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Vinny Rottino Called Up by Cleveland Indians

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Folks, if you’re a regular reader of my blog, you should know by now that I appreciate two main things when it comes to people: hard work, and persistence.  Yes, you must have talent, but you also must work to apply your talent . . . at any rate, the application of hard work and effort to maximize talent is what I celebrate most when it comes to baseball player Vinny Rottino, 32, of Racine.

Rottino’s been working for the past ten years, all to get a legitimate shot at playing in the major leagues.  He is a utility infielder and outfielder who also catches; he’s a good baserunner, knows how to advance the runner, is an unselfish player, and can steal a base or two for you as he has deceptive speed — and due to his knowledge of pitchers and pitching from catching them so often in the minors, he rarely gets caught stealing.

I’ve been a strong proponent of Rottino getting his shot at the major league level.  I believe he can hit major league pitching, if only given a week or so to adjust to it; I also believe that if a team gives him a legitimate chance to show what he can do, Rottino will thrive. 

And even though he is now 32, he takes good care of his body; maybe Rottino could be another guy like Julio Franco who plays well into his forties due to how well-conditioned and smart Rottino has been throughout his playing career. 

Age is just a number, folks.  (I really wish major league baseball executives would learn to keep this in mind.)  What matters is the size of a person’s heart, first; then, it’s down to two things (providing you have the talent to play minor league baseball at any level to begin with): how hard you’re willing to work, and how long you’re willing to keep trying.

Rottino works hard.  And he’s extremely persistent.  Which is why I’m thrilled that Rottino got called up by the Cleveland Indians.

Here’s the straight scoop:  on Wednesday evening (August 1, 2012, to be exact), Rottino got the call from Cleveland.  His manager, Manny Acta, immediately inserted Rottino into the lineup for Thursday night’s game; Rottino played left field, taking an 0-for-4 at the plate with one RBI.

Here are some words from Rottino, courtesy of last night’s blog at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, written by Paul Hoynes:

“I’m glad they’re throwing me right in there,” said Rottino, 32. “I don’t want to sit around and wait.”

The Indians claimed Rottino on waivers from the Mets on June 27. He was optioned to Class AAA Columbus where he hit .299 (35-for-117) with nine doubles, four homers and 32 RBI in 30 games. This is his third trip to the big league this year, the first two coming with the Mets.

“My swing feels good,” said Rottino. “My approach feels good. I got limited playing time with New York. So I was excited to just start playing again. I got off to a nice start.”

Another reason I like Rottino so much, as a player, is because he doesn’t point fingers at anyone.  He simply states the truth.  I think that’s wonderful.

Going back to Hoynes’s blog, it was obvious that Hoynes was surprised by how many gloves Rottino brought with him — eight — and how many positions Rottino plays (everything except second base, shortstop, and pitcher).  Here are a few more words from Rottino regarding that:

“I’ve got four gloves and four backup gloves,” said Rottino. “I can catch, play third, first and all three outfield spots.

“I love catching the most of all the positions, but I’ve played mostly outfield the last two years.”

This blog also pointed out that as Rottino is taking the place of Travis Hafner (currently on paternity leave), Rottino’s stay in the majors may be short — and if it is, Rottino could end up designated for assignment (DFA’d) again.  But Rottino is thinking positively, and apparently, so is writer Hoynes, who ends his blog with:

There could be some roster changes coming with the Indians seven games out of first place. They designated Derek Lowe, 39, for assignment Wednesday. If changes are made, Rottino might be able to stick around a little longer than Saturday. 

Let us all sincerely hope so.  (And as always — good luck, Vinny.  ‘Cause I know you have the talent.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

August 3, 2012 at 5:23 pm

Vinny Rottino Claimed Off Waivers by Cleveland

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Folks, remember what I said yesterday about IF-OF-C Vinny Rottino?  And, for that matter, everything I’ve said about him — his drive, his persistence, and his love for baseball?  And how frustrating it was to see that he’d been placed on waivers?

Well, after the New York Mets designated Rottino for assignment (the so-called “nice” name for being put on waivers), the Cleveland Indians picked Rottino up by claiming Rottino off waivers.  Rottino’s been added to their 40-man roster, but will most likely be sent to AAA ball rather than join the Indians.

