One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 8 – The Weeks Between)

It was a great joy to get out on the mound and pitch again.  

Since my first outing on April 7, I have been reliving much of that game over and over in my mind.  I have also been surprised by the amount of people who have asked about the game.  It’s been fun to tell the story to so many others.  (To re-cap: It had been going surprisingly well through three innings before it all fell apart in the fourth.) 

I did show in that game that I could still throw strikes, that I could throw a lot of pitches, and that I could still get guys out.  

But now that it’s over, all of that isn’t enough.  

There was a lot of good in that first outing that I can (and will) grow from.  But, now that the spark has been lit, my goal is to do even better, to be even stronger, and, because this is what I always do, to raise the bar on what I can and do achieve.

At the start of this experiment and experience, the idea of just pitching again was something to get excited about.  I don’t know how many 50 year-old guys there are pitching in leagues like this, but I imagine it isn’t a whole lot.  I would also imagine that the list of 50 year-old guys who hadn’t played baseball in over three decades and who are pitching is smaller still.  With all of that in mind, just coming back, just getting out on the mound, just getting anyone out, was a big accomplishment.

At least for me.

But now it’s not enough.  Not nearly.  No way.

Now that I know I can pitch and not break down physically…  

Now that I know I can consistently throw the ball 60 feet, 6 inches…  

Now that I know I can throw strikes…

I’m ready to actually pitch well enough to win.  

Just pitching isn’t enough for me.  Not now.  That was the first goal.  Now I’ll raise the bar.

I want to win.  I want to pitch my team to victory.  

I need to be more than just an old guy who throws the ball over the plate.  I need to be a good enough pitcher to actually be a winner.

In order to get to that next level, I know that I have to get stronger and pitch (much) better.  As such, I have been working to those ends.

Anyone who knows me knows that when I determine to do something, I give that task everything I have.  I’m now giving that energy and focus to becoming a good pitcher.  

For the better part of the last thirty years, I have been working out (for all intents and purposes) every single day.  I run most days and on my off days from running, I lift weights.  One wouldn’t necessarily know any of that from looking at me, but I have done this religiously for decades.  I’m in pretty good shape for a middle-aged guy.  And, as a marathon runner, endurance isn’t a question.  I have the energy and stamina to pitch a million innings.  (I will just have to get batters out to have that opportunity.)

But, even with this, one thing I need to build up is my arm strength, not as a guy who can’t do bench presses or curls, but as a pitcher.  To meet that end, following my first start, I embarked on a somewhat rigorous pitching routine that seems to be going very well.  

I have been throwing at least 100 pitches in my backyard every other day.  I’m taking this seriously, throwing hard for each of the 100(+) pitches after I stretch out my arm.  I am working on my wind-up, thoroughly practicing pitching from the stretch and pushing my body so that I am throwing to spots and working on what I think is a change-up and what I hope is a curve ball (I have been experimenting with various grips).  I don’t take it easy on myself during this drill.  I give it my all.  I’m really concentrating on my form, on driving to the “plate” as I stride, and on pushing my pitching arm as hard as I can.

And I have been fortunate.  Thus far the weather has cooperated with me.  We’ve had some chilly days, but no rain.  Of course, if it does rain on a throwing day, I plan to go out there anyway.  The only way to build arm strength is to throw, so I’ll throw.  Rain or not.  I’m committed to this.

Right now, I have nothing to judge my progress against (the pitchback in my backyard isn’t telling me how hard I throw), but I believe I am throwing faster and better than I did in my start on April 7.  I’ll get together soon with a few of my friends to throw, but it vacation week for many and it’s not easy to get people together in the evenings after a long day of work.  But, Ethan, my youngest son, will be home on Easter Saturday (April 20) and I am looking forward to having another catch with him.  I’m eager to get his honest opinion on my progress from those first days when we threw together and all of this was just a bit of a lark.

And sometimes things just work out.  I didn’t originally plan it this way, but my upcoming throwing days all line-up perfectly with my next start on April 28.  

The only negative I have had physically is that fact that my Achilles is still not 100%.  My doctor recommended that I not play softball last weekend to give the tendon a few more weeks to rest.  I also haven’t been running (which kills me).  The alternative is that I’ve taken long walks and I have been spending a lot of time on my indoor exercise bike.  

And that’s where I am, at least right now.

I’m working hard, I’m exercising daily, and I’m throwing as hard and as best as I can.

Now that I have a new “career” as a pitcher, I don’t want it to end.  I want to continue to improve.  I want to get stronger.  I want to get better and I want to win a few games, but I’ll start with just one.

April 28 is coming.  

I’ll be back on the mound soon.

***

Previous installments of this series can be found here:

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part One)

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part Two)

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part Three)

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part Four)

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part Five)

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part Six)

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part Seven – The First Start)

The entire story can also be found at www.startspreadingthenews.blog

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One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 5)

I woke up today, April 6, feeling pretty terrible. Awfully terrible. I still feel terrible.

But yesterday I felt even worse – even if the actually feelings were different kinds of terrible.

In the end, terrible is terrible no matter how or where it feels.

