Deeper Appreciation – Mark DeRosa
Just finished the final game against the Cardinals. We couldn’t pull off the sweep, it’s been a weekend we’ll never forget with the flag-raising on Friday and the rings on Saturday.
For me to open that box and see the World Series ring, it just put a stamp on a lot of hard work even though I was injured and wasn’t able to play last season. You look at that ring and think about playing catch with your dad and your brother in the yard, dreaming of playing in the bigs and then seeing it come to fruition. You’ve got to take a step back and think how far each and every guy in this clubhouse has come.
When I look at that ring, I’ll always remember Huffy’s red thong, the emergence of the bullpen, the moves Boch and Brian Sabean made, the two-out knock Freddy Sanchez got in Atlanta. All those things will come back. The ring is a just a beautiful representation of a miraculous season.
But I don’t think I’ll ever wear it. I’ll keep it in my office at home in Atlanta as a conversation piece. I’m not a big jewelry guy. Other than my wedding band, I’ve never worn a ring. And second, I would have loved to be on the field when it all happened.
So while the ring is something I’m really proud of, it’s not something I feel like I earned.
It was interesting that the same day we got the rings, we played a game that was the perfect symbol of what we were all about last season. We came from behind to beat the Cardinals in the ninth inning on Miggy’s double. That’s how we won a lot of games last year – not giving up, fighting the whole way. And that’s why I think the fans rallied around this team. Because outside of Timmy, there were no superstars. There were so many players for little kids and adults to latch onto. Your favorite player could have been anybody in the lineup – Freddy Sanchez or Cody Ross or Andres Torres. There were a lot of good guys to go around.
As great as all the flag-raising and ring ceremonies have been, we’re looking forward to getting back to some normalcy. Ballplayers are creatures of habit. So hopefully as we get back into our routines, you’ll start to see more consistent ball.
It’s fun to watch a guy like Brandon Belt because it brings back memories of my own first year. I got called up to the majors for the first time on September 2, 1998. I was playing in Zebulon, North Carolina, for the Pirates’ Double A team. I was shocked. I wasn’t on the 40-man-nothin’. I was 23 years old, a year-and-a-half in the pros. I ran outside and called my dad and he didn’t believe me. I was in a complete panic when I walked into the major-league clubhouse. I knew to keep my head down and my mouth shut. Though you know you have skills, you can’t help wondering if you really belong up there. Until you perform in front of 20,000 people in a stadium with the world watching, you don’t know if you can do it. It took me three call-ups before I got comfortable. It’s such a huge leap from the minors to the majors. It’s night and day. The intensity is different. The stadiums. The pitchers are completely different. Even to this day, I have moments where I’m proving to myself I belong. I remember getting a hit off Mariano River and going to first and thinking, “OK.’’ I remember going against Randy Johnson and getting a walk. You get to this level and then there are levels within this level that you test yourself against.
What I’d tell Brandon Belt is to take it all in because this first season happens only once. Your dream is being realized right in front of you. Expect to be nervous. Realize you’re going to feel different than you have ever felt playing baseball. Pick the brains of the older guys. Carry yourself like a professional, meaning that every day you walk into the clubhouse you’re the same guy, no matter how you did the day before. And you have to always be confident that whatever situation you’re in, you can handle it. If you don’t have that mentality up here, you’ll get chewed up.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to post questions.