Making it in professional baseball, any professional baseball requires a reality check in so many places, and quickly. Here are those realities:
Age is your biggest adversary – not talent, not desire, not anything.
The older you get the more things get in the way of everything.
Determine as early as you can, this is it, the fire in your belly, the only
reason for reasoning.
Listen to yourself – your body, your eyes telling you everything.
Listen to everyone – the critics, the compliments, everyone around you.
Take stock of who you really are, and why.
Gauge the thickness of your skin – how tough are you to failure, repeated failure.
Ask yourself why do you get up, time after time, when you get knocked down?
Can you stand in a driving rain, think clearly, make sound decisions, other than get out of the rain stupid?
Can you decide to make a career in this sport, then think of it as a business?
Do you have the willpower to learn the business, even if you don’t know where to start?
Do you have the ability to know when you’re being used – and walk away?
Can you separate what’s best for you, and not let others decide that for you?
I honestly believe that the younger you get the conviction the better you are at monitoring your compass, your priorities, your self awareness and goals, letting those around you know how you feel regardless of their compass and their settings.
Don’t set multiple agendas and dynamics to your day to day life. Singular focus on this business – yes business, is your only purpose in life, supported by smart things that’ll get you there. Good health, good grades in school will broaden your maturity and your ability to fact-find things in the business of professional ball. For example, having poor grades tells anyone with a checkbook in their vest pocket that you’re NOT going to college – scholarship or otherwise, therefore why waste good money on you when your options are few. They’ll get you cheap!
When you do decide to make a living at this, go in with both feet. Don’t muddy the waters with skateboarding, skiing, school projects, other school sports like basketball and such. Then don’t bother with birthday parties, weddings, family get-togethers and such. This is a professional journey that has only one purpose, and that is the grind you out as a professional pitcher. Your body and mind will suffer though long sweats in the training room – your cellar, backyard, practice field, and so on. This is not nice stuff.
Forget a childhood. Your tail feathers will be in the hands of someone like me
four to six days a week, seven to nine hours a day. Not fun in the sun, 90
degrees and not a breeze in sight. Finding someone like myself as early as you can has big risks all by themselves. Some pitching coaches are a flash in the pan, while others are the real deal. Famous labels mean nothing without results you can see day one, conversations you understand day one, a training schedule with forecasted objectives day one. And never go on the sales pitch … “ I can introduce you to people that know someone…” That’s jive going no where.
Your days will be monitored by the seasons. The offseason you’ll work on diet and nutrition – tracking and reviewing the impact of exercise routines and the combination of foods – carbs, proteins, enzyme benefits, and such. You’ll be weighted daily, blood pressure and other vitals. You do a lot of road work (jogging) to build wind (lung) capacity and stamina – or other routines more fitting to your needs. In the preseason the pace quickens to include more physical flexibility, pitch inventory review and enhancement, more physical exams, and competitive level suitable to your abilities. The prime playing season you’er monitored for what slot fits you and your club best. This is the place where your sense of self-worth comes into play. Are you being used to the best of your intentions and needs – not the club you’re playing for. If this spot is the best you know you can do, then so be it. If not, you will have a firm understanding of your priorities and at what point you should be farther along. Again, your own value of what you’re worth and your own reality of your abilities is paramount here. Too much ego and not enough brains to figure what’s what, is a hard taskmaster on yourself.
Post season should mirror your prime playing season. Only at this point, your true worth down the stretch should be evident. This is a good time to ether realize or be told, you got son, or you don’t. But then again, listen to yourself…… don’t convince yourself …listen.
Your priorities to experience all this is no small order for one in high school or even younger. However, the youngest age to consider a pro career is about 15. This should give a youngster plenty of time to see what it’s like to have such a narrow focus on life and all the things that a youngster should be enjoying – but won’t. Aside from all that, many things can change for a youngster between the age of 15 and 18 – a lot. A ball player today, cowboy tomorrow… you know, stuff like that.
A man in college has a totally different setting on his plate. This is the age where making money is all important – all important. Projecting a living, I mean a real living is an art form that I’d say better than 80% are not equipped to make. Don’t ask me how I came up with that number – your guess is as good as mine. Just something I’ve seen over the years being around those players coming into my world around the East Coach, to Ohio and South to N.C. Playing college ball, then going pro is a narrow bridge to cross and the toll can be expense both in time spent and duration on the body. Remember, time is not on your side – you get older every day and there are others already in the pipeline actively playing level A ball.
Notice I didn’t put ability to pitch in here anywhere with its own paragraph. There will be people out there that’ll make that judgment for you. So, on your journey somebody has to see something in you, believe in you, have faith in you. Who better than those people closest to you – whoever that may be. Couple all that with a pitching coach who understands your long range goals. I would like to caution you here – don’t play a pitching coach -man or women, with agendas. If you plan on having this professional share a % of your time with other things, you’re in for a real shock and some vary hash language. Again, be up front and honest.
Let me finish with this – DON’T DO THIS. This is a terrible way to spend the best days of your life. You’ll waste your days chasing your childhood without having a childhood. You’ll second guess everything for the rest of your life wondering where you’ll be tomorrow.
Money will mean little when you have no one to share it with – that you can trust. Men like me will take everything from you – everything, and give you nothing in return but what you truly earned yourself. You will have very few, if any, true friends, only those that have made the journey with you all the way. Your relatives will be divided into two camps, those that love you and will worry constantly about you, and those that only want from you and worry none.
The numbers are not on your side. The washout rate is appalling. Job security in the professional coaching ranks is like the San Andreas Fault – one crack and we all crack!
Sometimes, regardless of what’s right in front of us we make decisions based on the mood at the time. Regrettably, I’ve been guilty of that myself.