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love520 Mar 28 '18
ST. Miguel Montero Jersey . PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Charlie Reliford sold his car to chase his big league dreams, using the money to help play the cost of attending umpire school.Times have changed for those with the skills and aspirations seeking to become major league umps.MLB held its fifth and final 2016 umpire camp Saturday at Tropicana Field before the Tampa Bay Rays hosted the Texas Rangers.Five to seven attendees will end up getting invitations to join a group totaling around 30 for a December mini-camp in Fort Myers that will determine umpire school scholarship recipients.Realizing that for anybody to quit their job and risk four or five weeks of their life is a big step, much less come up with several thousand dollars in tuition, said Reliford, an MLB umpire supervisor. Baseball was gracious enough to give us a budget where we could help some worthy candidates get their start with little to no risk of their own other than their time.Over 100 past participants have moved on to professional ball since the first camp in 2006. One of them, Carlos Torres, worked the Kansas City Royals-Rays series earlier this month at Tropicana Field.Thats really the moments that are good to me, Reliford said. I helped that guy a little bit.Reliford was fresh out of the University of Kentucky and working as a director at a YMCA in 1982 when he made the call that would eventually land him in the majors seven years later.Umpire school tuition was several thousand dollars and quite frankly, just out of college, didnt have it, Reliford said. So, I sold my car, quit my job with all of my friends telling, me, `What, are you crazy? And I went to umpire school. For me, it was the best thing that ever happened to me.All 14 scholarship recipients last year are currently working in the minor leagues.When we find candidates that are qualified, we will encourage those people to go, Reliford said. We want to help.Rich Rieker, Larry Young and Ed Rapuano were among the other instructors at Saturdays camp. Jose Bautista Jersey . Down by seven with 90 seconds left in regulation, thats where they looked comfortable. Roy Halladay Jersey .S District Court against Major League Baseball, the Office of the Commissioner and his own union, the MLBPA. http://www.authenticbluejayspro.com/blue-jays-roger-clemens-jersey/ . Numbers Game looks into the Canadiens securing the services of Thomas Vanek in a trade with the New York Islanders. The Canadiens Get: LW Thomas Vanek and a conditional fifth-round pick. Measured by almost any standard other than the family trees of fruit flies, Michelle Moultrie is, well, young. At 26 years old, she is a young human. In her current role as an assistant softball coach at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, she is young for her profession.Even athletically, hardly a forgiving criteria, she should only be arriving at her physical prime.And yet as one of the most senior players on the United States national softball team, she is presented with evidence on a day-to-day basis that, like all of us, she is only getting older.I dont use Snapchat, Moultrie said of the social media tool of the moment. I only have, like, a Facebook and a Twitter. I dont even have an Instagram, so Im a little behind.Alas. It happens to us all.But for Moultrie and teammate Valerie Arioto, who debuted for the national team when some of their current teammates had yet to begin high school, Wednesday brought news that theirs will not be a generation completely lost in softball history.News that will be all the sweeter if they are around to represent that generation in four years.The grandest sporting event in the world isnt even in full quadrennial swing yet -- with just a handful of competitions underway in advance of Fridays Olympic opening ceremonies in Rio de Janeiro -- but the sport of softball has turned its attention to the next edition.Moultrie and Ariotos summer is finished, a World Championship won last month to end Japans four-year-reign atop the sport. Softball wont be played in Rio, just as it wasnt in London four years ago. But it will be played in Tokyo in 2020. The International Olympic Committee voted to include it in the program as part of an initiative to allow host nations greater influence.That means the only two players who have been part of Team USA for each of the past six years, spanning world championship disappointment and success that occurred in almost equal anonymity, may yet be Olympic rookies in their 30s.You cant build anything without a foundation, Team USA coach Ken Eriksen said. Moultrie and Arioto, theyre the rebar. Theyre the stuff youve got to have to build anything.It wasnt clear those two would be the foundation in 2011, but it was clear one was needed.A core of the team that settled for Olympic silver in 2008, stunned by Japan in what was at the time the final gold medal game for the sport, returned two years later in what was then the ISF World Championship (the International Softball Federation was since incorporated within the new World Baseball Softball Confederation). Still featuring Olympians like Monica Abbott, Caitlin Lowe, Jessica Mendoza, Cat