More than a week removed from the bench-clearing incident, and my ensuing rant, things have definitely settled down. Our first baseman, who was largely responsible for the escalation of the situation, has been suspended from the team by the club, and there is no time table for his return. That doesn’t mean that our play as a team has necessarily improved, but it is definitely a bonus that the veteran members of the team and I do not have to worry about babysitting 25-year-old men.
This past weekend, we traveled to beautiful Surfer’s Paradise for our weekend series. Surfer’s is the main city on the Gold Coast, a tourist-driven city that I briefly touched upon in my second blog entry. The weekend was marred by much of the same from a baseball perspective, as we struggled to get enough players, and performed poorly as a team on the field. In both games, we were mercy-ruled (10+ runs deficit after 7 innings) in embarrassing fashion. We only managed 4 runs in 14 innings of baseball, committed numerous errors, and walked the opposition around the bases. None of those things are part of the formula for success in baseball. We are struggling in all phases of the game. As I expected, I had a much better weekend at the plate, but not enough to lift the team out of the rut we are currently stuck in.
After our game Friday night, I was irked by the fact that the team didn’t seem too upset about the loss. As I walked off the field, teammates were high fiving each other, smiling, and carrying on. I’ve noticed a lot of that from this team; a player will ground out weakly, and he will receive high fives from teammates as he comes back to the bench. Don’t get me wrong, this team is a relatively close-knit group, and I am all for staying positive and supporting each other. Nevertheless, it gets to a certain point where positive reinforcement for negative results only leads to more negative results. If all of the players on the team accept mediocrity from their teammates, what they will get is more mediocrity.
It’s a tough subject to tackle. Especially because I often forget that my level of commitment is different from everybody else's on the team. For most of them, this is just a club sport. This isn’t their life. For me, it is. Sure, I am here to experience the culture and live it up, but first and foremost I am here to play baseball.
Unfortunately, other teams around the league do not act the same way we do. They seem to carry themselves more like the baseball clubs that I am used to. If you watch the MLB, players do not high five each other after strike-outs, or walked batters, or losses. Beenleigh isn’t like that, and it’s part of the reason why we lose. I’d love to change the culture around here to something that resembles a winning, committed baseball team. However, I must ask myself, is that what the players in this club want? Do they even care enough? Part of me feels like it’s unfair to ask them to care as much as I do about winning and playing the right way. The other part of me feels like if they put the time into it, they should want the club to succeed. I’m just not sure what they want out of this. It takes a lot of hard work and focus to win baseball games, and I am not sure if this club cares to put that work in.
Right now, it seems like my ambitions are much different than most of theirs, which is tough for me. It’s never fun to be involved in something you love, and to be around people who don’t give it their all because they don’t care as much as you do. I’ve come across that feeling in coaching at different levels of basketball at home. In high school, most of my basketball student-athletes were stars in other sports, and basketball wasn’t their first love. Most of the time I found that I cared more than the players, which I came to understand. At Ithaca and in Santa Fe, the level of dedication of my teammates and coaches was on par with mine. It’s a good feeling when everybody is in it together. It’s a lonely feeling when it seems that you are on an island by yourself. Right now, I’m on an island out in center field.
I have gotten a lot of reaction from my blogs from people who feel bad for me that I have to deal with this situation and what not. I know it all sounds depressing and it sounds like an unfortunate situation, but at the end of the day, look where I am. Look at what I am doing. Life isn’t all roses, and every situation is a learning experience for me. Please don’t feel sorry for me, because I certainly am not feeling sorry for myself. Eventually these entries will be more positive, but right now anything noteworthy seems to hold a negative tone. Nevertheless, I do not regret my decision to be here and I am committed to this unique life experience.
Until next time, its g’day mate from down undah…