On Z, and a mysterious balk
We’re in Philadelphia,
about to start a three-game series against the first-place Phillies.
Obviously a lot happened during the final days of our homestand,
the biggest news being Barry Zito’s reassignment to the bullpen. Tonight would
be his usual turn in the rotation and instead Pat Misch will take the mound for
his first start of the season.
It’s hard to know what to think about Z going to the
bullpen. We’ve just got to go with it and understand that moves are made to put
us in a better position to win. We have no control over the decision. We have
to just try to understand it as much as we can.
What we can do is make sure Z knows we’re right behind him
100 percent no matter what happens. Right now his mind is probably going crazy
with this situation. So we pretty much have given him his space and haven’t
said much to him. But later, when things settle down a bit, every time I talk
to him I’ll let him know we’re behind him, that this is a team effort and we’ll
all get through this together.
I remember going through a really tough time in 2001 when I
was so low I wondered if I could even play anymore. I had a right hamstring
injury that put me on the DL for two months. I wanted to prove that I could
play the entire season every single year – and then running to third base one
day in May of 2001 I heard a pop and I could barely take another step. It was
such a setback because I was in just my second full season in the Big Leagues.
I let myself get really down for a while. Then I realized
that the best way to deal with failure and adversity is to face it. Face what
you’re doing and tell yourself you’re struggling now but it’s not forever. You
have to face each day with a positive mind.
Rafael Palmeiro gave me the best advice about how to deal
with slumps and setbacks. Maybe you’re not swinging well. You don’t know what’s
going on. He told me, “Hey, it doesn’t matter how bad you feel, how horrible
you’re going. Every time you step to the plate, you tell yourself you’re the
best guy out there. You’re the man. That guy can’t get you out.”
I figured, if that’s the approach of Hall of Fame caliber
guys, then that’s what I’d do too. Every day after that – which was early in my
career, 2001, 2002 maybe – every single day, I take a positive mind onto the
field. I tell myself, “You’re better than that guy on the mound. He can’t touch
you.” You give credit to him when he gets you out, but until then you don’t
give him anything.
I think the same approach applies in lots of aspects of
life. If you have a problem and you’re not feeling good, you don’t go into work
or school all mad and make everybody else miserable. If you let your mind tell
you that you’re horrible, you’re going to be horrible. If you let your mind
tell you you’re going to fail, you’re going to fail. Ninety-five percent of
life is about your mind. It dictates what you’re going to do and what you’re
going to be.
I learned this lesson on the baseball field, but I use it in
raising my two girls. I use it in my personal relationships and my business
dealings. If you go out there expecting to succeed – expecting not only to
succeed but to be the best – you give yourself a really good shot at succeeding
and maybe even being best.
Sounds pretty simple, but of course it isn’t. If it were
that simple, Z would be on the mound tonight starting against the Phillies. He
has so much heart and so much desire that I know he’ll get through this. It
will take all of us – the coaches, the staff, his teammates. He’s going to be
great again. I don’t have any doubt.
The other news from the home stand was the balk call against
Here’s what happened. . There was a runner on third, and we
had a play called for Tim to throw over there at that moment. I saw Timmy was
in a windup instead of the stretch. He can’t throw to third from the windup. I
immediately called time-out. But obviously Tim was already started, and he
stopped as soon as I called time. The ump also called time then he suddenly
called a balk.
I told the ump he called timeout, too, and he said he never
called it. Of course, the TV replays show clearly he DID call it, and that’s
why Timmy stopped. He didn’t stop because he was trying to deceive the runner –
which is the whole reason behind having the balk rule. So it definitely should
not have been a balk.
It was a horrible way to lose a game. We were all really
angry about it. It’s just not a way to lose a game. If we lose by getting our
butts kicked, OK. But you never want to lose like that.
But it’s over now and we have to just think about the
In my next blog, I’ll answer the questions you have asked.
Thanks again for reading and writing and being such great, supportive fans.