|08-10-2002, 01:29 PM||#1|
NetShrine Fan Favorite
Feature Article - Dare To Dream
Dare to Dream
Did you ever dream of being a professional baseball player? You see yourself driving home the winning run in the World Series or pitching a perfect game. The applause of your fans echoes in your ears. It seems like such a wonderful life.
Being a professional baseball player isn't only a "dream come true". It's also a job and not always an easy one. Players can find themselves on the disabled list due to injuries or simply in a hitting slump. All of these factors can contribute to a player finding himself in the minors. In the minors, it's an every day battle against one another to play your best in hopes of being called up to the big league. You have to not only have the skills, but the desire and the discipline. The pay isn't much and the glory is lacking. Would playing baseball still be considered a dream come true?
For a lot of people, the answer would probably be no. However, there are players like Kevin Orie who would still answer yes. Kevin said, "It is just a game after all and we get paid to play a game that we love". Kevin has had anything but a dream career yet, he still loves the game.
In 1997, Kevin Orie began his major league career with the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs proclaimed that he was going to be the next Ron Santo. How's that for pressure? Kevin was determined to make his own mark. This would not be an easy task. The Cubs have gone through many players at third base. Although he put up worthy numbers in his rookie season, the Cubs wished to continue their search for the perfect third baseman, a player who seems non-existant
Kevin is no stranger to trade deals. In 1998, he was part of a trade deal with the Florida Marlins for pitchers Felix Heredia and Steve Hoff. He continued to play with the Marlins until he was once again traded in 1999 to the Los Angeles Dodgers. This, of course, is not untypical when you play professional baseball. Is it ever part of a little boy's dream? I doubt it.
When players who played in "the show" find themselves in the minor leagues, they are faced with the possibility that they may not find their way back to the big league. In any competitive sport, players must be realistic. Baseball may be a team sport, but a player must look out for himself. As every season passes, there are new younger players who are looking for their chance to shine. There are also those players who would make you think of Crash Davis in Bull Durham. They're just looking for that second chance or simply just looking for any place to play the game.
After being traded to the Dodgers, Kevin found himself in the minor leagues. It wasn't how he had planned his baseball career to be, but he was determined to make the best of it. There are those who believe that the minor leagues are where "true" baseball is being played. One doesn't see nearly as much the ego. These men aren't playing for millions; they are playing to prove themselves in hopes of being called up. The best players aren't always found in the big league. Over the seasons that Kevin has been playing baseball, he has found himself the victim of some untimely injuries. This may be a partial cause as to why he still finds himself in the minors.
He has found some success while in the minors though. He was selected as a member of the International League All-Star team in 2001 while playing for the Scranton - Wilkes Barre Red Barons (AAA Philadelphia). He had a productive season and hit a career high 13 homeruns. Unfortunately, the Phillies already had a strong third baseman in Scott Rolen. Orie's excellent season did not earn him a chance to play in Philadelphia.
During the off -season, he got an invite to join the Cubs spring training. The Cubs believed that Kevin could make a decent back up at third for Bill Mueller who was coming back from a devastating knee injury. Kevin's past has haunted him in ways. There were now the comments that he had once been "the next Ron Santo", but had not lived up to those expectations. He never got a chance to play third base while at spring training. The Cubs wanted to convert him to a first baseman. When asked how he felt about whether he got a fair chance at spring training, Kevin responded, "I would have liked to have gotten to play third and been able to show them what I can really do."
After spring training, the Cubs sent Kevin to Iowa to join their Triple-A team. He was the primary third baseman in Iowa until he once again fell victim of an injury. He spent about six weeks on the bench due to a knee injury, but was anxious to return to playing. Surgery was an option, but would have caused him to miss more playing time and time is of the essence when you're playing for a chance at the big leagues. When he returned, he apparently brought his power back with him. He currently has sixteen homeruns for the Iowa Cubs and the majority of those have been hit since returning from his knee injury. The fact that former Iowa manager, Bruce Kim, was brought up to manage the Cubs after Don Baylor was fired has Kevin hopeful and optimistic that he will have his chance to play in the Majors again before season end. Kevin said, "He knows what I can do."
When I think of Kevin Orie, I am reminded of Shoeless Joe in Field of Dreams and not just because of the Iowa connection. Kevin has a love for the game that is a throwback to simpler times. He is not playing for the money or the fame. This is what he loves to do and he feels blessed for being a part of it whether he's in the majors or the minors. These days when players are whining over how many millions they are or are not being paid, Kevin Orie is a rare breed of a player. He wants to play - plain and simple. He simply wants to be given a chance to show what he can do and to help his team succeed.
As the season grows closer to the end, teams begin to look towards next season and what positions are their strengths and weaknesses. Teams always seem to be on the prowl for a quality third baseman. If a team is in the market for a player who has a love for the game and will give his all, they may want to look towards Iowa. They may not find a Field of Dreams, but they could find Kevin Orie who still has a dream of being back in the field.
*A Special Thanks to the Iowa Cubs and Especially Kevin Orie
Rachael A. Reid, UTK Staff Writer
"The rose goes in the front big guy"
UTK - Get It, Got It, Good!
|08-15-2002, 06:45 PM||#2|
You know, there's stories like this around the AAA ranks all the time - and it leads you to wonder why teams give someone who has proven that they are washed up at the big league level chances, when there are people who are succeeding at the minor league level - and without a real chance to ever prove they can make it at the next level.
Fryman, Zeile, Mueller, Cirillo, etc... get repeat chances based on one or more good years long in the past - meanwhile Orie is batting near .300 with something like 15 home runs in 220 at bats.
Extrapolate that to 500 at bats, and a guy batting .300 with 35 HR and 120 RBI - and he can't get a sniff anymore.
Creative teams find players that are reasonable risks to succeed, and take chances on them. Those teams win.
|Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)|
|Thread Tools||Search this Thread|
|Display Modes||Rate This Thread|