Baseball is a slow game… In fact, it is so slow that according to Fox Sports, there is only about 14 minutes, or just under 11% of action in an average nine inning Major League Baseball game. No matter how slow fans may perceive the game, it is our duty as players to slow it down even more. At each competitive level, in ANY sport, the pace of the game increases and that comes with experience, knowledge of the respective sport, and the ability to play the game. I feel even pro golfers are getting through 18 holes at a brisk pace.
Slowing the game of baseball down for myself is a huge factor in my success. As a starting pitcher I, for the most part, control the pace of the game. I don’t ”work” particularly quick and there is reason for that, because it doesn’t work for me. Normally the night before my starts, I visualize success in tomorrow’s outing. I’ll wake up and go through a pretty standard ritual for my days in which I start. Most all of us do something similar every time we play/pitch. Throughout that day, I’m thinking about how I can be successful that day, what I did well in my last outing, etc. Now comes the fun part, you arrive to your destination, you go through a pre-pitch routine, get on the same page with your catcher, toe it up in the bullpen, approach the foul line, remove your cap for The Star-Spangled Banner, break it down with your teammates, and finally take your eight or so warm-up pitches before first pitch. This is where that nervous feeling erupts within me…briefly. I’m not scared of the outcome, worried about my preparation, or anything like that. I guess I’m just nervous because you don’t know who is watching, nor do you know if this is the last time you may get to play this game. If you were to watch the warm-up pitches and finally see me receive the ball from my third baseman, you’d notice that I bend down behind the mound and tie my already tied cleats. This is my way of slowing the game down, I’ve done this before, after all, the umpire says, “play ball” and not “work ball”.
All in all, I find solace in the cliché saying, “The day you don’t have butterflies…that’s the day you should hang it up.” There is nothing wrong with that “butterfly” feeling, all it really means is that you care.