Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Lessons and plans

Steve Prefontaine - "To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift." This quote was on my gmail today as I answered my messages. It is a great quote and relevant in all walks of life, not just sports.

So, it is time to review the last 48 hours of life in an objective manner. As the steady reader knows, Buddy had a major meltdown on Sunday night as he figuratively saw his life flash before him. You see, he gave up an earned run in front of major league scouts and he felt that they would not be interested in a left handed pitcher who could not find home plate. In a way, he is right. On the other hand, he is wrong. How is that for analysis?

He is right because he sort of 'choked'. He did not have his "stuff" and could not bring it...therefore the batters took aim and whacked the ball around the field. It happens to all pitchers. There is no flawless pitcher. Even the good ones lose...such as Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels. They lost this week and they are paid a fortune to win.

He is wrong for a number of reasons. First, his potential is limitless. he has the physique and ability to throw great pitches and dominate on the mound. The scouts can see how big he is and how much muscle he can put on. He is still 25+ pounds shy of the ideal pitching weight. Therefore, he still has time to fill out and be a forceful presence.

As he melted down on Sunday night, he hyperventilated and started to feel dizzy. Once he returned home, he went to bed and his breathing returned to normal. Is this kid crazy? My answer is going to be vague...yes and no. Yes, he is crazy for putting himself out when he is on the mound. He is crazy because he wants something that he can attain but only through hard work. And he is crazy because when he fails, it is national news. The rest of us are secure in knowing that only a few people know when we screw up. When he messes up, it is posted on a website and written about in the paper as well as verbalized by the announcers on the radio. So, if you look at it that way, he is nuts!

On the other hand, he is not crazy, just an intense kid who is working hard and wants something that only a handful of men achieve in this world. He wants to pitch in the major leagues. It is his dream and could be a reality with the proper mindset and physical and emotional preparation. He has to take care of his mind, body, and spirit. The three go hand in hand and compose the entire person. When his head is not right, his body and pitching struggles. Right now, his confidence has taken a major league hit after the summer fiasco. He was to play in Ohio to build his confidence not destroy it and it had the opposite effect.

So, where does he go from this emotional state? I am glad that you asked, because I can offer a ton of advice such as the Prefontaine quote, Bible quotes, mother platitudes, and the always helpful "you have a great smile", but he has to figure it out.

Therefore, when I received the call while purchasing lemons at the farmer's market yesterday, I was prepared to sit in the middle of the market and listen to his tales of woe. Yet, I was pleasantly surprised. First, he still feels bad about N's foot, but X-rays are back and it is only bruised. Crisis number 1 averted.

Crisis two: Lack of organization. He is going to stop at the Athlete's center and speak to his adviser. He needs another mentor who will be on top of him like his previous mentor. His current mentor is wrapped up in sorority issues. They also have too many philosophical differences for this relationship to work, so she is about to be fired. The old mentor had written daily instructions for him to follow. She even told him when to eat, sleep and have a snack. OK, I know what you are thinking....eating and sleeping? Yes, this kid needs someone to direct him through this process. It can be overwhelming and having a routine offers comfort and sameness.

Crisis three: The meltdown. Today, he plans on making an appointment with the sports psychologist. This may be a year late, but the guy was hired to guide these kids through the convoluted craziness of their brains and thought processes. There is more pressure on these players to perform than on the average student. We all have pressures but not national pressures like the athletes have. The sports psychologist will put on his boots and wade through Buddy's mind..good luck with that one. I have been doing it for years. it is quite a journey. Actually, all he needs is to find a philosophy and reasonable perspective. he does not have to have a crisis every time he gives up a run or makes an error, but the perfectionist in him does not allow for deviation, therefore, this guy may be able to bring an objectivity to it.

Crisis four: This crisis does not have a name but I like Buddy's solution. "Mom, I am no longer going to drink." Pause...OK, this is a good thing, however, did you have a problem in which you have to swear off the stuff OR did you figure out that underage drinking is illegal OR has the 'demon rum' affected your mental and physical capabilities? The answer was pretty simple. He doesn't like the way it makes him feel and prefers to be in command of his mind at all times (scar-ee!). I was thrilled with this one. Two other pitchers have also sworn off the alcohol because they too have a great deal to lose. Buddy calls them his sobriety buddies. He also asked his room mates not to offer him any beer and to not tempt him. On Friday night, instead of going to a party, he and his sober friends are going to dinner and a movie. Dad is paying for this one since he is really proud of the changes Buddy is making with his life.
Buddy also mentioned that going to parties and being part of the drunkenness is stupid and he will sit there and meet people in a sober fashion. I could cry...this is a major paradigm shift. It is also my Christmas and Hanukkah gift wrapped up in a pretty package.

This leads to my final thought...will he follow through on all of his plans to organize and analyze his life? Will this newly and forever sober kid have the strength to continue on his chosen path and make it to the ultimate and greatest job ever? I think so...I know so...but stay tuned...the road is narrow, bumpy, and filled with lots of surprises....

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