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Why would a 25-year-old quit baseball after his MLB debut?

Oct 30, 2013, 1:20 PM EDT

adrian cardenas cubs Getty Images

Adrian Cardenas was a Phillies first-round pick in 2006 and established himself as a solid second base prospect, getting traded to the A’s for Joe Blanton in mid-2008.

He hit .292 at Triple-A and got a cup of coffee with the Cubs last season, appearing in 45 games as a 24-year-old, but decided not to play this season and is now retired.

And he wrote a really interesting essay for The New Yorker about why he called it quits so young, including this excerpt:

I quit because baseball was sacred to me until I started getting paid for it. The more that “baseball” became synonymous with “business,” the less it meant to me, and I saw less of myself in the game every time I got a check from the Philadelphia Phillies Organization, the Oakland Athletic Company, or the Chicago Cubs, L.L.C. To put it simply, other players were much better than I was at separating the game of baseball from the job of baseball. They could enjoy the thrill of a win—as it should be enjoyed—without thinking of what it meant to the owners’ bottom lines. These players, at once the objects of my envy and my admiration, are the resilient ones, still in the game. I am no longer one of them.

You should definitely read the whole thing, because it’s a fascinating glimpse into something most of us could never understand and Cardenas might have a future as a writer.

  1. danaking - Oct 30, 2013 at 5:42 PM

    I was a professional musician for several years before getting a “real” job; I wasn’t getting good enough work to justify continuing. What I remember more about that time is how it does change your perception. Something you would have done for free, now you’re getting paid for it, sounds great, but a lot changes. In my case, you play where they say, what they say, in the manner in which they say, wear what they say. It’s no longer a labor of love; it’s a job. I’ve had regular jobs now for 20 years and this has never bothered me, but it was definitely different when what had been a passion became a job, and you had to value what you did in the context of making a living. I would have thought it was a stupid idea had I not gone thought it myself. It sounds like he was in a n ot dissimilar situation, and decided not to chase every last buck. Good for him.

  2. production55 - Oct 30, 2013 at 7:18 PM

    What a freakin idiot. A young guy with no clue to the future. This will be a decision he will very much regret one day. As a musician I was always told it is a privilege to perform I front of an audience and get paid for it. That is the truth. It is a great privilege to be a major league ball player and get paid for it. You can accomplish so much with the title of major leagur. Who was giving him advice ?

    • ditchparrot19 - Oct 30, 2013 at 7:49 PM

      A guy who’s almost assuredly a heck of a lot smarter than you are makes a life decision based on his own happiness, and you call him an idiot because you don’t agree with it?

      Priceless!

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 30, 2013 at 7:56 PM

      You can accomplish so much with the title of major leagur.

      Like what?

      • beavertonsteve - Nov 1, 2013 at 2:37 AM

        Bro, you can get mad chicks at bars!

    • tfbuckfutter - Oct 30, 2013 at 8:27 PM

      It may surprise you to recognize that what some people are good at isn’t what ultimately makes them happy.

      It takes a lot more self-awareness to say “I don’t enjoy this, I am going to do something I do enjoy” than to say “This is what I am good at so I am going to do it whether I like it or not.”

      People who wish they had that talent may lament that decision, but they are only doing so because of their own short comings in that department.

      I could be the best sousaphone player in the world, but I wouldn’t want to pursue that. I don’t want to be a sousaphone player. I don’t even know what a goddamn sousaphone is.

      • deepstblu - Oct 31, 2013 at 9:52 AM

        A sousaphone is like a tuba, but more compact.

  3. jss1330 - Oct 30, 2013 at 8:58 PM

    He sounds like many former lawyers.

  4. mtr75 - Oct 30, 2013 at 11:03 PM

    I personally had a hard time separating he job of flipping burgers with the bottom line of flipping burgers. It just wasn’t the same as it was when I was doing it on my back deck. I therefore had to give it up.

  5. wclark22 - Oct 31, 2013 at 12:02 AM

    Sports in general needs more guys like him. You know, versus the guy with 11 kids with 9 women. Or the guy in the da club making it rain with a loaded gun in his sweat pants. He didn’t hurt anyone or end up behind bars. I admire his decision.

    • richabbs - Oct 31, 2013 at 7:39 PM

      If there were more guys like him in sports, there wouldn’t be anyone in sports. They all would have quit by now!

  6. tvguy22 - Oct 31, 2013 at 11:46 AM

    Oh, so he didn’t want to put the work in necessary to continue climbing the ladder.

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