Went to the annual Pawtucket Red Sox Hotstove today at McCoy Stadium to get free autographs. With the frigid weather and a lack of no-doubt future major league stars, the turnout was low--and so was the wait! Normally the lines last for hours, but that's with better weather and players like #1 draft pick Casey Kelly (last year; since traded to the Padres in the Adrian Gonzalez deal) and Lars Anderson and Daniel Bard the year before that (when Bard smudged his own autograph when he gave the ball back to me; I'm looking at it in my office now. Anyone have a Daniel Bard autographed ball to trade?).
But even a wait of hours is worth it. Even when it was about 3 degrees last year--and not much warmer this year--it's worth it. Hope springs eternal at any ballgame, at any level, but at these things, even the ballplayers signing autographs need hope. Most of them won't make it to the majors. This year's athletes included a Rule V draftee from a few years ago and a pitcher who had a cup of coffee last year in September. The Rule V guy--designated as a probable no-shot to begin with, as most Rule Vs are--probably won't make it to the majors if he's spent a few years in the minors as a Rule V guy already. The pitcher who came up in September didn't impress; no one knows that more than him. Those guys usually don't get 2nd chances. The guy most likely to get to the majors today was Ryan Lavarnway, drafted 6th in 2009, who tore up Division I at Yale and set records for homers there; he hit 22 homers and drove in 102 last year. But the Sox are stacked with catchers, and he's got to learn to call a better game if he's going to make it at all. He'll probably be traded or go as a free agent to another team who needs a decent hitting catcher--if he doesn't hit the wall before then.
But any one of these guys could make it. One of them could go all the way to the majors this year. They show us that we all could do something we dream of. I could get an agent this year; I could get a novel published. That's why grown men stand in lines in the cold for hours to get autographs of other guys who most likely won't make it to the majors, thereby making their autographs worthless.
Because they could. We all could.