Beating Heart Baby.
I have had more blood pumped through the chambers of my heart over the past three weeks than I have in years. And no need to bring out the small violins to play for me. I like it, and it feels pretty good too. I like that my June has challenged the way I think, what I knew I could handle and what I understood to be true. June has pushed the capacity of my brain. It has chewed me up, spit me out and smacked what remained with a folding chair to the back followed by a swan dive off the top turnbuckle. In all, I came out the other side feeling more alive than I have in awhile, and in part I have baseball to thank for it.
Today’s playoff game was a heartbreak. We took a one run lead into the bottom of the seventh. Lost that lead, forced extra innings. Took a four run lead into the bottom of the eighth only to see the game winning run scored by a bases loaded walk. A crap way to end a thrilling baseball game if you ask me, but that’s what happens sometimes. We certainly have been on the winning side of that scenario before. To complicate matters, my son Joey was on the mound and surrendered the walk that pushed across the game winning run. At the end of the game Joey took it hard. He blamed himself, and for once I had no words of baseball encouragement to say. At that moment I was a Dad who felt heartbroken for his son. And wanted nothing more than to give him a hug, and tell him it was okay (and no I didn’t that would have been more horrifying for him being a 13 year old boy, but the thought did cross my mind). Rather, how as a coach do you console a ballplayer that feels like they were the reason they lost an extra inning playoff game? More importantly, how do you do that as a parent?
Well on the car ride back to the house we talked about that final inning. I told joey that I was proud that he asked to pitch. Joey asked for the ball knowing full well he was coming into the game with the bases already loaded with the tying and winning runs on base. He was confident about his pitching. He was confident and strong. Despite the outcome I am proud of him. At the start of the year he wanted no part of pitching. The stress of the thought of being on the mound with all eyes on him caused him to shy away. He caught the bug a few games ago when he had some success and he gained confidence. Enough confidence that he wanted the ball in the final inning of an extra inning playoff baseball game. As a parent, isn’t that all you can ask for? In reality, games are not won and lost by one singular play. (Well I guess technically they are but it’s a series of events that lead to the win or loss.) I told Joey “that as a father I am impressed by him every day of his life on the planet.” Which in turn prompted Joey to correct my grammar and say “no, it’s every day of your life… not mine.” Which I responded not that phrasing was intentional, “Every day of your life I am impressed by you.” He disagreed again and after bantering back and forth for awhile we both ended up laughing by the time we got to Route 104.
In an earlier post about baseball I talked about how every play is a potential lesson in character building. That every out or base hit a learning opportunity of sportsmanship and team play. I am going to add to that statement: These opportunities could be successes or failures. It’s how you handle yourself coming out the other side that defines who you are.