This time of year is depressing for me. With only 2 weeks to go, the season is almost over. I’m scheduled to finish the year over Labor Day weekend in Decatur Illiniois. Then, it’s a long winter of snow, ice, and waiting until next year. At the end of last year, I was upset because I had an amazing performance at the World Tournament. While I was happy with myself and what I had accomplished, it always leaves a bitter taste when we lose games. So, it was a long winter thinking about how well I had pitched and thinking how much we COULD have won with some timely hitting. But, last year is nothing compared to what lies ahead this year…. a winter of thinking about a BAD World tournament performance. If I thought it was tough thinking about a good performance all winter, this off season will be a nightmare.
In my first start of the tournament, I felt like I had picked up right where I left off last year. I had all 3 pitches (rise, drop and change up) going with pinpoint control and a lot of velocity. Basically, I felt great. We won the game easily and the other team had only 1 baserunner… a bunt single in the 4th inning. I think that was my 8th career 1 hitter at the World Tournament… I always seem to give up one. Oh well. Anyways, I felt great and was ready to take on the next team the following day.
When the next day came, it became one of those where I wished I hadn’t gotten out of bed. Absolutely NOTHING I threw had any movement and I didn’t feel like I had 1/2 of the velocity from the previous day. Bang, bang, bang… 3 Homeruns in the first 2 innings had my team down 4-0. I was then taken out of the game. Then, to make matters worse… my team came back and scored 4 runs later. We ended up losing the game rather badly but, I lamented that night about how I never seemed to get run support then, when I do get it… I can’t hold the other team down. That was a bitter pill to swallow! That loss put us into another game the same night vs. Czech Republic National team. I started that game again and felt like a whole new person from earlier in the day. I had snap on all the pitches and they were moving away from their bats with ease. Taking a 5-0 lead into the 5th inning with a lot of K’s…. the wheels came off. All of the sudden, no matter what I did.. everything I pitched was hit. I mean EVERYTHING. It wasn’t as though they were hitting screamers off the fence or Homeruns out of the park.. they were just simple basehits. We had the odd error and walk thrown in too but… the bottomline was, what I had in the first 5 innings left very quickly. Once again, given a lead I could not hold. That loss knocked us out of the tournament. I almost had to call Dr. Phil to get some mental health advice.
I still had a pretty good year, all things considered. Despite battling through my back injury I threw well. I don’t know my stats but, I’m sure my ERA was quite low and I had more wins than losses but, none of that matters right now. I’m sure I could find 100 excuses for my performance; back injury, umpires, etc. But none of that would be true. I simply didn’t do the job I was supposed to do… hold the other team down to 1 less run than we score.
About the only thing keeping my sanity in all of this was after the games, regardless of if I pitched my best game or worst game of the tournament… Alexander would come running into the dugout yelling “Hi Da Da” and give me a big hug when the game was over. He couldn’t care less if I pitched well or not… he wanted to run, play and have fun. It kind of makes me feel silly about being depressed over a softball game when there is so much more that is REALLY important.