Thursday, April 15, 2010

Variations In The Key Of Pitching

"Show me a guy who's afraid to look bad, and I'll show you a guy you can beat every time." -Lou Brock

Despite our extraordinary egos, we as baseball players are fragile delicate specimens. We spend our whole lives playing a game where, if you're good, you'll get a hit in less than 1/3 of your plate appearances. If your team is great you'll still lose 60 games a year. And as I learned from pitching coordinator Rick Waits, the greatest pitchers of all time felt great and had their best stuff only 10-12 times out of 35 starts/yr.  We go 3 inn. with 3 runs and a bomb, and because of the teetering edge that we walk on our coaches and loved ones drone on about "it's only one game" and "hey it's just not your day today" or the worst, "Reality is, it's a game of failure." The truth is that they have to feed us this eyewash encouragement because we have to get right back out there the next day. Get back on the horse even when, figuratively, we get bucked off over 75% of the time. It's not their fault though. We have been trained to thrive on confidence. If our egos aren't fully satisfied then we have already failed. "Reality" is we have no chance. 


Well to my credit, I didn't marry one of those lemmings. She will see me after a bad game and, most of the time, just walk up to me, smile, and give me a hug. She doesn't come from a baseball background, so she doesn't understand that I "need" constant confirmation that I am the greatest. In fact, this past week she turned the tables on my completely. I came home from my first outing. Terrible outing. I mean, really bad. I expected the same smile-kiss-hug combo and a nice bed to sleep off the defeat. I got no such thing. She was sitting in the couch almost scowling at me as if i had done something wrong. She let me talk it out; you know, about why I didn't pitch well or what was wrong today. It ended with "you know, somedays you have it and some days you don't...it's reality". At this, she furrowed her brow and quipped "reality is not an option, Collin."

She went on to say that if reality was always an option in our minds then divorce would always be an option. I mean 50% of marriages in end in divorce, why not us? Reality cannot be an option for us. We have sunk time, effort, money, and most importantly, our desire into being the best. If reality says that we probably aren't going to be the best, that we probably won't make it, we have to look reality in the eye and say...Whatever man. I always figured that the key to pitching was having great stuff with great command and never being injured. No, the reality is that the key to pitching is taking reality out of the equation. On the day we wake up to pitch in a game there is no "my arm hurts" or "I feel tired" or "my stuff just isn't what it was the other day". We have one focus; we have to try to be the best. Anything short of going out and being as good as we are capable of being cannot be an option in our minds. This game is 70% mental, that means what we do out on the mound is less than 1/3 of the whole game. Control what you can control. Make your mind a slave to yourself. Discipline your thoughts so that you can and will be at your best most of the time. Will we fail? Maybe. But is that an option for you? Don't let it be.

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