5 things I’m thankful for in 2022–Baseball Edition
Reflecting on My Baseball season
With the offseason here, it’s a time for looking back at the past season. 2022 was a fun year of baseball. Between practices, scrimmages, league games and tournaments I was on the field almost every week from January to November. My offensive output improved over 2021, and I spent a lot more time on the mound and behind the plate than I have in previous years. I had many new teammates, both in league and tournaments, and was invited to play with new teams for tournaments in Las Vegas and Phoenix. Baseball gave me a lot to look forward to this season.
When I wasn’t on the field, I was watching games, writing about baseball and making bats. With all of these activities, I had plenty of successes and failures. They all kept me busy. But, they also gave me plenty of opportunity for growth.
I think it’s important to acknowledge the good in our lives. It helps us to appreciate our experiences. Having good memories to gaze back on can comfort us when things aren’t going well and they can motivate us when we need it.
There are so many things I’m grateful for this year. Too many to list them all. So I’ve narrowed it down to my top 5.
Grateful to be on the field
Baseball is a game of success and failure. When you fail in this sport, you have two choices. Dwell on it or use it to fuel improvement. Failing is inevitable. Nobody has a perfect batting average. Every pitcher gives up hits. Fielders will make errors. It’s not the failures that define a player. But, how you respond that makes a difference.
One of the many responses to failure that is helpful is humility. Being humble isn’t being content with failure. It’s also not refusing to celebrate success. It’s the acceptance that you’re not perfect. That you make mistakes. That your successes and failures don’t define the next at-bat. That the game is bigger than you are.
I had plenty of failures in baseball this year. I struck out, made errors in the field, and got rocked on the mound a couple of times. My league team didn’t win much this year. Neither did any of my tournament teams. Those times reminded me that I’m fallible, and I don’t control everything that happens in a game.
But that humility carried over to the good times, too. When I’d get a big hit, I’d be happy. I’d show a little emotion, but wouldn’t go crazy. When I’d strike out a big hitter in an important spot in the game, I’d be proud, but not over the top. Afterall, while I work hard to have success, I know what failure feels like. And in the game of baseball, the difference between success and failure is often a difference of millimeters or milliseconds.
That carries over to daily life too. You’ll have good days and bad. Successes and failures. But learning to stay humble through it all is a winning strategy. I’m grateful for that lesson.
Before playing in adult baseball tournaments, I never traveled. Really. I never had a reason to go anywhere.
When I started travelling for tourneys, it opened up a whole new world to me. Keep in mind, I still haven’t gotten east of Arizona, but my wish list of places to go has grown exponentially. I have baseball to thank for that.
This year’s tournament experiences were a little different than years past. I played in three tourneys this in 2022, the NABA Kickoff in January, the MSBL Vegas Kickoff in March and the NABA World Series in Phoenix. That is a pretty normal tourney schedule for me in any year. What made this year different was that I played with a different team in each of those events.
In January, I played with my normal tournament team, the Outlaws, though we had to recruit a lot of local players to fill the roster after some of out normal players had to back out.
In March, I was invited to the MSBL Vegas Kickoff to play with the Des Moines Grays.
And in October, I went to the NABA World Series in Phoenix and was a member of Team USA.
Playing with different teams gave me the chance to play with a lot of great people, see different styles of play and make a lot of new friends. Those things wouldn’t have been possible without playing in tournaments. I’m looking forward to playing in many more tournaments in 2023.
3. Managers, Organizers and Officials
I don’t think league/tournament organizers, umpires or managers get the appreciation they deserve. It’s hard work and without them, it would be difficult or impossible for most of us to play.
Organizing a league or tournament takes a lot of time and resource management. You have to coordinate field locations, teams, umpires, permits and insurance. You handle scheduling which can be daunting especially if last minute changes are needed. And during play, you have to be available to answer questions, make decisions and put out proverbial fires. It’s a lot of work to make baseball available to play.
Umpires have a thankless job. But, they are necessary to run the games. They aren’t perfect but have an important job. And that job is made harder when players or teams decide to argue calls or heckle you thoughout a game. Everybody is an “umpire” when they are in the dugout, but fewer and fewer are willing to take on the abuse that the official takes on the field. Hats off to those who have what it takes to do this job and make it possible for us to have games.
And managers, the ones that take the time to put our teams together are the All Stars of the team. You put in the work of building the roster, handling uniforms, managing personalities and playing babysitter. You decide the lineup and defensive alignment to give the team the best shot to compete. Are you perfect? No. But, unlike the rest of the players, you are playing a parallel game of strategy against the opposing team. You aren’t thanked enough for what you do.
I’m thankful for the people that go the extra mile to make adult baseball available to play.
On the field, baseball gives us nearly endless opportunities. After every play, there’s another pitch. And whether we get stuck thinking about the last play or anticipate the future, the game gives us plenty of chances in the present.
I am grateful every time I step on the field. I’m happy for every pitch I see in the batter’s box, and excited for every play I get a chance to make. I relish the challenge of taking the mound and love every bruise I earn behind the plate. Baseball is a hard game. But, that’s what makes it so worthwhile.
Every time it’s my turn at the plate I have the chance to do something great. It may not happen, and statistically, it’s not likely. But every time, the opportunity is there. No matter the score, the team I’m facing or what I did last inning or last year, it’s just my chance in that moment.
Over and over, inning after inning, game after game, baseball presents opportunities to do something great.
Likewise, off the field, the game has given me opportunities. If it weren’t for baseball, I wouldn’t be a bat maker. I wouldn’t have this website or my blog The Middle Age Amateur Ball Player. Just like in a game, every time I get to make a bat, create a page or write an article, I’m given the opportunity to do something great. Sometimes I strikeout. Other times, I hit it out of the park.
But every time, I’m happy for the chance.
1. Teammates and Supporters
I am most thankful for the people in my corner. My teammates and supporters on and off the field.
On the field, I’ve been lucky to have played with many good teammates. Some I’ve played with for years. Others I played with for the first time. I appreciate all of them. They push me to get better. They pick me up when I fail and celebrate when I succeed. Some of my best friendships were born on the ball field.
Off the field I have teammates too. They help through struggles and give kudos for a job well done. We have goals, both individual and common, that we push each other to achieve. When one of us wins in life, we all win.
With out the people in my dugout none of this would be worth it. You can’t go it alone on the field or in life. The people you surround yourself with play an important role in the outcome of your game. And, at the end of the day, it’s these people that make baseball so great.
The game gives us a lot to be thankful for. What’s on your list?