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Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Prospect Who Walked Away: Why a Mets first-round pick quit the game 20 years ago

Ryan Jaroncyk would never play in the major leagues. On its own, that hardly distinguishes him from other picks; 11 of his fellow first-rounders that year never got to the bigs, including all three chosen immediately after him. Nor was he the only Mets pick not to pan out; of the club’s 11 first-rounders from 1991 to ‘97 only four made it to the Show. But Jaroncyk never even played in Triple A. Or Double A. Two years after being chosen he was out of professional baseball. And the reason why is even more unusual: He quit.

And he quit not because he couldn’t hit a curveball or because some university had offered him a football scholarship. He quit because he hated baseball. He hated baseball because he found the game boring and the lifestyle decadent, and the whole experience reminded him constantly of his overbearing father.

His decision has long confounded the people involved in drafting him. How could they have missed something like this? What had happened to Ryan Jaroncyk?

Happy Father’s Day!

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 17, 2017 at 12:36 PM | 37 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mets, ryan jaroncyk

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   1. Cargo Cultist Posted: June 17, 2017 at 02:23 PM (#5478087)
Have you ever read The Great Santini? Having done so would help you considerably to understand what happened here.
   2. Swoboda is freedom Posted: June 17, 2017 at 02:54 PM (#5478092)
Have you ever read The Great Santini? Having done so would help you considerably to understand what happened here.

Supposedly the book is fairly autobiographical about Conroy's relationship with his father (not the plot or ending). Pat Conroy's book was great and was the movie with Robert Duvall.
   3. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 17, 2017 at 02:59 PM (#5478094)
I am shocked - shocked! - to learn that a married, young-Earth creationist 18-year-old didn't take to the minor league baseball lifestyle.
   4. Adam Starblind Posted: June 17, 2017 at 04:55 PM (#5478129)
It was that or the fact that he sucked.
   5. McCoy Posted: June 17, 2017 at 05:50 PM (#5478142)
Have you ever read The Great Santini? Having done so would help you considerably to understand what happened here.

He spiked an opposing player?
   6. Cargo Cultist Posted: June 17, 2017 at 07:43 PM (#5478163)
No. Similar family situation.
   7. LA Podcasting Hombre of Anaheim Posted: June 17, 2017 at 08:39 PM (#5478172)
And he quit not because he couldn’t hit a curveball
He played five years in the minors, and after looking at his stats, I'm pretty open to the idea that he couldn't hit a curveball.
   8. vortex of dissipation Posted: June 17, 2017 at 08:47 PM (#5478176)
There are players who simply don't enjoy the game at all. The best example in recent years was Jeff King, who retired in mid-season, the day after he had enough service time to ensure his pension.
   9. zack Posted: June 17, 2017 at 09:09 PM (#5478179)
I like ex-NHL player Patrick O'Sullivan's piece (now a book) on how his "overbearing" (i.e. physically abusive) father didn't get him to the pros.

A few years later, his dream finally came true. I was selected in the second round of the 2003 NHL Draft. The NHL assigned me an entire security team for the day, but I knew it was useless. He made sure he was seated right where I could see him.

So when my name was called and I pulled on the Minnesota Wild sweater, I knew he was in the building watching, and it made me absolutely furious. Not because of all the pain I endured. But because I knew that he believed, in his heart, that all his abuse was validated. He thought he was the reason I made it to the NHL. The ends justified the means.
   10. winnipegwhip Posted: June 17, 2017 at 09:29 PM (#5478183)
Anybody see a movie called Gross Misconduct..the Brian Spencer Story.
His dad was maniacal and it didnt end nicely for the old man or Spinner.
   11. winnipegwhip Posted: June 17, 2017 at 09:36 PM (#5478185)
   12. Howie Menckel Posted: June 17, 2017 at 10:49 PM (#5478203)
Shawn Bradley never seemed to care about basketball.

he was just the most coordinated 7-foot-6 guy I ever saw. he could get up and down the court, and pass, and all that. so he played.

