Welcome to The Real World

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Schooooooooooool’s out… FOR-EV-ER (Alice Cooper x Sandlot delivery).

Seventeen long, dreadful, traumatic years in a class room later, I have finally reached the finish line! Patiently awaiting the arrival of a sheet of paper that confirms that I, Brandon David Keith Bailey, am capable of:

  1. Utilizing the Google search engine.
  2. Plugging in complex math equations into a Texas Instrument calculator.
  3. Writing 10 page papers the night before they are due.
  4. Reading books like The Giver, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Lord of The Flies.
  5. Having a basic understanding that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell.

Yes, my intellectual capabilities are quiet impressive. I mean, how many millenials do you know who can explain why performing a SWOT analysis is beneficial for a company? I’m basically a genius. Unfortunately, as much as I wish my knowledge on the 4 P’s of marketing could help me understand my W-2 and W-9 tax forms, I’m diving into adult hood head first with the hope that there’s a body of water below me.

I will say that even though I will be channeling the “fake it ’til you make it mentality” for the next few years, I’m looking forward to the new experiences that lie ahead in the real world.

For starters, I was recently traded from the Oakland A’s to the newly crowned world champion Houston Astros organization back in late November. While I’m sad to be leaving such a great group of coaches, trainers, and teammates in the A’s organization, I’m anxious to start my new journey with such a historic team such as the Astros. Arguably the best part of being traded to Houston is that I have the opportunity to once again play along side one of my former teammates and close friends at Gonzaga, Taylor Jones. Jonesy is one of the best defensive first baseman I have ever had the pleasure of playing with. In addition to his great defensive skill set, his hit tool and understanding of the strike zone are top notch. Did I mention he’s 6’7? Great target to throw at on pick-off moves. If I ever over throw him I should be cut right then and there. Along with Jonesy, some of my former Cape League teammates Brett Adcock and Stephen Wrenn also play for the Astros so it should be fun reuniting with some talented YD Red Sox.

Another minor adjustment that comes with playing for a new organization is the change in location for spring training. When I was with Oakland, spring training took place in Mesa, Arizona, just 5 minutes east of ASU’s campus and 10 minutes south of Scottsdale. This was a great place to prepare for the upcoming season due to the fact that all of the other pro baseball teams affiliated with the Cactus League were within a 1 hour radius of the A’s facility, making travel to exhibition games short and sweet. Houston however, hosts spring training in West Palm Beach, Florida and is apart of the Grapefruit League. Spring training in Florida, unlike Arizona, requires significantly more travel to-and-from exhibition games because most team’s training facilities are anywhere from 5 minutes to 4 hours away from one another. Granted, I’m sure when spring break week rolls around and all the college students fly in I’ll be able to look past the whole travel conundrum [THE POOL (Beach) HUNNIES-Sandlot]. No further explanation needed.

While there are definitely some exciting times ahead, I continue to push myself to remain in the present moment, fully aware of my surroundings, appreciating all of the blessings the universe has placed directly in front of me at this point in time. Currently, I am on a plane headed back to Spokane, Washington after a short five day trip Bradenton, Florida. Over the past 5 days, I attended the first annual Rep1 Baseball Sports Agency Athlete Summit on the campus of the IMG Academy. This was truly an honor to be invited to such an informative and memorable event. I had the opportunity to train with MLB stars such as Luis Severino, Rafael Devers, Jeimer Roasrio, Paulo Orlando, and Carlos Estevez, while also participating in various seminars that covered topics like financial planning, nutrition, and philanthropy. Not only was I impressed by the facilities that we were able to utilize at the IMG Academy but I was also amazed by Rep1’s ability to organize and execute such a well thought out event. I am truly thankful to be apart of the Rep1 family and forever grateful for their belief in me as an athlete.

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As this Boeing 737 moves closer and closer to my final destination, I can’t help but reminisce about all of the memories I have acquired in Spokane over the past four and a half months of the offseason. Some experiences good, others not so much. In the end, I’m happy to say that the good memories significantly outweigh the bad. For starters, I’ve been able to spend almost every single day hanging out with some of my former college teammates and best friends Tyler Frost, Sam Hellinger, Wyatt Mills, and Justin Vernia.

