* Maxx Tissenbaum (Toronto, Ont.), show here hitting a home run with the Charlotte Stone Crabs, will play for Brisbane in Australia this winter after the Tampa Bay Rays extended him the down under summer/winter place to play. Photo: Eddie Michaels. ….
Letters of Intent
And off we go!
By Mass Tissenbaum
I wrote this post the other day while at the airport in Toronto but the internet was SO shaky that it wouldn’t post … so here you go. My messy, all over the place scrambled eggs for a brain post from the hours leading up to my flights. It’s sort of raw, I think I rambled a bit. Enjoy, let me know what you think!
So today is the day. Well, maybe it’s tomorrow is the day, or maybe even the day after that is the day. I’m not really sure what day “the day” really is. Here’s what I know. I leave Toronto this evening on a flight first to Los Angeles, then on to Brisbane. The quandary is that I’m not sure if today is the day because I leave today, or if it’s tomorrow, because technically based on “home” time it will be tomorrow when I leave for Australia, or whether it’s the next day because that’s when I land. Monday on “home” time and Tuesday in Brisbane. Yup. That clear.
It’s been over five years since I’ve felt ALL of these emotions, I mentioned to my parents that I feel like I’m right back in the week leading up to my Freshman Year at Stony Brook. I don’t know anything, or anybody, yet I’m travelling. Eyes closed, jump right in style. I’ve known I’m headed to Brisbane for winter ball for a while, but knowing it’s coming doesn’t create that sudden “oh ****” moment I’ve been having all day. It hit me hard this morning. I won’t be home for a long time. I won’t even be on the same day as home for a long time. I’ll be 14 time zones and 19 hours of flight time away from now until the end of January.
No friends, no family, no snow, and no winter. I won’t be heading up to my off season job at Splash International ordering thousands of different Christmas ornaments, dolls, or pictures. I won’t be going downtown to Real Sports or the Loose Moose to watch Leafs games with all my friends (then come home and watch the Lightning if they’re on the west coast like I did last night, I didn’t forget about you TB). I won’t get to cook with my mom, or have dinner at Gramma and Zidie’s house. Now you’re probably at the point where you’re thinking, “man, this really sucks.” I’ve had a lot of that, but then I look forward past all of it and I see the opportunities.
Once I land, on Tuesday morning in Brisbane, which is Monday afternoon at home I’ll be back to summer. I’ll be in Australia, a place that so many of my friends have either wanted to go to, are going to soon, or are planning to go to. I won’t be buying myself the round trip flight thanks to the Rays, so I won’t have to worry about saving up the $2500-$3000 that it looks like flights cost to get there.
I’ll be touring one of the world’s most interesting countries by many accounts, and I’ll get to do it while being paid to play baseball and develop my skills as a catcher. I’ll even get to watch hockey games over the internet, albeit it will be weird watching Hockey Night in Canada as Hockey Breakfast in Australia. I’ve got the chance to go scuba diving like some of the Rays guys did last year, and I get to avoid the snow and cold weather. Now you’re probably at the point where you’re thinking “how is this kid so stupid to be worried about all those things, this is the coolest opportunity ever.” I’ve had a lot of that too.
This is what makes the whole thing so much to think on. I think back to my sister’s practice hockey sweater when she played for the Toronto Aeros. Each girl wore a specific colored uniform depending on what line she was on, but on the back of each sweater were the words “TO WHOM MUCH IS GIVEN, MUCH IS EXPECTED.” I feel like that is especially relevant in this situation. Here in front of me is this enormous opportunity to catch regularly, and develop my defensive skills. I’m being given the opportunity I’ve dreamed of my whole life, I’m getting to play all year. I’m getting to travel the world without footing the bill.
Baseball has given me so much, it’s given me the opportunity to travel all around the USA and Dominican Republic and now Australia. I’m now expected to grow as a player. I’m expected to come back much more polished than when I left. I’m expected to keep my body and mind in “season” mode for 20 consecutive months. “To whom much is given, much is expected.”
I’m a whole mix of emotions right now, but I know that this organization is doing everything it can to help me reach my goal of playing in the Big Leagues. I know that they’re giving me every opportunity to succeed. I’m so grateful for this opportunity. I’m excited to get out and see what Australia is all about on our days off and on our bye week. I’m excited to see my name in a lineup card as more than a designated catcher like I was in Instructs. I’m excited to get to try and unlock even more of my potential power at the plate, and to get more consistent throwing, blocking and receiving.
I’m nervous about this flight because it’s so long, and I’ve never flown more than Toronto to LA before. I’m sad that I won’t get to lose to my mom in card games, heckle my dad about the Leafs beating the Habs (if they somehow manage to pull that off in 2015), to go watch my sister play goal at Harvard. I’m worried about how I’m going to stay in touch with my family, my girlfriend and my friends. I’m worried because of what I don’t know and get to do.