Osterman and Natasha Watley, the U.S. beat Japan for that title in Venezuela.In a sign of things to come, the tournament wasnt televised in the United States. A nation went about its summer business and barely blinked an eye.With no Olympic future, many of the biggest names then understandably stepped away from international competition to concentrate on National Pro Fastpitch, the domestic professional league that has resiliently teetered between four and six teams since emerging in 2004 from the ashes of previous attempts.That was the backdrop when Arioto and Moultrie debuted in the league while still collegians at the University of California and University of Florida, respectively.The USA roster was full of active collegians at the time. It still has many more than it did in the Olympic era. That was partly by design, a desire to develop players for a possible Olympic return at some point in the future. It was partly by necessity; college players dont have rent to pay.Playing softball for Team USA didnt make for an easy living even during the sports initial run in the Olympics. Far from it. But the austerity forced by the loss of funding from the United States Olympic Committee was painful. A budget barely a tenth of Olympic-era highs went entirely to travel and competition. There was no money left for training beyond the limited run of thhose events, like the Pan-Am Games in which Arioto and Moultrie played in 2011 or the World Championship a year later in Canadas Yukon Territory. Devon Travis Jersey. Key staff positions were cut. Even Eriksen worked without a paycheck. On limited pre-tournament tours, the team stayed in the sort of hotels in which you typically find youth teams, not national teams.Arioto is a year older than Moultrie, but a redshirt season for the former meant they each played their final college season in 2012.Which adds up to four years of trying to make this work.For Arioto, of late, that means spending much of her time in Japan, where she is in her second season with Hondas team in that countrys professional league. She is in many respects one of the lucky ones, only a handful of Americans able to earn the best salaries available in the sport -- outside of Abbott, really the only truly full-time salaries. But it is still a nomadic life, all the more for a California homebody who purposely stayed close to home for college. And a grueling life, too -- the Japanese season is split into two halves with her Team USA duties filling the summer break.Theres that thought of should I have a real-person job or this and that, Arioto said. There was a time a couple of years ago when I decided this is a real-person job, and this is what I love doing. USA is family to me. So I kind of got over that.Continuing to play is even more of a patchwork endeavor for Moultrie. There are softball players who are born to coach, who know even while still playing that they will follow that route. Moultrie isnt one of them. She saw her future in business, but office jobs generally frown on employees taking multiple months off each summer to play softball. So one of the best hitters in the world, someone who went 7-for-7 with six RBIs in the preliminary round of the World Championship and ranked among team leaders in RBIs for the entire tournament, finds time when she can to use the same facilities as the players she coaches at Samford. Even then, to step away from coaching duties for extended periods each summer requires the cooperation of a head coach, in this case Mandy Burford.All of this to play in international events that are rarely on television or receive national attention.You think about all the decisions youve made, whereas a lot of us could probably have really good-paying full-time jobs doing something else, Moultrie said. Maybe if youre struggling paying bills, you might think about sometimes having to sacrifice with this situation. When you get to maybe December, you maybe think about it. But when you start to get around softball -- every time you get on the field, you just love it. Then youre just reminded that all the sacrifices and everything like that are totally worth it. It gives you a little bit of life experience, I think.Wednesdays vote doesnt wave a magic wand. It means change for Team USA players, but that wont come overnight. Based on past models, funding from the USOC will gradually increase as the program builds toward the 2018 WBSC World Championship in Japan and the 2020 Olympics. There are still challenges ahead to keep doing this for four more years, but there is also light at the end of the tunnel.Moultrie and Arioto dont get to tell their stories or show their skills in Rio.But these Olympics began with a victory for softball that means the team they helped maintain through lean years will get that opportunity, qualification willing, four years from now.Perhaps with them still as the foundation.I hope I do, and Im going to continue to try to, Arioto said of playing in 2020. But if not, I think its amazing to say I was part of a team that could help get softball back into the Olympics.This team has been so loyal. There is a core of us who have been fighting, with a lot of the staff, to get it back. 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