The first installment in an unplanned, perhaps regular (but maybe not) segment called “People from my life that are far superior to me.”
By Danny Mehigan
Once upon a time (2002), I was a bright-eyed high school sophomore pitching for the varsity. I was just happy to be there, and even happier/more surprised to be called upon in a close game against West Bend East, the best team in our conference. They had the best player in the state, Ryan Rohlinger (pictured above), and he ended up ripping a game-winning single through my wickets to give East the win. Later that year, I was due to bat fourth in the last inning of a state semifinal game. Rohlinger came in to pitch, even though it wasn’t his primary position, and struck out three straight batters. I wasted away in the on deck circle, and never did get to bat in a state tournament. Damn you, Ryan Rohlinger. At the very least, I thought that was the end of my dealings with him.
But yesterday, as I was reading up on the Brewers latest spring training game, a familiar name crawled across the page. Down 6-5 with two men on in the bottom of the ninth, Ryan Rohlinger jacked a 3-run home run to give the Giants a win. I took a double-take (double-took?) and read it again. Yeah, it had to be the same one. I had heard his name again in college a few years back, as he played third base for Oklahoma, but I didn’t know he was THAT good. After talking with amazement to a few old baseball teammates, I decided to find out some more about his career.
Wow, did that ruin my night. This guy, even though he surely doesn’t remember me, owned high school sports. He made All-State 10 different times in four sports, including all four his senior year. I considered myself a good athlete, and I never even sniffed a single All-State nomination. He played JuCo baseball, then left for OU. He was named Cape Cod MVP one summer. My only experience with Cape Cod baseball is watching Freddie Prinze suck face with Jessica Biel (total bullshit, by the way). Then, Rohlinger got drafted by the Giants and made his way from Class A to the Big Show during the 2008 season, playing in 21 games and getting 32 at-bats for the San Francisco Giants. Jesús Cristo, I couldn’t even getting called up to the majors in my first season of MLB The Show!
Growing up watching sports, you always think pro athletes are some mystical beings that walk on water. As you get closer and eventually reach that age, it’s pretty damn humbling to see someone your age dominating on a worldwide scale (I’m looking at you, Alex Ovechkin). It’s even worse when it’s someone you know from your personal life. I will continue to sit on this couch while you continue to make money playing baseball and hitting bombs against my favorite team. You sick sonofabitch.