There will always be this hum of the stands.
We enter back onto the field again.
I’m gonna tell you something I’m not the best at. I’m not great at hearing people in the background talking poorly about me.
Things usually get back around to me in one way or another. It’s not always right away but there have been many times where I have heard things said about me that may or may not have wanted to be kept in confidence. I’ve heard things said from people I don’t even know. I’ve heard things said from people who have once meant the world to me.
All arrives in the same place in my gut.
They say that a man who is built upon the compliments of others will fall from the criticisms just as quickly. I love that idea.
For me, and this is the way it has always been for me, I have been able to tap into those feelings that arise when I hear these things. I am not built upon people praising me, nor will I fall from them saying bad things about me. In fact, for most of my life, it has been the complete opposite. I’ve gained great strength from the things that people said I couldn’t do.
I remember way back during the end of one of my seasons in baseball I started to have really funky mechanical issues with my pitching and my fastball velocity had suffered incredibly. I was making everything cut and couldn’t throw as hard as I usually did. This was right during the times of prospect camps – the time when you needed to impress coaches the most and I didn’t have my usual stuff. It was really hard because I could hear people talking about it and I had no idea how I could fix this. The people who had coached me looked at me in bewilderment trying to figure out what was going on with me.
I was determined to get it back – which I eventually did…and then some. In fact I went from an afterthought to dominant. But the lesson here isn’t in that at all. The lesson is in something else.
There’s this moment when you are on the mound pitching where the sounds the other team is making, the fans in the stands with their hum and everything else around you silences.
It’s just you and the catchers mitt.
Everything slows down and the distance between you and the plate seems to shrink.
You get this type of tunnel vision and when you realize you are in that moment, you are close to unstoppable.
Your body is in complete flow with your mechanics and pitching becomes second nature.
But there are other moments when you walk a couple of guys, someone gets a hit, someone makes an error, where the game speeds up on you and boy can you hear those voices when that happens. You can hear the other team yelling, you can hear people in the stands and throwing a strike becomes incredibly difficult.
You have to get yourself back to that calm intense place.
How can I do this in real life?
How can I get back to that moment where I walk off the mound, take a deep breath, pump myself back up and focus on throwing the next pitch. I’m working on getting back to this ever since I had a few massive revelations at school over the past few days. I’m working on this mentality like crazy. Because no matter the situation I was in or I was brought into, I could gear up and face anything without fear.
I will be the first person to tell you about my weaknesses when they come up.
In fact, I will ask for help…I will enroll you if you are interested…I will get down to the nitty gritty of why I am struggling because I truly want to be able to move forward. I will talk about what I am scared of.
The fear of failing.
The fear of success and not being able to handle it.
Scared of being misinterpreted for something I am not. Scared of losing everything I have made. Scared of going the extra mile because I know I will be subjecting myself to even more of this hum.
But as Karen said to me…”That’s all part of the game.”
And she is right.
Balls, strikes, home runs, errors, over throws, passed balls, wild pitches, strikeouts, walks, that’s all part of the game. It’s not about having a perfect game every game. You actually can’t do that. Pitching is about grooving when you have it and facing adversity when you don’t.
There are so many times you go out there and two of your pitches aren’t working well at all. What the hell do you do when that happens?! Focus on the fact that you don’t have your changeup and curve or start pounding the zone with your best fastball – one that has every ounce of conviction behind it. Of course you try to keep throwing the other pitches because you want to find them throughout the game, but you can’t bring yourself into that negative space or else you’re not going to make it out of the first inning.
The hum of the crowd is something I am dealing with right now.
Ever since I realized I was on the bench for a great part of my days, I’ve been trying to get used to running back out on the field, dealing with adversity, and finding that place in myself again where I can block it all out when I need to and focus on continuing to make a difference no matter what anyone says about me.
Here’s the closer in me.
I remember the things people say. I put those words in a special place and know when to turn up the furnace when I need them. I don’t always run off of positive energy – but I always find a way to turn the black into something I can use to create a positive result.
Maybe that’s my form of alchemy – the ability to turn negatives into positives.
I’m getting back there. I’m getting back to that focus where I don’t give a damn what the other opposing team says, what the opposing fans are yelling, what the batter is taunting me with, what the baserunners are saying to try to get into my head…I will do exactly what I do…do it well…and be dominant.
Evan Sanders, The Better Man Project