We pushed one another in the weight room, binge watched The Office ’til 2am on the weekends, and attended a great Gonzaga verse Creighton basketball game back in November. We also had some intense NBA 2K18 matches on the PS4 which motivated us into taking our hoop dreams on to the hardwood for some 2 on 2 action. Needless to say, we all should stick to baseball. Although Millard (Wyatt) can dunk so that’s something.

While most of my time in Spokane this offseason has been spent studying or training for baseball, I’ve also been able to fit a part time job at Jack & Dan’s Bar and Grill into my schedule. Every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and anytime the Gonzaga Basketball team has a home game, I’ve helped stock beer, change kegs, clean tables, and man the front door to check ID’s. Not the most glamorous part time job in the world but I’ve met a lot of great people through interactions with customers. I’ve also made some great friends in my coworkers and have acquired a few awesome stories that I can’t post about on the internet unfortunately (I work at a bar, use your imagination). IMG_0510For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Spokane area, Jack and Dan’s happens to be a Spokane landmark and is the most popular bar in town. Fun fact, the bar is owned by none other than Spokane native, Gonzaga legend, and NBA Hall of Famer John Stockton (John’s father, Jack, was one of the co-owners that the bar was named after). So if you’re ever in Spokane and looking for a place to watch the game, have a few cold ones, or eat some grub, look no further than the 509’s finest watering hole. Side note… order the Meatloaf Sandwich. It’s bomb.

While my experiences with work and friends have been some of my greatest highlights from this offseason, they ultimately fall second in line to one unrivaled blessing I was given in my final semester at GU… having the opportunity to attend college with my little sister Bri. Not only were Bri and I academic peers as a freshman and senior at Gonzaga, but we were also classmates! I’m not sure if this was a result of Bri being really smart (she was in a 300 level class during her first semester of college) or the fact that I’m not actually the genius I claimed to be a few paragraphs above… Whatever the case, we took Native American Government and Yoga together and had a great time enjoying each others

IMG_0186company. This was much needed for both of us since her and I had spent the past 3 years sporadically seeing one another throughout the year due to the fact that she was still in high school back home in Colorado and I was in college living up in Spokane. It was also nice helping her get acclimated with the college lifestyle and how it differentiates from high school. Hopefully I showed her a few tricks and one or two helpful perks of being a student at Gonzaga but I must say, having her around has not only made my time in Spokane more enjoyable but it’s also given me a peace of mind knowing my little sister has me there if she ever needed anything. Granted, I know she’s has a great support system at GU to help her if she ever needs anything once it’s time for me to pack up and head to Florida.

And on that note, with each day that passes, the offseason is drawing to a close and the season is right around the corner. While I’m sad to be putting the finishing touches on my college career, I am looking forward to what the universe has in store down the road. It’s crazy… people told me high school goes by fast and that college goes by even faster. They weren’t lying.

 “Time rolls by, the clock don’t stop. I wish I had a few more drops of the good stuff, the good times, aw but they just keep on flyin’ right on by like it ain’t nothin’. I wish I had me a pause button. Moments like those, Lord knows I’d hit it. Give myself five more minutes.” -Scotty McCreery.

 

180

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Ever since I signed my letter of intent to participate in college athletics, my life has revolved around one thing… baseball. I speak for all my current/former professional teammates when I say that deciding to make this great sport your main source of income can be one of God’s greatest blessings but also one of life’s biggest challenges. Obstacles constantly present themselves day in and day out in professional baseball just like any other occupation. But what separates this career in difficulty from the vast majority of jobs after college is one thing… spending 6 months of the year away from loved ones, all in pursuit of making our childhood dream a reality. It’s a huge sacrifice for the player and anyone close to the player in anyway.

