What Can Be Learned from Sports

March 14, 2013

This is from an old discussion on the High School Baseball Web discussion forum (http://community.hsbaseballweb.com/forums). A high school player had posted some frustrations about playing time and he felt misled and mistreated. Here was my response. I was a freshman in college at the time and one year removed from a similar situation. That post was met with great response then and it still rings in my head on occasion now. I’m surprised I hadn’t posted it sooner..

You are going through something that is very hard. I know–I was in your shoes just last spring. I was a senior who had been in the coach’s program since 7th grade (was around my entire life). I definitely felt betrayed when I wasn’t given what I thought was a fair shot at winning the starting spot. I did get the first start of the year and we won. That was on a Monday and we played 5 games that week I think. I started three and we won two of those three. I felt pretty good because although I didn’t do a whole lot on offense, things were pretty solid behind the dish. Well, due to a variety of mishaps I found myself off the field and I really thought that I being punished for others’ mistakes. We were bad and I felt like he had chosen to move on which as much as I hated it, I understood why he was doing it.

I wasn’t a great catcher. I sat behind a kid now at a small DI school all through my freshman, sophomore, and junior year seeing very little varsity playing time. Junior year I saw a total of like 25 innings JV and varsity combined. To say I was ****ed would be an understatement, but I had to keep positive and “happy” because we were winning. So I wasn’t a “star” but I played on two conference championship teams.

Last year I went from being (I thought) the starting catcher to being a do-all player. If the pitching chart needed to be kept, that was my job. If the scorebook needed to be kept, you betcha. I chased foul balls, caught in the bullpen. I even volunteered to play the outfield after a kid broke his hand and I hadn’t played the outfield since freshman year. I played first and third base once each because he wanted to get me on the field. I ran the bases and I was in the dugout day in and day out doing everything I could to help the team win.

So where am I going with this?

I made ONE BIG mistake and I hope you won’t make the same. We were playing a doubleheader on a week night so we could make up a conference game. The first game we played like **** and our coach was of course ticked. He said he wasn’t going to play any seniors except the pitcher in the second game. Well, I didn’t even play in the first game so I was ****ed that I was being punished due to the play of others. We went across town to a field with lights and I was expected to warm the pitcher up. And I was assigned to bullpen duties the rest of the night because one of the catchers was catching and the other was playing in the field. I sat in the dugout absolutely ****ed. I talked to no one the first 10 innings. The game ended up going into 15 innings! The top of the 15th (we were the away team this game) we get a runner on and coach tells me to go run at first base! I ended up scoring the winning run!

My dad saw me in the dugout “pouting” and he wasn’t exactly happy with me. At that point, I didn’t care. The next day we had a school assembly which I was a part of and that was also my last day of high school. I just wanted to get out.

Rage, this is likely your last season of organized baseball. It’s your last semester of high school. Go with the flow. Things might not seem like they are going your way, but find a way to enjoy yourself these last few weeks. Do everything you can to help the TEAM win. I know; not what you wanted to hear. The TEAM has to come before ME and it’s hard. Help the younger players, encourage your teammates, and come to the game everyday with energy and excitement. I know you’re going to feel down about not getting to play, but baseball is supposed to be fun and it can be fun even if you’re not getting to play as much as you’d like.

It gets noticed. Attitude, hustle, etc it all gets noticed. You may not leave your mark on the program as a “stud” but you can leave your mark as being a team player and I urge you to make the best of it. Lastly, I urge you to not let the situation destroy your relationship with the coach. My coach, as much as I hated him at times especially last year, he’s one of my best friends. Just so you know, I am on the brink of tears as I sit here typing this. That’s how much it means to me.

Little Eyes Upon You
There are little eyes upon you
and they’re watching night and day.
There are little ears that quickly
take in every word you say.
There are little hands all eager
to do anything you do;
And a little boy who’s dreaming
of the day he’ll be like you.
You’re the little boy’s idol,
you’re the wisest of the wise.
In his little mind about you
no suspicions ever rise.
He believes in you devoutly,
holds all you say and do;
He will say and do, in your way
when he’s grown up just like you.
There’s a wide-eyed little boy
who believes you’re always right;
and his eyes are always opened,
and he watches day and night.
You are setting an example
every day in all you do;
For the little boy who’s waiting
to grow up to be like you.

Whether that “little boy” is 6 and in the stands, or if he’s 15 and in the dugout; he is watching as are many others.

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