one of MANY really tall NBAers who married women 2 full feet shorter. and they popped out another kid every year #Mormon it was tough not to try to figure the logistics

:)

oh, the first NFL game Curtis Martin ever saw, he played in, iirc
   13. villainx Posted: June 17, 2017 at 11:59 PM (#5478212)
Any source or something to back up the Shawn Bradley claim? I thought Bradley cared enough to be the best player he could be. (But I am far from a basketball average fan.)
   14. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 18, 2017 at 12:02 AM (#5478213)

There are players who simply don't enjoy the game at all. The best example in recent years was Jeff King, who retired in mid-season, the day after he had enough service time to ensure his pension.


I seem to remember Bill James writing something about Kevin McReynolds using baseball simply as a way to facilitate his hunting career.

This story reminded me a bit of the "30 for 30" about Todd Marinovich. It also kinda reminded me of Kirk Cameron.
   15. Golfing Great Mitch Cumstein Posted: June 18, 2017 at 01:38 AM (#5478219)
Keith Foulke was an odd case. He openly stated he liked hockey more than baseball. Once he got injured he quit. A few years later he ends up trying to return in an independent league. Now he works for the Red Sox. Weird for a guy who didn't seem to care for baseball.

I think Austin Kearns was another guy who stated his lack of interest in baseball.
   16. Colin Posted: June 18, 2017 at 05:09 AM (#5478224)
Andre Agassi's autobiography is very good for a number of reasons, but mostly because it wrestles with the competing drives of being excellent at tennis (because of an overbearing dad) and hating tennis.
   17. Swoboda is freedom Posted: June 18, 2017 at 06:23 AM (#5478225)
he was just the most coordinated 7-foot-6 guy I ever saw. he could get up and down the court, and pass, and all that. so he played.

one of MANY really tall NBAers who married women 2 full feet shorter.


When you are 7 ft 6, it is hard not to marry someone who is not 2 ft shorter.
   18. frannyzoo Posted: June 18, 2017 at 06:48 AM (#5478226)
Hating one's job is evidently universal, by some, among occupations, it's just that "playing sports" would seem to many immune to such antipathy. #16 above a good tennis illustration for even/especially those at the highest level of talent. Which reminds me that it's been over a month since I last read D.F. Wallace's piece on the Canadian Open and that's too long.
   19. bfan Posted: June 18, 2017 at 09:06 AM (#5478238)
That was an interesting article, and highlights one of the many difficult parts of parenting. Knowing the world and the difficulty of obtaining success in any endeavor means sometime pushing your kids beyond what they want to do. Yes, it is easy to say in retrospect you do not do that past the point where they hate the task, but dang, Tiger Woods got great because he had more reps than anybody; maybe an extra 100 swings in the cage every week is the difference between flaming out as a hitter in college, or not, an and adult is better able to make that call than a14 year kid.

Take it out of sports; pushing the kid for a few more math problems completed or a few more hours of coding every week, when the kid wants one more session of Halo with his friends, may make a world of difference.

Even kids inclined to a particular field will take the easy way out for the last 10% of the climb to the top, to achieve excellence; it is sometimes up to the parent to get them that last 10%.
   20. Rennie's Tenet Posted: June 18, 2017 at 10:34 AM (#5478243)
The best example in recent years was Jeff King, who retired in mid-season, the day after he had enough service time to ensure his pension.


Joe Posnanski absolutely hates being a sportswriter, so much so that he stopped his listing of the top 100 players in mid-blog.
   21. Hysterical & Useless Posted: June 18, 2017 at 11:35 AM (#5478247)
MANY really tall NBAers who married women 2 full feet shorter.


Not a sports story, but I was in a show many years ago, two of the people working backstage (lights, costumes, some such) were a couple, the guy was 6'8" and his wife was possibly 4'10". I mean, when she was standing up her head was barely above his waist. Makes me think of those stories of babies being suffocated by a parent rolling over on them in bed. She would've just disappeared if he rolled on top of her.



