Life Lessons from Spring Training
I’ve never been to Spring Training. Believe me, it’s on the bucket list. It’s not from a lack of desire, just more from a lack of time and money as my wife and I work full-time jobs enough to just make ends meet. It’ll happen.
This isn’t about me, though. It’s about a kid named Blaise Malcolm Fisher. That’s my son. He’s just over seven weeks old at the start of Spring Training games. Life is just beginning for him and, even through the horrific trials of being fed and having to wait all of thirty seconds before his Mom and Dad realized a diaper needed to be changed, he is full of hope and optimism, even if he doesn’t know it.
We’ll be watching as Texas dances its usual first dance with Kansas City at the beginning of Spring Training games. He won’t remember a bit of today or the next few months, I imagine. But I’ll teach him about this game and this team – and in the process, maybe I’ll find something new to appreciate about this team and this game.
“Wow, Dad, that guy is fast!” I’ll imagine him saying. “Yeah, son, all he needed was a chance. He had so much to offer a team, and the Rangers gave him a chance. When you’re given a chance and you take advantage of it and you let your talent shine through, fantastic things happen.”
“What about that guy, sitting in the shade? Why isn’t he playing?” “That man shows that you can go through very scary situations and come out okay on the other side. Also, when you treat everyone you come across with respect and allow them to be themselves, they can do some amazing things.”
“Who’s that bigger guy in the middle of the screen, Dad?” I’ll imagine him asking. “That man is the model of persistence, dedication and fighting for your team. He’s practically part-man, part-machine, worked on one leg all of last year and still showed up to work every day he was asked to. He’s dependable.”
“That guy’s all over the place, but he sure looks like he’s wants to get to every ball that’s hit near him! His ears are funny, too.” “That’s your dad’s favorite player, Blaise. He was overlooked a lot when he was coming up and nobody expected anything out of him. He’s what we call, ‘scrappy,’ and he wants to be noticed. Sometimes, that means he’s a little out of control, but he’s got a lot to prove and always pushes himself to be better.”
“That guy’s really big, Dad. He only gets to swing the stick every now and then. Why doesn’t he stand out there with the rest of them?” “That man took a lot of pride in standing out in the field with the rest of his teammates. But he figured out that his team was better if he let someone else play over there. He would have been totally justified in being out there, but he wanted the team to be better.”
“Dad, that guy standing out there kind of looks like you, a little bit. He looks like he’s having fun.” “He wasn’t always having fun. Sometimes, you have to go through some pretty bad times before you can go through some good times. That’s what happened to him. He talked to his best friend in the whole world after he was having some troubles and realized that he didn’t have anything to prove to anyone but himself – he just had to be himself. He was a lot better after that.”
“Who’s that guy they just showed and why are there sticks under his arms instead of in his hands?” “He hurt his leg and has to lean on those for support. Son, remember when I told you about the fast man who was given a chance? This guy had a chance, too, but he made some very bad choices that hurt his body. He’s been given another chance, though, son. Those don’t come across very often. He’s fighting every day to make the most of his second chance, and while some people are very hesitant to give him this second chance, he was once the greatest player on the whole planet and knows that he has to make the most of this opportunity. If you can’t take advantage of your first chance and a second chance comes along, do everything you can to make the most of it.”
“Why is that guy trying to kick the guy next to him, Dad?” “Oh, don’t be fooled, son. Those two love each other like brothers. They’re good reminders that this game isn’t life or death or anything nearly as serious as that. It’s a game. It’s okay to be frustrated, but remember, in the big scheme of things, friendship and family are more important.”
It’s time for another Rangers baseball season, and this time, there’s a new fan with a lot to look forward to. Along the way, maybe we’ll get to learn not just about this team, but about life and family.