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The title always seemed like the most reasonable baseball advice I ever heard. Since I was a lousy ballplayer, maybe I can apply that advice to a blog.
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"Released" Is Another Word for "Laid Off"

Posted 05-19-2009 at 08:43 PM by tebman

Jerry Owens found a job in the Seattle Mariners organization. I'm glad he did. After his shoulder injury and whatever other afflictions, he couldn't regain the flash of promise he showed in AA ball in 2005. When the White Sox released him on May 2nd he was only hitting .083 and was let go to make room for another on the conveyor belt of players who show promise.

I was thinking about Owens and the many players gone before who've been released. I thought of the scene in "Bull Durham" when Crash Davis is released and the look of stunned anger and despair when he's given the news. "The organization wants to make a change," he's told by the manager. The organization. When you say it like that you don't have to put a face on it. It came from out there somewhere, from "the organization."

I thought all these things on the way home from work because today my organization wanted to make a change. Several friends were laid off, and as I saw them leaving the building with their personal belongings in a bag or under their arms I thought about Jerry Owens and his last day in the Sox clubhouse. The story goes that he was last seen with his duffel bag over his arm leaving the ballpark. We enter with promise and we leave with a bag of our stuff.

It's happened to most of us in one form or another. Some more gracefully than others, but it happens. Jobs are fragile things right now, and like a bald tire they can blow up anytime.

To paraphrase from one of Tom Boswell's book titles, this is another case of life imitating baseball. I've had jobs, lost jobs, left jobs, and the only difference between my experience and that of a released ballplayer is that there was no press release noting my departure. At a human level it still stings and brings on waves of self-doubt and raw fear: if they don't want me, where am I going to go? Can I make this month's payment? Do I still have that guy's phone number?

"Life is made of ever so many greetings and partings," wrote Charles Dickens. From a distance you can look at it that way, but when it actually happens it's hard to be philosophical. Ozzie Guillen once said he knew it was time for him to retire as a player when the (then terrible) Tampa Bay Devil Rays released him. It's hard for me to imagine Ozzie being frightened or anxious, but he's human too. We've all been there.

None of this is news, I know, but it's still tough to watch and worse to go through. I'm glad Owens found a job. I hope my friends do too.
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  1. Old Comment
    Jjav829's Avatar
    Very well written.
    Posted 05-21-2009 at 06:49 PM by Jjav829 Jjav829 is offline

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