baseball

Chicago Cubs great Ron Santo passed away on December 3rd

Chicago Cubs great Ron Santo passed away on December 3rd. Back in the day, he came to one of my baseball games, wearing his trademark leather jacket. Technically he went to his son’s game, but since I was pitching for the opposition and we won, it was my game. :)

My dad would have loved to meet Mr. Santo, but he stopped coming to my baseball games by that time, so he missed out on that. In fact, my mom, with all of her problems, was the last parent to see me in a baseball uniform. She came to see a game after I injured my shoulder, and it turned out to be my last game.

Zach Greinke’s changeup grip

This is a nice photo of Zach Greinke’s changeup grip when he pitched for the Dodgers. I never did master the changeup before I hurt my arm, but in retrospect I wish I had learned how to throw it when I learned how to throw a curve. My ERA my junior season (before the injuries started) was 1.00, and I have no doubt it would have been 1/2 of that if I had known how to throw one. (I don’t remember where I got this image, but it was probably espn.com.)

There’s an important lesson here about (a) role models and (b) expanding your horizons that I need to write up at some point, but the short story is that Cubs pitchers at the time threw fastballs, curves, and splitters, so as a teenager that’s what I threw.

Mad Al Hrabosky

“To be perfectly honest with you, I really feel that I have average physical ability, but when I get my psych and my self-hypnosis going, I can compete with anybody in anything.”

~ Al Hrabosky

Back in the day it was fun to watch “Mad” Al Hrabosky pitch for the St. Louis Cardinals. He would psyche himself up behind the mound and appear to get very angry, and indeed, he ended up in at least one brawl. Here’s a TWIB Note video of him pitching and talking, and here’s him talking years later about what he was doing behind the mound.

Wrong Thinking

Here’s a story about what I call “Wrong Thinking.”

Way back in high school when I was playing baseball, a pitcher named Catfish Hunter became the first baseball player to get paid over a million dollars a year. I thought that was crazy, in a bad way. One day I talked to my dad about it, and asked him why people like farmers and engineers who did more important work didn’t get paid like that.

He didn’t have a great answer at the time, and that thought kept on bothering me. These days I think a correct answer he could have given me goes like this: “Baseball is in the entertainment business, just like singers and actors. For whatever reason — some sort of supply and demand, and a need for entertainment — society is willing to pay those people a lot of money. So if the money bothers you, what you can do is make that money just like Catfish Hunter, and then give it away however you see fit.”

Pitching in high school

This is a picture of me as a pitcher in high school. I don’t want to say that we were poor growing up, but I wore a large outfielder’s glove while pitching because I was afraid to ask my dad for a new glove, and the shoe on my right foot — the one way up in the air — was cracked in the middle.

(Many thanks to Dwayne Heidtbrink for the photo way back when.)

Two thoughts of the day

Two thoughts of the day:

Nobody owes you anything. I’m often surprised to hear people tell stories about how they’re butthurt because they feel like someone owes them something. (Typically they think friends and family members should owe them something.)

The only time you really lose is when you don’t try. A lot of people have interesting ideas, but never do anything with them. I think I lost nine games as a baseball pitcher in high school, but I won a lot more games than that, and it would have been a much bigger loss if I thought, “Gosh, I could be a great pitcher if only someone gave me a chance.”