About a year ago, my Italian/French Canadian neighbors Joe & Karen Manuele invited us over for dinner because they wanted us to meet the Renda’s… Tony & Sam.
Sam is a part of the iconic Half Moon Bay Pastorino Family and Tony was a stud baseball player at Serra High School (CA), and he has played 8 years professionally, reaching the big leagues for the first time with the Cincinnati Reds in 2016.
Like most ball players, Tony has endured a roller coaster journey but has found a way to persevere through some tough injuries & long seasons…
Yet, we were well into the heart of the 2018 season and here he was having dinner with us after playing a round of golf at the Half Moon Bay Golf Links… Not a terrible alternative, but in my opinion, this dude should have been playing baseball, not drinking tequila with us. 🤷♂️
Tony was just 27 years old, and although it was by choice, he was out of a job.
Renda was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2012 draft as a very good defender at multiple positions. He is a career .289 hitter and has always had incredible bat to ball skills, walking nearly as much as he strikes out, and oh yea, the kid can run…
In 2016, he got his first call up to the big leagues then in 2017, he dealt with injuries and was traded to Arizona where he finished the season playing in AAA Reno.
Tony went to big league camp with the D Backs in 2018 but was released at the very end of spring training, the absolute worst time when it comes to finding new work (that’s the period teams are cutting guys, not adding them).
So here he was, just 27 and barely a year removed from a monster season in AAA and playing in the show… Yet, he was unemployed.
Tony obviously believed he still had a lot of good baseball left in him, and although he wasn’t happy with the level or the money, he did have a couple different AA offers on the table but had yet to take or even seriously consider either of them. Tony already proved his worth at the AAA level, and he rightfully felt he deserved at least a AAA job. The problem was he didn’t have a AAA offer…
More or less, here was my advice:
“We are now getting into the heart of the season and you haven’t played at all dude… I believe more than any other professional sport, baseball players – specifically position players – NEED to play. As you know, hitting a baseball is a complex skill that involves a complex Bermuda Triangle interconnection between the body, mind and spirit. The more time spent on shore, the stormier the waters will be when we try to get back in the ocean. Bottom line… You got to get back into the f*cking water my dude!!!
Of course, you should be in AAA but you think teams want to sign a dude who has been sitting on the couch for 2 months??? Take a AA job that you have offered to you and then take care of all of the things within your control… Preparation, attitude, effort… You know the drill, but in order for you to kick some ass, you need to find some asses to kick!!! No, taking Joe’s money on the golf course doesn’t count!!!!
As far as the money is concerned, who gives a f*ck… No minor league salary is going to set you up for life. Your goal is to get your ass to the big leagues, accumulate at bats and grind your way to arbitration then free agency, and if that doesn’t happen, who cares, then you can go work for Joe and get your big league money that way. 👊”
Two days later, Tony took a AA job with the Boston Red Sox and absolutely KILLED IT.
He then got promoted to AAA where he played even better…
Sometime in August, I was at my place in NYC and just got home from a long night on the town. I poured myself a nightcap then turned on the TV to catch the tail end of the Sunday Night MLB game. As soon as the screen lit up, there was a base hit and I watched a Red Sox player make a mad dash for home plate to score the winning run. Not recognizing the runner from the usual cast of Red Sox characters, I immediately thought to myself… “Who is that little speedy white dude???”
Then it HIT ME.
Holy shit balls of fire.🔥
That little speedy white dude was the same guy we broke bread with in Half Moon Bay just 2 months earlier!!!
I proceeded to spit out a sip of my Casamigos then raised my glass high in the air and toasted
the kid that sucked it up, swallowed his pride and EARNED his way back to the show.
Due to a variety of circumstances outside of his control, Tony’s stay in the big leagues was short lived… Yet, the 2018 Boston Red Sox went on to win the World Series and guess who now sports a brand new diamond cluttered 2018 Boston Red Sox World Series ring?
YUP, the same dude that checked his ego at the dinner table in Half Moon Bay when he decided to get his ass back into the game. 👊