NY Sports Dog: Memo to Ollie: Listen to Doug Glanville

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Memo to Ollie: Listen to Doug Glanville

For those of you that don't know, former major league ballplayer Doug Glanville writes an occasional opinion piece for the NY Times--they are outstanding. Please take some time and go read a few.

Now in the interest of full disclosure, I have a special place in my heart for Glanville because he and my brother were born in the same hospital in New Jersey a few days apart.

Glanville was a Teaneck kid, and we were Bergenfield and Paramus kids. North Jersey readers are smiling now.

So what does Doug Glanville say that Ollie needs to read? It's simple--use free agency to find a place to win a ring because at the end of your career, that is what matters more than anything else.

Still, somewhere in that internal dialogue you ask yourself, “Was I a success?” I suppose it is safe to say that if you are inducted into the Hall of Fame, you probably would answer “Yes.” But I tend to believe that personal success is much more elusive than that.

Even personal success, however, is hard to define without input from the masses. Baseball has a love affair with numbers; it’s how players are measured and, often, how they measure themselves. Their statistics are flipped around, analyzed to the nth degree, placed in boxes of homemade recipes. What did I hit on Astroturf? How many stolen bases did I have in day games? What did I hit against lefties from east of the Mississippi? Before long, it’s easy to find an angle that makes you the either the greatest player on the planet or the worst in history. I finished my career with a 293-game errorless streak on defense. I also hit .210 that last season. Still, can I get a vote?

But there are a few universally accepted measuring sticks that no one can escape. A World Series ring is one of them. Players come to spring training year in and year out obsessing about a championship season. It is hard to imagine, if you hang up the spikes without a ring on your finger, that you don’t have that moment of “Did I fall short?” Even if you are about to enter the Hall.

The more years I played, the more essential that ring came to seem. In my first year of free agency (six years into my major-league march) I preferred a place where I would have the opportunity to play the most. So I headed to Texas. After I got that out of my system, two seasons later, I went to where I thought I had the best chance to win: the New York Yankees. I wanted to end my career with an exclamation point. Finish it off as a winner and enjoy the ticker-tape parade into retirement. That was the plan, until the Yankees’ plan didn’t include my services.
Pretty insightful. He goes on to add:
Maybe I would have approached free agency differently if I’d had more playoff success earlier, before I’d earned the right to test the market. When all is said and done, I made it to the playoffs only once. There were a few second-place finishes, and a winter-league championship in Puerto Rico, but whenever my regular season hat featured an MLB logo, I was pretty much certain to be spending the off-season watching the playoffs on television.

I may not be on the committee that votes players into the Hall of Fame, but I can think of a lot of players who will never be inducted into the Hall, and who never were part of a World Championship team, but who nevertheless make you re-think what it means to be “successful.”
Ollie, if by chance you're a reader of the NY Times, take heed.

The Mets will give you a chance to win, to win now, and to keep you from looking back at the end of your journey and asking, "what could have been?"

And with apologies to my North Jersey brother, no one wants to be another Doug Glanville.
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks, very cool piece. I remember Glanville and he seemed like a guy who should have done a little better in his career.

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