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For the love of the game? Eh, not so much

Aug 29, 2011, 11:34 AM EDT

Tampa Bay Rays Photo Day Getty Images

Dirk Hayhurst, currently a farmhand at Durham and, of course, the author of “The Bullpen Gospels” and the upcoming “Out of My League,” hates to burst your bubble, but he does not play baseball for the love of the game:

So, dear baseball purist, you ask why then do I play? … Because I enjoy it more than the alternative. Because I’ve spent my life training to do it and walking away to another profession is easier said than done. Because I need the healthcare benefits (as crappy as they are). Because there are certain perks this job has that others don’t. Because making it to the top sets you up for the rest of your life, if you’re good enough to get there.

Admit it, none of these answers sound as satisfactory, noble, or fulfilling as love, do they? Some even sound selfish. But they are the real reasons. Real, boring, reasons John Forgerty wouldn’t dare pen a lyric too. Furthermore, if you took even a third of them away, I would have to seriously reevaluate why I keep doing this job.

It’s not a cranky rant. It’s a realistic take that I am certain Hayhurst is not alone in having among men who play baseball for a living.  That “love of the game” stuff is mostly for us fans. It’s a job to these guys. At least those of them who haven’t made millions doing it.  I see that on the face of the non-prospects when I go to Columbus Clippers game.  I’ve heard from other writers who talk to journeymen ballplayers that the sentiment is common.

But rarely is it put as well as Hayhurst puts it here.  And, contrary to what you might expect, it makes me appreciate these guys way more than if they were all “rah-rah, I heart baseball” about it.


  1. jimbo1949 - Aug 29, 2011 at 12:00 PM

    Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.
    Meh, we can’t all be brewers, or bloggers.

    • bleedgreen - Aug 29, 2011 at 12:04 PM

      There was a post on LifeHacker not too long ago about how “If you wouldn’t do your job for free, you should quit.” Most people took the side of “Yeah, work sucks, but its what you have to do. I’m not sure theres a profession I can get paid for that involves me waking up at 10am, hanging out in bed browsing the internet for 2 or 3 hours, having lunch, maybe playing some XBox, catching an evening AA game, going to the bar for an hour or two afterwards, coming home to lather rinse and repeat.

      • b7p19 - Aug 29, 2011 at 12:37 PM

        Holy Crap. Replace “maybe play some xbox” with “play a round of golf” and you suddenly just described my perfect life fantasy. Maybe just trhow in some interaction with some lady folk.

      • The Dangerous Mabry - Aug 29, 2011 at 1:03 PM

        I think all the people saying “You should quit if you wouldn’t do your job for free” sure would get sick of a society where nobody ever cleaned a toilet. And no, there aren’t a cadre of people out there who are so excited to do that job that they’d do it for free.

        Never mind the fact that if those professing this ideology all of a sudden stopped getting paid, I doubt they’d keep doing what they’re doing. The fact of the matter is, if a job was so great that you’d do it without getting paid, the odds are strongly in favor of your employer not paying you. Because they wouldn’t need to, and it would just be bad business practice to throw money away like that.

      • Matt - Aug 29, 2011 at 7:57 PM

        Sounds an awful lot like the life of a blogger to me…

    • purnellmeagrejr - Aug 29, 2011 at 1:15 PM

      awesome use of “meh”

  2. Chris Fiorentino - Aug 29, 2011 at 12:15 PM

    It’s different strokes for different folks I guess. Some guys play for the love of the game. Some guys, like this one, do not.

    In my opinion, here’s some guys right off the top of my head who I would say love or loved playing the game of baseball(this isn’t to say they are ONLY in it for the love…just saying they LOVE it, unlike this author who considers it his job)

    Mariano Rivera, Curt Schilling, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Derek Jeter, Chase Utley, Dustin Perdoia, Kevin Youkilis, Shane Victorino, Lenny Dykstra, Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Dave Stewart, David Ortiz

    And some guys who, while they may be great, don’t much seem to actually love it…this list is a lot tougher to write because it is simply based on how guys look and may just be “how they look”

    CC Sabathia, Cole Hamels, Robinson Cano, Adrien Gonzalez, Ryan Howard, Matt Kemp, Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, Wade Boggs, Manny Ramirez,

    Those are all just based on my own opinion watching them play whenever I do. Guys not on those lists I don’t really have much of an opinion on because I haven’t seen them all that much.

