It’s the start of September, and that means the gruesomely long minor league regular season is coming to an end. It’s time for all of the minor leaguers take a vacation down to the Caribbean somewhere for five months, get ready for the season drinking piña coladas, eat whatever the hell they want to, and run on sandy beaches chasing down girls in bikinis to get in shape ...
I really wish it was true, and I would make a damn comeback right now if it was, but unfortunately, that is not the case. In fact, far from it. Let me share how my offseasons went during my time as a starving minor leaguer.
I would usually get home for the offseason in early September, and continue to work out and practice for the upcoming instructional league (I have played in four instructional leagues, unfortunately), which starts in the middle of September and finishes in the middle of October. It’s an invitation-only camp, where you don’t get paid other than meal money, just like spring training, and grind it out for another month — just like spring training. Spending a month of your valuable offseason in the instructional league means less time spent seeing your family or friends, at the gym, or working offseason jobs.
Someone once told me that playing in the instructional league makes some kind of impression on the front office and coaches about your future (aka, where you are starting next season), but let me tell you what the best impression you make to them is: Put up numbers.
Anyway, after a long, dreadful year of playing baseball while getting paid less than poverty wages, plus a bonus month of playing in the instructional league where the only money you see is $20 for meals, you’re finally home.
In mid-October, after the instructional league, I always took a few weeks completely off from baseball because it was the only two weeks I didn’t have to think about baseball and keep my sanity. Again, my love for the game of baseball is not as high as yours (and that would be an understatement), but living and breathing baseball for 52 weeks per year might make anybody crazy.
Well, after a long and hungover break of 14 days or so, it is now November, and you need to start getting your shit together for next year. This was my daily and weekly schedule in the offseason:
- Wake up at 6 a.m.
- Cook all of my meals
- Eat meal No. 1 (I didn’t eat breakfast lunch dinner, I ate meals number 1 through 6)
- Hit the gym from 8-10 a.m.
- Eat meal No. 2
- Train at a local baseball facility in my hometown from 12-3 p.m. (not your normal 10 minutes of playing catch ... I had a personalized throwing program from the nerds at Driveline)
- During this time, meal Nos. 3 and 4 have been crushed
- Give baseball lessons at the facility from 4-7 p.m. while eating meal No. 5
- Follow the conditioning program I created from watching YouTube videos from 7-8 p.m.
- Go home and eat my last meal of the day
- Go to sleep by 10 p.m. so that I can get my eight hours of sleep
Now, I would do that Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday, me and one of my best pals, Derek Florko (Twitter @sabercoach), had a different routine:
- Pick up some Timbits from Tim Hortons (Canadian Starbucks)
- Start driving at 9 a.m. from home in Canada
- Get to Kent, Wash. by noon (three-hour drive on average) to train at a facility called Driveline (I’ll do an article about them soon)
- Go through my throwing protocol by 3 p.m., supervised by their trainers (I call them nerds)
- Video work for an hour or so with the trainers (again, nerds. They also have really expensive cameras that give you direct and in-depth feedback on every throw you make)
- Get through a workout by 6 p.m.
- Hang out with the boys until around 7 p.m.
- Realize that we have to drive three hours to get back to Canada
- Drive three hours to arrive home at around 10 p.m. or so
Thursday was pretty much the same as Monday and Tuesday, and then I took the weekend to rest ...
This was how my Friday went:
- Wake up at 5 a.m.
- Cook all my meals and eat
- Gym from 6-8 a.m.
- Throwing protocol from 8-11 a.m.
- Take the ferry from the mainland (Vancouver) to Vancouver Island at 12:45 p.m.
- At 3:30 p.m. get to work (bartending at the family business, where I am managing currently after retiring from baseball)
- Start my bar shift at 4 p.m.
- Finish my shift by midnight.
Saturday was my favorite day, because I could sleep in a bit, work out (yes, I had two gym memberships in two different cities) and train for baseball until around 3 p.m., start my bar shift at 4 p.m. and finish around midnight.
Sunday was my rest day, where I would work the day shift (10:30 a.m. until 3 p.m.), take the 5:45 p.m. ferry back home, be home by 8 p.m., and enjoy the rested but not-so-rested off-day.
Monday, start the whole routine all over again.
I have numerous offseason stories, like when I missed my ferry like 69 times, showed up late for my shifts so I would just change into my work clothes in the car, or that time I couldn’t afford two gym memberships so I would wait until some random person from the gym showed up with the key then I would follow them in. But I would rather keep them to myself, at least for now.
No, you idiot, we do not live the dream.
Being a professional baseball player is a combination of long hours spent at the gym, the field, and work to stay alive. But guess what, there are 160 others who are going to put in just as much work, dedication, and self-discipline in the offseason to take your job away in spring training. You just have to find a way to beat them, somehow, while trying not to be so broke that you can’t afford offseason supplements (oh, I forgot to tell you, I spent $300-plus per month on NSF certified supplements).
You ask why I have utmost respect for minor league baseball players, even if they don’t sniff any big-league time?
They go through all that shit like their lives depended on it, just for that very slim chance of making it to the big leagues one day, that’s why.
Eric Sim is a salty Korean-Canadian who played six seasons in the minors and touched Triple-A ball in 2012 (owns a career average of .500 ... 2-for-4). He’s the first Korean-Canadian ever drafted, and he doesn’t care if you’re not impressed by that, because he doesn’t really care about anything. He uses vulgar words a lot (on an hourly basis, really), so if you’re not OK with that, you can stop reading and go read some other shit written by some nobody like him. But you shouldn’t do that, because he has a shit-ton of stories and experiences from his 20-year, washed-up baseball career (started at age seven, hung up the cleats at age 27, should’ve hung them up at 23, though). He operates a hilarious and thought-provoking Twitter feed @ESim3400, so follow, if you want. When not dropping wisdom about his glorious days in the lowest of A’s, Sim currently manages a bar in small-town Canada, and makes a lot more money than he made playing baseball.