Continue reading “One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 5)”

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 3)

The following is the tale of my attempt to play competitive baseball for the first time in over thirty years. Since there is no way that I can hit (I could never hit a fastball), I offered to try out for this team in a 35+ league as a pitcher.

This is the third installment of the series.

Continue reading “One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 3)”

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 1)

I am fifty years old. I’ll turn 51 this summer. I’m no longer young. I’m not as flexible, strong, or physically able as I used to be. All of this comes with age. Of course. I’m not in the best shape of my life, but I’m not in bad shape. Last November, I ran the New York City Marathon. I was slow (4:47:47), but because I was coming off a torn Achilles and was under-trained, I was pleased. In the first Rocky movie, Rocky said, “All I wanna do is go the distance.” I went the distance. It was my 21st lifetime marathon. Not bad.

I also still play in two pretty competitive men’s softball leagues. One league is a 30+ league where I’m becoming one of the older players. I still play shortstop and handle myself well enough. The other league is a 50+ league where I play more of a utility role. That team won the league’s championship last year.

I love to play ball.

Continue reading “One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 1)”

My 2019 Marathon Plan (Part 1)

I ran my first marathon in 2002.  Since then, in my running “career,” I have completed 21 marathons.  That’s 21 marathons in 17 years, a pretty good rate.

I have run some races pretty quickly, with my PR taking place in Chicago in 2006 (3:25:16).  But, as I have aged, I have (not surprisingly) gotten slower.  I knew going into this year’s New York City Marathon that I would be very slow and that it would be a huge struggle for me for numerous reasons including the fact that I was coming back from an injury (Achilles tear) that kept me out of the previous year’s marathon and the fact that, while I was upping my mileage, I still wasn’t 100%, nor was I properly trained for a good showing.

You get out of it what you put into it.

I put in determination and heart.  Those traits got me through the race.  I din’t put in the necessary training miles.  That resulted in my slowest marathon time ever (4:47:47). 

While I am not overjoyed with that result, I have to admit that I actually thought I’d be a lot slower.  I was concerned that 2018 would be my first ever five hour marathon.  Determination and heart prevented that from happening because I was not, by any definition of the term, in marathon shape.

Now about a month after the marathon, I’m still not in great shape.  But, I am determined that when I take the starting line for what I hope will be two marathons in 2019, I will be in much better physical shape.  I have been on a cycle of poor showings for quite a while now…and I’m ready to break that pattern.

It is to that end that I designed this new marathon plan – a 10-month plan that (I hope) will get me to the starting line in my best shape in many (many) years.  While I persevered and got through the 2018 New York City Marathon, I did it with a lot of self-doubt.  Most of my most recent marathons have been run that way.   I need to change that. Continue reading “My 2019 Marathon Plan (Part 1)”

NYC Marathon: God Is With Us

I have had the great pleasure and honor of sharing inspirational words with my fellow runners at the Interfaith Chapel at the start of the New York City Marathon.  I find it extremely inspiring to share God’s word before the race as we all prepare for the long miles ahead.  This year I participated in two services and, as such, delivered two “sermons.”  I will share both of these messages here on my blog.  I hope, these words also inspire you and your faith as well.  

God Is With Us Today:

Continue reading “NYC Marathon: God Is With Us”

At 50, I’m Back To 40

It may seem like this passage is about running, but it’s not.  It’s about me and you and all of us.  The place where the idea was born, though, came out of running.  Stick with me, you’ll understand in a moment…

While I have always tried to push myself to do things that I didn’t think were possible, and sometimes succeeded (but just as often failed), and while I have always believed that I could do anything (and I do believe we all can), I am sometimes (believe it or not) hampered by self-doubt.

This all might sound like a contradiction, but it isn’t.  As we push to attain new goals, part of us often wonders if that new goal is possible.  I’m a big believer in trying.  I like to go for it, but as I do, there are times when I wonder if attaining the goal is even possible. 

Continue reading “At 50, I’m Back To 40”

Possibility is Everything

Well, I have finally done it.  I think I came up with the title of my next book, the follow-up to Impossible is an Illusion.  

I think the title my next book will be Possibility is Everything.  

Right now, I really like that title.  The words, short, succinct, and precise sum up much of my philosophy on life.  I think it also goes extremely well with Impossible is an Illusion.  In that text, I explain and demonstrate that people can do things they never thought possible by trying, believing, giving their best efforts, and by never giving up. 

Continue reading “Possibility is Everything”

Day #1

 I have run a countless number of races in my life.  Yes, this includes 20 marathons.  (I always keep an accurate count of my marathons.)

I love to run.

I have often stated that the marathon defines me. 

Continue reading “Day #1”

No Marathon 2017

It has been the strangest autumn of my life.  Or, at least the strangest autumn of the last fifteen years – since 2002.

I’ve shared on these pages before that I’m not running a fall marathon this year.

It’s an unfamiliar feeling.  And I don’t particularly like it.  The beloved New York City Marathon, the race I love and adore, will go on without me.

Continue reading “No Marathon 2017”