Joe Posnanski absolutely hates being a sportswriter, so much so that he stopped his listing of the top 100 players in mid-blog.


Good one!
   22. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 18, 2017 at 11:53 AM (#5478253)
Even kids inclined to a particular field will take the easy way out for the last 10% of the climb to the top, to achieve excellence; it is sometimes up to the parent to get them that last 10%.

That was (and is) totally me - I was pretty easily able to get good grades but not straight A+s while still pursuing a lot of hobbies, etc., tried a couple different career paths, and eventually settled into a pretty comfortable lifestyle some rungs down from the top of my profession. I'm about 99% sure that I'm much, much happier than I would have been had I been driven or forced to achieve that extra 10% (or 20%, or whatever it would have been) to get to the top, both in the present and at various stages in my development.
   23. vortex of dissipation Posted: June 18, 2017 at 03:14 PM (#5478306)
Not a sports story, but I was in a show many years ago, two of the people working backstage (lights, costumes, some such) were a couple, the guy was 6'8" and his wife was possibly 4'10". I mean, when she was standing up her head was barely above his waist. Makes me think of those stories of babies being suffocated by a parent rolling over on them in bed. She would've just disappeared if he rolled on top of her.


I'm just under 6'6". My first girlfriend was 5'2", and that may be stretching it. We couldn't walk down the street hand in hand - it was just too awkward to manage.
   24. PASTE, Now with Extra Pitch and Extra Stamina Posted: June 18, 2017 at 05:07 PM (#5478349)
Hating one's job is evidently universal, by some, among occupations, it's just that "playing sports" would seem to many immune to such antipathy


But it's not, because for almost every kid good enough to one day play a professional sport, from a very young age, the sport he "plays" is work. It's not just tyrannical parents that make it so.
   25. Hank G. Posted: June 18, 2017 at 05:26 PM (#5478352)
one of MANY really tall NBAers who married women 2 full feet shorter. and they popped out another kid every year #Mormon it was tough not to try to figure the logistics


You only have to intersect at one point. It’s not that hard.
   26. McCoy Posted: June 18, 2017 at 08:06 PM (#5478401)
That might cause a problem.
   27. PreservedFish Posted: June 18, 2017 at 09:41 PM (#5478425)
You only have to intersect at one point.

Who says romance is dead?

It’s not that hard.

Reputedly a problem for men of extraordinary size.
   28. Hank G. Posted: June 19, 2017 at 12:10 AM (#5478450)
It’s not that hard.


Reputedly a problem for men of extraordinary size.


I realized that that could be taken two ways, but by the time I realized it, the editing period had ended. I should have said “It’s not that difficult”.

The extraordinary size has more to do with the actual equipment rather than the size of the person, I think. I’ve never heard that there is a correlation between height and um, endowment.
   29. Hank G. Posted: June 19, 2017 at 12:15 AM (#5478452)
You only have to intersect at one point.


Who says romance is dead?


We’re talking about what should be only a small part of a romantic encounter. Without getting graphic, there are probably still ways to keep it “romantic”, even with a great disparity in height.
   30. Adam Starblind Posted: June 19, 2017 at 07:02 AM (#5478472)
ve never heard that there is a correlation between height and um, endowment.


I've always assumed there was.
   31. TomH Posted: June 19, 2017 at 07:44 AM (#5478476)
#3 - I am not shocked- not shocked at all!- at the pathetic stereotyping that goes on in BBTF.

A young kid from what was likely a somewhat sheltered environ gets suddenly exposed (first impressions) to lots of stuff, including a friend/teammate death while people were being stupid. As far as knows, all of baseball looks like this.

Tim Tebow tries to hard to play sports, maybe it's because he's a looney. This kid quits sports, maybe because he's a looney. Look, it explains every reaction perfectly!
   32. Rally Posted: June 19, 2017 at 08:11 AM (#5478483)
He played five years in the minors, and after looking at his stats, I'm pretty open to the idea that he couldn't hit a curveball.


