Pasttime – 81

Even if you’re doing what you love, your job can feel like work. And if it feels like work, then it’s not fun.

And if it’s not fun, then what’s the point?

This is something you’re doing all day everyday. If you’re really good at what you do, then you’ll take it home with you.

You’ll go home and watch film. You’ll go home and watch the games of the team you’re facing next. You’ll go home and make sure to drink water, eat your vegetables and take your vitamins.

It consumes your life…and you’re alright with that.

I know there are others who don’t have this dedication; whether that’s because they don’t need it or don’t care I can’t say.

I know I need it to stay here, to keep employed. I wonder if I would still live this way without reason?

I have some envy for those that can just roll out of bed and compete at this level because that’s not me.

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Pasttime – 80

There are moments when you remember why you wake up in the morning, why you do anything worthwhile.

Then you look up and see the silliness that makes all of it worthless.

It’s a thin line and there’s little difference and little ways to influence it to factor in your favor.

But a meaty fastball to a power hitter is just that. There’s nothing that can be done to alter its direction. You just have to watch it and hope for the best.

The best being a foul ball that leaves the batter questioning himself, the TV analyst to review his most recent stretch and the on-deck batter licking his chops.

But the more likely result is a long fly ball that I will know from the sound of the bat.

It’s what we all attempt to avoid, but is inevitable with all of us.

Pasttime – 79

We all grew up and determined where our next step would be into adulthood. Some of us decided sooner than others.

Countless young boys and girls decide that sports is in their future; and many more than one would think actually enter into the field.

But because everyone’s high school star isn’t on ScoreCenter, people look past the functions and fundamentals that are all in place thanks to people who’s profession is sports.

And while there are obvious occupations like the professional athletes, their coaches, the front offices that hire them and the media that covers it all.

But it’s also the public middle school girls basketball coach because that’s all about love.

There’s no one that believes that the next step from that is anything but the junior varsity coach…because it is.

And the JV coach usually sits on the varsity bench, so the obvious next step would be to coach a varsity team, either taking over when the current varsity coach leaves for another job or retires or another school has an opening.

And if you’re doing all that, then you’re doing the thing you love as your profession.

Pasttime – 78

I had the girl of my dreams in high school. She was everything I was looking for – female and interested in me.

There likely were other females that were interested in me, but I was blindingly focused in high school. Not with my classes, but with making sure I could get out of the house.

I was in a variety of clubs. I helped out with athletic events and would just hang out in the gym. I’ll always regret not running cross county, but I was in the weight room. I was usually found by the coach’s office, killing time with whoever came by.

So I wasn’t paying the type of attention I clearly should have been. But it wasn’t until it was presented on a platter that I actually took notice. To this day, I can’t remember how it started, but it did and it was glorious.

And I’m embarrassed how I found a way to end that relationship.

Instead of a summer of exploration before she left for college, I composed a letter that declared my belief in my teammates and their opinions over my best interest.

High school is about the only time in life that that would even be a consideration because as one gets older, you realize that the first person you should concern yourself with is staring at you in the mirror.

However, it’s important to still show a willingness to put that man in the mirror second at times for the betterment of others, whether that’s holding the door for a stranger or providing family members with money.

 

Pasttime – 77

I’ve been embarrassed before, just like everyone else in the world. Even the person you view with no remorse or pity, stepping over them in the subway station or turning away from their sleeping body on the street…

Even they have been embarrassed.

And we assume that due to their position in life, their circumstances that it can’t happen to them. Just like none of us in uniform think that it can happen to us. Only problem is when we get embarrassed, it’s a replay sure to make someone’s top 10 list.

If it’s good, it’s what leads the nightly sports newscast, the ‘A’ block on ScoreCenter,  trending on Twitter and a meme/gif that everyone is renaming and sharing.

If it’s really bad, and that’s bad meaning bad, not bad meaning good, it becomes good. It can become what you’re known for, leading the second paragraph of your biography…if you’re lucky enough to have that descriptive a bio.

The point is an inbred immunity to embarrassment that is part of playing, and certainly part of pitching. If a pitcher can’t wipe free from his memory that fastball that fattened out and was crushed, they can’t get the next batter out.

It’s something that has to happen in high school, where the potential embarrassment level is magnified since just saying, “I think you’re cute” can take on massive proportions.

Passtime – 76

I don’t dislike analytics and its use with the game. I agree that it does assist and provide valuable information that can be put to use.

But that they’ve convinced batters that home runs are more important that a double and a single is beyond me.

It’s turned hitters into swinging for the fence on every at bat. And while that makes life scary, it also makes it my life interesting and profitable since my job is to make sure that doesn’t happen and I’m good enough at my job that I have it.

But when I’m watching our guys from the bullpen or the dugout steps as we attempt to score runs or rally, I wonder why we’re not just trying to do what’s easier. It’s easier to hit a double than it is to hit a home run, right?

I mean, you just have to hit the ball really hard down the line for a double. You can roll one to the wall and get a double. You can cut one into the dirt past the bag and hustle a double.

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If the opposition is playing a no-doubles defense, meaning the outfielders are back near the warning track to prevent anything getting over their heads; if you’re fast enough you can dump a ball in front of those same outfielders for a double.

And anyone can get a single.

This is a team game, yet the addition of analytics seems to turn it into a game of one.

Passtime – 77

We are all witnesses, but few actually see. In fact, we exist in a state of making others see what we want and describe it as such. Every pitcher worth mentioning is a magician, using optical illusions to fool the batter into believing something while the opposite is en route.

Like any good magician, we work tirelessly on our craft. We work to make our movements effortless and unnoticeable, knotting away a knuckle or readjusting a finger nail for more movement.

Phil Niekro Knuckler

Anything to take what is known and turn it into the unknown.

What is known is what batters have previously done and it’s all available. What they’ve done against us in the past, what they’ve done in the past week, the past month. What they’ve done against a specific type of pitch.

The breakdown of the results can take away from the humanity of the game, turning human beings into numbers and then wondering why they don’t match up or divide evenly.

Whether founded by analytics or old-fashioned notes from the past, we take all this information and form a plan. We plot out what we will throw, when it will work best and what the alternative to that will be.

No one ever plots out a path to allowing six runs in two and a third innings. We all are planning for success, planning to pitch our best and dominate.

We’re all planning to turn perception into reality.

To predict the future and have a plan of attack ready, as if we’d already determined what the previous outcome was that led to this moment.

And when it’s done correctly, it’s nothing but magic.

Greg Maddux called strike three