My name is Jose Ramirez, and I love baseball. I mean, I really love it.
Growing up, in Bani -- a beautiful city in the Dominican Republic -- the number one thing on my mind was baseball. We were always playing "Vitilla" and another game called "La Plaquita" with the kids from my neighborhood all day long. We used water jug caps as baseballs and sticks for bats in Vitilla. La Plaquita is another baseball-type game we played in the streets.
:: Me In Real Life - More stories ::
I was always one of the shortest and skinniest kids in every game I played. I was always one of the youngest, too. I remember playing in this league in my neighborhood with a bunch of older kids and how much pressure that put on me, and how I was able to deal with it. I learned early not be intimidated by baseball, and that's helped me. I held my head high and I walked with pride even as a kid. Imagine seeing this short little kid strutting with confidence. That was me. That's still me.
I have always believed in myself. My parents believed in me first.
My father had a motorcycle, and he would take me to the field every day. We would always work hard even though a lot of people didn't have faith in me because of my size. Believe me, someone's height in baseball is an obstacle in Latin American countries. That's not what scouts are looking for and everyone would always say that my height -- I'm 5-foot-9 -- was an issue. I remember going to these baseball programs or tryouts and the first thing people would talk about was how small I was, and immediately write me off.
I can still hear my father saying, "You have to continue working hard and don't pay attention to those that say that you're short. You have to show that you can do it because you have the same heart as they all do. Never give up."
I've always appreciated that advice, and it still drives me. My heart is the same size as everyone else's. My parents have been together for 32 years, and they have taught me a lot of lessons about life and baseball, but that's one of the biggest lessons.
Remember, I came up as a utility player and didn't have a set position. But I always had faith in myself, worked hard, and never gave up. I took advantage of the opportunity to win an everyday job. Now, here I am being mentioned with the best players in the American League.
I have to give credit to my baseball family, my coaches and my teammates. They have all been very supportive, and we have a good time. They have all these nicknames for me. Last year, it was George Jefferson because of the way I walked, and now it's Mini Me because they say I look just like a small Juan Uribe. Uribe is a great person. We spent a lot of time together when he was with our team last year, and he helped me out a lot at third base. I'm very grateful for his guidance. Everyone makes fun of me and say that he's my father. It's funny. I'm thankful for guys like Uribe and Jose Reyes, who remains an important part of my life.
On a personal level, it's really an honor to be considered an MVP candidate, but that's not the goal. We are here to win games and a World Series. That's what is most important. It was a wonderful experience participating in the World Series last year. Being there gave me even more confidence, if you can believe that. I'm more relaxed now, and now we have a different goal and that's to win it all.
We want to win for Cleveland and the fans. Everyone remembers the good times, but the fans also supported me and us during the bad times. We have all persevered to get to this point and now we have another chance to bring a title home. That is what it is all about, what we've been working for our entire lives.
We want to win.