Zebulon , N.C.
While most of the articles I write come from my own observations, this week's article comes with a lot of observations from others. Family and friends, teammates and coaches alike all come together in this article.
My last start was in Myrtle Beach, S.C., against the Texas Ranger class High-A team. It was by far the worst outing of my professional career, giving up seven runs over four innings and taking the loss.
The day after each outing we review the game with the pitching coach and discuss the outing. Generally a strong outing conversation consists of what we did well and what made us successful. A pour outing conversation usually consists of a few main issues that came up and what we need to work on.
I say "we" instead of "I" because it is truly a team effort to have success. Whether it is the catcher blocking an important pitch in the dirt or a coach noticing a "hole" in a batter's swing, your success is dependent on others as well as your own.
Throughout the year I keep a scouting report on the players from each team we play. I will make notes based on the success and failure of our pitching staff to gain an advantage over the other team.
Knowing what a batter hits well and what he hits poorly is an advantage that is sometimes overlooked. It's important for pitchers to take advantage of the hitters' weaknesses, yet still use their own strengths.
For example, a left-handed hitter may struggle with fastballs up and inside, but have a lot of success hitting fastballs in the middle and outer part of the strike zone.
If a pitcher's strength is throwing fastballs down and away to a left-handed hitter, then he will have to decide how he wants to pitch to that hitter. Pitch to the hitter's weakness? Or pitch to the pitcher's strengths?
Many questions have to be pondered before making the decision to throw a certain pitch... Does the hitter have power? Does he pull pitches (right field) on the outer half or does he hit it the other way (left field)? Am I locating my fastball well today? Is there another pitch I can throw that will be more effective? Are there runners on base? What is the score?
There are literally hundreds of questions that go on throughout the game by each player to decide the best way to have success.
This is why the pitcher, catcher and pitching coach will come up with a game plan to approach the other team's hitters.
Throughout the season, and my career, I have had some really successful games. I have executed game plans really well and the results have frequently been a win for the team. Unfortunately, last Monday was not one of them.
A poor outing isn't always due to a bad game plan, a lack of effort or being a bad pitcher. Sometimes the other team is just better that day. Sometimes you have to tip your cap and say, "You beat me today ... "
The most important question is how you end the sentence above. How do you respond to adversity? How do you battle back after having a bad game? Do you sulk and have pity for yourself or do you get right back at it the next day? Do you tell yourself "That's not who I am," or do you let that poor outing define you?
There are countless quotes and sayings about overcoming adversity but the first one that comes to mind is by Martin Luther King Jr:
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
That quote is the first thing that came to mind after the game Monday and is a saying that has guided me through good times and bad. It is also the quote I wrote in cards to victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.
Inevitably, life is going to kick you and it will be at inopportune times. How you respond in the face of adversity will define your character, and more importantly it will define your life.
McCarthy is a former CSUB pitcher who now plays for the Salem (Va.) Red Sox, the Class-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. His column runs Sundays during the baseball season.
He can be reached at
email@example.com, and his twitter handle is @mmccarthy35