For you, this Tuesday may be like many others. Perhaps you are reading this column as you sip a hot cup of coffee before heading off to work.
For Greenfield native Joe Hudson, today is unlike any Tuesday he’s every experienced, as today is the first day that Hudson begins working toward his dream job.
To tell the truth, the 2012 Plymouth State University graduate’s first job choice would be to pitch in the Major Leagues. And while Hudson had a successful high school and collegiate pitching run, it was not in the cards for him to make the jump to the next level.
But that’s the dream of many a young child, and very few will ever achieve the goal of playing a professional sport. Hudson, however, is one of the lucky few people to actually get a shot to do what they would consider their dream job. This morning is Hudson’s first day of work within the Philadelphia Phillies organization, where he is serving as a trainer.
Hudson has been back in this area for nearly a year. After graduating from Plymouth State with a degree in exercise physiology, Hudson returned to the area and got a job as a personal trainer in Amherst. His dream was to land a job with an MLB organization. This past December, during the MLB Winter Meetings, Hudson began scanning websites for job openings, which he said are typically posted around this time. Hudson applied for about 15 jobs, and right away the Washington Nationals and Phillies both responded. He went to interview with both clubs, and after a couple of weeks, he heard back from the Phillies, who offered him a job. He accepted it, worried that he might not get another offer. The Nationals got back to him five days later and said that they were going with another candidate, but that they floated his name to some other clubs. Hudson said he wound up getting calls from five or six other clubs after he accepted the job with the Phillies, including the Minnesota Twins, Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies, but he had to turn them down.
Hudson reported to Clearwater, Fla., the site of the Phillies’ spring training home, late last week and moved into his temporary housing on Monday. This morning, he was scheduled to report to work along with many of the other strength coaches. He said he will begin by learning exactly what he is in charge of, but he believes he will be responsible for leading warmups and workouts, running drills, and overseeing the weight room.
“I couldn’t tell you really,” he said of what his exact duties will be during spring training. “The first week I’ll be getting to learn the team and the program, and then I imagine I’ll be responsible for leading warmups and workouts. Things like that.”
Hudson will primarily work with Minor League players and he will stay in Clearwater for extended spring training, which lasts until the middle of June. Following that, he will move up to Williamsport, Pa., where he will serve as a trainer on the Williamsport Crosscutters, a Phillies short-season Single A affiliate that plays in the same league (New York-Penn League) as the Red Sox affiliate Lowell Spinners. Lowell will make the trip down to Pennsylvania this season, which means the closest Hudson and the Crosscutters will be to this area are when they play at the Connecticut Tigers (Norwich, Conn.) in July, and when they head to Troy, N.Y., to take on the Tri-City ValleyCats in August.
It’s an experience Hudson is certainly excited about, although it does have one drawback that Hudson is hoping to avoid.
“I really hope Philadelphia and Boston don’t meet in the World Series,” he joked.
Like many in the area, Hudson has grown up a huge Red Sox fan, and he said that over the past couple of weeks he has worn his Red Sox attire to get it out of his system. And while he might not be a full-fledged Phillies fan just yet, Philadelphia is beginning to grow on him. Before he left for Florida, Hudson was working at Collins-Moylan Arena in Greenfield. His boss and New York Yankee fan Mike Mastrototaro recently hung a license plate on the Zamboni at the rink that said something to the extent of “Yankees No. 1.” Hudson managed to change the plate so it said “Phillies No. 1,” although sticking to his Red Sox roots, he added something additional at the end.
“In the National League.”
While I do appreciate that the WMass Basketball Seeding Committee has tweaked the Walker System to try and get the seeds more accurate, there still appear to be some major flaws.
Case in point this season is Sabis International Charter School, which went 7-13 in the regular season and still picked up the third seed in the boys Division II field. I’ve been told that this is not the Sabis team of four or five years ago that was giving Frontier some epic battles in the WMass Division III finals.
Here’s the issue. The Bulldogs play an eight-game Bi-County League Central Division schedule and have the ability to schedule 12 independent games. This season, the team went 5-3 in league play, and finished second to earn the automatic qualifier. From there, Sabis went 2-10 against its independent schedule. Under the new Walker System, which was first implemented last winter, Sabis gets a major boost to the strength of schedule part of the Walker formula. Under the old system, the strength of schedule was based only on those games that a team won. Now, the strength of schedule is based on who the team schedules and can be figured out prior to the season.
While the new way seems to be a better measuring stick, it’s far from perfect. Sabis did nothing to earn the third seed in Division II other than schedule 12 independent games against mostly Division I opponents. Their seven wins were not of the impressive variety and they didn’t even qualify for the tournament under the 70 percent rule.
As Mahar coach Chad Softic stated in the article that ran in Monday’s paper, many teams in Western Mass. don’t have the luxury to schedule that many independent games. And, as one other coach pointed out, if every team did have the chance to schedule 12 independent games, everyone would be calling Division I schools, because it’s clear that you get more points for simply scheduling tougher opponents in the new Walker System than you do for actually winning games.
As I’ve said in the past, I don’t have all the answers, and I know the committee is doing all it can to ensure that the seeds are correct. In this, Western Mass. is far superior to the rest of the state, which seeds based solely on record — meaning a team that goes 19-1 in a bad league can get the top seed and turn around and lose its first game. But perhaps a little bit of common sense should come into play when doling out the seeds. And Sabis is not the only team helped out in the Walker by losing games. Dean Tech went 14-6 this season and got the eighth seed in Division III, two spots ahead of Turners Falls, which sported the same record. It’s no secret that the Indians play in the much tougher Hampshire League than Dean’s Tri-County League, but the Golden Hawks scheduled (and lost) six tough independent games, helping give them a boost.
I made my way over to Between The Uprights in Turners Falls on Saturday for the benefit to help Ryan Wilder raise money to make the trip to Australia this summer to play in the Down Under Bowl. A very good crowd turned out, and Wilder wound up taking home $1,980. Keep an eye out for information regarding the upcoming benefit for Malcolm Smith, who is also raising money to play in the Bowl. I heard his family will be doing the Celebrity Bartender at Taylor’s Tavern in Greenfield in April.
Jason Butynski is a Greenfield native and Recorder sportswriter. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.