After Tuesday's intrasquad game, a small nugget of news was passed along by Shannon Drayer. Felix Hernandez funded a feast for the minor league players, catering in lunch for them from BBQ chain Famous Dave's in Peoria.
This lunch wasn't paid for by the team, Felix funded it himself. While it may seem like pocket change to Felix considering his new deal, it's a gesture that shouldn't go unnoticed. There's a lot of unsettling things happening to minor league players at this stage in Spring Training. They don't know where they are about to spend the year, and are surely worried about the impact of every swing they take or every pitch they throw. If you've ever read the memoirs of Dirk Hayhurst, you're familiar with how difficult and unsettling of an experience spring training can be for a player whose future is in question. Felix doesn't know every single one of these players, and he may never see some of them again. He's taking a leadership role in this organization he knows he now has for a very long time to come. It's no wonder the Jackson squad reacted so strongly to watching his perfect game last season. These are the things that often go unnoticed to the outside world, but not to those in the organization.
Many minor league players are straight broke. Most aren't fortunate enough to get into a situation like the "prospect house" that Walker, Maurer, Paxton, Romero, Bawcom, and Burgess share. Players scramble to find the cheapest options possible, and while some are fortunate enough to get host families that house and feed them, situations are varied. Spring training is their taste of the big league life before they spend a year of long, hot, fart-laden bus rides full of meals from Taco Bell and Long John Silver's. Not that this is a fancy meal, but it's a free one, and to those that are counting pennies in exchange for pursuit of their dream, every penny counts.
Famous Dave's isn't just some regular BBQ chain, either. As evidenced above, their motto appears to be "Dang Good Ribs." A Yelp search reveals it to be the highest rated BBQ restaurant in the city with a four star rating. "Bri" even goes so far as to call it "orgasmic." Only the finest from the King, and a wonderful nod to the those in the organization that get a lower level of attention.