13 April 2022
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
I don’t let him see my anxiety, my fears, my uncomfortable ticks from watching him pitch.
I spent years on the mound, heard thousands of “just throw strikes” and “just play catch” and I know the pressure all too well.
I have been left on the field by giving up a Grand Slam in big games and have pitched in the Jr College World Series. The full spectrum highs and lows. I like to tell people Baseball was my first and second heartbreaks.
The day I realized I screwed up my career and would not have a chance to play professionally was the last heartbreak I thought baseball would give me.
Now I coach my son, I tried not to coach because I am afraid of my relationship to the game and don’t want to push my love onto him unwillingly. I haven’t let him play year round because I want in to experience other sports. Partly protecting him from the hardships of the game to allowing him a break so he doesn’t burnout.
I find myself getting frustrated at kids who don’t respect the sport. I make comments like “Baseball players wear hats”, “Don’t get on that field without tucking in that shirt” This former Drill Sergeant in me jokingly wants to spill out and crush everyone and their parents. I force a smile and keep on coaching.
Let them find their place with this game. Let them build their relationship to it and fall in love without influence.
Most would never understand why some of us love this sport. They will never have it in their blood to feel what we feel when playing or watching. They aren’t connected into the Matrix of baseball and can’t dissect the nuances we fell in love with when we were young.
But watching my son on the mound, battling to throw a strike. It breaks my heart to see the look in his eyes of discouragement because the crowds moans and chatters. “Come on!”.
He looks at for guidance. But he’s alone in the arena to fend for himself like a gladiator, and all I can do is tell him. “Take a deep breath and let it go”. “Don’t let them see it, don’t show them your cards son.”
He looks at me with trust in my words, He takes his deep breath, his face determined to figure it out. With the next pitch on its way to the plate…. Smack…
A double play turns this whole scenario around.
The crowd is back on his side. “Amazing” “Great job” he looks up and his face has changed…
The world will always waver with your failure and success. Don’t fall victim to the critics who watch from the stands. Trust my words and “Take a deep breath and let it go”.