Check your gun and protect your goods Cup Checkers,
I was born and raised in the city and I won’t deny that, but I will say that I love the outdoors. I’m barely a novice when it comes to hunting. I grew up fishing and camping, and learning the necessary skills to be in the outdoors. I always wanted to hunt, but I didn’t get to experience it until college and it has been the best and most enjoyable hobby I have picked up outside of baseball.
My best friend, Drew Zizinia, invited me down to his camp in South Texas when I was in college to go on my first hunt and I haven’t looked back since. Granted, I’ve been blessed to have this man and his father in my life to allow me to join them on such adventures, but nevertheless, we all need something to get away from the real world to have our minds clear. The thing is, whether it be a beach in Southern California, a calm lake with a boat, a hike in the woods, or a local park with a bench, we should all take time to focus on something else for however long needed to maintain a healthy life. Baseball is a grind, we all know that. It is a strenuous sport with the longest season of any major sport, it takes a toll on the body and the mind. The ability to prepare oneself day in and day out for OUR JOB is the ultimate test in mental fortitude. We all have obligations and “real life” problems outside of baseball, whether it be a wife or girlfriend (granted, not all women are problems, but they are an obligation), a sick family member, or maybe just the bills to pay. Now, as baseball players, we all know that when we step between those lines, hell, even before we step on the field and we reach the clubhouse, we all find a way to “flip the switch” mentally and be ready for the game. I want to compare hunting to that “switch” in a small sense.
You address the rubber, you step in the box, you get in your ready position, you hone the crosshairs on your mark hundreds of yards away. We all feel it, the flutter of the heartbeat, the increase of blood flow, our breath becomes more concentrated, our vision is narrowed, our senses are heightened milliseconds before a controlled explosion of muscle fibers and sinew as we take action on our target. Baseball or hunting? Both I say. Our minds are clear, and our bodies know what to do. We’ve done it thousands of times before. Anticipation is a killer in baseball, and in my short experience, hunting. There is a balance between anticipation and reaction in baseball and in hunting. We need to anticipate what is going to happen, but not so much as to impede our reaction. Everyone anticipates the play after the pitch, but it is only after the pitch, that we REACT. As in hunting, if you anticipate the kick from your rifle, you ACT prior to the shot, and you will miss. (this just happened to me Saturday January 12th). But you regather, chamber another round, bring your target in the crosshairs, and enable another controlled explosion to hit your target. It’s the same as in baseball.
This experience this past weekend made me realize the comparison. We will fail, we will be off target, but it’s being able to recognize quickly why we failed and how to correct it, that will bring us success. Being able to “flip the switch” is paramount to success in baseball…Make the minor adjustment, have a short memory and know that you will get to take another shot and have that shot, be perfect.