Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Tale of Two Pitchers

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity... - Charles Dickens

Two pitchers, both coincidentally named Collin McHugh, pitched today in Mets Spring Training. One, a fierce competitor with a feel for the strike-zone and confidence bursting with his every move. The other, a frenzy of thought and emotion, unable to locate effectively or consistently...nervous.

Things both of these pitchers had in common:
-Both pitching against the same hitters
-Both competing for a limited number of roster spots
-Same repertoire, same velocity, same situation

Collin "the thrower" threw the first of their three innings of work. From the bullpen to the mound every pitch was analyzed in the search for fixes to whatever didn't feel right. A lot didn't feel right. By game time, Collin was nervous that, on top of facing AA hitters for the first time, his stuff wasn't cooperating with him. Nerves led to getting behind hitters, a leadoff homerun, walk, and double in the first inning. Not good.

Collin "the pitcher" sat on the bench in between innings. Not once did he criticize or analyze the last inning. Not once did he wish he had done something different. He was too busy preparing to PITCH. As he took the mound, shoulders back and chest out, he wasn't worried about the hitters or the umpires or his parents in the stands (sorry guys). He was focused on doing what he does best...pitching. He threw 1st pitch strikes, breaking balls for strikes, and put away strikes. He struck out the side not throwing nasty pitches, but simply throwing strikes. Collin, happy with the second inning, decided a third was in order. More strikes. No runs. Easy, right?

The truth is, yes. It is easy, but only if we operate within what we do best. In order to be a great pitcher, I cannot pretend that I have the dirtiest pitches in all of baseball. To be a great pitcher I must be great at commanding my three average to slightly above average pitches. For two innings I did that today, for one I did not. It isn't perfect and it isn't what I hope to be all season long, but it is progress. Spring Training, while a breeding ground for competition, is also a forum for sharpening ourselves and preparation for the season ahead. Today, by getting better, I came that much closer to the Big Leagues. How do I spell progress? F-A-I-L. Everyone does it, everyone hates it, but those who learn from it are better for it. I know I am.
  

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