Yeah, if he didn't make the decision to quit the decision would have been made for him.

I guess "The Office" has been off the air long enough, but when I read #25 I was expecting the next post to be "that's what she said".
   33. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: June 19, 2017 at 09:34 AM (#5478498)
I'm about 99% sure that I'm much, much happier than I would have been had I been driven or forced to achieve that extra 10% (or 20%, or whatever it would have been) to get to the top, both in the present and at various stages in my development.
This is me as well. I know it irritates at least one of my parents that I work in AV systems and video production, and not law or medicine or something that comes with money and status. I'm perfectly content with what I do professionally. I've politely declined promotions and management positions on multiple occasions because I don't want to mess with what's working for me.

My goal is to maximize happiness, regardless of how others react to that. Sounds like Jaroncyk was thinking similarly, and I respect that.

I'm also similar to Jaroncyk in that I'm not anywhere near talented enough to play baseball in the major leagues.
   34. Zonk Tormundbane Posted: June 19, 2017 at 09:53 AM (#5478502)
He played five years in the minors, and after looking at his stats, I'm pretty open to the idea that he couldn't hit a curveball.


Yeah, if he didn't make the decision to quit the decision would have been made for him.


I know it's SI -- and I know they're looking for the human interest angle... but this is really just a dreadfully poor article -- completely missing the point that would be most obvious to anyone looking at this stat line. They mention the .276 in rookie ball, but omit the .326/.339 -- and the fact that it was far and away the best line of his minor league career. Perhaps he was a defensive wizard (though, wasn't the mid-90s St. Rey Ordonez' heyday?) -- we don't have much in the way of analytics from low-level minors in the mid 90s, of course, but nothing in his defensive line jumps out as any more than cromulent.

I enjoy where are they now/why didn't it click pieces of that sort -- but the problem with this piece is that it willfully ignores the most glaring reason he walked away: He wasn't going to make it to the big leagues. I think you could still do a plenty interesting article on how the baseball life didn't suit him, it's the article-long framing of it as that being the prime mover that is so hacktastic.

That's the problem with such works -- when you start with a predetermined conclusion, you really lose any superficial insights one might gleam from such pieces... for example, even accepting that he apparently didn't want to talk about the article - I might have questioned why the Mets seemed rather aggressive in promoting him to full-season ball when he clearly hadn't master short-season A ball or even the rookie leagues.
   35. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 19, 2017 at 10:34 AM (#5478523)
#3 - I am not shocked- not shocked at all!- at the pathetic stereotyping that goes on in BBTF.

A young kid from what was likely a somewhat sheltered environ gets suddenly exposed (first impressions) to lots of stuff, including a friend/teammate death while people were being stupid. As far as knows, all of baseball looks like this.

Well yeah, that's pretty much what I was saying. So you honestly don't think that his being an ultra-devout kid who got married at 18 had anything to do with his reaction - say, in the "sheltered" component - and that it's just "pathetic stereotyping" to think that it probably did?
   36. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: June 19, 2017 at 11:32 AM (#5478572)
I enjoy where are they now/why didn't it click pieces of that sort -- but the problem with this piece is that it willfully ignores the most glaring reason he walked away: He wasn't going to make it to the big leagues.
All of the position players on the Kingsbury team that Jaroncyk played on in his last season should have up and quit. Jaroncyk had the lowest OPS the 10 players with 100+ PA at Kingsport. Only three made it to AAA. Two of these, Bailey Chancey and Junior Zamora, combined for 8 games at AAA. Pee Wee Lopez managed 49 games and a 238/298/331 batting line.

The pitching staff included four guys who made the majors, including AJ Burnett.
   37. dlf Posted: June 19, 2017 at 11:52 AM (#5478589)
Have you ever read The Great Santini? Having done so would help you considerably to understand what happened here.


For the non-fictionalized version, Conroy also wrote My Losing Season about his abusive father, his college basketball career as the best player on a dreadful Citadel team, and his desire to walk away from it because of his father's actions and those of the Bobby Knight styled coach.

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