It is June 10th and I am three days away from completing my fourth extended spring training with the St Louis Cardinals!!! This has been the best extended spring by far and it only seems to be getting better and better. It is like each year I ask for more stuff whether it be better living arrangements, better players (lol), better relationships with coaches and players, and every year that is exactly what happens. I am super excited about the young group of pitchers I get to work with in Johnson City, TN this year. We may only have one or two kids coming with me that are 21 years of age, the rest are 20 and 19. So we may have our days where we get our asses handed to us but these guys compete and they aren't afraid so I am ready to sit back and watch!!!
That brings me to the subject of this new blog. The more I am around the game the more I realize what it takes for someone to make it in this game, besides the obvious answers such as talent and ability. More and more I realize how you must believe in yourself and also how damn competitive you must be. That's why I called this blog, "Top Two On My List".
I was speaking with some of the pitchers today and I was giving them a goodbye speech and all of my precious words of wisdom!!! LOL! I shared with them what I thought were the two most important things a player needed to have to make it to the big leagues. After listing belief/confidence and the desire to compete everything else just falls under that umbrella for me. Mechanics, knowledge of the game, preparation, focus, etc....it all falls under the belief you have in yourself and the desire to compete. All things will come to you in this game if you practice those two things first.
The reason why I wrote this blog though was to really talk about competition and competing. There is soooooooooo much that goes on during a season for these young athletes that the competitive nature is really what makes you or breaks you. Just think of this, you get up every morning at about 5:30am. You go to the field, eat breakfast and then start early work about 7:30 until 8am. Then you come back inside, take a breather and head back out to the field for an 8:30 meeting before you start the day. From about 8:35am to 10:30am you go through a routine of stretch, condition, throwing, fundamentals, and BP. Then you head back inside for some food. By about 11:35am you head back out to the field for a Noon game that lasts until 3pm on most days. Don't forget this is Florida so it is humid and hot all day, everyday!! Picture this day and then repeat it from March until the middle of June. That is exactly what the kids down here do, the kids who are not able to make a full season club and leave right after a month of spring training.
Be honest, do you think you could handle that??? It is not an easy thing to do at all. That is why if you don't have the desire to compete you will never make it in this game. The story of guys going from college to the big leagues in less then a year is far and few between. It may have only happened a handful of times in the history of the game. Most guys spend year after year in the minor leagues just hoping for a chance. Now, I am not trying to make excuses for anyone here I am just pointing out to you out there in computer land that if you really want this dream you better be one competitive son of a gun or this game will eat you up and spit you out. There are a lot of good players out there in minor league baseball that come to play each and every day. Those are the guys who make it, the guys who love to compete and can inspire themselves to perform each day. The guys who don't depend on anyone else to tell them they need to be ready to play or wake up before it is too late.
I take my hat off to these young kids down here because they are doing things I really don't know if I would have been able to handle when I was their age. It takes some real desire to hang in there and keep battling like these guys do, back on field 75 where nobody comes to watch. So if this is something that calls you, then great!! But make sure you start to practice that competitive drive right now. Don't let anything get in your way, compete, compete, compete!!!
Ok, all for now....wish us luck this year and every now and again check in on the Johnson City Cardinals up in the Appalachian League!!!