Well, it's draft time, and I've been thinking about my experiences with it recently. As a lot of people know, I was a first-round pick of the Oakland Athletics in 2002. This has been brought up a lot because I was mentioned in Michael Lewis' book "Moneyball." Draft day can be a very stressful time for a player because it represents so much for every guy who believes they are going to be drafted. This is the culmination of a dream for everyone from the No. 1 pick to the last pick of the draft.
My draft day was a lot of fun because I knew it was the precursor to me one day professionally playing the game I love. Sure there was tension; players aren't really sure where we are going to be drafted, and we want to be drafted as high as possible because it's an early indicator of how much a team wants us. But still, it's a day dedicated to finding out what professional baseball team wants you to play for them! You can't beat that! But no matter how high a player is drafted, they still have to put in the hard work in the minors on and off the field to make it to the majors.
I was in the minors for two and a half years before I got my chance to really play in the majors. Nothing can ever really prepare you for that feeling when your name is called over the P.A. and you're striding up to bat for the first time in your major-league career. It makes everything worthwhile. The hard work, long hours on the road away from your family and bad food on the road is all validated by that moment and all the subsequent moments that come afterward.
We're currently a couple of games out of first place behind the Texas Rangers, and people are already talking about the second-half comebacks this team has made in recent seasons. I think this season is kinda similar to others in that we're missing a couple of important players who are out due to injury. We've been missing vital guys like Rich Harden, Esteban Loaiza, Justin Duchscherer, Mark Ellis, Milton Bradley, etc.
Harden just came back and pitched for us, Bradley was activated Tuesday, and Loaiza is supposed to be coming back on this road trip. That's huge for this team to get those guys back in the lineup and pitching for us. We've just been soldiering on the past few weeks and picking up the slack while those guys were away, and while the team might not talk about not having those guys there, we'll be very glad to have them back.
Another reason this season has been such a blast is because I'm living with Harden, Huston Street and Joe Blanton. I lived with Joe last season and it was awesome, so during spring training, we were all talking about how much fun it would be to live together and decided to go for it.
Boy, were we right!
We have a big four-bedroom house about 35 minutes from the ballpark with a hot tub, pool, a fridge outside and a grill, and it's a blast. Joe is great at grilling, so he'll grill us up some food while the rest of us are chilling by the pool, soaking in the hot tub or playing video games.
In the house, we have six or seven flat-screen television sets, three Xbox 360s, a regular Xbox and a PS2. Currently, we're completed addicted to the new ping-pong game on the 360. Rich and I have played some of the clubhouse kids and are getting ready to put a solid month of practice in before we start playing in some tournaments.
That's the kind of fun we like to have on our off days. We like to kick back and enjoy ourselves as much as possible without getting into any trouble. What's really been great about this whole deal is that these guys are now like my brothers. Not only are they great baseball players, but they are also great people.