by side.