Monday, May 15, 2006

What Happens When the Starter Gets Bombed?

When the starting pitcher can't get it done, on one of those days when his curveball is flat and his fastball doesn't move, his team is down several runs before they even come to bat. That's when the forgotten players in the bullpen--the ones nobody cares about--get loose. It is their time to shine...or at least to get in the game and work a few innings in a game that has lost all interest.

Long relief is different from middle relief. A middle reliever's job is to bridge the gap between starter and closer. It is assumed he'll pitch effectively and turn a lead over to the guy who finishes. A long reliever is often a journeyman with marginal skills. He simply hangs on as long as his tired arm will throw one more pitch. I imagine these guys really love the game or they wouldn't have the discipline to work hard during the year just to be ready to pitch in meaningless games.

So why a blog about long relief? It's not actually a blog about baseball, but about this time in my life that feels like long relief--there is a hell of a lot of blood and sweat, but the crowd is silent. Most of 'em went home already. I wonder often whether there is any meaning in what I am doing on this earth or in the career I have been pursuing for nearly 15 years. Sounds exactly like a midlife crisis, doesn't it?

Yet I keep plugging away, working hard and struggling just to stay with the big club because I love the game. There is so much in this life that still thrills me, keeps me coming to the park day in and day out. My big fear is that I'll never make a real contribution to the team beyond eating up innings--slogging through the paperwork on my desk, getting the kids to their next appointment, sweeping leaves from the driveway that will just reappear by the next morning.

My hope is that you'll hang out with me in the bullpen for a while. All I really want is to talk about what I see out there--both the beauty and the drudgery. I don't expect anything more from a reader, but if you've got advice, that's good, too. I'm always ready to learn that next trick that will push me to the next level, that perfect change up that will get the batter way out in front.

Long relief may not be glamorous, but damn, you gotta love the game.


Blogger Professor said...

Wow! What a metaphor! It's such an accurate descriptor of midlife that I wish I had thought of it first. I'm a college professor who is knocking on 35, and I look forward to reading more of your blog.

2:31 PM  
Blogger Lefty said...

Thanks for the kind words, Prof.

Baseball has a metaphor for everything in life!

10:14 AM  

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