On Dan Patrick’s radio show, Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter said, “The toughest job in our sport is [managing in] Triple A. We got guys going down, guys thinking they should be up. Nobody is happy.”
I am happy to report that while there are certainly guys who would like to be in the majors and nowhere else, it is also true that many members are more than happy to be doing what they love: playing baseball, no matter what the level.
Wilkin Ramirez is one of those players. A new addition to the Minnesota Twins organization, Wilkin has quickly established himself not only as a starter on the Red Wings, but a fan and employee favorite. It’s sadly true that some players consider themselves to be above doing some extra bits for the Game Day/Video Production crew, but Wilkin is more than happy to help out no matter what we ask.
Take “Sing With the Wings,” for example. A promotion for Vitamin Water, “Sing With the Wings” has some of the more outgoing players singing one of their favorite songs on camera. The video is displayed on the Jumbotron in between games. Now, many of the players obviously aren’t very comfortable about exposing themselves like that. But Wilkin, as well as current Minnesotta Twin Ben Revere, threw themselves into it with full gusto.
They made not just one, but multiple videos, and they had a blast doing it. As a matter of fact, there was a point where the interns couldn’t convince any more players to make the videos…so we made some ourselves. In my video, where I perform a stunning rendition of Chiddy Bang’s “Mind Your Manners,” Wilkin actually stopped his batting practice in the middle and made a cameo. See for yourself:
The point being that for all the players who are unhappy with where they are, pining for the big leagues, there are players who are just having fun. Baseball (for the players, at least) is a game, not a business. While it is a job, it seems to me that the players who do their best to have a blast playing their favorite game are much happier than others. And they’ve been performing better, too.
One of the greatest parts about this internship is not only that I get to work in a sport I love, doing things I love. It’s that I get to see these professional athletes beyond the field. I know their personalities, to some extent. I know which ones are shy, which guys are outgoing. Who is happy just playing baseball, and who is miserable. I know how manager Gene Glynn is much more of a boss than he seems, and that he’s currently reading David McCullough’s biography of John Adams. We talk about it a lot.
I’ve had the opportunity to not only meet and interact with stars like Miguel Tejada, Brian Roberts, and Daisuke Matsuzaka, but also see them be people. Not just players. One of the coolest moments of this internship was just watching all of the guys take out a remote-control airplane that pitcher Anthony Slama bought, and take it out on the field before a game. I watched them all crowd around Anthony while he cautiously piloted it up, watched them all laugh like kids when he crashed it. Watched them beg him to let them fly it.
Watched them be people.
As a sports fan, you tend to idolize and distance yourself from the players in your passion. It’s almost like they’re characters in a TV show or play, rather than real people. But I can tell you from personal experience that they’re living, breathing, human beings. And seeing that side of them has been one of the biggest privileges that I’ve had this internship.