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Saturday, May 10 2014 11:09 PM

MIKE McCARTHY: Baseball is a game of bumps and bruises

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    Mike McCarthy

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By MIKE McCARTHY, Special to The Californian

PORTLAND, Maine — Throughout my career there have been ups and downs, highs and lows. This isn't isolated to any one player or one team, but instead happens to us all.

We all have our good days and our bad days. Our moments of pride and our moments of frustration. No one is immune to it. We are all victims, and beneficiaries, of luck from time to time.

The question is: "Do you make your own luck or is luck dictated to you?"

In baseball we ask questions like? "Did you score the runner from third with less than two outs in the first inning that prevented you from losing by one?" "Did you move the runner from second to third with a groundball to the right side of the infield which allowed the run to score on a sacrifice fly to the outfield?"

These are scenarios that baseball players face each game. By the time those questions are asked it is already too late. The runner didn't score with less than two outs and he wasn't moved over with a groundball to the right side.

We look back at our mistakes and realize that was the difference between winning and losing a game but after 142 (162 in the Majors) it can result in a few wins/losses. At the end of the season how often are teams within a few games of making, or missing, the playoffs? The answer is ... every year!

There are always teams neck and neck with making the playoffs. This is what makes September baseball so much fun. In order to play in October you have to be able to win in September.

But what if you win in April?

What if you pick up one extra win in the first five months of the season?

This brings me back to highs and lows. Teams that ride their highs just a little bit longer and their lows a little bit shorter tend to play October baseball. Hitters who battle through slumps a little bit better are always the ones who have the best stats at the end of the year.

This is the difference between greats and goods. As I watch professional baseball I watch a pitcher like Clayton Kershaw over the last few years. He continually is one of the best in the game. This isn't because he doesn't have a bad outing, but because he manages bad outings better than most and keeps his team in a position to win every game he pitches.

This applies to a single game where you give up three runs in the first inning but come back to pitch five scoreless innings afterward. It also applies to consecutive games. Kershaw rarely has back to back bad outings but strings together four or five good ones on a regular basis.

The Roman philosopher Seneca said, "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity."

Luck always seems to be something we can't control but at the end of the day, we are each in control of our own destiny. We must dictate our own future and dismiss the idea that luck is in control. Luck will always play a role in our lives from time to time but we must refuse to submit to the idea that it is in control.

 

Mike McCarthy is a former CSUB pitcher now in the Red Sox organization. He can be reached at mmccarthybaseball@gmail.com or on Twitter @mmccarthy35.

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