Daily Archives: January 17, 2012
Tuesday January 17, 2012
Chris Swauger- MLB reports Blog (Swags’ Hotspot): I was given an idea for this blog and I tried to run with it. I ended up plowing headfirst into a brick wall. The idea was to write about how I choose my equipment. How do I decide on what gear to arm myself with to go into baseball battle? I started thinking about it and writing about it… when I realized something: it doesn’t matter. As a minor leaguer grinding and struggling my way up the food chain, I will take anything I can get. I don’t care if I have the latest batting gloves or the newest cleats. There are no style points awarded in this game. Any and all equipment provided for me is acceptable. If I don’t have to pay for it, that’s a huge plus. One of my teammates and I came up with a saying, “FREE is in the budget.” Truer words have never been spoken.
Contemplating this equipment idea led me to two alternatives. The first was I could talk about the brands I use and prefer, and possibly galvanize any other company into belly-laughing the next time I or my agent called them to talk about supplying me with gear or a contract. So that was out. Then I started thinking about the fact that I have used so much different equipment over the years. So many different gloves, batting gloves and cleats. So many different bats. So many different models. Why? I concluded that I was looking for an edge. I’ve been searching for the next best thing to make me better. I constantly adjusted and changed until I found tools that were comfortable and useful to me and my skill set. I realized that all the time (and money) I’ve spent playing guinea pig and copycat with my coaches’ and teammates’ gear suggestions mirrored my playing career. It’s all about adjustments.
Adjustments are the main reason I am still playing. While I would never be so ignorant as to say I have no talent, I will say that I was not a 26th round senior-sign for nothing. I have always been a productive player everywhere I have gone, but that is definitely not because it has come easy to me. Any success I’ve had has been because of hard work and adjusting to what I see, feel, and hear on the diamond. I believe in and repeat my routines daily, but I am not scared to tweak them and look for alternatives based on what I feel that day. I try to be consistent with the bats or gloves that make me feel confident on the field, but if something is not working- then it’s time to adjust.
I would estimate I have used about 20 different bat models in my four years playing professionally. Sometimes I had to change out of necessity, because I have a penchant for buzz-sawing bats faster than factories can ship them to me. Other times, it was because I got curious what works for other players. Maybe their “magic sticks” could work for me. While I’ve never been one to completely throw my hands in the air by blowing up everything I have been working on and radically change my approach, I will shake things up when I think it is necessary. I have never been accused of being superstitious, and I think that is because of my willingness to change anything and everything to be successful. I am consistent in what I do and stick to what works. But when it stops working, I grab my gear and move on to the next idea.
That concept is not exclusive to my preparation. Once the game starts, I take the same approach to each play, each at-bat, each pitch. I try to have a solid plan going into the game, but if I feel it’s necessary to adjust- I will. Brad Pitt has a great line in the movie “Moneyball” where he says “Adapt or die.” I love that. There is a constant chess match being played on the field between the managers, the hitter and the pitcher. Between the offense and defense. Falling behind in these tiny point/counterpoint contests usually decides the winner and the lay-HOO-zay-herrr (thank you Ace Ventura). So when I get in these situations, I’m not afraid to flip my game plan based on what the opposition seems to be doing to me or my teammates. No one on the field is going to change just for the sake of changing. Until I prove that I can adjust, players are going to continue to attack me the same way and be successful. Once I evolve, I get the edge and the pressure to change falls back on them. Casual observers don’t always see it, but this happens every pitch. That is why baseball is so fun and interesting. Especially if you pay attention.
I appreciate all of my readers’ attention. If you would like to give me even more of it, follow me on Twitter (@CSwag8). I hope everyone enjoys my insights as much as I enjoy giving them.
Until next time,
***Chris Swauger (AKA Swags) is an outfielder in the St. Louis Cardinals system. Swags played for the Springfield Cardinals (AA) in 2011. With his own Blog Page on MLB reports known as Swags’ Hotspot, Swags provides a behind the scenes look into the life of a professional baseball player. One of the funniest guys we know, these blog entries are a MUST read for every baseball fan! ***
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