Friday, April 30, 2004

Off/On Topic Discussion

All this talk of baseball and this comic have reminded me of some of my own trials and tribulations.

Every sport, or activity for that matter, has its own "fear factor" to overcome. With soccer it is actually shooting the ball at any given opportunity. With baseball it is a fear of being hit by the ball. My father had a "scientific" method to assist with this fear. Like many boys learning to play baseball, my father and I did fielding drills on the weekends. "Get your body in front of the ball!" "Don't look like a granny picking up apples!" All the while my dad would hit grounders and make me BLOCK them. Not catch them, that comes later. So I learned to block grounder and minimize the cost (ie extra bases) caused by an error I may have made on the field.

All that was well and good, but that didn't handle the fear of crazy wild young pitchers in Farm League. So my father would spend a couple of hours a week with me at "Taking a Pitch Practice." I would stand in the batter's box and my dad would throw pitches some lightly and some as hard as he could. The fast pitches would be behind me or waaaay outside the strike zone (some were actually strikes), but none came near me. The lighty thrown ones, oh...Those were thrown right at me. I was not allowed to flinch. I could take it and that was it. I think I got a few small bruises from this activity; he wasn't trying to hurt me. But boy was I scared. I could hear the ball hiss when my dad hurled it, and I would flinch. Well, for a while, eventually I became numb to the fear. I even came to the conclusion, after actually being hit by one of my dads heaters (an accident) that no 10 year old could come close to that speed. Thus ended my fear of the ball as a fielder and batter. I was almost like David Eckstein, I would take pitches in the shoulder or ass almost weekly.

My first position was right field, because frankly I wasn't a good fielder when I was young. Then when my fielding improved second base. Then a coach realized I had an arm, developed playing long catch and throwing home from Right, so I was moved to third. I played for quite a while there and loved every minute, but then in my teens a catcher got injured. Hmm..... Good arm, not afraid of the ball.... Let's make Christian a catcher. Forget that he plays soccer and it's hard on the knees. Bah... I loved it. Only I had to learn a new skill...Overcoming a fear of the bat.
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