“Baseball Gods, Jason. Jason, Baseball Gods.”

The title of this post pretty much sums up my first week of experience in the Arizona Fall League. That was a summary of how my brutal introduction with the Baseball Gods went down.

Week 1 - Went as expected… kind of. First couple of games were occupied with guys trying to get the rust off their swings or find back their command of their pitches. Having played probably the most recent live games, I thought I was in decent shape for the season to get underway. 
Defense – As luck would have it, since the rosters weren’t complete, I found myself doing something that I haven’t done since freshman year of high school, playing third base. Let me start by saying I was lucky enough to not get any balls hit to me or any plays at third. The most I did was chase after a groundball that was foul, which is perfectly fine by me. I thought it’d be fun to play there for a little, but I’m trying to figure out second base still… and moving me closer to the hitters’ line drives was not my idea of a fun afternoon.  Overall though I’d say I did pretty well at second base in the first week of game play. It’s difficult to play second base with a shortstop you’ve never played with. You have to get familiar with where they play, where they throw the ball to, what arm angle they throw from. Otherwise any surprises usually end up with an “E” being flashed up on the scoreboard. So far it’s been going well with the new middle infielders. We have some extremely talented shortstops on our team, who have made it easy for me. Each of them have great range and arm strength and all of them should have bright futures ahead of them.

Fortunately and unfortunately, Dustin Ackley, took a line drive oddly off his finger, causing him to miss a couple games. I say fortunately, only because he is suppose to be the main second baseman for our Peoria team. However, with him out, I got to see a couple more games in the lineup while he recovers. Defensively, I felt I took advantage of it and made a good impression.

Offense – This is where the Baseball Gods decided to introduce themselves. I’ve met them many times before, as has every other player in this game. Sometimes nice meetings, more times than not, brutal. And for any one out there who doesn’t believe in the Baseball Gods, ask any ballplayer, they’re as real as they come. They are our religion. We pray to them. We ask them to help us. We ask them for forgiveness. Either way, we know if something is going wrong, we better reconcile with the GM upstairs. No hitter should start 0-11 like I did, let me just throw that out there. It’s cruel. Baseball is the one game where you can do everything right and still get punished.

For example, a batter can arrive early, hit off a tee, take some flips in the cage, study the pitchers he’s about to face, have his approach ready, takes all the bad pitches and swings at strikes. However, doing all of those things doesn’t guarantee any success. Does it put you in the best possible position to succeed, yes. Am I saying that’s my routine everyday, no. Should it be, probably, if I want to become the player I think I can be in this game. A hitter can square up the ball as hard as possible, but if it’s at someone, especially at these higher talent levels, more times than not, you’re jogging back to the dugout wondering if you need to say some more prayers to you know who. You do not get rewarded for doing everything right in baseball. It’s one of the few things that I know to be true about this game, and it’s one of the most frustrating aspects of baseball.

My dad always joked with me, ‘It’s better to be lucky than to be good. If you’re good, things can go wrong. If you’re lucky, everything’s goin’ your way.” A funny proverb back then, but you will have to excuse me if I’ve stopped laughing at it and started realizing the truth in its meaning.  Now I’m not saying I’ve had the greatest pregame routine so far, or that all of my outs have been missiles right at people. I’m saying it is just an unfortunate outcome that players have to take in stride with the game of baseball. I’ve swung at good pitches to hit, and I’ve hit a lot of balls hard so far, yet I have nothing to show for it.

Am I frustrated, naturally. Am I furious, no, because baseball players have trained themselves to take the positives out of events rather than the negatives. This game teaches you to have a memory of a goldfish for the bad things that occur, and one of an elephant for all the positives. No, this is not a frustrated player venting about his average not being where he’d like it, although I can see how it comes across that way.

Rather, this is a lesson for the fans out there who don’t fully understand just how hard it is, and how many things need to go right for you to be a successful hitter in this game. Am I about to give up because I need a map and a compass to find first base? No. Slumps and outs are part of the game. The good ones just figure out what’s going wrong faster than the others. So no, it’s not back to the drawing board for me because Minnie Mendoza looks like Pete Rose compared to me right now. I’m hitting the ball hard, just right at people… that’s a great problem to have in this game. 

4 Comments

Great post Jason. I watched you play in both Akron and Columbus when you were on fire so it’s only a matter of time before the hits start coming.
-Jen

Jason:

I am a Red Sox fan who went to your game last Friday against the Saguaros. I really went to see Iglesias and Linares play, but you stood out as the best Javelina in that game. A home run and a few good plays in the infield, including at least one Major League web gem-worthy stab. I hope you are invited to Goodyear next Spring, and I wish you good luck … except when you are playing against Boston.

Feel free to hit for the cycle every time you play the Yankees or one of their Minor League teams.

~ Dan in Goodyear

jason,
Im sure youll come around. You seem to be a student of the game and that goes along way. The Gods will smile upon you in no time. Try doing something out of your routine, mix it up. Good Luck.
D in Cleveland

Its not a matter of if with jason its when, like the gentlmen noted earlyiar he was clearly the best javalina out there. web gems included. i read jason is the best prospect the indians have along with having the best farm system in baseball. Im excited for 2011, i think he will break camp with the club

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