We are one out away from declaring a winner in this year’s World Series. Bottom nine, three and two, two out, bases loaded. Pitcher looking in for the sign, exhausted, beaten and yet somehow trying to muster up every ounce of determination and will he has for one last pitch. He has the sign he wants, comes set , rocks and delivers………….
This is the scenario that every little kid plays over a thousand times in his head and in the backyard with his friends whether you are hitting or pitching you are always being carried off the field by your teammates in a flurry of confetti, hugs, and high-fives. The road to that one career defining moment is a tumultuous one filled with mistakes, adjustments, improvements that you or I can ever see coming. Every person has an idea how they want they season to go when they are packing their bags for spring training; either hitting .300 with 20HR or winning 15-20 games with a sub 3ERA and some people are very fortunate to put together a season exactly like that and its smooth sailing and then there are the other 98% of us that might not get out of the gate as we expected too. Baseball, as in life, is a series of adjustments that you make to become better. Sometimes those adjustments work and sometimes they do not, but the biggest thing about professional athletics is that those adjustments are being made in the public eye there is no privacy in the diamond. Trial and error happens in the batter’s box and on the mound. After a game players, including myself, are dissecting ourselves and each other about what they saw, felt, and could be doing differently to be getting that extra mph, that extra snap on the curve or discussing why that ball didn’t go into the gap but instead was a lazy fly ball to the 2nd baseman.
I, myself, have not gotten off to the start that I envisioned when I first arrived to Viera, FL to camp, and just like everyone else I cannot help but dissect everything down to the smallest movement to figure out what is going wrong. Being in a performance based industry, there is a strong urge to succeed a lot and right away so there is constant pressure to perform at your best all the time. With this pressure, a ballplayer will tend to do things on the field that are not in their norm to try and get a little something extra and that are where they can start to go wrong. Every single person who plays a professional sport has essentially been doing the same thing day in and day out since they were initially taught and it is ingrained in our head as to what to do. When things start to veer off path it is amazing how much we do things differently or by what means we try to find new things that can help us push past a certain slump. Every person is wanting to be in the spot in the world series, the one with the bat or ball in their hand in that critical situation but for every hour that people watch a professional athlete on TV perform they miss the 10+ hours on the practice field alone working on the most basic of things. Minor league baseball players especially have a lot of free time to think which can be our best friend and our worst enemy at the same time. Hours and hours of bus rides, hours before game time, and that critical time after a game all can get the best of us. But for this reason as well I believe the minor leagues are special, 99% of us aren’t signed to million dollar deals after the draft and we have to go out and prove our worth day in and day out, those that do are forever emblazoned in fan’s memories and those that don’t fade away into obscurity with the only memory being a faded signature on someone’s baseball in the attic. Do you have the will, the strength, and the mentality to not only thrive but survive because in the end that’s what it is about to me. Can you survive knowing you will fail, knowing you will be beaten, knowing you will not get the job done and still come back the next day and have the confidence in yourself to do everything that is asked of you? That’s what puts those people on TV and those of us dreaming of being on TV.
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