After 145 games over 160 days the Salem Red Sox have won the Carolina League Championship!
It was an exciting way to end the season as it seemed like playoffs were going to be out of our reach by the end of July. We got hot at the right time over the month of August and swept both rounds of the playoffs against the two best regular-season teams in the league.
This year we set the record for most wins in Salem Red Sox history (81-64) and ended a 12-year championship drought (2001) for any Salem affiliate.
It was a special feeling for everyone involved because the season was defined by adversity. Many of the top prospects that started on our team moved up to AA, our team had some major players miss time due to injuries, not to mention this may have been the wettest summer on record since the team has been in Salem.
The beauty in all of it is that we never lost sight of having fun and working hard as we've done all year. Training, practicing and playing each day the same way you would in the playoffs is what allows all top performers to excel under pressure.
It was a long season that took me throughout the East Coast covering 6,907 miles by bus and over 8,000 miles by plane in just over six months. We played more than 1,305 innings and recorded more than 7,830 outs in that time.
This year brought many wonderful memories on the field such as winning the league, playing at Fenway Park and getting to watch games with Jason Varitek and Dwight Evans. It also brought many wonderful moments off the field, such as graduating from CSUB, starting my MBA and being named to the Bakersfield Top 20 Under 40 To Watch List.
The off-season will bring more schooling, hiking Half Dome, visiting family and friends along with baseball humanitarian trips to Kenya and Ireland.
While I thoroughly enjoyed the last six months, it was a disappointing season for me personally in terms of performance. I showed both moments of brilliance and mediocrity like never before.
For anyone who aspires to be the best, this is the most frustrating feeling to have. To show these moments of high caliber performance paired with moments of extreme mediocrity puts a knot in your stomach that does not leave. It is the feeling of "I wish I had ... " that we can all relate to.
This is where the greatest challenge in my career now lies. Will this frustration and feeling of disappointment spark motivation and determination or self-pity and defeat? Will I rise to the occasion and grow from my shortcomings or will they conquer me and become my downfall? These are the questions that I look forward to answering in the coming months leading up to next spring training. "Who am I? What am I truly made of?"
Thank you all for being such loyal and supportive readers. Your emails, letters and cards have made my writing much more fulfilling and have helped me through some challenging moments. From donating gloves for Kenya and mailing care packages, to motivational emails and cards of support, I am extremely grateful for the joy you all have brought to my life.
I am ever so grateful to The Bakersfield Californian for allowing me to share my experiences with all of you.
Most importantly, I am thankful for my family, who has supported me through every twist and turn over the course of my life.
I wish you all a wonderful off-season and I am looking forward to sharing with you again next year!
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: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @mmcarthy35