Yesterday was quite a big day for the big leftie. With scouts in the stands, he was preparing to dazzle them with his athleticism and sizzling slider. That was the plan. Is that what happened? Actually, I am still not sure, so I will recount the events that occurred while I flipped through the Emmy's, Phillies, Eagles, and news on television. The real show was not on cable but taking place in the mountains in the north with one lanky kid thinking that his life as an athlete in a quest to become a professional player was over. Sigh....here goes....
I waited until he called late in the afternoon to ask him about the showcase. As I paraphrase the following dialogue between mother and son, I think that you will understand where his head was during the conversation. Warning...this is not pretty....If you have a heart ailment or asthma, the following narrative is not for your sensitive eyes....
Buddy called just before the dinner hour searching for his father (naturally) to discuss the day's events. I inquired about the afternoon and he said that he choked and his career was over (it has yet to really begin so that is quite a stretch). Anyway, as I gave him the mom pep talk, he clicked his cell phone off. I guess that he did not want to hear: "This is only one event. There will be others. Look at the positives. Learn from the errors." I did not add that I thought that he had great hair and was cute. It was not time in the discussion. As it was, our conversation was cut short but some 'anomaly' in his phone or his reluctance to hear my lame platitudes.
He finally found his dad and Tink in the grocery store shopping for dinner and he did not hear what he wanted to hear from his dad. he wanted to hear: "yes, you have been robbed...you are right...life is over..." Rather, dad said: "What did the coach say? What really happened? Why are you so emotional? There will be many more chances." Dad kept him on the phone longer than I did...a whole 5 minutes. Then Buddy took a shower and went to dinner.
While we were eating dinner, we received five more calls from the depressed kid. It seems that the pitching coach did not attend, so how important was it? Dad mentioned that Buddy had been lifting and training all week and that his muscles were tired. There were so many reasons for the discomfort on the mound. Further, the big kid's head continued to make him crazy. He let his nerves and emotions take over and dominate his thoughts. A good shrink could have helped here.
As the evening progressed and the Phils were down while Michael Vick fumbled in the red zone, I received several more calls. He was on his way to the 9 pm mass on campus and stopped to tell me that he could not breathe. He was having trouble catching his breath and he was dizzy. OK...enough already! I talked to him as I demanded that he walk to the student health center for treatment (at this point electro shock was needed by both of us). He struggled to catch his breath and found the health center which was 'closed'. Nice. I am glad that no one gets sick on Sunday nights. There was an emergency number to call and I had him call it. When the nurse called back, she told him: "Do not drink any alcohol tonight." Hmmmm, don't drink any beer tonight...the kid just finished playing baseball and is walking to church on a Sunday night...don't drink beer....So, if you have dizziness with shortness of breath, please do not take the generally prescribed teaspoon of beer. I truly wanted to take my fist and shove it through the phone and grab the emergency nurse by the throat and ask where she earned her degree...Budweiser University perhaps? This is emergency advice???
As the evening and shortness of breath continued, so did the phone calls. Tink and I prepared to leave to find him and take him to the ER...forget the student health center...they prescribed beer for bunions, sore muscles, coughs and colds. Finally, he was able to breathlessly walk back to his apartment. I made sure that the guys were home and able to take him to the hospital if his breath did not return. Fortunately they were there. Big Red has a car and could transport him if needed. Nemesis would probably do it, but he would whack Buddy's credit card for the gas money first.
The last that I heard from the kid was that he was feeling a bit better, still dizzy, and despondent, and depressed. What is BP mom's diagnosis? Well, as I consider the facts of the week and synthesize the data that I currently have, I would say....that boy has a case of advanced nerves allowing catastrophic thoughts to enter his brain and take over his body. The dizziness was probably caused by the stress or perhaps some type of virus. The shortness of breath was either a pulmonary ailment or nerves. Dad says that he allowed himself to hyperventilate...lovely, don't you think?
Now you may ask, if you do not treat this entity with beer, how do you treat it? I recommend the following:
1. continue to work out with the coaches
2. have a dialogue with the coaches and focus on tinkering with mechanics
3. find another tutor/mentor to structure the academic week so that he maximizes his time and does not leave anything for the last minute causing undue pressure.
4. get enough food and rest
5. check out the sports psychologist that they have on campus to talk through the anxiety.
6. continue to check in with family and friends to talk through the fears.
7. realize that this is not the end of your life but the beginning. I watched Cliff Lee with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the 9th with a 1 run lead give up a home run. It can happen to anyone, the scouts know it and so does Buddy if he would let himself relax for a bit.
Addendum: I just heard from Buddy as he walked back to his apartment after weight lifting today. He was in a state not because of yesterday BUT because he was training with Nemesis and added 45 pounds to the bar when the weight fell off and landed on his training partner's foot. He thinks that the foot may be broken and is now waiting on him hand and foot (so to say...). According to Buddy, N. does not blame him for the malfunction, but once again, the big guy feels guilty. An X-ray will determine the extent of damage. So, while Buddy turns into an indentured servant, he now is a captured audience as he listens to N's raps and runs to the market to purchase milk and oreos. Never a dull moment...ever...