November 02, 2011

The Purple Sky of Destiny

Rondell White, 1992 Upper Deck, Top Prospect ‘92

It was a starry, purple evening, like out of a {person who writes about that stuff} novel, when Rondell White, Top Prospect of ’92, first contemplated his existence. “What is the meaning of life anyway? Why do I have two bats? What is an Expo? Is the moon really made of cheese?” But the most important question Rondell asked himself that night was this one: “What does the future hold for me, Rondell White? Will I ever hit 30 ding-dongs?”

“Ha, ha! Sloooow down, Rondell!” said the purple sky.

Comparisons are often tough to live up to,

Is that true? I honestly cannot think of a single occasion when a person—especially an athlete—failed to realize the expectations prematurely placed on him by others. Every human being I have ever known has simply morphed into the person with whom he or she was most often compared. That’s a fact of life. And it’s easy, no? I am going to send that statement to our research department, and I will get back to you.

but scouts say White reminds them of the Cubs’ Andre Dawson and the Pirates’ Barry Bonds.

Comparisons are often tough to live up, but here are two comparisons for Rondell White to live up to, the latter of which is one of the greatest players ever in history. Good luck, Rondell! Sincerely, Upper Deck.

In ’91, White worked on his one weakness, throwing, by moving from left field to center field

Mngr: Hey, Rondell, come here for a sec. Listen buddy, I’m gonna break it down for you, tough-love-manager-style. You got four tools. Fif? Ehhh, not so much. In layman’s terms—you can’t throw. But here’s what I’m gonna do for you. I’m gonna move you from left field, where it’s a little easier to throw, to center field, where traditionally you gotta be able to throw a bit farther. You’re only 19, so your arm’s got plenty of time to grow magically stronger and also longer, like a slingshot. Now listen—I know it seems like I’m exposing your one weakness rather than hiding it. But by doing this, I’m really just implying that you’re not trying hard enough to throw better. This is your future at stake here! Prove me wrong, Rondell. Prove me wrong. I mean, prove me right? Whatever. Now get out there.

How did it go?

And he lit up the South Atlantic League with one fantastic catch after another

Mgr: (Leaning back, feet on his desk, newspaper sits on the desk with headline about Rondell White's game-saving catch the previous night) Had a guy here a while back. Scouts told me he couldn’t hit. So what’d I do? Stuck him in the cleanup spot. What happened? Became the ace of our staff. Didn’t have to hit anymore. That pitcher’s name? Walter Johnson.

The story of Rondell White conquering his weakness of throwing by being able to catch the ball better so that he wouldn’t have to throw—except for runners tagging, but really, how often does that happen?—is one that should be passed down from generation to generation. The lesson: If you can’t do something well, do something else so that you don’t have to do the other thing so much.

He also improved his ability to hit the curve ball.

Rondell White improved on his one weakness, throwing, by learning to catch better. He also improved on his other weakness, hitting a curveball, which wasn’t so much a weakness, I guess, as it was, like … a thing with room for improvement?, by hitting more curveballs.

And so it was that Rondell White, with two bats, hit endless curveballs into the purple night sky, and lit up that sky with a flair for making fantastic catches. One year he even hit 28 ding-dongs, which is almost 30, and he married Jerry Manuel’s daughter, and showed up in the Mitchell Report. When he saw the name “Rondell White” in the report, he said, “Who’s that?” Because by then, there was no doubt—he was Andre Bonds.

1 comment:

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