“Don't lower your expectations to meet your performance. Raise your level of performance to meet your expectations. Expect the best of yourself, and then do what is necessary to make it a reality.” - Ralph Marston
We just got back from one of our community service days at H.V. Jenkins high school. We have three days overall in their school, spaced out over about a month, the goal being to help them develop a public service announcement (PSA). The reason we are in the school is because the PSA is about exercise, healthy eating, and turning off the TV...three things we are "experts" in. Anyway, I think it's a good idea seeing as how the obesity rate in this country is astoundingly high. The only problem I have with the whole thing is the way it is being organized, or lack there of, by the teachers, administrators, and players. The kids aren't responding to the project and I don't blame them. It's hard to focus on a solution when the guidelines are unclear. We had teachers sitting in their offices unwilling to get involved, administrators sending us into the classrooms with no expectations, and players too "shy" to say or do anything resembling community service. These kids don't even know what a PSA is and yet they are expected to deliver on one in a short time. They are set up for failure, and I hate it.
The typical American loves the underdogs because they are expected to fail and yet they succeed. Circumstances out of their control are against them and yet by sheer willpower they overcome obstacles and come out victorious. What I hate, though, is when people are made to be the underdog when they shouldn't be. Just because the Yankees are the Yankees doesn't mean that whoever they play are automatically the underdogs. If a team is playing better than they are, then they are just as likely to succeed (if not more so) than the Yankees. In the same way, just because these are kids from a low income high school in Savannah doesn't mean they are incapable of making a great PSA. If the teachers get involved, if we manage their expectations better, and if our players take it seriously, these kids can create something to be proud of. They shouldn't be underdogs in this situation, but that's what we've made them.
I waited 7 days this week to pitch. I'm a piggyback pitcher right now which means that I eat the scraps of innings left behind from the starter. Unfortunately for my inning total, our team has three starters who eat lots of innings and I'm behind one of them. I waited 7 days to pitch 2 innings last night. Let's call a spade a spade here, I'm not a starter right now. They may call me a "starter" and I may pitch on a schedule of 5-7 days, but starters don't throw 2 innings. Starters don't come in for mop up work in the 8th and 9th. I'm not pitching my best right now and that's frustrating because my room for error is MUCH smaller than the other starters. If I give up a run one inning I don't get the luxury of throwing 6 shutout innings behind it to clean up my ERA. I get 2, maybe 3, innings to go throw shutout baseball and if I don't get it done, so be it. I can't help but feel like I am being set up for failure just like the kids today. I have no defined role, no set schedule of when or how innings I will throw. I have no management of expectations because, honestly, I don't know if they have any expectations for me. I am a good pitcher, sometimes a really good pitcher, but right they've made me the underdog. The odds are for me to fade into the abyss of our minor league system and vanish as quickly as I came. This being said, I know I have family, friends, and fans who are rooting for me to overcome...who wouldn't, I'm a nice guy. But I refuse to be the odd man out here. I refuse to take lying down, the assumption that I am not good enough to compete with any one of the starters in our organization, or baseball in it's entirety for that matter. I am not an underdog and I will not accept that label, because no matter the hand dealt to me so far, the odds are still in my favor. It's not the pitching arsenal that makes a winning pitcher, it is his ability to take what has been given to him and make it into something more. I have a good array of pitches, but what separates me is my capacity to make it into something special. I have so much more to give than what is expected of me right now. I'm sure some of you out there can appreciate this. If you can, I give you this encouragement: Do not settle for less than you are capable of, and don't let anyone tell you what you cannot achieve. Life is too short to fade into the abyss. Rise to the occasion and don't let anyone write your story for you.