Baseball resolved its labor dispute and will start on time. I used to extensively patronize baseball 20 years ago, even maintaining baseball web sites (squeezebunt.com and BaseballArizona.com) for 6-7 years. What I learned in those years of attending the Arizona Fall League and spring training is there are countless minor leaguers barely scraping by, hanging on in the hope of breaking into the big time. The first image below is from the 2002 Arizona Fall League, featuring a Red Sox minor leaguer by the name of Kevin Youkilis. I recognized the name from the 2000 Bourne Braves of the Cap Cod League, where he summered while attending U of Cincinnati, and that's the second image.
Youkilis went on to a somewhat distinguished career, picking up the nickname, "The Greek God of Walks" for his ability to get on base. (Just to explain this to modern players, if the pitcher throws the ball a foot outside, you don't have to try to pull it for a home run.) He was an excellent fielder, and won two World Series rings with the Red Sox, although he didn't actually make the post-season roster in the 2004 epic drama. Even in 2007 when he won a Gold Glove at first base, he had to sit in favor of David Ortiz when there was no designated hitter for the two games in Colorado. (He did play in both games as a defensive replacement as the Red Sox swept, so he was on the field as the celebration started.)
Youkilis doesn't look like an athlete. He is shaped something like a barrel, and his batting stance was weird. But it just shows with the peculiar talents needed for baseball and with perseverence, you can make the big leagues. And if you were lucky enough to be with the Red Sox during the first decade of this century, you could have become Tom Brady's brother-in-law.
The Greek God of Walks with the Scottsdale Scorpions, 2002
Tom Brady's future brother-in-law on the Cape, 2000
Oh, wow. Mark Texiera playing for Orleans in the summer of 1999. He was attending Georgia Tech at the time.
Just for the heck of it, I'll throw in this picture of Frank Robinson from the first time I attended Arizona Fall League in 1999. He was the league's Director of Baseball Operations at the time. I hadn't seen the original of this image for quite a while until today.