Here’s a link to Rottino’s page at Yahoo Sports (the “news and notes” section):

http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/players/7852/news;_ylt=Akf2muXHFae0WkWddPyam5.FCLcF

And here’s an article from the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

http://www.cleveland.com/tribe/index.ssf/2012/06/cleveland_indians_claim_vinnie.html

Note that the comments section is particularly brutal with regards to the Rottino claim; the Indians fans are upset because year after year, their team doesn’t seem to do much of anything.  Rottino’s only hitting .182 in the big leagues (though he was hitting .307 at AAA Buffalo, when he was able to play more often), which obviously doesn’t look too impressive to those Indians’ fans.  But they don’t realize that Rottino’s main ability is that he plays many positions well and can reliably hit lefthanders (despite being a righthanded hitter).  Plus, he hustles, doesn’t make mistakes on the base paths, is a smart player . . . really, if these Indians fans just give Rottino a chance (providing the Indians bring him up to the big league club at some point), they might well learn to like him.

But is Rottino an answer to their immediate prayers?  No, he is not . . . which I suppose is why those commentators are being so vicious.  (That does not excuse them, but it does perhaps explain them.)

That being said, it’s very, very good that the Indians see Rottino’s potential (or at least see a need for him) and have claimed him off waivers.  That gives me hope — and it should give Rottino hope, too.

Good luck, Vinny, with the Indians organization.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 28, 2012 at 2:42 am

Vinny Rottino Designated for Assignment by New York Mets

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Baseball can sometimes be a cold, cruel business.  It is performance-based, and because of that, players are often kept around based off one calculation: “What have you done for me lately?”

But when you know a baseball player, or even follow his career like I do with OF-IF-C Vinny Rottino, that calculation takes a flying leap (as it should, because these players are still human beings).  I’ve written extensively about Rottino’s struggle to make the major leagues to stay, and I had truly hoped that with his second stint this year with the Mets that he’d “stick” — but they needed another pitcher, so they called up lefthander Justin Hampson from Buffalo.  Rottino was the odd man out, and ended up getting designated for assignment.

Here’s a link from Amazin’ Avenue discussing the move:

http://www.amazinavenue.com/2012/6/25/3115578/mets-vinny-rottino-justin-hampson-transaction

Now it’s up to the rest of major league baseball as to what they want to do, if anything, as Rottino can be claimed off waivers by any team.  If Rottino is not claimed, the Mets may send Rottino back to their AAA affiliate, Buffalo — or they may give him his outright release.

The fact that this fate can happen to anyone (including recent Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Juan Perez, who accepted another stint at AAA Nashville, and former Brewer IF-OF Brooks Conrad, who was claimed off waivers by the Tampa Bay Rays) doesn’t make it sound, or feel, any better to the particular player in question.  And Rottino’s tried so hard — he’s done everything anyone’s ever asked of him, and he loves baseball so much — that this doesn’t seem fair or right.

Yet baseball is results-oriented, which is why it’s imperative for every baseball fan to realize that these player names mean something — someone’s career.  Someone’s blood, sweat and toil — someone’s persistence.

As always, I’ll keep you posted as to wherever Rottino ends up next.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 27, 2012 at 10:06 am

Posted in baseball, Vinny Rottino

Vinny Rottino hits 1st HR in Majors, NY Mets win, 9-0

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The old saying is, “You never forget your first” anything.  And in this case, after all the time, energy, and “sweat equity” Vinny Rottino’s put into making the major leagues — his persistence — I’m certain that Rottino will never forget May 26, 2012.

Why?  Because this was the day that Rottino hit his first-ever major league home run as a member of the New York Mets.  Rottino’s homer was part of a four-run first inning that helped stoke Mets starter Johann Santana to a lead he would never relinquish.  Ultimately, the Mets won, 9-0, over the Padres; Rottino went 2 for 3 with a HR, two runs scored, a walk, and a strikeout.

Despite Santana’s nine-inning four-hit shutout, the day belonged to Rottino.  This is because he’s a 32-year-old rookie who’s played parts of six major league seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers, Florida Marlins, and, of course, the Mets.  Trying so hard for so long — playing ten seasons of professional baseball in the minor leagues — is noteworthy, as I’ve said many times. 

Finally, others are noticing Rottino’s persistence and talent, too.  As Ethan Asofsky of MLB.com put it:

Vinny Rottino got a lesson in supply and demand after the Mets’ 9-0 win over the Padres on Saturday.

After hitting his first Major League home run, having spent 10 seasons in the Minor Leagues, the Mets outfielder had to bargain with the fan that caught the ball to get it back. The fan received a signed bat and ball from Rottino in exchange for the most valuable commodity a 32-year-old rookie can have — his first home run ball.

You might be wondering what Rottino had to give the Mets’ fan in return; from Asofsky’s above-mentioned story, here’s what happened next:

“I was running out of bats, so I actually gave him a bat that I haven’t used in a while,” Rottino said. “It turns out it was a Florida Marlins bat. That’s what it said on it. I realized that after the fact.”

