Baseball player Daniel Vavruša did not succeed in his attempt to break into the elite overseas MLB competition, but he can use his experience from sports in business. He also talks about this in the new episode of the podcast, which is regularly prepared by the Bez frazí project in cooperation with Aktuálně.cz.
Czech baseball players shocked the world at the recent World Baseball Classic tournament. A group of amateurs competing with overseas MLB professionals finished in fourth place in the group, securing participation in the next year’s competition. Catcher Daniel Vavruša was also in the team, who confided his story on the Bez frazí website.
Vavruša has spent three and a half years overseas. After two years of experience in the Dominican Republic, he headed to Florida, where as a member of the organization of the New York Yankees professional team, he worked in its academy.
“After signing the contract, I believed that I could get to the MLB, because I was able to. They moved me to Tampa for 2013, but then an injury came, which completely cut it,” Vavruša described his overseas anabasis.
The professional team consists of 40 baseball players of the wider cadre, but the organization tries out another 300 players. The Czech representative was not afraid of such competition either.
“I thought to myself: I’m here, I’m going to give it my all. I’m going to enjoy it in all its glory and see where it takes me. I knew there were a million steps between the elite, but I didn’t think about them. That would just tie me up unnecessarily.”
After the injury, there was still hope, but everything broke the following season in 2014. “I expected that when I got hurt in Tampa, I would be rehabilitating in the USA. But the organization sent me to the Dominican Republic. That was a sign to me that they were just waiting for I will get well so they can say goodbye to me.”
Because he did not feel 100% support from the team, he decided to return to the Czech Republic for further treatment. And he has already stayed here. “Of course I was sad, but at the same time I was internally prepared,” the 31-year-old athlete recalled today.
The difference between the popularity of baseball in the Czech Republic and overseas is sky-high. The Yankees are among the most lucrative sports brands on the planet, the pro league MLB earned over 10 billion dollars last year. In the regular season, each team has an incredible 162 games on their schedule.
“It’s possible to play them all, but the players have a break. When you play seven days a week, one stops. The team tries to give guys days off. But there is a phenomenon like Cal Ripken Jr., who played over 2,600 games in a row. That Today, management won’t even allow it,” says Vavruša, whose father is one of the pioneers of baseball in our country.
Professional league players face enormous pressure to perform, which they often deal with by resorting to doping. When Vavruša met the legendary Alex Rodriguez at the beginning of his tenure with the Yankees, the American star – who himself has major doping troubles – responded evasively to this very topic.
“I don’t think it’s changed that much since then. I don’t know if they fight against doping in appearance or for real, but the players know how to walk in it. They know what they can afford and what they can’t. Some supporting substances like growth hormones they will definitely be there. The 160 games per year are difficult to play even on days off,” the baseball player explained.
Together with his father, Vavruša works today in the family business, which deals with – who would have expected – baseball. Specifically, the import and sale of baseball material in the Czech Republic and in Europe.
“Playing baseball itself gave me the most for my current job. I can imagine what someone needs and what someone would like. Thanks to my experience, I am able to tell customers more from a baseball perspective.”
The great Czech success at the World Baseball Classic can also be seen commercially. “I have souvenir balls from the WBC, so I’m selling them and signing them right away,” said a member of the successful Czech national team with a laugh.
The start in Japan was the greatest experience of Vavruša’s sports career so far. And it wasn’t just thanks to the team crew.
“It was absolutely brilliant. Everything, including travel and hotel, was MLB standard, which was great. The game against Japan was also incredible, when we played in front of about 42,000 roaring fans. The best thing about us was that we played for fun, ” he recalled.
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