Why I Love Baseball-
I feel a lot of hardcore baseball fans get asked a lot, "How do you enjoy baseball?" followed by the comment, "It's so slow and boring. I always fall asleep." Then the next statement that's usually made is, "I don't even watch the game if I go to it; I go to hang out. Well, to me, that means you don't understand all that baseball brings into someone's life. You can never expect someone to know or understand your personal why if you don’t share. With that in mind, I want to share my why with you. Today I will share why I love baseball and what it has taught me and what I still learn from it today.
Ever since I could remember, I loved sports. I loved all games, but when it came to baseball, I had a different connection. The way it made me feel was just like I was on cloud nine. I remember going to games ever since I was small. I am sure my first game was in the Kingdome in Seattle, and then I grew up and went to games in Safeco Field, which is now T-Mobile Park. I was alive and watched so many fun and memorable moments in Mariner's history. The magical 2001 season where they won 116 games. Some of my other favorite memories are when "The Kid" Ken Griffy Jr came back home to end his career when Felix played his first and last game for the Mariners as a Mariner. When Ichiro left and then came back, the Mariners opened the season in Japan in 2019, and Ichiro made me cry with his goodbye when Dan Wilson hung it up. When the words "MY Oh MY" were spoken for the last time. These are some of the best parts of baseball, the memories it gives you. I can remember where I was for a lot of these moments and how I felt about them. I can remember the great moments and the sad ones as a Mariners fan. But baseball, man, it just gives you memories that you cherish forever.
Where it Started
As a kid, my grandpa raised me when I was 8, and that's right around the time I started playing baseball. The first team I was on was in PacWest little league in Burien, Washington. I played for the Cardinals. My coaches were Coach Randy, who was the head coach, and coach Billy. There was a 3rd coach, but I can't remember his name to save my life. I only remember this because of how much impact they had on me. I played with these coaches for the next three years or so until I moved. I started as a Catcher, and just the other day, I found the only game ball I got from these three years. It was my 2nd year. We had been working on blocking the plate in practice that week. It was a night game; the bright lights were on. We were the Athletics; the game was close. I got the throw from Patrick the SS and caught iT, dropped down to my knees, blocked the plate, the could of dirt cleared, and the ump yells: OUT! I was lost, people screamed, and my teammates were so happy and running towards me, and I had just won the game for us. Couple this moment with all the exciting Mariners baseball of the early 2000s, and I was sold and in love for life. I wanted to share this moment with you to illustrate that the point of memories made in baseball never leaves us.
The Small Details and Fundamentals
During my time playing baseball, I took it for granted. I never took the tweaks, changes, and some crucial coaching seriously. Looking back now, I wish I would have. I wish I would have listened. When it comes to pitching, there are many fundamentals we are taught at a young age that is supposed to become second nature and muscle memory. It’s very detailed for pitchers- it starts with how the situation tells us to pitch from the windup or stretch. We then have to be in sync with our catcher on the signs given to us, we then have to make sure we grip the baseball a certain way, then we have to make sure we throw the ball at the right angle and into the exact spot at a certain speed. If we miss or do something wrong in the process, that ball could go flying over our heads. Take this lesson into life itself; it requires us to pay attention to detail no matter the job. We have to be aware of the process and steps we are taking to ensure we deliver the right product on time and to the right place. Baseball taught me this lesson and continues to teach young men and women the same without them, even knowing it.
The typical professional baseball season from Feb-October if there isn’t a pandemic going on in the world. The regular season lasts 162 games. The typical hitter will only get on base about 34%-40% of the time. The other 60-75% of the time, they don’t get on base and ultimately fail at doing so. The best pitchers give up three runs, everyone nine innings. Now put those numbers in the context of the season of 162 games. If a player gets on base 37% of the time, they are elite at doing so; if a pitcher gives up 2.5 runs every nine innings pitched, they are elite. I am telling you all this because there will be weeks upon weeks that the best hitters won’t get on base more than 10% of the time and still end up among the best. The reason being is because they take every at-bat and opportunity one by one and know it’s about the end numbers and end goal of winning. I have adopted this mindset as a father and coach that everything I am doing now is for the future, the end goal. When I have to give my child a punishment, I know it’s not fun now, but they will understand how to act or treat someone in the future. When I have a kid frustrated, they can’t get over striking out or not hitting the ball hard enough because they just tweaked their mechanics. I know that this player will be better, healthier, and stronger later because of the change.
There Comes a Time...
For all of us, there comes a time when we can longer play the child’s game. The last thing I want to talk about that I have learned from baseball is gratitude. I was always grateful for being able to go and play another game. There was a time in high school. I thought I would never play baseball or even softball again. I injured my throwing elbow at the end of my senior year in high school in the Championship game and cost us the game. Now I have since healed played in several adult softball leagues and now in men's baseball leagues. I am so thankful that I can do so without throwing pain; I still train those muscle groups to this day for strength and to be able to compete at my absolute best in those leagues.
With baseball, I have learned to keep my perspective intact. Being a pitcher, you see the game a little differently. You have to be able to see the game one pitch at a time. Slow the game down to your pace and control what you can as much as you can to win. You will make mistakes along the way, but how you respond to those mistakes is what will make or break the game. You can either dwell on them and repeat them or fix them immediately and move on and not do it again. Much like life itself, we can either be bitter against our past, which will lead us to create bad habits, be grateful for all the struggles and experience, move on and learn from it to be better at the end of the day.