Easy Isn’t Worth It
The power you have in the present is enough to overcome ANYTHING from your past
By Alex Guerra
I was born in San Diego, CA. to two hard-working parents, and I grew up the middle child with a younger and older sister.
My parents tried and did their best to put me in every sport possible to keep me active, but one sport stuck to me like nothing else.
Reflecting, I could see my parents’ anticipation and hopes for my life as my personality and expressiveness within the game began to shine and take form.
Although I had a tremendous personality, my physical prowess was quite underwhelming so I was often overlooked on most baseball teams I was on when I was younger.
Soon after my athleticism began to show, coaches saw that I could really play.
This blossomed into high school as an everyday playing role for me.
The game was so enjoyable for me and my parents and others began to see that as well.
My dad ended up building me a pitching mound in the backyard and it seemed like every day we took our growing arsenal of baseball gear out in the backyard and practiced.
The amount of tears and frustration that took place out practicing and working with him through things is innumerable. There’s something about young kids and their dads. You just sometimes can not see eye to eye on things no matter how hard you try.
Nevertheless, the hard work with him paid off.
I joined my first travel team at the age of 13.
Being more of a small market kid, meaning I wasn’t hyped up at all or atop Perfect Game’s Player Index, it took me some time to get my feet under me.
I was very determined and soon I was just as good or even better than half the guys on the team. I had some of the best times learning alongside really good coaches that taught me more than just baseball but life lessons.
I had the best supporting family growing up and they always helped me as I went through high school with all the changes life brought.
However, my junior year of high school was when covid-19 hit and at an instant, there was no baseball. Life all around had ceased movement.
Since junior year of high school is when most college recruiting takes place I was panicked to say the least. I kept asking myself how I was going to be seen by college coaches and I was beginning to think I would never make it.
My dad told me to keep emailing and keep trying. Soon, months later there was a moment for me to shine.
I stuck to what I knew and at the end of that weekend, I had 6 collegiate offers all spread out.
I never thought I would be picking and choosing. I never thought any of this would ever happen.
I think if you are going to go anywhere in life you can’t doubt your abilities, you stick to what you know. And in baseball that’s mastering throwing, hitting, and catching the ball.
As high as a moment it was finally receiving multiple offers, the moment didn’t last long.
My senior year my dad wasn’t around.
This led to me having to take care of my sister and prepare dinner while my mom was working to be able to continue to support us.
She usually wouldn’t get home until late at night.
Tired and exhausted, she never complained. She did what she had to do to support us, and I thank God every day for her sacrifice.
Having to manage the added weight of life’s new responsibilities my senior year taught me a great deal about sacrifice. Whether it’s on the diamond, in the classroom, or at home, most of the time things are not always going to be easy.
As I head off to college in the fall this year there seems to be one narrative in my life that continuously reiterated itself.
That narrative being that any dream worth accomplishing will ask for tremendous sacrifice.
But do not shy away from that challenge.
It may not be the EASIEST thing but I promise you it will be WORTH it.
Sacrifice will bring new positive elements to your life you may have never thought of before. Most importantly, sacrifice teaches us to do simple things better.
Rebounding off of the time off from covid was extremely difficult, to say the least. On top of ever-changing home life. But at the forefront of my focus was my behavior.
I realized my current actions, whether it be choosing what to think about, say, or even do could outweigh past outcomes. I couldn’t get my dad back. I couldn’t change that I had to miss practIce frequently to take care of my sister. And I certainly couldn’t lessen the financial burden placed upon my mom.
That’s why I am here writing to you all today.
I wholeheartedly believe that if I did not decide to make the sacrifices I did to take care of my family and baseball career, I’d be writing a completely different story today. Possibly one of regret.
I think I’m living testament, as my mom is as well, to the power of how taking the right current actions could outweigh the issues of the past.
So no matter what you have faced, know that the power you have in the present is enough to overcome ANYTHING from your past.
Dealing with the Pressure of Your Family Name
The Grieves: A Family of Baseball
Baseball has always been the center of my life. When I was growing up at a young age, I never really felt the pressures of having so much rich baseball history in my family, but the older I got, the more people noticed my last name.
The pressure that came with my family name impacted how I treated the game. My parents did not put any pressure on how far I made it playing. They always just wanted me to play the game respectfully because the name on the back of my jersey carried a lot of baseball knowledge and experience.
My dad Ben was drafted second overall in 1994 by the A’s, my uncle Tim was drafted in 1994 by the Royals, and my grandpa Tom was drafted sixth overall by the Senators in 1966.
Consequently, the pressure was on my younger brother and me to be baseball players.
I doubt my brother realizes that yet, and I definitely didn’t know it at his age, but now, I realize. Every coach that I have ever played for knows who my dad is. When I go to big tournaments, people come up to me and ask if I am related to Ben or Tom. I definitely feel like people are always watching me when I am playing and that there are always high expectations for me to perform well.
However, I have taken this in the best way possible most of the time as I use the pressure to motivate me to reach the expectations people have on me.
Other times, it has been more challenging, though. When I make mistakes, I feel even worse than I should because I feel those same people watching are disappointed. It is nearly impossible not to compare myself to my dad or grandpa when everyone else is.
When I am playing at my worst, I wonder if my dad experienced those same struggles, and that weighs over me.
It is a blessing to have so much experience and knowledge of the game at home with me, as I essentially have the best built-in hitting coach possible in my dad, but it is also hard to learn from someone who had baseball come so easy to them.
My dad can give me all the mechanical advice I need, but when it comes to mental advice, he cannot offer the same direction as he does on physical parts of the game.
I struggled majorly with the mental half of the game for most of my life, as the pressure I put on myself was often way more than I knew how to handle. In comparison, my dad was the top prospect in the world when his senior year in high school rolled around, which is where I am right now.
