Appreciating the Opportunity

Appreciating the Opportunity

The American League won the All-Star Game again on Tuesday night, so I hope that means the Oakland A's get to open up the World Series at home this October.  It was, of course, Derek Jeter's final All-Star appearance as an active player, and he was pretty good with a multi-hit game.  Mike Trout was the MVP (and hopefully the AL MVP at the end of the season) and we got to see short spurts of action from Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo, though they weren't in the most favorable of matchups because, well, Sean Doolittle is a lockdown reliever.

One story that may have flown under the radar and that I noticed a while after the game had ended was this about Chicago White Sox rookie slugger Jose Abreu (via @StaceGots):

 

I am reminded of the story of when El Duque, Orlando Hernandez, had to survive the trip from Cuba to Florida on a boat in order to get his shot with the Yankees more than a decade ago.  These guys have a great natural talent that we love to watch as fans, but they endure so many hardships in order to get their opportunity to perform on the largest stage as free men.  It's something that we often don't appreciate, and maybe it takes a guy coming into his first All-Star Game with great passion and humility to show us what it means to have that kind of an opportunity.  The reaction to the national anthem, among other things during this special day for Abreu and his family, was great to learn about:

Abreu was so happy after the exhibition he might as well have grabbed a microphone and belted out a few songs. What he and his family see as the realization of a dream they have long held together couldn’t have played out any better.

Not all of us are going to be rock stars or professional athletes or entertainers that make millions of dollars.  But the opportunity and the American dream is always out there.  I accepted a long time ago that I sucked at baseball, but I love to play it and I relish the opportunity to coach and teach young men about the game that I love while also giving them the education they deserve so that they can pursue their own American dream.  It's easy to poo-poo America now due to the politics and the strife going on across the planet these days, but it takes a certain amount of courage to remember the reasons why the American dream is so great and why people will literally swim across large bodies of water to achieve it.

I was an immigrant too, and lived in America for over a decade before I was able to achieve citizenship (don't worry, I was here legally).  But the day that I learned about my oath ceremony, I was in New York City celebrating New Year with my friends and had to jump on a standby flight back to San Francisco.  It was a wonderful ceremony and I'm very proud to be an American.  I don't know that Jose Abreu will get his citizenship, but I do think he is more than grateful that he lives in the land of the free, and the home of the brave.  I believe that even with their competitive exterior and sometimes fiery personalities, all players, not just the Cubans like Yasiel Puig, Aroldis Chapman or even Jorge Soler in our own Cubs system, know how lucky they are to represent the culmination of the American Dream.  That this happened a week after the Fourth of July is a nifty coincidence and a somewhat convenient reminder that it's okay to love America even when we're not blowing up the sky with fireworks.

Courtesy of www.southsidesox.com

Courtesy of www.southsidesox.com

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