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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014

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Inside the Mexican League clubhouse ...
Inside the Mexican League clubhouse ...
It's a totally different experience.
It's a totally different experience.

Mexican League playoffs

PUEBLA, MEXICO – The playoffs are different here.

The top five teams in each division get in. Currently, we’re in second place with two games to play. We are assured a spot in the playoffs but with just one win in two games we stay out of the 4/5 spot. Those two play in a winner take all one-game playoff.

I have been on a few teams that went to the playoffs but I have only participated in two. The 2004 Durham Bulls and the 2008 Milwaukee Brewers, both of which were first round exits. This year, I hope to play a little longer, be a little more sore and win the last game we play.

With today's game a need-to-win, we will be playing it like a playoff. They have pitched me a lot and it seems I am warming up just about every day. I am throwing the ball very well, which is great – it keeps me pitching but doesn't allow for much rest.

I love being counted on. Pitching important innings is much different than being a long guy or an innings eater. Every out is stressful and exciting at the same time.

The high fives in the dugout are harder. The managers eyes while saying "good job" have so much more appreciation than when you go one two three in a mop up situation.

Of course, the opposite is true: when you mess up in mop up duties and you just eat the innings and give up a few runs, at least you’re saving the pen. You mess up in high leverage situations and you kill the pen, you kill your teams chance to win. All things good in this game come with a dark side if you don't succeed. You have to be able to have a strong willed mind and heart to pitch out of the pen! Or be completely stupid and talented. Both works.

One thing that is different here in Mexico is the clubhouse commerce. Every place we play, people are in the clubhouse selling you things. Kids and adults run around taking orders all hustling to make a few pesos off the ball players. At any given time there can be 10 people in the clubhouse who have absolutely nothing to do with the team.

Around the b…

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It's back to Mexico for Seth McClung.
It's back to Mexico for Seth McClung.

Eastbound and Down again

PUEBLA, MEXICO – After I got home from Taiwan my family and I got very sick with a flu-like illness. I brought something back from Asia and my wife caught it. Same time my two small children picked up something from their little friends.

Both illnesses ran their course but we all were in a deep fog for about 10 days. During this time I kept getting call from what I thought was an Asian number. I wasn't picking up the phone because I was afraid that The Taiwan team was going to ask me back. Being sick I just didn't want to get back on a plane and then have to pitch as soon as I got back. They were still paying me so this was a possibility with me technically still under contract. So I ignored about three calls from this number.

A week went by and the number called again. This time feeling a little better I answered. I was expecting an Asian voice but instead I heard some English mixed with Spanish. It was a team from Mexico.

Eastbound and Down again

The Pericos of Puebla Mexico were offering me a contract to finish out the season in Mexico. Unlike Taiwan they were asking me to pitch out of the bullpen. This excited me because I have been dominant in the Mexican League this year out of the pen. This team was in first place and they want me to come in and help shore up the back end of their bullpen. We worked out a contract and I headed out July 5.

Home and relocation

Once I was home, the panic of what to do next was suffocating. I spent 13 days home before I answered the Pericos call. Those 13 days were spent in a lot of thought and planning. My wife has told me that I can continue to coach high school basketball during the off season. This is something I am extremely passionate about but we will continue to have to make sacrifices. I will be looking for an off season job for the first time in my life. I hope to make some money and gain experience in the real world but most of all I am blessed to be able to put a uniform back on.

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Big Red is looking for work.
Big Red is looking for work.

Panic sets in

Since I was let go from the Uni-Lions in the Taiwan C.P.B.L I am not quite sure what the next step is for me in my professional career. I want to continue to keep playing. I know the stat heads and some fans will laugh but I feel if I am right and if I am given an opportunity I can contribute in the Major Leagues again.

This being said, the McClung household has a mortgage and other bills to pay. I made some nice money in my career but not boatloads, like people assume. So I must find my next step and try to stay afloat.

My mental checklist broke down like this ...

  • Coaching Jobs
  • Résumé
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Setting up some lessons for when I get home

So, I started to look for coaching opportunities in the college ranks. I applied for a few baseball coaching jobs. These included the University of Iowa head coaching position as well as Florida A&M head coach. I looked into the Florida Gulf Coast pitching coach position as well as University of Cincinnati assistant coaching position, just to name a few.

Most schools require a four-year degree and want a masters with coaching experience in college. Well, I have one semester of college (3.1 GPA – I'm quite proud) but I have 15 years of professional baseball under my belt. That's got to count for something, right? Is this some form of discrimination? Just kidding. Unless it is.

A week has gone by and I haven't heard much positive back. I am out of that loop, or rather out of that circle of people. This made me think, I have to get my resume out and I need to connect with people. LinkedIn was my answer. LinkedIn is like Myspace for business people ... wait ... no one uses Myspace anymore. It’s like Facebook for business people. Through this service I have reached out and started connecting to baseball people as well as business people across the country.

It's a hustle and I am trying to get my name out there. For a person with zero work experience this process is hard, not to mention downright scary…

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This glove will now be a mantel piece.
This glove will now be a mantel piece.

Letting go

What a whirlwind ride the last few weeks have been. Last time we spoke I mentioned how the Uni-lions of the Taiwan League, a.k.a C.P.B.L., brought in former Brewers pitcher Nelson Figueroa and it was a numbers game to who went home. Well, it was me.

I was upset but I understood. I was pitching fine but the revolving door method is how many teams in the C.P.B.L. use foreign players. I am grateful for the opportunity that the Uni-Lions gave me. I was blessed to provide for my family by playing a game. I hope to continue to do this in some capacity in the future.

The process of getting let go is a lot different in Taiwan. In the United States you get called in to the managers office and he gives you one of the typical responses:

"We’re going to send you down to get more work."

"It's a numbers game," or simply, "You need to go down and work on something specific ... aka, you sucked."

In Taiwan, my interpreter came to my apartment and let me know. It's kind of odd that the person you form a bond with while you’re there is the one to bring down the bad news. I think the culture as a whole, or at least in this aspect the industry wants to avoid confrontation. None from me, I would have liked to play out the season but such is the business of baseball. Once they told me, I had a few days to spend in the country before my flight home.

Since I was told that I was going to be going home, I have started to flip my days. Taiwan is 12 hours different. It's been crazy going to sleep during the day while everyone else is out and about. I have been rather successful in flipping my days and I am hoping this makes my transition home much easier.

Once I get back to the United States, I will regroup and see what's out there for me. At this point, I may be applying for jobs in the real world, real soon.

A religious experience?

In Taiwan we have a Japanese manager and some Japanese coaches. They bring some of their tradition and religion (Shinto, I think) with them. More on t…

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