By Mike Oseguera
July 11, 2012
The textbooks and backpacks will be tucked away for the next few months. It is time to play ball! Countless baseball games will take place daily this summer. Little League all-stars, Pony all-stars, American Legion ball, collegiate summer ball, high school summer ball, travel ball teams, showcases, camps, MLB , independent ball, adult baseball, “old-man” softball, the list goes on. Everyone always prefers Game Day over practice. Game Day everyday used to be only for the professional players. They were the lucky ones, “Living the dream!” Slowly however, everyone else got to play more, and More, and MORE and MORE games!
Game Day gives you all the extra bells and whistles that practice and training just don’t. The walk up songs, fresh-cut grass, chalked lines, food vendors, hecklers, stats, results, the media glory (or shame) and of course the lights. It is easier to wake up on Game Days. Your adrenalin pumps, and the sweat just doesn’t seem as noticeable as it is does during gym workouts. Baseball is a fun, beautiful, exciting, ever-teaching game. If you play it the right way it will reward you; put you on top of the world. Sometimes if you play it the wrong way, it will reward you; forgive you even. Once you start playing baseball the relationship starts to grow. And it grows fast. Before you know it you are in love with it. A full on relationship. But at some point baseball will humble you. Not by being cruel, mean, or malicious. But it will challenge you, out of mutual love of course. Like with any healthy relationship you have to work at it, nurture it, and take care of it. Baseball isn’t just here to be your high school girlfriend. To sit in front of you and tell you how you are the cutest (staring into each other’s eyes). Squeezing your bicep only to ooh and ahh. “No, you hang up first… ok ok at the same time!” Baseball is that true love relationship that makes you feel great, yet motivates you to be greater. But it’s not always roses. And it can’t always carry the hype of Game Day. So you have to know how to make each day great; to make today great. The fresh honeymoon stage won’t last forever 😦 (Leake will make fun of me for sad face). However there is a way to sustain that fire and grow that flame. Luckily, if you are loving baseball the right way, it gets even better.
Baseball will be honest with you. And with honesty comes confrontation when needed. Don’t assume hostility though. It does expect you to grow and improve mentally, physically, emotionally, etc. It won’t let you sit at status quo very long before rattling your cage. Being stagnant is not an option. And if you don’t improve (sometimes even if you do), baseball will be gone. One day your name won’t be on the list, the phone won’t ring, a red tag stares at you from your locker. What to feel first? Anger? “I got screwed” or “It was political.” Sadness? “I can’t believe it’s gone”. Regret? “Man, I shoulda fill in the blank.” Not a great day. The players that are humbled the least by baseball are those that don’t wait around for baseball to humble them. They fall in love with the challenges that inevitably will come their way. They courageously anticipate those tougher moments. They fall in love with the work necessary to be relentlessly improving. To be in love with all of baseball is a special thing. By embracing the challenges you find a way to make that bond stronger. Creating a larger investment and refusal to failure. Before you know it, the only options available are to endure and to thrive.
“You want me to want to do the dishes?” –Vince Vaughn
To love baseball the right way you can’t only be excited for “date night” or Game Day. For this relationship, everyday won’t include getting dressed up for fine Sushi and hot Sake. You are going have to love the everyday work, tasks, living. You will have to enjoy putting in time, energy and focus towards improving your skills, body and mind. If all of your happiness depends on Game Day results then you are going to be missing out on the chance to enjoy endless moments. Doing sprints, practicing breathing, and fielding back hands are necessary to become a complete ballplayer. If you truly understand what it takes to be a consistent reliable teammate then you learn to appreciate the grinding necessary to polish your abilities. Playing homerun derby always sounds more appealing than practicing bunt defenses. The extra effort may not sound easy or exciting to others. But when you love baseball the right way, it doesn’t feel like work. You find yourself grateful to be able to work on pick-offs with teammates. You feel pride being in charge of maintaining the bullpen mounds. You feel fortunate to attend a developmental camp instead of another Extreme Baseball Explosion Tournament of Champions Invitational held in 105 degree heat in Barstow, CA where three teams attend. When your relationship with baseball is strong, spending a Sunday making dinner, doing dishes and helping fold laundry is something you can look forward too. “Maybe Bed, Bath, and Beyond, I don’t know If we’ll have enough time.” –Frank the Tank
“Often we place such emphasis on distant goals that inadequate attention is given to what it takes to get there…” –John Wooden
Baseball is not something to be enjoyed only as a final goal. To get the most out of this game you have to find a way to embrace the daily process that will lead you to your goal. “High achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation,” Charles Kettering once said. I agree. You have to have some expectation for whatever it is that you are putting your time into. That expectation needs to be set into your goals and then put up on the shelf out of way, “so that adequate attention is given to what it takes to get there.” If your only joy of baseball will come from winning the College World Series then you are at a terrible loss, because every step toward that goal should be cherished. The 2012 Santa Clara Broncos started off the season hot. Gaining victories over talented and respected programs. The focus during that hot start was on having fun and playing good baseball with a disregard of who the opponent was. Full focus was on what our jobs were at that moment. And we were rewarded for being able to stay competitive within our present task. Then conference weekend came around. Our focus on process slowly became infected with thoughts and discussions of winning games versus named opponents. Our previously set carefully laid goals path began to get cluttered with divots of expectation. Expectations for results replaced our focus on task and the baseball results suffered. Getting back on track took time as momentum and confidence was lost. Our team’s relationship with baseball got rocky. Baseball was all of a sudden not as forgiving as it was before. Both sides seemed to be a bit irritable. Quick to blame and point fingers. One bad day was leaking into following days. Our relationship with baseball all of a sudden was stressed towards having a 40 year wedding anniversary while only being three months in. Something had to change. Our team and baseball had to regroup and get back on track, talk it out.
The answer was waiting for us right where we left it. Focus on today. Compete at the present task. Find a way to enjoy today. So simple. And so much to enjoy.
— COACH OSEGUERA