Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Vinny Rottino Redux, AKA Rottino’s Persistence Pays Off

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More people should be like Vinny Rottino.

As most of you who follow this blog know, I’ve been keeping an eye on the Racine-born Rottino.  His quest to become a major league baseball player is compelling for many reasons, but the biggest and best reason to follow Rottino’s story is because he refuses to give up on himself. 

Rottino knows he has the talent to play in the major leagues, and because he knows that, he is willing to do whatever it takes to make it.

Racine Journal-Times sportswriter Peter Jackel wrote a very nice article about Rottino in yesterday’s edition; the headline read, “Irresistible force: Resilient Rottino Rewarded with Another Shot.”  (I really like that alliteration there; whoever wrote that headline did a great job.)  Take a look at that article here:

Jackel points out in his article that Rottino was the Milwaukee Brewers minor league player of the year in 2004 — his second year in the minors — and though he’s had some at-bats and a bit of playing time here and there with the Brewers, and last year with the then-Florida Marlins, Rottino has never had extended playing time with any major league team (as he’s also spent time in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ minor league system, too).

But the New York Mets wanted Rottino because of his tough-minded, hard-nosed attitude; this is why they signed him last November.  As Paul Depodesta, the Mets Vice President of Player Development, said in Jackel’s article,

“Vinny’s hard-nosed style of play absolutely played a role in our decision to sign him.  We know he’ll fit well with our manager, Terry Collins, who shares Vinny’s passion and intensity, and he’ll be appreciated by the fans in New York.”

This is a great deal more than is usually said about any guy who’s expected to be a career minor leaguer (or as the baseball types have it, a “four-A” player — someone who is really good in AAA, but isn’t quite good enough to play in the big leagues). 

Podesta also says in the article that one of the reasons the Mets signed Rottino is because he can play a number of positions, including at least two of three of the most-valued positions — catcher, center field, and shortstop.  Rottino was a shortstop in high school and college, so he knows that position well.  He plays all three OF positions, though he really doesn’t have the speed to be an everyday center fielder.  And he is a very good catcher — a dependable backup — which is a neat trick considering he didn’t even start learning the position until he was around 26 years old.

Rottino will be 32 in early April.  He knows he’s not a prospect anymore — Jackel even said so in his article — but he has a lot to give any organization that gives him a chance.  Rottino can hit left-handers rather better than his major league average (a sample-sized 36 ABs) indicates.  Rottino has “gap power” — meaning he’s not a home run hitter, but he’s a reliable threat for doubles and the occasional triple.  He’s a contact hitter who rarely makes stupid mistakes (and if he does make one, he immediately corrects it and doesn’t compound his error; I cannot imagine Rottino making the mistake Jerry Hairston, Jr., made in the Brewers NLCS on that double-error play, for example), he won’t run you out of innings, and he has deceptive speed — even at his somewhat advanced age for a ballplayer, he had 17 SBs last year, which led his triple-A team, the New Orleans Zephyrs.  (Not bad for a catcher, huh?)

Anyway, I know Rottino can play, so if he gets a shot, he’ll do well.

The rest of us need to learn from his example; keep trying, and don’t give up, no matter what you do.  All you can do is give yourself the best chance to make it in your field — in my case, that’s writing and editing, and I am somewhat older than most people who are hoping to make it in this business (let’s just say “older than Rottino” and be done with it, OK?) — and keep working on your “tool set” every day.  (For Rottino, he takes lots of batting and fielding practice.  For someone like me, that means something along the lines of, “Write something every day.”  And considering I’m a musician, too, the days I am able to circumvent my carpal tunnel syndrome and practice my saxophone count as advancing toward my goals, too.)

You see, like Rottino, all I can do is to “keep (myself) in the game.”  So if there is an opportunity, I’ll be practiced and versatile enough to seize that opportunity before it’s gone; I cannot make the opportunity, but I can definitely prepare myself to seize upon it whenever that opportunity finally presents itself.

Rottino himself said it best, though; when Jackel asked him what will happen if Rottino doesn’t make it in the bigs this time, Rottino said he’d keep trying (this was summed up by Jackel in the article).  Then he said this:

“I think God has got me on this path for some reason and I’ll find out why someday.”

I am so glad that I’m not the only one who wonders about this sort of meandering path (though it seems to me that Rottino’s path has been slightly less circuitous than my own). 

But I will not stop, folks; I plan to be like Vinny Rottino.  I know I have the talent, and I know I will persevere.  With perseverance and talent, I hope to seize upon any opportunity that comes to hand.  Because that’s literally the only way to win.

Good luck, Vinny — and may the wind be at your back. 

Written by Barb Caffrey

February 21, 2012 at 6:42 am

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