Rottino’s home run came on a 2-1 fastball, capping a four-run first inning that allowed Mets starter Johan Santana — who tossed a four-hit shutout — to pitch with the lead for the rest of the game. Rottino said he didn’t feel the contact when the ball met his bat on the home run. He was numb.

“I was just happy to help the team and contribute to the win,” Rottino said. “But I was floating around the bases a little bit. I had a little bit of goose bumps running around the bases. It was a cool feeling.”

Asofsky then points out this is the first time Rottino’s had a chance to play meaningful baseball — in May, no less.  And then, of course, Asofsky points out how long Rottino’s been trying to make it in the big leagues (as I have done, blog after blog), and then ended his article this way:

Rottino said he never stopped believing he’d have the opportunity to round the bases after his first home run in the Major Leagues. Mets manager Terry Collins said Rottino’s work ethic is a result of how much he loves the game.

“I talk about it all the time with my teammates down in Triple-A, you just have to keep grinding and believing,” Rottino said. “You just never know what can happen. I’ll continue to do so.”

And lest you think Ethan Asofsky was the only one to figure out this was a really big deal, Justin Tasch and Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News also wrote an article that discussed Rottino’s HR.  Here’s what they had to say:

Vinny Rottino, the Mets’ 32-year-old utility man, smashed his first major league homer to cap a four-run first inning Saturday, helping the Mets topple to Padres, 9-0.Rottino, who made his debut in the minors in 2003, has played in 32 games in the majors his (sic) spanning six years. His daydreams of trotting around the bases finally became a reality when he connected on a 2-1 pitch from lefty Clayton Richard.

(Quoted verbatim from May 26, 2012, NY Daily News article; sic was added by Barb Caffrey due to the unnecessary word that somehow escaped the Daily News‘ copyeditors.)

Notice the pitch count, which was described in both articles.  Rottino’s batting eye must have been sharp, as he’d taken two balls and a strike from Padres pitcher Clayton Richard.  This meant he was on a “hitter’s count.”  He then got a favorable pitch to hit (a fast ball), and drove it out of the ballpark in deep left-center field according to the box score.

What a great day for Vinny Rottino!

Written by Barb Caffrey

May 26, 2012 at 10:31 pm

Vinny Rottino Promoted to Mets (Again)

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For the second time this year, Vinny Rottino has been promoted to the New York Mets from the AAA Buffalo Bisons after the Mets sent down pitcher Chris Schwinden.  Here’s a link to the most recent story from a NY affiliate:

http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2012/05/21/mets-promote-vinny-rottino-send-down-chris-schwinden/

Rottino has had a twenty-game hitting streak at Buffalo this year, and has done everything the Mets have asked of him.  Let’s hope this time Rottino will stay awhile.

Written by Barb Caffrey

May 21, 2012 at 7:49 pm

Posted in baseball, Vinny Rottino

May Baseball: Brewers in Extras, Rottino Sent Back to AAA

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Currently, as of 11:56 PM on Friday, May 11, 2012, the Milwaukee Brewers are tied with the Chicago Cubs, 7-7.  They’re about to go to the thirteenth inning; all position players and all non-starting pitchers have been used, with the only two players available being starting pitchers Yovani Gallardo (who pitched two days ago) and Marco Estrada (who’s supposed to pitch Sunday), which leaves Brewers reserve pitcher Vinnie Chulk as the pitcher of record . . . this is a game, believe it or not, where the Brewers were ahead, 1-0, until the top of the seventh inning.

All of that sturm und drang, though, pales in comparison to the latest twist of the Vinny Rottino saga.  Rottino was called up by the New York Mets on May 4, 2012, played in three games, went 0 for 4 during that time, and now has been sent back to AAA Buffalo.  The main reason Rottino was sent down is that Mets IF Ronny Cedeno was reinstated from the 15-day DL.

Some of what Rottino is dealing with has to do with being the 26th guy on a 25 man roster; that is, he’s good enough to play in the majors, though probably not every day, and the Mets know this or they’d never have called him up.  They also have to know that Rottino is a guy who does better if he plays every day or every other day — that doesn’t mean he’ll never stick in the majors, but the timing has to be right for him. 

Rottino’s career, thus far, seems to be plagued by bad timing.  This, of course, is entirely out of Rottino’s control.  All Rottino can do is prepare himself, persist, and hit the cover off the ball at Buffalo.  If he does this, let’s hope the right opportunity will finally arise as Rottino truly deserves it.

