At the age of five, Mike recalls telling his mother, Karen, that he was going to be a big leaguer. Flash forward 12 years and Mike is a standout two way high school player determined to play at the next level. He would attend the Citadel for a year, and though he did well in school, his heart was set on pursuing a career in professional baseball. He transferred to Seminole State, a Central Florida junior college, in order to make his dream a reality a year sooner. On June 7th, 2011 the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim selected Mike in the 4th round of the MLB amateur draft. The free-spirited righty finally had his chance, but Clev’s entry into pro ball wasn’t as smooth as he had dreamed.
Mike’s 2012 season was cut short by Tommy John surgery, causing him to miss the remainder of that season and the majority of the 2013 campaign. While battling through the physical rehabilitation process, Mike waged war with anxiety and a system designed to both stymie his personality and limit his self-expression. It wasn’t always sunshine. Fortunately, Mike was reinvigorated after being traded to Cleveland in August of 2014. Two years and many mechanical changes later, Clev fulfilled his promise to his mom and stepped on a big league mound for the first time. The anxiety returned, as did the pressure to conform. His performance suffered and he quickly found himself back in AAA. Lesson learned. The next time he was called up, he would be himself, custom painted cleats and all.
Sunshine has arrived, and arrived in a big way, racking up 25 wins and 6.3 fWAR over the 2017 and 2018 seasons. The difference? The custom painted cleats. The artwork itself doesn’t hold the magic. No, the mindset behind it does. Mike’s cleats are painted to honor his daughters, Penelope and Piper, and display many of his favorite colors and emblems. They are definitively him, a massive ball of personality and charisma perfectly encapsulated in a pair of shoes. They’re free from judgment and consequence. They’re free from restraint. They stand as a statement, his personal manifesto of sorts. Be yourself. Be unapologetically yourself. Peace. Love. Strikeouts.