Life in the Minors
Sometimes, shoes make the man
Anyone who has spent time around the ballyard will tell you that baseball players are quite superstitious.
Some players have a lucky bat, or lucky socks or a certain undershirt they may want to wear under their uniform every day. Some guys like to eat at the same restaurant they did when a particular hot streak began for them.
In the topsy-turvy world of minor league baseball, where we often forget what city we're in, what day of the week it is, and what time we play that day, we all search for something to hold onto to create the illusion of a normal life, which explains why baseball is such a game of routines.
A few weeks into our season, our all-star closer, Matt Petty, decided to go out and buy a new glove. After a couple of subpar outings, he returned to his old faithful mitt and things have gone swimmingly ever since as Matt set a league record with 26 saves this season.
Now, I will never make the claim that I am the most superstitious guy out there, but I do have my little hang-ups. When Matt switched gloves and struggled a little, I must admit that it was me who pointed out that he should not mess with the mojo.
My superstitious side got the best of me then, and reared its head again about a month ago, when my feet were in need of a little relief. Anyone who knows me can tell you I have lots and lots of shoes, not because I like to coordinate my outfits so much, but because I think it is vital to take care of my feet.
When my girlfriend was here visiting in July, I thought it was time to go and get another pair of coaching shoes, since the adidas pair I had been using for pregame activities was absolutely hammered, making my feet sore, and in turn, causing some stiffness in my lower back. The pair I finally settled on was a pair of gray and blue ASICS running shoes, with insoles to give me even more cushion.
I could not wait to get to the ballpark to use them as my new gamers. My feet were in heaven. Padded insoles on top of a cushioned air sole made me feel as if I were walking on pillows. But a few tough games and a few rough pitching performances later, I felt like I needed to get our juice back, so I switched back to the Nikes I had worn early in the season when we jumped out to a 33-8 mark.
Well, that next night we pitched well, and played well. The next night, more of the same. With those beat-up Nikes, we finished the regular season at 68-28, setting a league mark for wins in a season.
So here it is Sept. 7 and we just played our 99th game of the season, and I am sacrificing my feet for the good of the team. We just swept three straight games from the Rockford Riverhawks to win our Division Series and advance to the Frontier League Championship Series.
Sure my feet hurt, my shins hurt, my back's tight and my Nikes are about to fall apart into a thousand pieces, but the Windy City Thunderbolts are winning. Three more games to win to claim the league championship and hopefully bring home the hardware, I think I can make it.