Friday, July 22, 2011

Friends in strange places

Today we are headed to Kentucky to see Buddy's mentor. They met two years ago at our local training facility. "Big T" took over the role of working with Buddy when his previous coach found another job. Big T is a minor league player who also is left handed and went to high school in Delaware. Naturally, they bonded and Big T had a great deal to do with Buddy's success. He was the guy who called Buddy when the university was looking for a left handed pitcher. T immediately thought of Buddy and called him for a try out. Further, T tinkered with Buddy's mechanics and taught him a number of lethal pitches.

Why isn't T in the majors right now? Well, the major league team that he is associated with is deep with pitching talent. If he was drafted by any other team, he would have been starting for them by now (except the Phillies and Yankees). He was called up to the team earlier this summer and sent back after four days. The head coach decided he wanted T to be a relief left handed specialist, so back to the minors to perfect this role. With that said, after Buddy contacted Big T, they made plans to meet before tonight's game. T invited him to stay with him at his home, but Buddy has an early morning and has to travel to the other side of the state to play a double header. He'll take a rain check on that invitation.

The timing of the visit could not be better as Buddy has been struggling on the mound. On a number of occasions, the coach has asked him why he isn't pitching like he did in college with the strike outs and low ERA. I could share with you what I think that the problem is, but his performance the other night except for the juicy fast ball that he hung over the plate that was hit for a triple, was good. His fielders let him and team down and Buddy had to take the runs on to his ERA.

But that's baseball...sometimes it's all talent...sometimes it is luck. Of course, when I played tennis, I relied heavily on luck since I was not the greatest of players and was very slow. If I kept pushing the ball over the net, I kept my fingers crossed that the other person would hit the ball out. Thankfully, 50% of the time, they would. In baseball, that would be hitting .500....pretty good, eh?

So, we are going south today and looking forward to seeing a friendly face. On Wednesday night, I made friends with an opposing player's mother. She confided in me that Buddy's team did not have a good reputation around the league. Nodding my head, I told her that he would not be back and was going to find another team. She invited him to try out for her son's team. This would be terrific since Buddy would not have to pitch again against the stud who hit his fast ball for a triple. Cross him off the list of feared opponents. Furthermore, I liked this team. They seemed to be more professional AND they had healthy snacks for sale. It is the only stadium where you can buy an ear of grilled corn. My mouth started to water when I saw it. I miss the Jersey and PA corn this time of year, so it looked particularly appealing. Also, the host team actually fed the players after the game. They gave them a healthy dinner rather than buying pizzas and handing each kid a box for the ride home.

It's almost time to rouse the big kid out of bed. He's tired from working out twice yesterday. He has something to prove in Ohio and does not plan on giving up. Maybe Big T can offer him the coaching that he has missed for the past two months. If anything, they can both commiserate about the unpredictable nature of the game. Then they'll agree that there is no where that they would rather the middle of the country doing what they love to do....playing's a bond that these two have...mentor and and pitcher....player and player...

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