You see, most people are going to graduate from college with a degree that they may or may not be able to use at their first “real job”. They will settle into a place that can be familiar or completely foreign but regardless, they are settled at a permanent location. They will find an affordable apartment or small condo that they can officially call home or (for the majority of college students who are in over their heads in debt once they receive their diploma) they will move back in with their parents (hence familiar territory). Seems pretty straight forward and that’s exactly my point. For most young adults ages 21 to 25 who cross this bridge into adulthood, there is a sense of normalcy or a routine in which they can submerge themselves into. This consistent regularity of: an permanent location, interactions with coworkers, and overall social lifestyle makes it easy to start building a foundation for the next stage in life… finding someone to walk this journey with you.

Unfortunately, for most ball players, we don’t receive that same luxury. In fact, the very lack of normalcy that is associated with our job makes our lifestyle difficult to relate to for anyone that is going down the path that I described in the previous paragraph. It takes a special person support a ball player striving to achieve a dream that is so difficult to achieve. Distance apart from people that us ball players care about is something that we all juggle on a daily basis with our significant other, kids (if we have them), and immediate family members. Some players establish a serious relationship that has been in the works prior to signing a pro baseball contract while other players (like myself) try to make new found relationships work over long distance. Neither situation is easy or ideal, but for the players who are starting fresh with someone, the distance can take its toll.

In the past 72 hours my life went from potentially being one week away from having 6 months to grow in the relationship that I was currently involved in while also finishing my degree at Gonzaga to potentially 1 week away from going back to Spokane to finish my degree and focus on bettering myself as an individual because I don’t have another choice. I can use the cliches “What happened was way out of left field,” or “Life really threw me a curve,” or even “My life just did a 180,” but at the end of the day God has a plan and it’s not my job to question it.

Before I go any further, it’s important that I clarify my intentions behind this post. The last thing I want is to make this entry sound like a sob story or that I have ill will towards the person I was previously dating. If anything, it’s quiet the opposite. This person changed my life in so many ways in such a short amount of time and for that I am forever grateful. She brought me closer to my faith, gave me more confidence in myself to do anything I set my mind too, and she made me believe that a relationship with trust and faithfulness does still exist. She’s one of the greatest human beings I have ever had the privilege of spending meaningful time with and in the process, became my closest friend. She had such an impact on me that I decided I needed to pick up my laptop and write again in order to vent and process what is running through my mind. Which is significant because writing is one of my favorite things to do yet I’ve only jotted down one post this season. I truly wish her all the best and to whoever wins her heart in the future… treat her right because she deserves nothing but the very best and then some.

Now that I reeled you in with all sorts of feels (or maybe you think I’m a pathetic try hard blogger who makes a piss poor effort at a meaningful post) I can attempt to end this post on a high note. As I mentioned earlier, technically there is only 1 week left in the 2017 regular season. Which is important information to know because the current team I play for, the Stockton Ports is in a playoff push; Tied with 3 teams in our division for second place and only 1 game back of the division leader the Visalia Rawhide (minor league affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks). Even though classes start at Gonzaga tomorrow, I wouldn’t mind being a week or two late to school if it means I get to take the mound one more time as “The Ports make a run at the California state title!” said Tommy Everidge and Steve Connelly.

Regardless of the outcome of our playoff run, I am thankful for all the blessings God has presented me even with my current 180. He has given me the opportunity to grow as a ball player and as a person this season and for that, it was all worth it. He is also giving me the opportunity to go to the same school as my younger sister Bri for the first time since she’s been born. Words can not express how excited I am to share the Zag experience with her in the upcoming fall months! Finally, I’m thankful for all the new friendships I have made through my new teammates and coaches. When it’s all said and done, I can look back knowing that no one can take the memories of the clubhouse, dugout, and bus away from me.

And with the final line, I thought it might be nice to leave an inspirational quote from a song I am currently using as motivation to keep moving forward no matter what the situation:

“So RISE. Break the dark, piercing the night, you’re made to shine. An army of hope, bringing the world a radiant light.”- Rise by Danny Gokey.