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Ryan Beil: On the fleeting fandom of minor league ballplayers

Baseball is a game of cruel adjustments when players are there for a season...or just a few weeks.
Vancouver Canadians player Davis Schneider was called up to the big leagues on Aug. 4, 2023.

The fabulous and fabled start to Davis Schneider’s Major League career has been amazing to watch. 

If you are perplexed, confused, or maybe even a little bit startled by that opening statement, allow me to catch you up.

Schneider, a former Vancouver Canadian, was called up to the Toronto Blue Jays on Aug. 4 to make his MLB debut on one of baseball’s biggest stages, Fenway Park. 

In his very first at bat, Schneider hit a home run so devoid of doubt that the groan of recognition from the home crowd was unanimous and instantaneous. He finished the series in Boston going 9-13 with two home runs and plating five RBIs. 

His story is garnering a lot of traction because he seemingly came out of nowhere. He was drafted by Toronto in the now-extinct 28th round back in 2017. Pick number 849. Which is 848 picks away from number one.

Baseball is a game of cruel adjustments. And hot starts have a way of becoming flashes in a pan when Major League pitching staffs start to scout your weaknesses and exploit them with ruthless and brutal efficiency. That will happen to Schneider. Perhaps it’s already started. His ability to adjust right back will be the next chapter in his story.

But whatever the case, his debut has been awesome and historic. It makes me so happy to see a guy I cheered on at the Nat last year make such a splash in the Big Leagues. 

Minor League Baseball is in constant motion. Like a shark. Actually, a shark is a good analogy for Minor League ball because it has a tendency to be cold, calculating and contains no bones. That last one doesn’t really make sense, but I did find it interesting enough to put in the article after I googled “Shark Facts” for research. 

I say constant motion because every player you see on the field (and the coaches, training staff, and umpires, for that matter) are always moving in one of three directions: Up, down, or out. Promotion, demotion, expulsion. 

Seeing Schneider mashing in a Blue Jays jersey got me thinking about all the players who entertained me at the Nat over the years who perhaps went in one of the other two directions.

It is a common experience when watching affiliated minor league baseball to become a fan of a player only to have them disappear all of a sudden. Maybe they hang around for a season. Maybe a couple of seasons. Or maybe only a few weeks.

Whatever the case, enjoy it while you can. You just never know when the game is going to bump your favourite player off your radar.

I would be remiss to not do a small check-in on one of the players I used to root for at the Nat that was, indeed, bumped off my radar. There were many to choose from, but the one I kept coming back to was Balbino Fuenmayor. 

Fuenmayor is a tall corner infielder from Venezuela. He played baseball for the C’s in 2011 and 2012. He’s a slugger who had an infectious walk-up song and one of the best baseball names I have ever seen. A fan favourite for sure. Though not without his struggles at the plate.

I’m happy to report he’s still playing ball! Or at least he was in June of this year. Fuenmayor now slugs (or at least, like I say, he was slugging as recently as June) for Los Tecolotes de Dos Laredos, a team in the Mexican League that splits its home games between Mexico and the U.S. It makes me happy to know he’s still at it. So, for old times sake: Go Balbino! That felt good.  

Who are some of your favourite C’s from past seasons?  Come let me know. As always, you can find me at the Nat.


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