Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Competition begins

Sorry gang...I have not posted in a few days for a number of reasons. The first reason is that I had to work...you know...do something that pays me and the bills. Second, I have not had a decent conversation with our hero until last night. So, here goes....

On Friday night, Buddy attended the 'best party' of his life. Yes, that is what he said...the best of his life. This aforementioned party was even better than the party that he had when the fire truck and fire men showed up on his 5th birthday. The kids were allowed to climb on the truck, pretend to drive, put on the firemen's gear and had the opportunity to talk to a real fireman. As far as I am concerned, this had to have been the BEST party. But, as a kid grows, his taste changes and therefore so does the definition of the best party ever.

What made this party on Friday night the best party ever? Well, when he arrived after being called by California, there was dancing in the kitchen, living and dining rooms, in the backyard and on the porch. The music blared, the gang boogied and all was well on the night before the big game.

While at the best party ever, Nemesis had his ego crushed by a member of the woman's tennis team who refused to give him her phone number yet she gave it to another player on the team. Nemesis could not believe it and had a hissy-fit. No matter how much this guy bothers Buddy, he was loyal to him and tried to help him through his disappointment. Looking back on my life in college, did I ever disappoint a guy like that? Disappointed as far as not giving the number and having him throw a tantrum on the way home? nope...probably not...my dating was sparse at best. Casual dating was not 'my thing.'

And so the best party ever ended with one of the players getting into a heated argument with his girl friend. The guys are loyal only to a point, yet when the fireworks start with the girl friend, they disburse like roaches on a kitchen counter as the light is turned on. They all but ran out of there. Off to the apartment and up in a few hours to prepare for tailgating.

All the partying, football, and lack of sleep caught up with the guys and Sunday was 'catch up on sleep' day. If you ever want to walk through a college town when there are very few people around, try going on a Sunday morning after a big game. Believe me, you will get a table at the diner and a parking space across the street without any problems.

So, back to Buddy....he had trouble sleeping on Sunday night for a number of reasons. First, he slept 16 hours from Saturday evening until Sunday afternoon. The other reason was that fall ball began yesterday. He is a bit worried about the competition and whether he will be playing this year. There is competition from California, Nemesis and a freshman. Also, two other injured pitchers return to the roster and will also be considered his main competition. Justifiably, he is a bit nervous and beginning to over-think and catastrophize his predicament.

What he has to be reminded about is that baseball is all about competition (he would say "duh" to that statement). The competition is not only against other schools but within the team itself. The survival of the fittest...the best athletes will play. So what is he going to do? I will tell you the answer....he has to 'man-up'.

He has to be in the best shape, best mental state, aggressive, animal-like, and focused. Further, he has to push himself beyond his comfort level. He cannot be satisfied with good. He must strive for excellent.

Last year, he was one of the last guys out of the bullpen at the beginning of the season. He pitched to one batter in the preseason and was removed from the game. However, as he worked, he became number one and two left hander to relieve. The starting pitchers confided in him that when they saw him warming up, they would leave the game because they knew that the game was in good hands. If they saw Nemesis warming up they would tell the coach that they could keep going because Nemesis would give up too many runs and their ERAs would climb as a result. On the other hand, Buddy would save the game for them and they felt confident.

So, that is a vote of confidence. Yet, as dad says, "you are only as good as your last pitch." Therefore, he has to push to become better than last year. He must dominate. Does that seem harsh? Probably a bit...yet, this may not be the big leagues, but it can lead to them. He needs to play well to be noticed by any scout. Starting this year, they will be watching him and the rest of the team. One of the players was drafted last year and turned down the offer. His plan is to train and have an even better season and be drafted in a higher round this year. Consequently, the training and quest for excellence is not only with the pitchers but every player on the team wants to play in the MLB and not just Buddy.

I shared with him an anecdote that I had heard about a major league pitcher who before his training, he does 200 pull-ups. "Two hundred???" he asked. Yes, 200 hundred pull ups. So, Buddy tried to do pull ups. "Mom, I did 10 with no trouble...then I was able to do 9....at the end of practice, I did 10 more...."
The kid gets it and knows that he is in for some intense training. Do I have any doubts about his abilities? No, although there may be a time in the near future when he meets someone and decides that he would rather focus on academics and a future in the corporate world. I cannot be sure, but I will be there to agonize with his worries and listen to his fears. My mantra is 'if you want something bad enough...work toward your goal, but enjoy the ride while you are doing it, 'cause life is too short.' Is anyone dying here? Naw...just have fun while you are at the top of your game. He has been given such a gift, it would be a shame not to have some fun while working toward the big prize.

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