Good morning! The team is in the throes of the fall ball season and anxiety levels are high. It seems that the fall season is a great indicator of who will play in the spring. Naturally, all of the players want to be starters, therefore the competition among the players soars. Ultimately, players who are living with the same position players are struggling to be civil to one another. Who does that remind you of?
On Sunday Buddy called to share his anxiety about Monday's scrimmage. He has had some confidence issues since the summer and lost part of his swagger. Swagger is so important to the players. One may think that this is a cockiness or a bad thing, but actually it is a defense mechanism to throw the competition off their games. A swagger indicates confidence in one's abilities to dominate. It sounds a bit like war and in a way, it is.
The players are at war with one another and with their competition. This is what competition is really about...a bloodless war...someone wins...someone loses...no blood, death or destruction of lives and property (in a literal sense). It is survival of the fittest and team competition pushes each player to rise to the competition or sit on the bench and watch the harder working, more fit players take the field in the spring. No player with an ego will want the bench activity. A guy with swagger wants the field and the ball. He wants to be a hero. He wants to dominate with his athletic prowess and demonstrate that he is the king.
How do you know this, BPM? I do not have enough swagger to suggest that I have the experience that my leftie has, but I do know a few things about competing and wanting to win. Otherwise, I never would have put myself out in college playing tennis. During my four years on the team, I had to compete each season for a starting spot. There is no way that I was going to go to practices each day and not play...no way. Someone would have to literally take me down before I allowed it. So, we competed and naturally my team mates were my enemies for a while until the roster was completed, then we started to like each other again....sort of. Yet, swagger on the women's tennis team was different than baseball. Once I was pulled aside by one of the captains suggesting that my attire of a Springsteen shirt, tennis shorts, and ripped tennis sneakers was not acceptable on the team for practice. After all, the men's tennis team was playing next to us and what was I thinking? Oh right...I was looking for a guy rather than trying to perfect my un-perfectable overhead shot...gotcha (by the way, this is a different type of competition).
Back to Buddy, I just received a text from him as he finishes morning practice. Apparently, he is vomiting after the work out. I think that this is a good thing as well as a bad thing. Are the athletes supposed to puke after a strenuous work out? What about the loss of electrolytes and fluids? Isn't this physical entity contraindicated when you have a supervised work out? Something tells me that the big leftie continues to work past his physical capabilities to prove his worthiness. I texted back to him to drink Gatorade....good BPM advice, yes?
All of the aforementioned leads to the question: "What happened yesterday at the scrimmage???" OK, here goes....the scrimmage was at 3 pm. Buddy called on his way to the field. I reminded him about Coach T's advice...'don't think...throw the ball as hard as you can...' I like those words. As a minor league player, he knows what he is talking about...And so, I waited and waited for a call after the scrimmage. He generally calls dad first to go over the pitches, then if he is in a good mood will call me next. Sadly and forlornly, I waited and waited and waited....it was 7 pm before I had gotten an update. It seemed that from the lack of communication that he was shelled during the competition, but I was wrong....
Here is the ESPN replay offered during my interview with the starting pitcher: "I started the game and immediately loaded the bases with no outs (OY!!!!!), then I struck out the best player on the team, got the next player to hit a shallow ball to outfield, and the third player grounded out. No one scored." I took a deep breath...whew...well done, kiddo, you got yourself out of a jam. The story continues: "I had two men on base and no one scored in the second inning. The coaches were glad that I was able to get out of two jams but suggested that I try to stay out of trouble..." Good advice, I was thinking the same thing myself...I am on the same wave length as the coaches. Can I have some chewing tobacco now? "We lost the game 2-0 when N. gave up two runs..." Ouch....fun times in the apartment tonight, right boys?
And so, the competition continues during practices and scrimmages. We will be traveling to campus this weekend for the baseball parent's weekends activities which are two weeks after the actual university parent's weekend, but who cares? He was not going to take us to meet the dean or his adviser anyway, since he has no idea who the dean is and has yet to select a major...one milestone at a time. I am happy that his fall ERA is 0.0.