New Years, Hak-Ju Lee, & Resolutions
I like to kick off each season withÂ a “Bucket List.” This list gets posted in my home office for the entirety of the season – sometimes I’ll even add to it as the season goes and asÂ I find new adventures to fulfill. With the new year just beginning and watching everyone try to adhere to their thoughtful resolutions, I found myself wondering what it is that I really want to resolve in my life.
I couldn’t think of anything besides baseball.
I know I already attend 40+ Cubs games a year, 25+ White Sox games, and a few scattered teams here and there, but what I’m talking about goes deeper than just the surface of the Baseball World.
Besides studying the history of the game, following the farm systems of the Majors is one of my greatest passionsÂ of baseball. It’s an amazing feeling watching a young kid develop pure Major League talent. I remember watching Elvis Andrus as a rookie and I was absolutely captivated. Many can back this up… some said I would even be wrong. But I knew he had it – you don’t everÂ mistake those moments.
Up until today, the Cubs had a kid in their system that had previously been acquired in the Mark DeRosa trade. His name is Hak-Ju Lee and, like my forte, he is a shortstop. The first time I saw Hak-Ju play in person was this past summer when the Peoria Chiefs came into town to play the Kane County Cougars. My friends and I sat in what is known as the “prime scout seats,” which at Major League games is next to impossible to obtain, but at a minor league gameÂ is extremely feasible.Â So, there we sat – directly behind home plate, and was I ever glad that I did.Â Following theÂ game my scorebook was marked up,Â noting multiple defensive plays by the Chiefs’ shortstop, Lee. He was fast on the base paths, patient and with pop at the plate (surprising for such a small stature), and had above excellent range. Watching him, I got that feeling – that Derek Jeter-esque rhythmic guise- like a melody in perfect tune. He went beyond making it look easy and effortless.
Now I may very well sound like I’m over-hyping a kid who has yet to break single-A ball. But it’s very rare to get thatÂ pure feelÂ for a player. So, this year, I’ve decided one of my “resolutions” will be to get back in touch with minor league baseball. The past 2 years, it’s been more of a focus about just the Major Leagues. But it doesn’t stop there. High school, collegiate, and especially summer baseball will be a something I delve back into. True baseball begins at these stages, and it is here that the players we watch in the Majors today get their instincts, control, patience, and passion for the game. The coaches, the hitting and pitchingÂ instructors – I’ve met some really great ones over the years, and this summer I’m going to study the levels toÂ acquire an evenÂ deeper appreciation for the game of baseball. An appreciation that I hope to be on a different level thanÂ just what we seeÂ in the everyday surfaces ofÂ the Majors.
To me, there is no better investment than that of your passion.
It can take my money and it can take my soul. I will give it myÂ heart, my mind,Â and the air I breathe. To be deep in passion is to invest in ones self. Through these passions we learn how to give our whole heart to something and we learn what we are truly capable of. Baseball has given me more than I can ever try to give back to it. I’ve been a part ofÂ baseball giving special needs children hope, I’ve seen it provide endless opportunities, andÂ most importantly I’ve felt and seen it inspire lives.Â I implore you all, even if baseball is not your niche, to find something you feel strongly for and work towards it. Find something you believe in and support it with your whole heart. This year, make a resolution to do something worth the while of a life.
“Man, I did love this game. I’d have played for food money. It was the game… The sounds, the smells. Did you ever holdÂ a ball or a glove to your face?… I used to love traveling on the trains from town to town. The hotels, brass spittoons in the lobbies, brass beds in the room. It was the crowd, rising to their feet when the ball was hit deep. Shoot, I’d play for nothing.”
For those of us who live The Baseball Life, saying its our passion does not suffice.Happy New Year to all,
I’ll see you at the ballpark!
The Baseball Life