“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.
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.
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.