Next Stop - The Show (cont - 3)

“So the season is almost over.” Larvell clicked his phone shut and slid it into his pouch hanging from his belt. “Not a very good one for the Orioles I’m afraid, but as far as Jason is concerned a rousing success. If Troy can get his act together, with the power displayed by Alexis Panigua and the development of our other draft selections, I am confident the Orioles are headed in the right direction.”

Kevin noted there was no mention of him. That did not appear to be a good sign. “I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to be a part of that success. I enjoyed working with both Jason and Troy. They will both be excellent players.”

“I’m sure neither of them could have gotten this far without your help. Even Alexis benefited from your leadership.” Larvell got up from the chair. He went to the water cooler, but there were no cups in the dispenser.

“So this is where you are going to give me my release? That’s normally the manager’s job.” Kevin thought the statement sounded too abrupt. He regretted saying it as soon as the words spilled from his mouth.

Larvell stopped. He had been searching the counter for cups. He turned to look at Kevin for a few seconds. “The season is still six days from being over. It is too early to be talking releases.” He turned to begin opening the cupboards above him in search of cups. “A philosophical question for you. And try to be honest with yourself. Do you think you have what it takes to be a major league catcher?”

“Are you talking back up or starter?”

Larvell again turned to face Kevin. “Either.”

“At this point in my life I would be happy with just one at bat in the major leagues just to see if I can make contact. If I fail with that at bat then I know it was not meant to be but at least my name will be etched in the record books as being in the major leagues, something I can show my kids once they become old enough to understand. If I have some success perhaps there will be another opportunity to build on that success.”

“Kind of like Moonlight Graham.”

“Who?”

He’s a character in the movie Field of Dreams. He just wanted to get one at bat in the major leagues just to see if he could compete. He didn’t because he went on to become a doctor instead. It is one of my favorite movies.”

“It’s too late for me to become a doctor. I got a wife and kid to support and only a high school education.”

Larvell laughed. “I wasn’t trying to infer you should go to medical school. Moonlight Graham was a catcher. Crash Davis was too. They always seem to make baseball movies where the main characters are either catchers or pitchers. What about general managers?”

“There was Moneyball.”

“That’s right. I forgot about that movie. I was a player once. Just like you. I wasn’t always a general manager. Got drafted out of college, but only because some team thought I could resurrect the skills of my father. That never happened. Like you I got released twice. Tough accepting the fact you are not good enough to make a team, that someone considers you a failure. You go through hours of reflection wondering what you could have done better, vow to work harder to prepare for next season. The reality is it won’t matter. Soon you have to accept the fact there will always be others with greater skills than you. Drive and determination alone can only take you so far. After awhile you start thinking about what else is out there you want to do. It’s tough to leave this game. Sometimes the game just leaves you. A door opens and you ask yourself should I walk in? I also wanted to get my one at bat in the major leagues. It never happened so I went in a different direction. Found myself becoming a general manager. So again I ask the question - do you think you have the tools to be a catcher in the major leagues, whether it is as a backup or starter?”

“I think there are catchers who have reached the major leagues who have gotten an opportunity with lesser skills than I.”

“Fair enough answer. Now the next question I have to ask you - what is it you want from the game Kevin? Other than the one at bat in the major leagues. I’m talking long term. There are other positions just as valuable. You don’t need to make it as a player. You could be a coach or a manager. If you want to punish yourself you could become a general manager. You have skills Kevin that do not translate as well on the playing field as they do in other areas. You know how to manage people. Whether it is in baseball or at IBM, everyone is looking for individuals with those skills.”

“So you want me to become a coach?”

Larvell finally found a collection of cups in one of the lower cupboards he had opened. He took a cup out of the carton and held it under the water cooler, leaving the rest of the cups lying on the counter in the box they came in. The water cooler made a “glug, glug, glug” sound as the water poured into the cup. “I’d still like to keep you with the Orioles. Maybe not as a player but in some other capacity. Perhaps as a coach. We have made a commitment to China to send someone over to Wuxi and other areas to help train some of their players to become better ballplayers. It was kind of a compromise we made with the Chinese clubs to keep Jason with the Orioles. I don’t think they ever realized how good Jason would become. I hear you plan on being over in China after the season. If you can find some time I would still like to keep you in contract to be our lead representative in training some of their players over there. You think you’d have any interest in that? We could work it around your schedule.”

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