Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

This Xmas Season, Give Thanks for the Persistence of Racine’s Pro Athletes

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Folks, as it’s the Christmas/Yuletide season, and most people write columns and blogs giving thanks for something going on, I thought I’d do something unusual — give thanks for my fellow Racinians who are professional athletes.

First, there’s Vinny Rottino, a professional baseball player who’s now with the New York Mets organization.  Rottino has been trying for years to break in as a major league baseball player; he has a positive attitude, a very strong work ethic, plays nearly every position imaginable and is a very smart player who makes few mistakes (the few he does make, he corrects ASAP).  Rottino is still in there fighting, for which I applaud him.

Next, there’s John Clay, who is a professional football player in the National Football League for the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Clay was recently activated off the Steelers’ practice squad, and ran for ten yards and a TD today on one carry in the Steelers impressive 27-0 win over the St. Louis Rams (meaning as of right now, his official NFL stats read ten yards per carry: impressive!).  Clay was an undrafted rookie who’s worked hard all year to learn the Steelers’ complicated playbook and get better as a running back; he, too, has shown persistence and a strong work ethic.

Next, there’s Chris Maragos, who is a pro football player in the NFL for the Seattle Seahawks.  Maragos is a safety, a second-year player who went undrafted and yet played for the San Francisco 49ers last year (mostly on the practice squad) and is with the Seattle Seahawks this year.  Maragos started with the Seahawks on the practice squad, but was promoted to the regular 53-man roster soon afterward and has played in eleven games with the Seahawks.  Apparently they like what they see, as Maragos continues to play . . . this is yet another example of a Racine, WI, athlete refusing to give up on himself, for which I applaud him.

There’s another Racine, WI, athlete I haven’t yet mentioned: Jason Jaramillo, who last played for the Pittsburgh Pirates organization last year, and has some professional experience at the major league level (just like Rottino in that, though Jaramillo has played a bit more).    Jaramillo is currently an unsigned free agent, as the Pirates cut him loose; he’s twenty-nine currently and will be thirty next year, but as Rottino (who will turn thirty-two in 2012) has shown, age is irrelevant if your work ethic and belief in yourself is strong enough.

My hope for Jaramillo is that he’ll continue to believe in himself, whatever he ends up doing next; he’s a good player, a strong defensive catcher, and he will help a major league ball club if someone will just give him a chance.

At any rate, we Wisconsinites should give thanks that we have these particular four examples from Racine — people who haven’t had an easy road to the major league(s) in their respective sport, yet have continued to persevere and maximize their chances to make a difference.

See, life is about risk, and these men all are taking the risk of daring to fail.  Because if you don’t risk failure, you cannot succeed — as Winston Churchill’s famous quote says, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”  I believe that quote should be memorized by everyone, because we all need something to believe in when things look the most bleak.

But whether or not these four Racine athletes know about that quote or not, they’re already winners.  Even if their careers end tomorrow, they’ve refused to give up on themselves and their talents.  And for that, I am glad to give thanks — because we all need examples of how important persistence is no matter how long it takes, and these are some of mine.

———

** Update: Note that I used stats from BaseballReference.com and the “alternate” stats don’t show up well for Jaramillo or Rottino.  This, partly, is due to the fact that neither one of them has had an extended period of time in the major league level — they’ve never played day after day, month after month.  Instead, they’ve both been fill-in players, or have been brought to the majors after an impressive minor league season and have played sparingly, at best.

Don’t let this fool you.  You need to look at the minor league stats, too (which is why I’ve included them in this updated version), before you figure out what either one of them can do.  What I’ve said about Rottino and Jaramillo is the flat truth; they can play, and if either or both are given a chance, they will do very well.

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 24, 2011 at 7:52 pm

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