Major league baseball teams play a regular season schedule of 162 games. Teams start their spring training in mid-February, and the season can extend to early November for those that go deep in the playoffs. The February-November schedule can take a toll on even the fittest players, the most enthusiastic managers,
and the ardently supportive family members of players. The baseball season is a grind, in that it can seem unending and relentless. It started out as a series of long newspaper pieces by
The Washington Post’s Barry Svrluga to capture the grind. Buoyed by the reception he got from the players as well as his readers, Svrluga extended the coverage to include others to write a compelling account of the toll the game takes.
Only four of the eight profiled are players: veteran third basemen (now moved to first base because of injuries) Ryan Zimmerman; a starting pitcher, Doug Fister; Drew Storen, the beleaguered closer; and Tyler Moore, the so-called “twenty-sixth” man, who handles his peripatetic status as the team stop-gap player with tremendous equanimity. The rest of the people profiled don’t play the game on the diamond but yet seem to be joined at the hip with the game. There is Chelsey, wife of
the Washington National’s shortstop, Ian Desmond, who handles both pregnancy and her husband’s changing form with a simple and practical perspective. Mike Rizzo is the team’s general manager, a job that seemingly has no off-season. Kris Kline is the scout, whose endless quest to find an untapped talent results in him accumulating 1.2 million Marriott points and enough miles on Southwest Airlines for thirty-five round-trips. And finally, there are Rob McDonald and Mike Wallace, clubhouse people who ensure that the players want for nothing.
The grind of the baseball season takes a toll on each of these in unique ways, but, what comes through in Svrluga’s finely detailed portraits is that none would probably trade their place with someone outside the game.