This is the second installment of Minor Issues, a column which will explore life in the minor leagues. Featured today is Derrick Loop, a left-handed pitcher in the Padres organization, who will be a regular contributor to this series.
After the initial excitement/celebration of being drafted or signed to your first professional baseball contract, some nerves begin to set in. For many, it’s our first time truly being away from the comforts of home. Coming from a baseball program that didn’t have top-of-the-line equipment or secluded team rooms, this would be the first real time having a true locker room feel from a team spread, to couches, to the showers.
Yes, team showers! This will be the first time that many guys will have ever showered together with other men. This can be a very trying time, as there are many embarrassed, even downright scared, grown men afraid to bare it all! To the less timid, it turned into a game to see what guys would be the first-in, first-out of the showers every day. Regardless of the underlying tension, many felt it was their DUTY to make their fellow teammates as squeamish as possible, flamboyantly flaunting their own birthday suits!
If that is not enough, most baseball teams have some sort of “kangaroo court.” This is a process in which a fellow teammate or teammates “fine” you for something possibly idiotic, funny, or just plain mean! These things are typically non-baseball performance related. For example, a player might fine his buddy for “having the worst haircut in all of the minor leagues,” as opposed to “having the worst batting average in the minors.” Typically the fines are geared to be funny, but can often hit a guy deep! Which can lead right back to the shower talk. While the fine itself is a menial amount, usually ranging from fifty cents to two or three dollars, having a sensitive subject brought up “in court” can be a very difficult time! While you have the chance to defend yourself to the pre-designated judge and jury (other teammates), be aware that if you fight your offense you risk the possibility of doubling your fines! However, if successful in defending yourself, the person(s) that fined you are responsible for the payment! This is a very mild example of what court can be. Most fines are not as politically correct!
With so many things going on, there is STILL a baseball game to play! However, once the nerves subside, and players become more comfortable with their new surroundings and responsibilities, the jesting and the kangaroo courts become a very beneficial component to a successful year. The daily baseball routine can become a little monotonous, and it’s these small games and witty quips that keep us on our toes!