Blue Jays 2011: Brett Lawrie

26 11 2011

The problem is this: after a while, playing baseball becomes a job.

Sure, most baseball players enjoy what they do for a living. The money is good, if you make it to The Show. And the perks can’t be beat. But being a major league athlete isn’t all magazine covers and applause. There’s all those hours working out – building strength, speed, flexibility – and watching video tape. All those hours of practice. And all those years playing on hard and pebbly minor-league diamonds, changing in roach-infested minor-league clubhouses, and sleeping in fleabag minor-league hotels. There are the inevitable minor aches and pains, and the occasional major injuries. And, always, there’s the pressure: knowing that dozens of talented athletes want the player’s job, or want to keep their jobs by causing him to fail at his. In short, for most major leaguers, baseball is hard work.

Which is why Brett Lawrie’s callup was so refreshing. He’s very young – the baseball world hasn’t weighed heavily on him yet. He’s a 21-year-old overgrown boy getting to live his dream and having the time of his life. Who can forget when he celebrated his grand slam by slamming his helmet to the dugout floor and screaming at the top of his lungs? (The helmet hit a bemused Edwin Encarnacion in the chest.) Or the time J.P. Arencibia got the game winning hit, and Lawrie came barrelling out of the dugout to help his good friend celebrate?

Eventually, it will catch up to Lawrie, of course. He plays the game all-out, which will likely lead to injuries. And pitchers will figure out his weaknesses – indeed, they may have already started to, as Lawrie hit only .246 in September before getting hurt. But let’s not think about such things. Let’s think of a 21-year-old Canadian who can hit, hit for power, run, field, throw, and have fun doing all of the above. Let’s watch, and enjoy, and remember.

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