New post on Red, White and the 3-0 Green Light
A Long and Winding Road
By Maxx Tissenbaum
To say that the last few years have been unpredictable is maybe the understatement of my life. Having changed teams, been sent clear around the world to Australia and finding my home away from home, falling out of love with baseball, and subsequently finding that burning passion again, it has been a whirlwind.
When I returned home from Australia in 2015 I thought I was ready to have my biggest season, a breakout that would put me on a fast track to my ultimate goal of playing in the Big Leagues. I had an outstanding season in Australia, both statistically, and in terms of life off the field. As Zidie always puts it, I was truly enjoying the journey. I found that for the first time in my life I was actually able to look around and take in what I was doing and accomplishing. I spent time traveling with my teammates, exploring a new continent, meeting new people and learning a lot about what I enjoy outside of hitting and throwing a baseball.
I arrived at spring training and felt like I had never been a better player, and was ready to win a job. Unfortunately that never happened, and I wound up watching far more often than I ended up playing. It was an incredibly frustrating year, and I began to find myself searching for who I was, and how to define myself within these new parameters. I managed to, for the first time, start to separate my baseball life from my life away from the field, something I’ve found increasingly important as I trudge through the muddy waters of Minor League Baseball. While celebrating the Florida State League championship that my Stone Crabs team had just won, I found I was headed back to Australia, something I had wanted to do since the minute I arrived, a year earlier.
I went back to Australia on a mission, and on a promise to Bandits CEO Mark Ready. I wanted to bring Brisbane its first championship. My second year in Australia was up and down, there were highlights, like my two walk-off hits, but I was mired in a season long slump and never really got much momentum. Frustrated now with my play, I struggled to find what was wrong with me, and found myself stuck in this “I need to do more” mode because of how badly I wanted to be a leader and the driving force behind our team success.
Off the field, I continued to pursue my new found passion for travel as Sammy and I toured around Queensland searching for waterfalls, swimming holes, and hiking spots. We spent time at beaches, in forests and even at a few cricket matches. It was incredible to get to experience this with some great friends, and sometimes in groups as large as 8-to-12 people. One morning I woke up to find that I had been taken in the Rule 5 draft by the Miami Marlins, and I was so excited that I ran out to buy a hat, which wasn’t an easy task given that baseball is way down the totem pole in Australia in terms of relevance.
I thought I’d caught my big break. We capped off the season with the championship I so badly wanted, and celebrated like big leaguers, because Mark wouldn’t let it be any other way, everything he does is to such an incredibly high standard.
Spring Training was a major let down as I broke down and needed to take a week and a half off from throwing to rest my shoulder. My shut down time caused me to miss most of our games, and ultimately lead to the biggest disappointment of my career, when I didn’t make a team out of camp. I was left behind in Extended Spring Training, as I “rehabbed” and tried to get up to speed.
I managed to get sent to Greensboro for a month, but that went no better as I spent most of my time there on the phantom DL, playing in only nine games before I got released. Surprisingly, I felt good about it. I had spent the early part of the season feeling trapped, forgotten and left out, a 24 year old former High A all star on a Low A club full of guys 4-6 years younger than I was. My nights were restless as I began to think that maybe I was done, what could possibly make me want to continue when I wasn’t even on the roster even though I was healthy and ready to play? I was extremely close to calling it quits on a number of occasions, but thanks to the support of Sammy, and Molly I trudged on, pushing my rock as it were.
When my agent called and told me that I’d been offered a spot with the Quebec Capitales in the CanAm League I was truly lost as a player. I had hated being at the ballpark, I had felt like all of the work I’d done over the course of 25 years was a waste and I was unsure I wanted to go the independent ball route. I was convinced to give it a shot, and I could not be more thankful that I did. Playing in Quebec taught me to love baseball again, it made me believe in the magic of baseball, and the brotherhood that baseball can provide.
It was the tightest knit team I’d been a part of since college, and every day I felt like I was in a hurry to get to the ballpark, just like I felt when I was a kid rushing down to the SkyDome to watch Blue Jays batting practice with Zidie. When we got eliminated after Game 5 of the playoffs I was stunned, we had been up 2-0 in the series, and had so many chances and such a good team, I couldn’t believe it was over. I couldn’t believe that my time with those teammates and coaches was over for the year, and I didn’t want to leave. I sat in my locker eyes glassed over trying to keep it together, it was really hard, one of the toughest endings to a season we could have possibly endured. I thanked all of my teammates and coaches for making that my most enjoyable season, and just like that it was the offseason, sudden, abrupt and uncertain.
Playing in front of sold out, raucous crowds helped rekindle my love for the game.
I enrolled in my first class toward my final year of my degree, and on the day after we were eliminated I found myself taking notes, reading a textbook and writing discussion posts, a stark contrast to my magical summer in La Belle Province. I spent the time watching the big league playoffs, and the World Series for the first time in three years, and waiting to hear what was next for me. When free agency opened five days after the World Series ended I began splitting my time between studying and waiting for my agent, Blake, to call me.
Finally as the Winter Meetings drew to a close we had some news, and it seemed to all be positive. He carried on talks with a few clubs and finally we were able to find an opportunity with both a good fit, and a good opportunity for me to continue my career. On the 15th of December I signed my contract to officially become a member of the Colorado Rockies organization, and I couldn’t be more thrilled! I can’t wait to get back to the perfect weather that comes in the spring in Scottsdale, and to get to call one of the best complexes in baseball home. I’m getting back into writing, so it won’t likely be two years between posts like it has been with this one.
I hope everyone is as ready for a great holiday season, full of family, friends and excitement as we head toward the 2017 season. May 2017 bring us all a bit more stability, and success!