He never dealt with the mental struggles I have endured, at least not as a high schooler. In that sense, I feel helpless when I get in my head, as the tremendous mentoring of my dad becomes less and less valuable.
He can offer some changes to my swing and slight adjustments that might help me get back on track, but he can’t help me get out of my head when I go through a rough stretch at the plate.
With that, I have learned to embrace the mental toughness I have developed, as I have never once thought about giving up. Despite all the struggles I have endured playing the game, I still only want to be better and work harder.
Maybe my mental struggles are a blessing more than a downfall.
I have used them as my motivation to practice more with my dad when I am struggling. Yes, I get down on myself, but everyone does when they struggle. And baseball is a sport of struggling, but I have never backed away from the competition or the challenge. What I once considered my weakness in baseball, I now consider a strength. When I am at my worst, my inner doubt has only forced me to become better. It is a unique part of my game that no one can compare to my dad, uncle, or grandpa.
Addressing the Future of Baseball in 2021
QnA with 50 Year MLB Coach and Scouting Veteran, Jerry Weinstein.
This week I caught up with Jerry Weinstein, a long-time baseball buff, to say the very least. Jerry began his coaching career back in 1966 as a freshman coach at UCLA, and today, after an unprecedented coaching run that found him atop leading Team Israel in the 2017 World Baseball Classic qualifiers, he now finds himself a part of The Colorado Rockies Player Development System as a Scouting Special Assistant.
With fifty-plus years of experience in the game of baseball at the highest level, I thank Jerry for answering our audience’s question amidst a time of significant adjustment for the game of baseball. Upon receiving this great opportunity, I wanted to hear from our audience and have their questions answered by Jerry. Dictated by your questions, this was the extent of our conversation:
What behavioral issues do you run into with players at the professional level, and what can we do as coaches when we have these players younger to foster better habits or character?
“We have fewer behavioral issues at the pro level because there is so much internal competition & there are really no fallback options. The organization has the leverage. With that being said, it’s all about choices & owning those choices realizing that there are consequences for poor choices. Transfer of blame is not an option. The key is establishing standards of behavior & consistently holding the athletes to those standards.”
What are we doing now in the industry that is hurting participation and the retention of good athletes in the game of baseball? As we witness, athletes to the likes of Kyler Murray choose not to pursue baseball professionally.
“Retention-Make it fun. Connect with the players as people & not just players. Be positive. Know what you are doing. Allow for individual differences. Be organized & have enough help to keep players moving in small groups. Short-tempo practices & games. Make it competitive. Player-centric environment. It’s more about them than the scoreboard. It’s a collaborative effort between players, coaches & parents.”
What are your thoughts on the game of baseball missing out on talented players with the shortened draft and college rosters overflowing? With 1,525 draft selections in 2010 and only 160 in 2020…
Professional baseball does not miss very often. Maybe they don’t get slotted the way they end up, but good players do not go unseen. If they are playing somewhere, they will be seen. It may be in an Indy League where many late bloomers & players from lower-profile programs thrive. If they have tools or are playing up to professional standards, they will be seen. The problem lies in the fact that we are losing a lot of the better athletes to other sports. We need to do a better job of attracting those athletes & retaining them. MLB is making a real effort in that area in the inner cities with its RBI program. I’m concerned that the current Travel Team movement has priced a lot of the economically challenged families out.
I want to once again thank Jerry for his priceless insight and wisdom. His generosity in answering these questions I know will go a long way for our audience memebers. The game of baseball, perhaps having always faced unprecedented times, now faces reconstruction and rebranding efforts post pandemic. With the universal designated hitter (DH) now active in both the American and Nation League, the game of baseball now looks to another evolution in rules for greater growth amongst fan bases and most imporantly, youth. Baseball’s ability to keep promising athletes in the sport will set the horizon the future of baseball is destined for.
The San Francisco Giants 107 Win Season Should Be Remembered for More Than Painful Ending
Recapping the Incredible Run of the 2021 San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants season came to an end in game 5 of the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers this past week.
The game ended in San Francisco with the Giants down just one run on a check swing appealed and called a strike against the hot bat of Wilmer Flores. It is by no means a surprise that much of sports media has run with the Giants’ season-ending call.
Some even rank the Giants among the top teams in MLB history to have the most painful season-ending loss. But the fact of the matter is the ’21 Giants might have pulled off one of the most impressive seasons in MLB History.
From the resurrection of Buster Posey to the resurgence of past greats like Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt, Gabe Kapler’s squad should be beyond proud of their efforts. Kapler not only led his team to 107 wins after the team had finished with losing records for the last four years but utilized vital players off the bench like Donovan Solana and Austin Slater to plot many late-inning comebacks.
The ’21 Giants also saw the birth of unlikely heroes unforeseen going in Spring Training like Kris Bryant, who was picked up at the trade deadline, and LaMonte Wade Jr., whose late-inning heroics all year, earned him the title “Late Night Lamonte.”
Overall, to let the Giant’s season go to waste or be manipulated to provoke fan and public reaction because of one “highly disputed” call would be an act of great injustice. The fact also remains that no one game comes down to any single call; the Giants had missed out on multiple scoring opportunities before the 2-1 deficit.
And at the end of the day, the Dodgers had just played better baseball that evening; Gabe Kapler said after the game, “I have no regrets, congratulations to that very talented squad on the other side.” We hope to acknowledge the magic the San Francisco Giants created this season for the fans and world of baseball and remind people never to be swayed by the narratives of “BLOWN CALL RUINS SEASON” columns and tabloids. Congratulations to the 2021 San Francisco Giants!