Extry, Extry: Matt Antonelli Is a Polite Young Man

Matt Antonelli and Wade LeBlanc are two-sport athletes.

A frustrating thing about being a curious person who’s never played baseball at the highest levels is that it’s impossible to know with any sort of precision what the most pressing concerns are of the typical Major Leaguer.

Moreover, perhaps because they’ve spent most of their lives trying to be excellent at the sport, most baseballers aren’t particularly adept at articulating these concerns.

These two facts conspire occasionally — and, perhaps, more than occasionally — to create a disconnect between those who analyze the sport and those who could, potentially, benefit from such analysis.

Of course, there are exceptions. Like Morgan Ensberg, for one. And Doug Glanville and Brent Mayne, for two others. If you haven’t investigated their blogs, you’re invited to do so.

And, while you’re at it, please consider Matt Antonelli’s blog, as well. Unlike Ensberg or Glanville or Mayne, Antonelli lacks a substantial Major League resume, having compiled only 65 plate appearances while navigating a couple season’s worth of injuries.

That said, the Padres farmhand possesses a couple traits necessary for good writing — including self-awareness, for example, and, it seems, a sympathy for the difficulties of being a reader. He also is pretty adept at articulating experiences that are totally unique to his status as Professional Baseballer.

In today’s dispatch, he discusses offseason drills and drug testing. In September, he shared the following experience, in which he discovers some of the negative consequences of attempting to conceal his identity as ballplayer:

I walked to the register with my cast on and put down a few things I had bought. Two kids who looked about fifteen years old were behind the register and they both looked at me. “Hey man, what happened to your wrist?” I didn’t even think about it, but it was the first thing that came to my mind. “I broke it in a skateboarding tournament.” Weird, because I don’t know a thing about skateboarding and I can’t even balance on one when its not moving. “You’re a pro skateboarder, that’s awesome!” Although I obviously wasn’t a pro skater I figured it would be a lot easier to just say yes, grab my bags, and head out the door than to try and figure out what to say explaining that I wasn’t. “Ya man.” The kid looked back at me all excited, “That’s sick dude, we’re both trying to becoming professional skateboarders too! I’ve been skating since I was three! What type of board do you ride?”

Shit. “Ummmmmmmmmmmm.” I had no idea what to say. I didn’t know any skateboards. I didn’t know anything about skateboarding. I passed with flying colors when I told people I had been attacked by a bear, but this skateboarding idea had just blown up in my face. “I ride all different ones.” Sweet, good answer. They both looked at me puzzled. “Well, what’s your favorite type of board?”…Shit again. “I like them all. Depends on how I’m feeling I guess.” I felt like a pretty big idiot. What does that even mean? I don’t know if they thought I was lying or not, but they kept firing.

“Oh, OK. What’s your name so we can follow you?”…I wish I could have seen my facial expression at this point. Names started running through my head in no particular order. Peter, John, James, Brian, Billy, Bobby…”Bobby Thompson” He looked back at me with a weird expression. ‘Please, don’t tell me that’s an actual professional skateboarder’, I thought to myself. “Cool dude, I’ll be sure to follow your career! Good luck!” And with that I walked out of the store. I have no idea how this all happened, but now I felt bad because I’ve got two new fans that are going to run home and try and track down a fictional skateboarder named Bobby Thompson. Maybe even tell their friends about it.

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Carson Cistulli has just published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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Kenny Ocker

My favorite baseball blogger was Chris “Disco” Hayes. Sadly, he stopped blogging at the end of the 2009 season, and then ceased to be an Omaha Royal in June 2010 or so.

Gotta love the guy who aced half of his SAT and graduated from Northwestern.