Coping with failure

The key to surviving Spring Training — to actually enjoying all the long days and hard work of Spring Training — is to make peace with failure.

look.jpgThat could be said about baseball in general, of course. There are tons of guys with amazing raw talent, but the ones who make it are the ones who aren’t crushed by the failure. Because there is a ton of failure, as any baseball fan knows.

Spring training is Ground Zero of failure.

You know you’re better than what you’re showing at the moment, but that’s where you are right now. You’re still getting in your groove, still getting your legs back, still getting your head back to focusing on all the little things that mean the difference between winning and losing.

So what I’ve learned over the years is to be patient with myself. But I see the frustration bubbling up now and then among the younger guys who are desperate to show everyone they’re big-league material. I tell them it’s OK, they don’t have to do everything all at once. They’re expected to make mistakes — though preferably not the same one twice. As long as they learn and keep improving, they’re doing their jobs.

As for me, my body is tired some days and energized others. Catchers tend to have more ups and downs as far as feeling tired during Spring Training because there’s so much wear and tear on our bodies behind the plate. Sunday I felt great for whatever reason and hit an inside cutter over the left-field fence for my first HR of the spring.

Randy Johnson pitched and even though he didn’t have his best stuff, he pitched 3.1 scoreless innings and struck out three. That shows what kind of a pitcher he is, especially this early in the spring.

I got another chance to watch Buster Posey, who came in late in the game. He’s going to be a great catcher, a great player for many years in the league. I don’t know how soon, but he wants to learn. He’s pretty quiet by nature, really humble, but he asks questions and seems to be a fast learner.

daveroberts.jpgIt’s been a little sad around here, though, with the departure of Dave Roberts. We lost a great man, a great human being, a very loved teammate. Whatever reason the team decided to release him, that’s not for me to have an opinion on. They’re doing what they think they need to do to put the best team on the field come April.

But personally, it’s a great loss. He was like a brother to a lot of us. I remember last season when I was really struggling at the plate, and we had lost three games in a row, I was so down on myself. Dave came over to my locker and sat down next to me. He told me to go home that night and spend time with my family. Have dinner. Relax. Enjoy their company. Then come back tomorrow and start all over. He reminded me there is life beyond the baseball field, and that it didn’t help anybody for me to get so down on myself. He was absolutely right.

The next day, I went 3-for-4.

So even though I remind the younger players to not get too down on themselves in Spring Training, I need guys like Dave Roberts to remind me sometimes.

My daughters are coming to stay with me this coming weekend. We will go to miniature golf and go-karts and the batting cage. We’ll play a lot of Wii bowling and tennis, I’m sure. They always help me keep the game in perspective. As important as it is to be a great player, it’s more important to be a great human being. No one showed that better than Dave Roberts. He is already sorely missed.

10 Comments

Bengie, this is a great entry. Thank you so much. Sometimes it’s hard for fans when their team underperforms in Spring. We tell ourselves all the right things – it’s still very early. People are getting into shape. Aren’t their players at the same place, physically, that our players are at? It goes on.

This was a nice reminder that failure is a big part of the game, and a bigger part of Spring Training. Thanks again.

http://houston.mlblogs.com

Bengie – we Red Sox fans have very fond memories of Dave Roberts and many of us have blogged about him – hoping that a team will pick him up. (We’d love to have him back here again!) Failure, in no matter what we are doing, is tough to handle. Baseball players have to handle that failure in a very public arena and that makes it so very much harder. You know – you can honor what Dave did for you by mentoring players younger then you. Have a great time with your daughters! Kids make everything better!

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

Bengie – Very timely post. In Puerto Rico’s game last night, I watched as your brother struggled at the plate during his first at bats. But, Yadier put that failure behind him when he came up to bat with bases loaded in 8th and knocked a beautiful double to win the game. Must be a Molina thing. : )
-Kathy
http://redbirdchatter.mlblogs.com

Failure comes in so many forms, whether it’s on the field, at home, school whatever and as I’ve learned it’s all in how you handle and learn from those failures that shape us. These young guys are getting the chance to learn so many good lessons just by being on the same field with you. You have such an amazingly positive attitude something we could all use at some time or another. I only hope that they are paying attention because you’re such a wonderful role model for them.
Can’t wait for the season to start.. I’ll be at the park April 8th! Thank you again for your insights. I look forward to them.
~Kim

BengieMo–

I feel you big time on the Dave thing, although I can understand the ballclub’s move. That being said, it was pretty brutal to have an article come out saying what we all thought: that Dave had fun playing the game. And then a day or two later he was releasted. Just a bummer we won’t have that electric smile in the dugout, but hopefully it will make room for the next guy to get a shot.

–Brad

Congrats on being #6 on the Latest Leader’s List for Players on MLBlogs!

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

Bengie – I couldn’t agree with you more when it comes to the importance of dealing with failure. I had a really hard time doing it in high school and college, and can’t imagine what it would be like for a 20-something year old kid trying to make a club. Good luck to you this year (just not against the Reds!). This is the first time I have been to your blog, and I really enjoyed it. You are a great writer. Thanks for your contributions.

http://wight4256.mlblogs.com

Bengie – no pressure – but I drafted you today in my first ever fantasy baseball draft! I hope you have a GREAT season! lol!

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

Great blog Bengie! Keep them coming. I’m a die hard Giants fan. Check out my blog and look up pics from Giants Fan Fest. I have a couple good ones of you cause you kept walking by. I know you’re going to have another solid year.

~King of Cali
http://kingofcali.mlblogs.com/

You’re really good at this Bengie. Your words are real, insightful, and go beyond just baseball or sports to tackle life. We all face failure all the time and learning to cope with it is truly one of the most important skills we need to find success in whatever it is we do. Thanks for reminding those of us struggling to cope with failure that we’re not alone and for the part about how Dave Roberts helped you overcome a tough spot. As a long time Giants fan I had mixed opinions about the Roberts announcement, your insights made me lean more towards missing him. Thanks again for taking the time to do your blogs. Best wishes to your continued success with the team and your family’s health and well being. I will see you from the cheap seats for the opening series in April!

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