Skip to main content

Back On A Mound And Closing Chapters


I cracked a quick smile as I walked off the mound towards second base and couldn't help but have that thought - man, this feels like college all over again! 

With it being over seven years since I threw a baseball off a mound in an actual baseball game, one would think I would've had more on my mind rather than smiling and conjuring up old memories. After all, the way I walked off a mound my senior year of college wasn't exactly confidence boosting. It wasn't nearly the best. 

I've never penned much about my senior year in college, especially my last semester, but in regards to baseball, it was one of the toughest times of my life, but a great lesson for years to come. Riddled with injuries (later found out I had two torn ligaments in my left ankle upon returning home for the summer), I pushed through what I was hoping would be my crowning year after walking onto the team my freshman year. Oh yeah, a small little tidbit: in a new position as pitcher - something I've never done before.

After a deflating season with demoralizing results, especially when in comparisons to the expectations I (suddenly) placed on myself after a solid Junior season, baseball wasn't as fun. Truth be told, baseball wasn't fun at all my entire senior season. I didn't enjoy it. Baseball is already a cruel and humbling game, but when you're hurt, and struggling, the feeling compounds itself within the situation. 

Although I could have done so when I got healthy the next year (ligaments took seven months to completely heal), I had very little interest in playing in leagues here in the city. The last time I walked off of a mound crushed much of the little confidence I had in my abilities, and really brought about too much memories of baseball not being fun. I love the sport too much to put it in that position. 

It was the NEAC championships in Pennsylvania, hosted by Keystone College, and I stood on the mound attempting to eat up outs in what was a blowout loss for our team. With pain that I tried to numb all season, along with knowing I had nothing to effectively compete, all while attempting to learn how to compete with this knowledge of knowing you had nothing, I muddled through another inning and finally got out of the inning. 

As I walked off, I had that feeling, the one that every athlete has, regardless of level of competition, in knowing, this was it. When the game was over and my teammates began heading for the bus for our next game scheduled to start soon at a different location, I stared in a daze toward the field from the bench. Many thoughts ran through my mind as I sat there, but the one that kept coming afloat was the sense of this sputtering end to a challenge I began four years ago. A challenge, before senior year, was one that I thoroughly enjoyed - regardless of how I performed - because again, it wasn't a challenge until that very year. 

Today, as I turned around, walked atop the mound and faced a catcher ready to throw down a finger to connect this battery, a batter digging in, and the backdrop of quite a crowd in Central Park Field 11 (actually much larger than one would think a 21+ wood bat league should have), I suddenly gravitated towards those pre-senior years. This was going to be fun. This is going to be so much fun. 

Sure, things have changed since 2007. The obvious, of course, that I haven't thrown since 2007. Or that I now wore a Cubs jerseys donning number 10 on my back. And yes, it was weird hearing my teammates shout "here we one-oh!!" after years of wearing 23, because, well it was indeed for me. I guess Pavlov's theory applies to baseball as well. Oddly, the mere idea I was now one year away from thirty (!) as opposed to a shade over twenty didn't even cross my mind. Which is quite shocking as I tend to over think most situations. 

On the other side, things have changed. I'm wiser. Stronger, healthier, and would make for a better pitcher today if I knew the things I do now. I know, I know...don't we all feel that way. 

Shockingly, I pitched a pretty good 6th inning (even surprising myself) allowing one unearned run. After feeling good and being sent out to finish the game in the 7th, yes the wheels sort of wobbled. Possibly even came off. I gave up a few hits, including one absolute bomb to left center off of my once-proud forkball pitch, which I quickly learned isn't what it used to be. Not even close. Oddly enough, after it hit the gap, I turned and smirked at my catcher, who nodded and returned the lighthearted gesture. To my credit, I managed to strikeout their cleanup hitter who absolutely crushes. Go figure. Story of my baseball career. 

I even had an at-bat, to which I went down looking on three pitches. The opposing pitcher went all seven innings and played Division I baseball. I really had no chance, especially after seeing slow pitch softballs all summer.

Nonetheless, when all was said and done, the result wasn't nearly as important to me as the experience. Being out there, tossing, thinking, and enjoying the beautiful game of baseball was worth it. I needed closure on that terrible senior year, and today, I think I finally shut the door on that experience. It felt like college again. When baseball was fun to play. And imagine that, I didn't do that bad. 

I think we all need certain experiences to end a lingering chapter in our lives. Today I got mine.

And yes, my body will pay for it in the morning. 

Recently Read Posts

Dope Sports Threads - Nike City Connect Series (Kansas City Royals)

The Kansas City Royals' City Connect uniforms were a design that I wholeheartedly looked forward to. The Royals' current uniforms and aesthetics are some of the best in baseball, and for a city like Kansas City, it just feels like there was enough room creatively to do something historically enlightening (more so something many do not already know about the city), or a simple approach that builds off of the current design.  To be honest, it may sound simple, but the use of "blue" by the Royals is fantastic.  What we got is a concept that continued the awesome blue approach, with a design concept that is just as cool as their everyday threads. However, where I feel disappointed is the safe approach to this. I would have loved to see them lean into the rich history of the Negro Leagues that is Kansas City - a team (and city) able to do so more than others. That could have been really cool, enriching, meaningful, and somewhat different from the norm - maybe even an ode t

Sunday Sundown Rundown - 5/15/22

3 Up 1. California Church Heroes - It's soooooooo weird that the top spot is a result of something so horrific as our ongoing domestic terrorism problem of mass shootings. Still, the courage shown by the five members who stopped the shooter deserves it. Those individuals tackled the shooter and tied him up with an electric cord, while wounded.  It's so tough to fathom that those possibilities are within the realm of your Sunday worship, within the sanctity of your church.  But such is America... 2. Olivia Rodrigo & Drake - Rodrigo continues to reap rewards on an excellent album in 2021 as she topped the Billboard Music Awards with seven awards. There was also Drake who I'm beginning to sense we won't really appreciate his body of work until he's near the end of his career. But yeah, Drake poured in a few more for the legacy debates and discussions.

Sunday Sundown Rundown - 5/8/22

3 Up 1. Mother's Day - It's a day for mothers everywhere, and really, since becoming a dad, I've advocated that it should be an entire weekend. But ah well - Happy Mother's Day to all of the moms out there - past, present, and subbing in. And of course, Thank You!  2. NHL Playoffs - I've really gotten into hockey over the past two weeks, especially, the Rangers/Penguins series. Honestly, in my opinion, the Turner deal might just be the best thing the NHL has ever done. From the production to the in-studio crew, the product is immensely better - and easier to locate.  3. Pusha T - After over 20 years in the industry, rapper Pusha T finally landed a number 1 album with It's Almost Dry . Following a well-publicized battle with Drake, one in which he outed the mega-star for hiding his son (or you know, it was Drake just hiding the world from his son, yada yada), Pusha follows it up with a solid album, one that is a favorite of mine thus far in 2022. Kudos to Pusha. 

Sunday Sundown Rundown - 2/27/22

3 Up 1. Volodymyr Zelensky - The President of Ukraine delivered a speech this week that certainly went viral not just for his take as the current war on Ukraine ensues, but for his honesty and courage throughout it.  2. Kentaji Brown Jackson - In a world on fire, here at home President Biden nominated Jackson, who becomes the first black woman to serve on the highest court in the nation. That's so cool. I'm happier for the tons of little girls of color who can dream of being a Supreme Court Judge, and now believe it.