"Baseball's a game. Games are supposed to be fun."
-- Tom Selleck, in Mr. Baseball
I went to the batting cages again last night to work on my swing for softball. Between playing softball out in the WHOPPING 85 DEGREE WEATHER on Sunday for an hour and a half, and working on my swing last night until my arms were ready to fall off, I really get a better appreciation for what ballplayers go through.
It's really easy to criticize them, to say they suck when they don't make a play, or if they strike out, or whatever. And quite frankly, some of them are getting paid more money per plate appearance than I'll make in a year. But still. Sometimes it's really hard to keep it in perspective that even if someone like Mark Teahen, All-Star sucks compared to many other major leaguers, he's still in the top .000001% of the baseball players in the world, just by way of being in the Major Leagues.
I had a really lousy day playing the field on Sunday. It was hot, the sun was shining in our faces. The other team was much better than us; we knew we were the proverbial Royals to their Yankees. And for whatever reason, I couldn't seem to get to grounders in time. It sucked. And worse, I couldn't get my mind out of it. I didn't catch a pop fly because I misjudged it by a few feet and couldn't readjust in time, so I was still mentally kicking myself a minute later when a grounder was hit about ten feet to my left, and I didn't get a good jump on it and it went through. Eventually, I know I was thinking things like "Hey, if they only get two more runs, this inning will end," and such.
Baseball is hard.
My right wrist has a bruise on it because I'm doing something wonky with the follow-through in my swing, and after 150 swings or so, it didn't want to deal with me anymore. Being as I like having control of the fingers on my right hand, I decided to listen to my wrist.
However, I started really getting the timing down of that damn pitching machine after a while. I started pulling the ball well, hitting it far into the netting behind the machines. I'd step into my swing more, swing harder, give myself some more bat speed, stop meekly hitting grounders back to the middle. I loved hearing the thwack of metal on softball as I got some really good contact.
Baseball is fun.
The other day, I was sitting there at work refreshing box scores, waiting for certain game lineups to show up so I'd know who was playing and who wasn't, so I could throw them into the lineup that day on my fantasy team. I decided to take a risk and put in Ryan Freel as my 2B and sit out Tadahito Iguchi, despite that Iguchi was facing lefty Andy Pettitte and Freel was racing righty Jake Westbrook. Iguchi went 0-for-3 with a walk, and Freel went 5-for-5 and scored two runs. Was I brilliant? No, just lucky. A few days later Iguchi got me 2 home runs and 7 RBI in one game, which is actually the new single-game RBI record for a Japanese player in the MLB. And that was even luckier.
Figuring out how baseball players are going to perform is complex.
I realize that softball is not baseball, that I am not an athlete, that managing a fantasy baseball team is nothing like managing or general managing a real team. I know that I don't work on my programming projects at work to the cheers of 40,000 people, and if I screw something up, I only have to face my boss; I'm not going to have to deal with a full stadium shouting, "YOUR CODE SUCKS, DEANNA, GET OFF THE KEYBOARD!"
I guess my point is, despite that I know it's not going to stop me from shouting things like "YOU SUCK, EDDIE!", I've been trying to take a different tack on the game this year, both in writing and in playing, and it's been a lot of fun and really educational. There's a fine balance between how far you can submerge yourself into the game mentally before you start thinking of the players running around like little random-number-generating automata. I wanted to take a step back and put some things into perspective for myself, and I figured I'd let you all in on what I was thinking.