By the way, the Brewers are now batting in the bottom of the 13th inning.  The game’s still tied, 7-7.  The Cubs are now out of relief pitchers and have used their very last player, catcher Geovany Soto, off the bench.  Rickie Weeks got hit on the left wrist and may have hurt himself badly; he can’t get the batting glove off his hand and is wincing in pain.  Ryan Braun is about to bat; let’s hope he can end this game so the Brewers can find out what’s wrong with Weeks already.

UPDATE:  Braun, too, was hit by a pitch (in the back); the Cubs final reliever, Lendy Castillo, was wild and didn’t get warned.  Aramis Ramirez lined a single into center, then came the hero of the day night — Corey Hart.  Hart had already hit a 2 R HR in the 9th to tie the game at 7, then hit a seeing-eye single that drove in the eighth and final run for the Brewers.  Brewers win, 8-7; Hart goes 4 for 7 with a HR, double, and two singles, and drove in 3.  Chulk gets the win (his first win since August 19, 2007 in the majors); he’s 1-0.

Written by Barb Caffrey

May 12, 2012 at 12:11 am

Baseball Round-up: Brewers News, Rottino Called Up by Mets

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Folks, if I were a member of the Milwaukee Brewers organization, I’d be panicking right now.  After first losing P Chris Narveson, then 1B Mat Gamel to season-ending injuries, the Brewers have placed CF Carlos Gomez on the 15-day DL.  Now, the Brewers probably will have to place SS Alex Gonzalez on the DL as well, because today he slid into second base attempting to steal, and had to be assisted off the field. 

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UPDATE:  Tom Haudricourt points out in today’s game blog at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel online that this is the fourth consecutive day where a Brewers player has exited the game (Gamel, Braun, Gomez, and now Gonzalez).  MLB.com Brewers beat writer Adam McCalvy wrote that Gonzalez will be going to the DL as of tomorrow, and said that 3B Taylor Green and SS Edwin Maysonet (here’s his prior major league statistics; he’s a lifetime .276 hitter in very limited play) will be called up from AAA Nashville.  Green can play 2B, 1B, and possibly the OF; Maysonet also plays 2B.

Note that this update doesn’t change my initial assessment about who’s going to play the outfield, now that there’s only three healthy outfielders (Corey Hart, Norichika Aoki, and Nyjer Morgan), with Braun playing anyway due to an Achilles injury. 

This also doesn’t change my initial assessment regarding first base, either; right now we have Travis Ishikawa and Brooks Conrad, who aren’t good long-term solutions.  It might be better for Braun and the Brewers if he must continue to  play despite his injury to be shifted to first base.  Braun came up as a third baseman, knows the infield, and is the best athlete on the club, so this might not be so onerous as it might appear.

That way, Corey Hart could be put in CF as he has good speed and is blessed with the best arm (outside of Braun, who is ailing) in the outfield.  Morgan could be put in RF (possibly platooning with Conrad, who’s a better OF than he is at 1B), and Aoki, who has a very suspect arm despite his excellent speed, in left field.

Now, back to my regularly scheduled post.

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The player who really could’ve helped them right now is 32-year-old utilityman Vinny Rottino, who was called up yesterday by the New York Mets.  Rottino, who had a good Spring Training with the Mets and was the last player sent down to the minors, hit .317 at AAA Buffalo with 1 HR, 14 RBI, 13 runs scored, 8 doubles, and 1 triple.  He had a fourteen game hitting streak going at Buffalo when he was called up.

Here’s a link to a very nice Mets blog that discussed the Rottino call-up:

http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/05/mets-option-schwinden-recall-vinny-rottino.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=mets-option-schwinden-recall-vinny-rottino

Rottino has played the outfield exclusively for the Bisons this season, but played first base, third base, and catcher along with the OF in Spring Training.  The Mets know Rottino is versatile, is a patient hitter, and has a calming, steady presence on the bench; better yet, Rottino is a fine defender and makes very few mental mistakes.

The best news in this case is that Rottino finally is is an organization that’s told him the flat, exact truth: they told him when he was sent down (reading between the lines in Peter Jackel’s last story about Rottino in the Racine Journal-Times) that he’d be the first position player called up, and he has been.  Being in an organization that’s told Rottino the truth and values what he’s done thus far has to be a huge emotional lift, which Rottino deserves due to his persistence, faith in himself and his abilities, and all of his hard work.

But as this article by Peter Jackel from 2007 shows, Rottino is a lot more than just a guy with a great attitude.  Then-Brewers pitcher Jeff Suppan had this to say about Rottino:

“What is great about Vinny is he is able to play a lot of different positions and he plays them well,” Suppan said. “He had to wait a little while to get some good opportunities in the big leagues, but I think in the years to come, he’s going to be a mainstay.”

