Life in the Minors
Losing can be a valuable lesson
It's funny how time flies.
I still can't get over how quickly this season went. Since it ended on Wednesday, I've had a couple of days in Evansville to ponder the fate of our ballclub this year as I cleaned the apartment I stayed in for the past four months.
Sitting there on my couch I reflected on our 96 games, and it really seemed as though spring training was just last week. Even though the results of our year were disappointing, the year did not drag much until the end.
Perhaps that was the problem. At some point, the sentiment became to play better tomorrow, instead of seizing every opportunity in the day to hit with men in scoring position, make the necessary plays on defense when the game was on the line, to wiggle out of potentially hazardous situations with the big pitch.
After a while, it became a downward spiral of frustration and lack of execution, as every today turned into the next tomorrow. But in this revelation is the lesson. People often ask me why I keep doing what I do, working as a pitching coach in minor league baseball, and a big part of it is that I am continually learning, even when I'm teaching.
This wonderful game surely puts its foot on you at times, and is quick to humble you just when you think you have a few things figured out. This season, the worst I've experienced in my 10 or so years of professional baseball, my first losing season, taught me a lot about myself. Sure, I was fortunate to be a winner in every other season. I've been a part of league championships and division titles, but from this season, I learned that I remain in this game because I love what I do.
Yes the months and distance away from family and friends back home are challenging, and will always be. But at no point during the season did I quit working, teaching, learning. At no point did I want to quit. I wanted to win.
The experiences I gathered this year have continued to shape me. The lessons I learned in adversity, the mistakes we made on the field, the frustration of failure, have given me wisdom which I know will guide me in tough times in the future.
As I sit here on my flight to Honolulu, I am headed back to my life as a "civilian." No more putting on a uniform, no worries about who is starting tomorrow, or which relievers are available.
For me, the end of the season means moving back in with my fiancee in Wahiawa and returning to work at my desk job, scouting Hawaii's high school and college talent for the major league club I work for.
For the Evansville Otters, the offseason means many different things. Returning to wives and girlfriends, going back to school, finding a day job, or for some, moving on and away from baseball.
I enjoyed my return to the Evansville Otters this summer, where I pitched 10 years ago. I reconnected with old friends, and made some new ones. The good people of Evansville, including our team's owner Bill Bussing and our entire front office, were very gracious and I enjoyed my time with all of them.
But the support of my family and friends back home in Hawaii allowed me to enjoy another season in the sun.
As with each summer, I have enjoyed the opportunity to share my experiences in my weekly column this year. Thanks for coming along for the ride.