By: Bob McVinua
As the calender turned from July to August something changed with this Braves team that was much more drastic then a new month. It almost seemed as if it was the dawn of a new era. As if someone flipped a switch and things were different. What was the difference? This team finally had speed. However Michael Bourn was not the only player providing this impressive increase in speed. There was another guy who know one knew much about until a week or so ago. There was a guy who was trapped in the minor leagues just hoping for a chance to prove himself.
On the outside Jose Constanza might not look overly impressive. He stands roughly 5’9 and weighs about a 150lbs soak and wet. But what he lacks in size he makes up for in speed, heart and determination. This is a player who was being bounced around the minor leagues for almost 7 seasons. The fact that most players who make it to the major leagues are up in 2-4 years tops. Everyone needs development but 7 season is a long time. It appeared that Jose Constanza would be a career minor league player as he turned 27 and still didn’t see much hope of playing in the big leagues.
If you search the internet you will find little information on Jose Constanza. Sure you might find some stats or brief scouting reports but who is this guy? I know that he was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. I know that the Cleveland Indians signed him as a non drafted free agent. In February 2011 he was labeled Triple A’s best base runner. But to me these are all standard facts. A minor league scouting report and a birth place can be found on just about every player who’s ever played this great game of baseball. I want to know more about the man behind the speed.
So I’m sure a lot of you are wondering how did this journey man outfielder who had never played a day in the major leagues until a week ago take over Jason Heyward’s job in right field. That’s a good question. When you look at Jason Heyward you see an absolute monster. The guy is 6’5 and 240lbs. He has power at the plate and as much hype surrounding him as any Braves rookie I have seen in the past 17 years of being a fan. He was supposed to be the future of the Braves outfield and to be honest many people, including myself considered him to be the future of the franchise once Chipper Jones calls it quits.
One word can describe how this all happened. That word is opportunity. See without opportunity none of us would be where we are today. This doesn’t just apply to sports. This is a lesson that can be applied to life. If your boss hadn’t given you an opportunity then you wouldn’t have the job you do. If your spouse had never given you the opportunity to show how wonderful you are then you guys wouldn’t be married. Kid’s who try out for little league are given a chance when they are selected for a particular team. Opportunity is not about sports, it’s about life.
Jose Constanza got called up to the major leagues for several reasons. Some of them were just by chance and others were his own doing. At the time of his call up the Braves were lacking team speed, had slumping players and a brash of injuries. All of those things were blessings in disguise for our new found friend Jose Constanza. Those aspects of the situation he had no control over. However what he did have control over was that he was hitting .312 with a .361OBP at the time of his call up. Jose made himself a prime candidate to be promoted to the major leagues, so when the time came he was the one they wanted.
Another aspect that we’ve learned from this situation is that what you did yesterday won’t guarantee you success for tomorrow. People quickly forget about the past and that forces all of us to stay on our game. If your a sales men and you had a superb month in March but don’t sell a single thing in April and May, then your boss won’t care so much that you had a great month of March. Jason Heyward is having the same realization as we speak. Yes, he had a great rookie campaign but right now he can’t hit water if he was standing in a boat. Were in a pennant race and a slumping Heyward is not going to help us win games.
What’s the future for Jose Constanza? It’s tough to say for sure. Sometimes these journey man players fade almost as quickly as they came into the picture. Jason Heyward will ALWAYS have the upper hand in this battle. He is the “chosen one” as far as the Atlanta Braves are concerned. If Heyward starts tearing the cover off the ball in the next 2 weeks then Constanaza will either go to the bench or back to the minor leagues. Even if both players are producing at the same level, Heyward will be given the chance to play. Right, wrong or indifferent it’s just the way it is.
So if you ask me. Jason Heyward has as much control over Jose Constanza’s future as Jose Constanza does. This is not just a great sports story. This is a great life story. We should all be inspired by Jose Constanza and realize that we need to take advantage of all the opportunities that comes our way.
Opportunities have wings. And they will eventually fly away. Grab it while you can.