I want to open this up with a full disclosure: I’m just a guy. I’m not a talent scout. I’m not a former ball player. I’m not even a statistician. I took dead last when I tried to play fantasy baseball. The closest I’ve come to playing the game was keeping score for a recreational softball league, and I didn’t even do that very well.
However, with spring training coming to a close, I feel a desire, nay, a need to share a bit of advice with those players returning to the minor leagues. To those aspiring athletes that will soon be returning to Salt Lake, Arkansas, the Inland Empire and Cedar Rapids, I have stumbled upon a trick that will certainly help you in your dreams of reaching the Angels main roster and playing the game you love under the lights of the Big A.
Change your number.
More specifically, change your number to 5.
I know, I know. A simple change of number will not make anyone run faster, jump higher or throw harder. What it will do is confuse people. I may have been the only one that noticed this, but the Angels do not have names on their spring training jerseys. It is said baseball is a game of numbers. This may be taking it a bit literally, but you, dear rookie, may be able to bring yourself into the spotlight simply by changing your numerical value with the team. If no one’s looking, the day #5 hits the main roster, that #5 could just be you.
The only problem is that OTHER #5 guy. He’s good. He is REALLY good. He’s definitely going to make the team (and if he doesn’t, hey, he’s got almost a quarter-billion dollars, he’ll find something to do). There’s no way anything you do on the diamond is going to make people believe you’re him. Therefore, your only recourse then becomes to to be so much like him that no one questions it.
For example, you may not be able to speak Spanish like “el numero cinco”, but you’ll be playing for a team in Southern California. Your home stadium is within spitting distance of some of the best Hispanic restaurants in the nation. It may be difficult to find specifically Dominican cuisine in Southern California, but this is your career! If you’re not going to make a big an impact on the field, you can at least put a little bit of effort on Yelp and Google to find a decent batido de lechosa or rabo encendido (What? You want me to translate those for you? Look ‘em up! This is YOUR dream!)
Besides the linguistics, you may not be able to charm an entire room with your smile like ol’ #5, but you can definitely make people from St Louis hold a grudge against you. One way to accomplish this is to remind citizens that even though their team is at the top of the NHL standings, their NFL team hasn’t won the division in almost 10 years. You might also try telling them Tennessee BBQ is superior to Missouri BBQ. Mid-westerners are very serious about their ‘que. If you really want to piss them off, and I don’t recommend this, try telling them that monument that they’re so famous for looks like Snooki’s hair bump.
You will absolutely not be able to make as much money as Uncle Moneybags #5, but you can stretch your dollar to its limit and still live like a king. A pair of pants from Target looks just as good as Armani, if you get on and off the red carpet in a hurry. A gated community and a studio condo both have an over-charging homeowner’s association to keep up the neighborhood. The 99 cents store has a wide variety of “fresh” produce to stay fit. Those underwear with the holes in them are good for at least another month. Actually, you’re Big number 5, you don’t need underwear! Walk around with what the good lord gave you and be proud of it. Make some tabloid covers, further your legend!
The only problem now is how you’ll hit homers like that guy. When it comes to this, I’ve got nothing. I’ve found that in absence of substance, a good excuse can bridge the gap. Maybe people will believe you’re in a slump after signing your big contract. Maybe people will think age is catching up with you. Maybe you have a nagging injury.
Or maybe, just maybe, you get caught with performance enhancers and serve a 50 game suspension so you don’t have to work as much during the season.
It seemed to work for that talentless guy that was impersonating the Dodgers’ old slugger #99.