Good Enough to Dream

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I have two bad feet, a bad back, and 20 pounds more than I need. But I didn’t always. Once I caught, and threw, and pumped my fist and hugged my teammates. Once I was a hero, driving in runs and running faster than I’d ever run before. Once I was good enough to dream.

And that is why we love the kids, these prospects. Because they remind us of a time when we were good enough to dream.

That’s it, and it’s enough.

Joey Gallo will likely not be Adrian Beltre. He might be Dean Palmer, or he might be Russell Branyan.

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He might be something above those few, but that really doesn’t matter. He’s Joey Gallo, and that’s enough. He’s spending spring days in a cancer treatment facility with Tony Beasley, as chronicled by the great Evan Grant, not because he has to, or because it’ll make him a better player, or better teammate, but because it might make him a better man. And that’s all you need to know about him.

Joey Gallo, when the one true arbiter goes to write the final score of his game, will be Joey Gallo. And that’s enough. What he might be, what he could be, is unwritten. What he is, is enough. He’s good enough to dream on – for fans, teammates, and opponents alike.

He’s good enough that, even if he never has another big league at bat, we’ll all say, “But don’t you remember that amazing second day of June in 2015, when he came a triple shy of the cycle, hit his first career homer into the upper deck, and had us all cheering and crying along with his parents?” The Rangers fan in me says that’s just the beginning. The person in me says he’s already launched a thousand dreams in young, starry-eyed boys and girls. The person in me says he’s already shown what a man does, sitting beside a man with cold poison coursing through his veins in the hot Arizona desert and not asking for a moment of credit for it, because it’s just what a man does when a teammate needs him. That’s enough to dream on.

Lewis Brinson probably won’t be Andrew McCutchen. He might be Adam Jones, or he might be Donald Harris.

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He might be more than any of them. But it really doesn’t matter. He’s already made a group of starry-eyed bloggers cry in their beers and watered-down sodas on a fall night in Frisco with a home run that landed across the street from the stadium in a construction zone. Fittingly so, because his career, too, is still under construction.

He’s already clowned around with teammates in the dugout and filled the High Desert air with home runs and promise enough to launch a thousand children’s idolatry. He’s shagged flies alongside MVP teammates and journeymen, alike, as an equal to all. He’s shown that youthful sinew and talent can do just as much as steroid-pumped muscle, and then some, because he can walk down the street and look like any kid on a college campus, but one who happens to spend his free time circling bases and running across manicured green grass with world-class speed, or landing home runs in places where dreams spring up. He is nobody’s next anything. He’s today, tomorrow, and always Lewis Brinson, and the man in me says that’s more than enough to dream on.

Nomar Mazara probably won’t be Miguel Cabrera. He might be Carlos Gonzalez, or he might be Ruben Mateo.

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He’ll probably be none of those, and better for it, all around, because he’ll know he was Nomar Mazara. He’ll know he once hit .300 and slugged .500 at 19 against the best prospect in baseball in a ballpark and for a fan base that embraced him in a former farm town called Frisco. If that’s the height of all he reaches, it was good enough to dream on, because it launched countless dreams for kids who imitated his high hands and wide-open, sweet swing before he was old enough to buy a beer.

He can say he homered at an All Star park in a Futures game in front of the best players, and against the best prospects, in the game. He can say he drew comparisons from Cabrera to Robinson Cano, and while he’ll never be them, he can say he was the best Nomar Mazara he could be. Who knows how good that could be? Not you or me, but it’s good enough to dream on.

Jurickson Profar may not be Alex Rodriguez. And all the better for it. He may be Robinson Cano, or he may be Mark McLemore.

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He probably won’t be any of them. With all that he’s been through, being Jurickson Profar is far more than enough, even if he’s never THAT Jurickson Profar again. He was once so touted as to be an “untouchable”, a man who homered in his first big league at bat the same year he registered to vote. A man who was the heir apparent to a mantle that hadn’t even been built yet. A switch hitter who launched quite a few baseballs and more dreams. From the time he hit the field, he was good enough to dream on, and if our dreams exceeded the rigors of baseball on his body, shame on us. Because being Jurickson Profar, and being where he’s been, and back again, is far more than enough for me, as both a fan and a man. He was and remains good enough to dream on.

They all do. They all are. They are the beautiful thing about prospects, and why I love to watch them and hate to see them traded, even for the “sure fire big leaguer”. Because that big leaguer is a known quantity. We dream of them in numbers. We dream of them in the hard, cold calculus of wins and losses.

But when we dream on Joey Gallo, we dream of upper deck moon shots book-ended by a walk and a strikeout, and we’ll take that trade because, in our dreams, that ball might never land – or, even more, might finally clear The Ballpark’s imposing right field roof.

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We dream on Lewis Brinson like we dream of a deer streaking across a meadow’s clearing, with the speed and grace we can only wish to feel in dreams ourselves, and yet we see it, with our own eyes. We dream of power beyond his pounds or years, of doubles to left, triples to right, and homers beyond the park’s distant lights. We dream not that he might be someone else, but that he might be all that we hope for Lewis Brinson, and that’s the beauty of a prospect.BrinsonHRusa-today-9196043.0

We dream on Nomar Mazara, swinging so sweetly and gracefully that he ought to be a painting, something dreamed up by an artists. We watch him hit and think of the unpredictable beauty and staccato changes of Chicago jazz, throwing us one more change of beat, one more note we’ve never heard – a line drive to a place we’ve never been, off a pitch we’d never have hit, in the green fields of our mind. We dream not of Cabrera or Cano, but of all that Mazara might be, because he’s our very own Nomar, and for now, his potential is limitless.

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And we dream, and hope, and ride the roller coaster of hope that is Jurickson Profar. We see bullets from an arm that, a year ago, was working to rise above a battered shoulder, let alone swing a bat or fling a rifle from deep in the hole. We dream in Technicolor and with double vision, as he takes us places from either side of the plate that no home-grown Ranger has taken us before. Sharp singles to right that could roll forever, or long drives into a Cleveland night that, in our minds eye, never really landed, but just charted a course for a comet of a career. We dream most that he might be Profar again, THAT Profar – the untouchable Profar, whom we’d have never parted with for a pair of aces and a slugger in the hole. We dream on him because, for all the downs that the game has dealt him, he’s never failed to rise above. And so, in dreams, we rise with him.

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Such is the wonder of prospects, and such is the glory of the Arizona-thin air of dreams, where hope, and potential, are as endless as the desert, as high as an Arizona night’s sky. On them, we dream. And that is why we love them – for what they are now, and for the fact that the now promises so much more.

We wish that the spring would never end, never give way to summer’s blazing glare, or to the crisp reality of fall, and the harsh emptiness of winter’s long nights.

Because, right now, for this moment, in this place, in a desert land named Surprise, there is nothing but hope that springs eternal, and nothing but potential on which to bet our hearts.

And on that, we find, it is good enough to dream.

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Chris Connor
As a lifelong DFW resident, Chris Connor is a diehard Rangers fan, and worships at the altar of Arlington.
He pitched - typically backing up third after doing so - and eventually settled into catching in leagues throughout Richardson and Plano in his youth, graduating from and lettering in baseball at Richardson Berkner High School in 1998. He holds a Bachelors of Science in Management and an MBA, both from UT-Dallas.
As a writer, he acknowledges that he’s never had a brilliance for brevity, but tries to meander to a meaningful point as he channels Faulkner and buys bits by the megabyte. He believes the only things more beautiful than Ted Williams’ swing are Yosemite Valley at sunrise and his wife.
He lives with the latter, along with their beloved dog and quite tolerable cat, in Allen, Texas.

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