Defeat. How do you deal with it? That’s the real question. And why I decided to write about defeat while it’s still fresh in my mind. If I close my eyes, I can still feel the seams of the rise ball that didn’t rise. I can still feel the rush of wind on my face as I whipped around to watch the hit, the way my heart fell in my stomach, the way I knew the second the ball left my fingertips that it would clear the fence. Defeat, despite our greatest efforts is natural. But that’s what really sucks about it. You could spend countless hours in the gym, stay late at every practice, do continual repetitions of inside curveballs and still end up with the same result. One missed spot and the game changes. Just like that. It’s a matter of the hitter just making contact, the way the wind blows, how the ball twists from your release. Some aspects you can control, and some you can’t. No matter how hard you try. I think that’s the hardest part, especially for someone like me. Someone who likes to put the game on my back, to carry the end result like a sack of bricks on my shoulders. I don’t know if you’re like me, but if you are, for some reason, you feel responsible for each ball, each play, each pitch that you could’ve thrown better. But that’s crazy. The hardest part of any sport is that it’s mostly mental. But the even harder part is accepting that there are some things you can’t control. Sure, you could’ve thrown that pitch better, but is that ultimately why the game was lost? Probably not. There were errors, there were missed opportunities to get on base. If each game was solely dependent on one pitch, it wouldn’t be a team game. I have to keep telling myself that. If you’re like me, defeat hits hard. Because you know you can do better, because you worked your ass off to get to this point and you don’t want to see it slip through your fingers, because you, and your team both, deserve better than that. But defeat is inevitable. It will come. So how do you deal with defeat? You close your eyes after that ball clears the fence, you take a deep breath, and you turn around and throw the next pitch. You keep pushing forward; you keep your head up. You walk away from the field post-game, you have a good cry, then you let it go. When the thought of the game comes back to you later, when you’re in the shower, you let the water run over you, you think about it, then you wash it away. The hardest part of defeat, is when you defeat yourself. So learn from each mistake, each rise ball that doesn’t move, and start again. Don’t let yourself become the reason you’re defeated. Remember there are more games to be played. Remember who you are.
Featured Image Credit: AllButHomeless.