College

Saturday, Sep 07 2013 10:55 PM

Michael McCarthy: Staying loose, having fun keys to late-season success

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    By Brita Meng Outzen

    Michael McCarthy

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By MICHAEL McCARTHY, Special to The Californian

Woodbridge, Va. — On to the League Championship! We are Carolina League Southern Division Champions and headed to the league championship!

This past month has been quite a wild ride. We have won 28 of our last 36 games and have played some of the best team baseball I have seen since I have been in professional baseball.

We are playing well-rounded baseball right now and that has carried us into the playoffs and through the Division Championship.

While we are all excited that we made the playoffs and that we've won so many games, we also realize that this hasn't been a result of working harder or trying to pitch better, but just the opposite. We are focused on having fun and continuing to play the game loose like we have all year.

We are more than 140 games into a season that lasts just over five months. For us to all of a sudden try and change the way we have played all year because we are in the postseason would be a mistake. We have focused on continuing to play as we always have and let the wins be merely a byproduct of our approach ... work hard and have fun.

I don't normally like to talk about specific players or pass judgment because it creates the potential for controversy. Today, I am making an exception on account it is good-natured.

After we won the Carolina Division Championship our shortstop, Nick Natoli, asked to say something to the team before we started celebrating. He said, "In my 20 years of baseball I've never had so much fun playing."

While his words are simple and reticent compared to the screaming and yelling that occurred after, they spoke volumes to the personality of Nick and our team.

Some of my teammates went to big schools like LSU, North Carolina and Florida while some like Nick and I, went to small schools like Towson and CSU Bakersfield. The beauty is that no matter the national recognition of the school, we are all on the same playing field, competing at the same level.

Nick's words resonated with me long after he said them and reminded me that all we truly have is the here and now. While I am constantly planning for the future, it is what I do with the present that that truly matters most because tomorrow is guaranteed to no one.

Whether it is to start a retirement fund or take a trip you've always dreamed about, the here in now is the best time to do it.

The here and now for us is the Carolina League Championship Series against the Potomac Nationals (Washington Nationals) and there is no team more ready to win it than we are right now.

Mike McCarthy is a former Cal State Bakersfield player who was drafted by the Boston Red Sox and currently plays in their farm system. Email: mmcarthybaseball@gmail.com; Twitter: @mmcarthy35

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