Perspective

On Monday night, April 29, Andy Pettitte started for the Yankees against the Houston Astros. He got belted around from here to Timbuktu and back and was out of there by the fifth inning. And a lot of fans got on him: he’s too old, he’s this and he’s that—and they lost sight of one important fact. He just didn’t have his good stuff that night.
I flashed back a number of decades to one afternoon in 1953 when I was talking with my incredible pitching coach, Eddie Lopat. In the course of the conversation, I observed that he didn’t win all the time, that he lost some games now and then—and I wondered how he reacted to this. His answer surprised me: "You sound like a pitcher who has never lost a game."
I had to agree with him. I had never lost a game, and I was not about to do anything different. Then he got philosophical.
“Oh, I’ve lost some,” he said quietly and seriously. "But I guess it all depends on the loss. I’ve been belted around, 8-0, 9-3, 11-2—and although I didn’t like it very much, I wasn’t all that upset by it, because all those scores told me was that I just didn’t have my good stuff at those times. What really got to me was those close games, 2-1, 3-2…and after one of those I would sit in the locker room and chew myself out for letting the game get away from me. It’s at those times I would wish I had just gone fishing."
I looked at him and said, sympathetically, “Aw-w-w-w…But you won your next time out.” Which he did.
What Eddie Lopat had done was put things in perspective—something he was very good at. And now, thinking about what happened to Andy Pettitte on that Monday night, I realized that this is something that could happen to any pitcher, on any night, against any team. And if a pitcher just doesn’t have his good stuff on such a night, there’s no use weeping and wailing and gnashing his teeth—he can just chalk it up to the baseball demons and say that he just stank that time, next start will be a lot different. And also in this context, I remember a science teacher I had in high school. He would demonstrate experiments of various kinds,and if one of them fizzled he would just shrug and say “Oh well, it’ll work out better next time.” He too could put things in perspective.
This is something we would all do well to keep in mind. 8)

Zita, excellent post & advice. My kid recently got to experience one of these outings & I have to say I’m proud of how he handled the situation. Playing in local league first two months of season and it’s pretty weak. So far he’s been able to have his way but ran into first rough outing this week. Had started 6 games for year and won 3 & led in other three when leaving game. This particular game we were overmatched although we’d beat same team 3-1 earlier in year. This game another pitcher started and gave up 9 runs in first inning. My kid came in from there and gave up 4 runs in first inning pitched with 2 walks. Several errors didn’t help and strike zone seemed to be tighter than normal. Went on and pitched next two innings with only one run surrendered. Things definitely didn’t go his way but I was probably more proud of him than when he pitched a no hitter earlier in the year; he kept his composure. Umpire happens to be JV coach and told him after game he purposely tightened up strike zone to see how he’d handle it & he handled better than most. Also added if defense had made some plays he shouldn’t have given up a run. For the night our team made 12 errors (scored generously) & we took a beating. He’ll be trying out for school team in front of same umpire so I’m glad he handled the way he did. You & your pitching coach are/were very wise people; put it in prospective and get em next time.