And here’s what then-Brewers hitting coach Jim Skaalen had to say:

“He knows he belongs up here,” Skaalen said. “Through the hard work he’s put in over the years coming from where he’s come from – an undrafted player – and the odds that are against someone in that situation, he’s obviously a fighter or he wouldn’t be here. And now he’s fought himself and worked himself to this level and he’s not going to be denied now.

“That’s the way it is with guys who play at this level. They expect to be here, they’re comfortable in this environment and they know they’re as good as anybody else who’s out there.”

Ultimately, the main thing to remember about Rottino is this: he’s a baseball player.  And he’s a very good one.  This is not a publicity stunt by the Mets; it’s not charity.  Rottino has earned his opportunity and I believe he will make the most of it.

More people need to know about Vinny Rottino and his long journey to the major leagues.  If they did, they’d realize the value in refusing to give up no matter what the odds.

Written by Barb Caffrey

May 5, 2012 at 6:56 pm

Baseball Updates: Hart to Play Opening Day; Rottino sent to AAA by Mets

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Folks, I have the proverbial good news and bad news.

Tonight’s good news?  Milwaukee Brewers RF Corey Hart will not start the season on the disabled list, as had been previously thought.  Instead, he will be in right field for the Brewers on Opening Day on April 6.

But the bad news is that ex-Brewers farmhand, all-around good guy, and one of the most versatile players in any league, Vinny Rottino, who hit .276 in Spring Training with 5 RBI in 58 ABs — an IF/OF/C who plays just about every position except second base and pitcher — was cut a few, short hours ago by the New York Mets and was sent to AAA Buffalo (their minor-league affiliate) in what appears to be the Mets’ very last transaction before the start of the 2012 season.

Now, there is a hint of good news even to this, as Michael Baron of MetsBlog.com fame says that he doubts the Mets have “seen the last of him.”  Baron’s comment, in its entirety, is available here, but here are his kind words about Rottino:

I liked what I saw from Rottino this Spring. With all of the early injuries to the outfielders, he was given every opportunity to show what he could do, and he did everything the staff asked him to do when he played. He showed he can make solid contact and is versatile – he can play both corner positions and the outfield as well. I bet we haven’t seen the last of him.

In addition, Peter Jackel of the Racine Journal-Times is reporting that Rottino impressed Mets’ manager Terry Collins.  From Jackel’s article:

Rottino, a 1998 (Racine)** St. Catherine’s High School graduate, certainly has reason to be encouraged. He was informed by Collins last Thursday that he would break camp with the Mets if veteran outfielders Scott Hairston and Andres Torres, who had been battling injuries, were not healthy. But Hairston and Torres made the 25-man roster, leaving Rottino the odd man out.

“They sent everybody else down except me,” Rottino said. “I was the last position player in camp. (Collins) said, ‘You made an impression on everybody. You opened some eyes, Everything I’ve heard about you is exactly the kind of ballplayer you are.’ ”

So it sounds like Rottino impressed at least a few people with his versatility, his strong defensive skills, and his hitting.  Good for him!

Now, my hope is that Rottino will go on a tear at Buffalo and hit so well that the Mets are forced to bring him up (in the same way as the Brewers had to bring up Russell Branyan in 2008 from AAA Nashville whether they liked it or not).

———–

** These stars indicate an insertion, by me, for those of you who are not from Racine, WI, who read my blog, with all apologies to Journal-Times sportswriter Peter Jackel.  Jackel knows, as I do, that Rottino is from Racine; I’ve said it here at my blog more than once.  But it’s possible that some of you don’t, especially if you’ve started reading my blog recently.

An Update to the Update, AKA further thoughts from yours truly:

I view Vinny Rottino’s story as a strong lesson in the value of persistence.  I do my best to emulate it, as my own career as a writer/editor hasn’t exactly set the world on fire thus far.  (Please don’t ask me to tell you how long I’ve been trying to do this; let’s just say that it’s longer than Rottino’s been trying to get to the majors and stay.)

Ultimately, the only thing any of us can do — myself, Rottino, anyone at all — is prepare ourselves to take the next step in our development.  For Rottino, that’s playing major league ball; for me, it’s selling my novel ELFY, or perhaps another novel to start with, then selling ELFY (as I remain fully committed to the value of my worth as a funny fantasy writer).

I know Rottino has prepared himself, and will continue to be prepared; as soon as he gets that call from the Mets, he’ll be there like a jet-fueled rocket.

And I know that I’ve prepared myself, too, to see ELFY in print and to know, ultimately, that my husband’s faith in me — much less my very good friend Jeff Wilson’s faith in me, as he, too, was a huge believer in the Elfyverse — will be vindicated.

