I was speaking really to young guys, amateurs in my post.
The vast, vast majority of players are not going to play pro ball or even college ball. The “other things” the game can teach should be valued. Competitivness, confidence, humility, friendship ect. These things make up a good part of the youth game up into high school and should be valued. These lessons can stay with a person through out their life. When my son gets together with the guys he played high school ball with or they come to one of his games or scrimmages it is about friendships that were build during long losing seasons in high school, on the field and in the club house. Dealing with adversity, bad coaches, losing games ect.
A few of my sons high school teammates (7 or 8) thought they could play after high school, several attempted (4 or so), 2 are still playing. Several hit actual competition when they got to college and wanted no part of it. Being in a mid sized city and zoned for a high school that has generally pretty bad sports program they thought they were better than they were. All-Stars in little league and starting as sophomores in high school sort of led them astray. When they got to a small college in California and realized…whoa, I am one of seven short stops here and all of them were All Conference where they played…at a level that was better than where I was…yikes. They turned tail and ran back home. So, in a lot of ways it is better to face some struggles and be humbled early on I think.
My sons college had their first fall games yesterday versus a semi pro team. The age range on the semi pro team was 20-40 something. About half ex pros and half ex college guys. You could tell the ex pros because they could directionally hit pretty well and had wood bat power. My son was pitching second. Each pitcher got 40 pitches, fastball and change ups only. My son was looking forward to this because he has been working on his change up quite a bit. He has always been a lefty with middling FB speed and would rely on the nasty curve to put guys away. He spend a lot of this last summer really trying to develop some velocity and working on getting his change to the point where he could throw it the way a guy should…middle of the plate to get swings. Anyway, he was at 34 or so pitches, 8 up and 8 down with 2 Ks. Cruising, he was going to get 3 hitless innings out of 40 pitches, pretty good. He ran the next batter to a 1-2 count, then the wheels came off. 4 straight hits. Including 2 doubles that ended up scoring 3 runs. He hit his pitch limit and came off, tossing the ball to another pitcher. He was not happy. He was pissed for a couple of minutes and knowing him I know he was stewing about it. Not remembering the 8 former D1 and pro hitters he controlled but the last couple that barreled up some pitches. After his required running he was coming up to the stands (his team plays at a field with one of those old fashioned wood grandstands with the cover and all that, pretty neat) to track pitches. I was watching him walk up from my perch in the stands. He noticed an older gentleman with a cane walking to the nearby parking lot carrying a couple of bags of stuff from the concession stand. He stopped, took the bags for the gentleman and carried them to his car for him, put them in his trunk, shook his hand and then ran to the grandstand (so the coach wouldn’t be wondering where the heck he was I am sure). That is what I mean by humility. It is a small thing, in the grand scheme it doesn’t even register. But, to care about the game, to have fun and play hard and compete, but, still realize there is life and people outside of what you are doing or how you are feeling in a particular moment. That is all I meant really.
All of feel good stuff aside, my son did get some good advice from a friend of ours that played 18 years of pro ball all over the globe. “The last game you play just for the fun of it is your last game in high school. After that, it is a business. For someone if not for you. For the coach who is earning a living. For the school or club that is selling tickets and merchandise. It is a business and you should treat it as such.”