Saturday, July 23, 2011

Paradigm Shift

Yesterday's trip to Ky was great fun, something that has been lacking this summer. Although, isn't it all about perspective? A person can be content and happy anywhere with the right attitude.

With that said, we made the trip to Louisville. It was hot and steamy. I do not remember being so hot for such a long period of time. I truly felt like I was melting as the perspiration poured out of my body and left a puddle where I was sitting. Everything including my hair was soaked. I felt like I had played a game of football with full pads on in a sauna. I was wet enough to lather up with soap and rinse off without ever turning on the faucet. Kind of an organic bath...saving water for the environment....something to consider to keep the water bill down.

Anyway, Buddy briefly met with Big T before the game. T seemed very happy to see him as they only had a minute to chat since batting practice was starting and T had to be on the field. He gave us tickets to the bat factory and game. Buddy was thrilled to see him as he promised to come back soon.

With the factory passes, we walked slowly to the museum to check it out. It was pretty neat as some of the big time former players like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig's bats were on display. There were life size figures, Norman Rockwell gallery of sports paintings, and a gift shop (naturally). Since we were late, we were unable to take the tour of the factory and watch how bats are made. After the museum, we had dinner and went to the ball park to watch the game.

Big T left us great tickets. They were right behind home plate and Buddy's view of the pitchers was spectacular. He was able to read the catcher's signs and see the pitcher's technique. Here comes a fast ball inside corner....slider outside....curve ball...oh nasty....did you see that? Hmmm, yes, I saw the pitches but could not tell the difference between a curve and slider or a two seamer...I don't even think that I could put the words in a sentence.

As the day progressed, I noticed a big change in Buddy's demeanor and thought process. He had a renewed attitude about baseball and his work ethic this summer. He has been tough on the coaches. I think that this has been warranted since they were not as they were supposed to be...that is...knowledgeable about the game. For example, two nights ago, Hoosier was on the mound and from the dug out the coach was screaming at him to throw strikes. After the inning, Hoosier stormed back to the dug out and screamed back at the coach about his profanity and yelling at him while he was trying to concentrate. Let's quickly review....a pitcher's ultimate role is to throw the ball over the plate in a way that the batter cannot hit it or hits it in a way that the ball is caught by the fielder for an out. This is defined in T-ball. A coach does not have to remind his D-1 players of their role...they got it already. Telling a pitcher to throw strikes can be humiliating, 'cause he knows what to do and it is not as if he is trying to throw balls...After the game, the coach apologized to Hoosier, but the damage to the relationship had been an ongoing process. It seems no one will return to this team next year.

Back to Buddy....Big T sent a trainer to him and gave him a team hat. The big kid was thrilled. It is now one of his prized possessions besides his bed and lap top. The team won and we had to leave during the 9th inning since Buddy had to travel this morning on the bus across state for a double header. If we had stayed, he could have met again with Big T who wanted to take him out for a late dinner.

Anyway, we laughed on the way home and I could see the change in him. He began to open up and talk about what went wrong this summer, how he lost his aggressive streak, along with his plan to turn it around during the next two weeks. No longer will there be excuses about fields, defensive players, and's about him and his attitude and swagger which are back.

We laughed as he compared his relationship with Big T to Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller's. Buddy was the blind and deaf Helen who could not throw a cutter until Big T came along, grabbing Helen's hand and showing her how to throw that ball across the plate. He was also Obi-Wan-Kenobi to Buddy's Luke Skywalker .... Yoda and Luke...Dr Dre and Eminem...Plato and Aristotle....Charlotte and Wilbur the pig....Yogi Bear and Boo Boo....

Big T (in his Annie sort of way) taught Buddy how to throw a curve, change up, and add velocity to his fast ball. As they worked together each week, Buddy's pitching was transformed and so was his personality. Therefore, with the right coaching, a player can achieve so much more. It's a matter of personality and influence. T had it...Buddy was the protege...T is the mentor.

Buddy is going to call T again to meet with him. He wants T to check out his mechanics since he is still hanging a few balls over the plate for big hits. Mechanics, physicality, and attitude equal a pretty good pitcher. With that said, the change in Buddy's personality was remarkable. He did not complain about the impending double header or coaches. Instead, he had his former game face on...the one that has been missing all summer...the one that he put on the shelf after college baseball was over...he's back. I am looking forward to hearing how the attitude change or paradigm shift translated into better baseball. The answer will be revealed some time tonight after the double header....go team!

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