As I’ve said before, so sayeth I again: good luck, Vinny.  And may the wind be at your back, always.

Written by Barb Caffrey

April 3, 2012 at 11:09 pm

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:

http://www.journaltimes.com/sports/resilient-rottino-rewarded-with-another-shot/article_75bb0fcc-5b8c-11e1-b0c5-0019bb2963f4.html

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

2011: My Year in Review (the Good, the Bad, and the Incredibly Sad)

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Everyone’s doing a “2011 Year in Review” column; at some places, like Shiny Book Review, this makes more sense (there, we did a “best of 2011” piece; check it out here).  So I thought I’d do one, too, incorporating most of what went on that’s fit to print that made any sort of impact on my life whatsoever.

Note that as Shiny Book Review has already been covered, I’m not going to say much about it here; I enjoyed posting reviews in 2011, and I will continue to do the same in 2012.

As far as fiction writing goes, I estimate that I wrote about 150,000 words on various projects.  I completed a new chapter and a half of CHANGING FACES; this will be finished in 2012.  I wrote a new chapter and revised five chapters of KEISHA’S VOW, an ELFY prequel set in 1954.  I wrote a new chapter and a half and revised six chapters of AN ELFY ABROAD, the direct sequel to ELFY.  I did my best to find an agent, but found no takers.

As far as editing goes, I was pleased to edit six different books — one on conventions and careers, four medical books (including one anthology), and one science fiction novel.  More editing is planned for the New Year.

Now, let’s get to the month-by-month breakdown of other events.

January 2011: 

New Republican Governor Scott Walker takes office, turns down federal railroad funds (following through on his election promise to do so), vows to work with everyone, etc.  (Too bad that last was all talk.)

“Joey Maverick: On Westmount Station” published at e-Quill Publishing (with Michael B. Caffrey).  This is the first piece of writing in Michael’s universe sold in over five years; I wrote over half of this story, but it continues to go under Michael’s name as an editorial decision by e-Quill’s publisher as it’s a continuing series.  (I’m sure Michael wouldn’t have approved, but there’s nothing to be done.  My name is on it as the secondary writer and there’s a permanent link to this story on this blog’s sidebar.)

Green Bay Packers blow through post-season, winning the National Football Conference championship.  Will represent NFC in the Super Bowl.

January 8:  United States Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) shot in the head by crazed gunman; she miraculously survives and recovers.  Several staff-members and innocent bystanders killed, including U.S. District Judge John Roll.  Gunman in police custody.

February 2011: 

February 6:  Packers win Super Bowl XLV. 

February 11:   Scott Walker vows to eliminate collective bargaining for all public employee unions (including teachers, nurses, and snowplow drivers, among others) except for fire and police personnel.  A firestorm of protest follows; the fourteen Democratic state Senators (“Wisconsin 14”) flee the state in order to deny the Legislature a quorum to keep the Republican-dominated Senate from passing a companion bill to the quickly-passed bill from the Republican-dominated Assembly.  The “WI 14” state their reason for doing this as the only way to educate the public as to what this bill will do to the state; more protests ensue.

March 2011: 

Gov. Walker and his allies, including Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) and Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (R-Horicon, brother of Scott F.), take to the airwaves urging the WI 14 to return to Wisconsin so Senate Bill 10 (eliminating collective bargaining for all public employee unions, even though the teachers, nurses, etc., have all vowed publicly to take paycuts and give back vacation days and pay more for their health and life insurance providing collective bargaining is left in place) can be passed.

March 9:  Senate strips all financial provisions out of the bill, allowing it to be passed without a quorum.  Only Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) opposes this bill, saying it goes too far; the Senate passes this motion 18-1.

March 12:  WI 14 returns to state to loud acclaim from most; some vow to recall their sitting state Senators from both parties.

April 2011: 

Milwaukee Brewers start their season.

Vinny Rottino starts season with New Orleans Zephyrs of the Pacific Coast League (affiliated with the Florida Marlins, prior to the Marlins’ name change).

JoAnne Kloppenburg loses state Supreme Court race to incumbent David Prosser by less than 1/2 of 1% of the vote.  Recount commences.

April 21:  Recall petitions filed for nine Senators, six Republicans and three Democrats.  Elections scheduled for three different days; the first is held in mid-July.

May 2011:

Rottino has a fantastic month for the Zephyrs. 

Brewers are still rounding into form. 

Looking forward to recall elections. 

Receive praise but no sales for three separate pieces of writing.

May 1:  Osama bin Laden killed, at long last.

