For love of the game...Nelson Figueroa 棒球浪人 費古洛
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"I miss things, and it hurts," 費古洛說道
"But I love this game so much, and it's still in my blood, still such a huge part of who I am. I love everything about it."
So he keeps grinding, keeps doing his daily work to earn his daily bread, hopes to stick with the Mets out of camp, hopes to keep chasing what has kept him filling passports and his own dreams for so many years.
People wonder all the time if there are guys left in baseball worth rooting for.
Here's one: Nelson Figueroa
Figueroa has passport to MLB success
By MIKE VACCARO
Published: Feb. 21, 2009 / New York Post
The man at the airport in Car acas kept looking at Nelson Figueroa's passport, kept thumbing through it, kept seeing page after page, stamp after stamp, some of the stamps right on top of others.
"How long have you had this?" the man asked, shaking his head.
"Two years," Figueroa said, smiling.
There are 24 available pages in a typical U.S. Passport. As of this moment, 16 of Figueroa's pages are filled with stamps. This is life on the baseball fringe, on the other side of the world from the stars that flicker throughout the Mets clubhouse.
Figueroa already has had, by any measure, a fine ride through his baseball career. He has played parts of six seasons, with four different teams. He has won 10 big league games, which is 10 more than 99.7 percent of all the people who foster dreams of big league careers. He has earned close to a couple million dollars playing baseball, and at age 34 has yet to don a necktie to go to work every day.
That's saying something. And it speaks to why Figueroa's passport is so full, why his arm has been so busy the past few years, why he has turned baseball into a full-time, year-round vocation, why he has earned at least one victory in, by his estimation, every country that has a full-time professional baseball league except for Korea.
"I'm winless in Korea," he said, smiling. "So far."
For a while, Figueroa was one of the Mets' feel-good stories of 2008, joining the team early in April - a Brooklyn kid making the long trip home at last, his friends and family filling the family section at Shea Stadium every time he pitched, SNY's cameras always managing to find them during key segments of games.
He even had one fleeting flash of stunning perfection, a chilly Friday night against the Brewers, the team that edged the Mets by a game six months later for the wild card. For 4" innings that April 11, Figueroa was perfect: 14 up, 14 down. He left after five innings and two hits, earned the win, electrified Shea for a couple hours.
He finished 3-3 on the season in 16 appearances and six starts. He earned one more bit of notice in his final start, May 12 against Washington, when he pitched poorly then ripped the Nationals for acting like a high school softball team on the bench, an admittedly bush move by a last place team that nonetheless struck a chord.
And you can understand why, pretty easily, because for some of the ringleaders of that silly chorus line - Elijah Dukes chief among them - baseball has always come as naturally as breathing, as easily as blinking an eye. Players overloaded with talent and perks never really appreciate the game until they either have to or until it's too late.
Players like Figueroa, who has had to earn every one of his 161" big league innings, reside on the opposite extreme. They not only love the game, they revere it. They will do anything within reason to stay a part of it because they know, as well as anyone, that when you retire you'll be retired a long time. You don't part with the baseball life easily.
"It's hard sometimes," Figueroa said. "I make sacrifices all the time, I spend time away from my wife and my 5-year-old and my friends and my family, spend time all over the place - in Mexico and the Dominican [Republic] and Puerto Rico and Venezuela - because I want people to see I can still pitch. I can still be good enough to pitch in this league."
"I miss things, and it hurts," he said. "But I love this game so much, and it's still in my blood, still such a huge part of who I am. I love everything about it."
So he keeps grinding, keeps doing his daily work to earn his daily bread, hopes to stick with the Mets out of camp, hopes to keep chasing what has kept him filling passports and his own dreams for so many years. People wonder all the time if there are guys left in baseball worth rooting for. Here's one: Nelson Figueroa