    I think there’s enough here to piss off just about everybody, including my Phellow Phillies Phans.

    • mrfloydpink - Aug 29, 2011 at 12:33 PM

      First of all, the “how they look” test is an excellent and rigorous way to judge the inner feelings of a person.

      Second, are you aware that there are actually more than three teams in the league, and it’s not just the Yankees, Red Sox, and Phillies?

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 29, 2011 at 12:40 PM

        I only watch the Phillies, Yankees and Red Sox. I am NOT a baseball fan. I am a Phillies fan, with the Red Sox a distant second tied with a burning hatred for all things Yankees.

      • mrfloydpink - Aug 29, 2011 at 12:44 PM

        So, in all those games you watch, do the Phillies just play “over the line” style, such that their batters face off against their pitchers? Because otherwise, one might think that a person that watches a lot of Phillies games would end up seeing a lot of, say, Braves games. Or Mets games. SInce, you know, the teams play each other 18 times a year.

      • The Baseball Idiot - Aug 29, 2011 at 12:49 PM

        Chris, you forgot J.D. Drew.

        I’ll leave it to you to decide which group he goes in.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Aug 29, 2011 at 12:59 PM

        floyd…what do you want from me? As I said, those are the names that just popped into my head. You want me to say I am an east coast biased pig who only recognizes the Phillies, Red Sox, and yankees? OK I am. So sue me or come up with your own list.

        I don’t filter my posts boys…I say exactly what’s on my mind. Guys like Hamels, A-Rod, Manny, Cano, and Boggs play(ed) like their minds are anywhere but on the field. Guys like Utley, Rivera, Pedro, and especially always Dave “Smoke” Stewart, always play(ed) like there isn’t even a world outside the baselines.

        TBI…LOL I love it. JD Drew would be in the “non-caring” section as he hasn’t shown sign of life at all except for one swing…the $70 million dollar grand slam as I called it at the time before Simmons did. But he had a child with serious medical problems so he had an excuse for having his head somewhere else.

    • bleedgreen - Aug 29, 2011 at 2:37 PM

      The thing I notice is, even the guys that ‘do it for the love of the game’ made MILLIONS per season and are set for life. They CAN do it for the love of the game. Someone in the minor leagues making $35K a year CAN’T do it for the love of the game. He needs to do it for the dollars and the insurance with the hope that SOMEDAY he doesn’t HAVE to play baseball anymore.

      • jwbiii - Aug 29, 2011 at 4:17 PM

        And there aren’t many minor leaguers making $35K. Triple A pays $10,750 (unless you’re on the 40 man roster); full season A ball pays $6,500.

    • Lukehart80 - Aug 29, 2011 at 4:25 PM

      I can’t believe there are more white guys on the “love of the game” list.


    • Jeff M. - Aug 29, 2011 at 4:27 PM

      Thumbs down on the Matt Kemp inclusion.

  3. cleverbob - Aug 29, 2011 at 12:26 PM

    Hasn’t Joey Votto admitted to thinking of baseball as just a job?

  4. b7p19 - Aug 29, 2011 at 12:39 PM

    I’d play for the love of the game…as long as I’m also getting paid.

  5. purnellmeagrejr - Aug 29, 2011 at 12:55 PM

    nice column.

  6. agelardi - Aug 29, 2011 at 12:55 PM

    So he plays for the LIKE of the game, so what?

  7. randomdigits - Aug 29, 2011 at 1:25 PM

    I don’t see how you can read his book and think for a minute he has some deep love of the game.

  8. Ick McWang - Aug 30, 2011 at 12:58 AM

    the bullpen gospels is one of the best sports books i have ever read. and him telling it like it is as far as minor league ball, not much new there.

  9. randomdigits - Aug 30, 2011 at 8:34 AM

    He put out on twitter last night that the Ray’s have released him. I wonder if he will bother to hook up with another team now that he has income from writing?

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