May 23: Recount confirms David Prosser as winner of state Supreme Court seat.  JoAnne Kloppenburg decides not to sue; eventually seeks seat on state’s Appellate Court.

June 2011:

Observe my ninth wedding anniversary, the seventh spent alone since Michael’s untimely death in 2004.

Waiting avidly for recall elections.

July 2011: 

Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, and Rickie Weeks elected to represent the Brewers at the All-Star Game.  Braun is on the disabled list; does not play.  Minor controversy ensues as closer John Axford, having an excellent season, is not named to the All-Star team, nor is Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo.

Observe my late husband’s birthday even though, were he alive, he’d have taken no notice of the event.  (Michael counted unBirthdays instead, as there were a whole lot more of them, thus more to celebrate.)

Vinny Rottino makes the AAA All-Star team for the first time since 2008.

July 19: Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) is easily retained in his recall election.

July 31: Debt-ceiling crisis legislation is signed by President Obama.  Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) claims victory.  Most people unimpressed; Congress’s approval rating falls to new lows, and the President’s approval rating takes a hit, too.

August 2011:

Observe my birthday, though my best friend Jeff is many states away and my husband is long dead, so I wonder what the point is.

August 9: Two Republican state Senators, Dan Kapanke (La Crosse) and Randy Hopper (Fond du Lac) are ousted in recall elections.  Another four Republican state Senators, Alberta Darling (River Hills), Robert Cowles (Green Bay), Sheila Harsdorf (River Falls) and Luther Olsen (Ripon) are retained.

August 16:  Both Democratic Senators up for recall, Bob Wirch of Kenosha and Jim Holperin of Conover, are easily retained.  Status of nine recalls:  Two Rs lost their seats, while four Rs were retained.  All three Ds were retained.  Wisconsin state Senate stands at 17 Rs and 16 Ds.

September 2011: 

Vinny Rottino’s fine AAA season is rewarded by a September call-up from the Florida Marlins.  He plays in several games, mostly as a pinch hitter or in the outfield.  Gets a few hits.

Occupy Wall Street (soon to be Occupy Everywhere) movement starts.

Tenth anniversary of 9/11/01. 

Observed the seventh anniversary of Michael’s last day of life on 9/21/11. 

Late September: Jeff falls ill but does not go to the doctor. 

September 28: Milwaukee Brewers win first National League Central division title in history, make post-season play for first time since 2008.  Hopes are high.  John Axford sets single-season saves record with 46 and most saves successfully converted in a row with 42.

October 2011:

October 7:  Brewers win first post-season series against Arizona Diamondbacks (3-2).

mid-October:  Jeff is taken to the hospital and is quickly transferred to the best specialty hospital in Northern Colorado.  Bacterial endocarditis is the diagnosis.  I don’t find out about it until he’s been in the hospital seven days (fortunately he told a good friend there how to get a hold of me).  He nearly dies on the table due to open-heart surgery, something I don’t find out until nearly two days afterward.  He’s unable to talk for nearly two weeks and is mostly unresponsive to stimuli.  Death seems near.

October 16:  Brewers lose National League Championship series to eventual World Series champs St. Louis Cardinals; I’m more obsessed with Jeff’s condition and say so.

October 20:  Moammar Qaddafi, dictator of Libya, killed.  This, too, barely registers.

November 2011:

Jeff slowly starts to get better, regaining his powers of speech and mobility.  Cannot read well, which vexes him as a longtime, avid reader — and cannot write or create, which vexes him as a writer.  He improves so much he’s transferred to a long-term rehabiliation place (I talk with him every night he’s able, which basically is every single night).

However, Jeff only lives for four days after he’s transferred to rehab; in our last conversation on November 11, he tells me he’s exhausted and wondering when he’s going to get better, though he’s mostly upbeat.  Inwardly, I cheer that he has enough energy to mildly complain; I look forward to our next phone call, which was to be on November 12 at 7:45 p.m MST.

November 12:  At 7 p.m. MST, Jeff has a massive stroke and is taken back to the specialty hospital.  I don’t find out about this until November 13; all I know at the time is that Jeff hasn’t answered his phone, and I’m not able to get anyone at the rehab place to find out why.

November 13:  Get call from Jeff’s brother, Randy; Jeff is dead.  The stroke killed him.  His parents were with him when he died. 

None of this comforts me at all, as I’d been hoping somehow to get out to him to visit and cheer him up. 

His death, which a few weeks ago had seemed imminent, now seems like an extremely bad joke made by an unloving, uncaring Deity; Jeff had worked so hard to regain his speech and mobility, and could reason and think.  His personality and most of his memories were intact.  He deserved a lot more time, to fully recover, and for him and I to be able to see each other, bare minimum.  To say that I find this monstrously unfair is a severe understatement.

