April 19, 2010
Initiation Rites with Derrick Loop
In the thirteenth installment of this series, lefthander Derrick Loop returns to talk about his initiation to Double-A. It was not what he expected.
It is just about every minor league baseball player’s desire to make it to the major leagues. That first begins with getting called up to the next level and a call to the manager’s office always provides a rush of adrenaline, particularly if you aren’t sure what the meeting is about. Once you get that “congratulations, you are moving up” speech, you pack your bags and leave immediately for your next destination. In many cases, you will be thrown into a mix with guys you haven’t played with much, if at all. With most of the players having played together the entire season, fitting into a clique isn’t always easy. Occasionally the new guy will even end up on the wrong side of a practical joke.
Late in the 2009 season, I had (finally) gotten the call to head to Double-A. This was a huge step for me; one that I had been anticipating for several months. My very first day there, "Cat," the pitching coach, had called a pitchers’ meeting in the bullpen. Under their breath, many of the pitchers uttered comments like, “Not another one of these again,” or “I am so sick of having to sit through these.” Not knowing any better, I just went along with it.
As we get to our meeting, Cat begins breaking down the pitching staff, explaining in detail how terrible each player was and expressed his wonderment on how some of the pitchers are still with the organization. “What the hell is going on?” my mind was racing, my heart beating faster. Guys were firing back at Cat, fed up with how terrible of a coach he was. “We are sick of your sh*t!” Meanwhile, I am sitting there with my mouth shut, trying to soak everything in. Things got really heated, to the point where one guy threw off his jersey, speaking his mind very expletively as he walked away. After getting his two cents in, Cat asked if there was anyone else that was ready to walk away. At that moment, three or four more guys got up and left the meeting!
While walking away, Cat antagonized one of players, encouraging him to come back and “try something.” The guy turned around and got in Cat’s face, as if they were going to throw blows at each other. More yelling takes place, then a wrestling match breaks out! I’m in the middle of things, trying to pull them apart. After finally being separated, the player leaves furiously down the stairs that lead out to the outfield. Cat, still appearing to be heated, races after him. Unable to see what is going on, I hear banging against walls as I sprint downstairs with the other pitchers to see what the hell was going on.
The moment I step foot on the outfield grass through the gate, the ENTIRE pitching staff is waiting for me, dying of laughter! I had been set up from the moment I arrived. Never once did any pitcher lead me to believe that it was all a hoax. This was my initiation. Welcome to Double-A, Loop!