November 15:  Wrote a poem for Jeff, in memoriam.  I hope he’d have enjoyed it (poem is below).

November 21:  Jeff would’ve turned 48 today, had he lived.  Instead, his memorial service is called in Fort Collins, Colorado, and I’m unable to go due to financial considerations (I will regret this to the end of my life, and probably afterward). 

I start to slowly come to terms with the fact that the best friend I’ve ever had, save only my late husband Michael, is dead.  (Jeff was my staunchest supporter as a writer and poet who gave well-thought out, helpful criticism.)  I find out that Jeff was writing a novel, which he’d never shown me (though he had shown me six in-progress short stories, various pieces of non-fiction, and other writing, all of it excellent), at the time of his passing.  Now, none of his writing will ever be completed.

I reflect upon Jeff’s compassion, which was probably his strongest and best quality besides his high intelligence and creativity.  I reflect upon the fact that six years ago, I had no idea our friendship would grow to the point that he was my acknowledged best friend . . . who knows where it would’ve gone, had he lived?  (Now, I will never know, and that’s a sadness I can’t even begin to express, were I to write from now until the end of time.)  I’m grateful for the time I had with him, but I really wish there had been more of it because if anyone deserved more, it was Jeff.

I wonder, again, what the point is, when I can’t even get to see my best friend before he dies, then can’t get to his funeral, either, when I dearly wanted to do both things.  (Financial considerations be damned.)

Other stuff:

November 15:  Recall petitions to oust Gov. Scott Walker, Lt. Gov. Kleefisch, and Racine’s state Senator Van Wanggaard (all Rs) are filed.  I’d been looking forward to this for months, but due to Jeff’s death, it barely registers.  Did sign the recall forms and get a few signatures, as Jeff was very strongly in favor of all of these people being recalled (we talked of this on November 11, and he’s the one who brought it up — as I said, his mind was intact and it was sharp); I tell myself that he’d be happy I was doing something I’d looked forward to, and try to be content with that even though I know I’ll never hear his voice again.

Ryan Braun wins NL Most Valuable Player award.  Prince Fielder departs in free agency (is currently unsigned).

Vinny Rottino signs a minor league free-agent contract with the New York Mets; he will be invited to Spring Training.

December 2011: 

December 13:  Play first concert in thirteen years as a member of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside Community Band; I play a lengthy, extended solo in Valerie Coleman’s composition, “Roma.”   My sister is in the audience, and says I haven’t lost a thing.  (I like to think that both Michael and Jeff were listening, too, from wherever they are in the positive afterlife.  I hope they were pleased.)

mid-December:  Ryan Braun accused of taking performance-enhancing drugs; he appeals this decision and proclaims his innocence.  (For the record, I believe him.)

December 17:  North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il dies.

Just before Christmas:  Federal government plunges into yet another crisis when House of Representatives initially refuses to extend the payroll tax cut.  Speaker Boehner adamantly defends his party, which includes many hard-right Rs self-identifying as “Tea Party” members, but is eventually talked around due to public statements made by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), former George W. Bush advisor Karl Rove, and a strongly-worded Wall Street Journal editorial advising him to just give in already.  Congress adjourns and goes home for the holidays.

Winter holidays commence; once again, I wonder what the point is.  The present I’d bought for my friend Jeff gathers dust as I can’t bear to put it away, nor can I part with it; the musical composition I’m working on to commemorate Jeff’s life and death is, at best, half-finished at 64 bars.   I’m told by a couple of poets I respect that my poem for Jeff won’t stand alone, thus has no chance of independent publication — which is why it’s here, so you all can read it and think about it, instead.

Note that this is a very formal way of writing, which is quite different from my usual, free-form style.  I wanted to impose some sort of structure on my shock, which is why I came up with this particular poem.  And while I believe this is among the most important pieces of writing I’ve ever created, it’s something I profoundly wish I’d not have had to do — much less this soon.

Here goes . . . but before I forget, Happy New Year, everyone.

*********** POETRY SEPARATOR ***********

“A Poem for Jeff Wilson — in Memoriam”

by Barb Caffrey

 

One who seeks is

one who asks

the questions that

no one else dares.

 

One who seeks is

one who finds

the answers, which are

unknowable.

 

One who waits is

one who looks

for love, creeping

in unawares . . . .

 

One who waits is

one who hopes

for light, which breaks

the dark forever.

 

One who waits is

one who seeks

out answers, or

merely himself.

——– written November 15, 2011