It?s kind of funny. Over the past couple weeks I had wondered how I?d react and what it would be like when we finally clinched the NL East. I tried to picture in my mind what would the celebration would be like. I wondered who I would run up to and grab first. I reminded myself over and over to savor the moment and try to take it all in.
But when Cliff caught that final fly ball in left field, my mind went blank and I just reacted. Everything was so spontaneous, everyone was just running for the pile up. It was a surreal experience. The lights, the noise, the emotion ? the first few minutes of celebration are still like a blur in my mind. But I do know for a fact that it was the greatest moment I?ve ever had on a baseball field.
A few days later, it?s still just sinking in that we?ve clinched the NL East. It?s still so fresh in my mind that I can still feel the sting of the champagne in my eyes.
It?s particularly gratifying to share the moment with this group of players. Knowing the caliber of guys in our clubhouse makes it even more rewarding. Everyone knew from the first day of Spring Training that we had the talent on the field. We had proven performers who we knew were capable of putting up big numbers on the stat sheet. We knew we could win ballgames.
What we didn?t know at that point was how well we would all come together. We didn?t know how well we would all get along and how much fun we would have together during the course of the season. We?ve grown so close during these past seven months and had so many special moments together that winning the NL East together is even more rewarding.
It?s been a long time since the franchise has won a division title. I was five years old the last time the Mets finished first in the division, so I?d been waiting a long time this just like all of the rest of the Mets fans out there. As a lifelong Mets fan myself, I think I really identify with the fans. I felt as happy for the fans as I did for myself. I know what it?s like to be a fan of this club.
The atmosphere at Shea Stadium the night of the clincher was unbelievable. I?ll never forget the way the fans came out in full force and reacted. It was electric, like I imagine the playoff games will be around here in a couple weeks. During the game, I found myself glancing over at the stands, looking at the faces in the crowd. People were so happy. It just made me feel good that I could play some small part in creating that much pure joy.
After the final out, seeing those 55,000 fans at Shea Stadium go completely insane sent chills up my spine. It was the ultimate high. A few of us wanted to celebrate with the fans, too, so we went over to the stands to give them some high fives and share the moment with them, too.
Hopefully, this is the first of many, though. I don?t want to sound greedy and say we?re going to replicate the Braves’ run of division titles but we have a core group of talented players to become a force in the NL East for a long time. We have the veteran guys who keep us on an even keel throughout the long season and the young guys who bring a lot of energy and excitement to the ballpark everyday.
You really couldn?t have scripted a better regular season for us. It?s been a dream season in a lot of ways for us. Now, hopefully, we can keep our focus over the course of the last week or so, prepare ourselves mentally and physically, and go into the postseason on a high note.
We?re not done yet. In a lot of way this is just the beginning for us. I just hope you?re all enjoying this as much as I am.
(Thanks again to the folks at MLB.com for posting this for me during the pre-game, and please blog along with me down the stretch.)
Down the stretch
At this time of year you?re trying to be smart about the way you go about your work and training to ensure you maintain your strength ?- mentally and physically ?- through the most crucial part of the schedule.
You still try to make it to the weight room a couple times a week, maybe pick some days to take a few less groundballs and a few less swings.
Willie?s done a great job of cutting down on batting practice and extra work towards the end of the year, plus we have a lot of veterans who?ve played into October before. I lean on them a little and watch how they go about it.
The stretch is when you have to dig down deep and see what?s left in the tank. It?s a great part of the athletic challenge in baseball ? our season is a marathon.
Personally, I feel real good. I think I learned a lesson in pacing myself last year. It was my first full season and I got to a point where I ran into a little wall. Of course, it also helps to have the lead that we have in our division this season because it?s allowed Willie to give the regulars a rest here and there. So I feel great, ready to roll.
I had a little rest when I sat out the second game of our double-header with the Braves, but I don?t think my teammates and coaches like having me on the bench. I?m pretty fidgety, walking around, getting up, sitting down. Jose Reyes is pretty active, too. We?re like head cheerleaders when we?re not in the game, the way we?re always yelling from the dugout.
I don?t like taking days off, but I recognize it?s good for the club to get some other guys at-bats and get a little rest heading into the home stretch.
But there?s still three weeks left in the regular season and I?m going to focus on each game, one at a time. There?s no rush to get to the postseason. I enjoy every game. Sure, we have a big lead but as a competitor you want to win every game and get a hit every at-bat, regardless of how far ahead or behind you might be in the standings.
We still want to win every game and hopefully get to the postseason with a full head of steam. The idea is to finish strong.
We got a big boost this week was when Cliff Floyd rejoined us. Not just because of his presence in the middle of the order but because he?s an emotional leader in the clubhouse, too. He?s good friends with a lot of the guys on our club and he?s great to have around. He?s part of the glue that holds the team together.
Thanks, everybody, for all the congratulations you?ve been posting about my new contract. The deal wasn?t quite done the last time I posted, so I wasn?t at liberty to say anything about it yet. But I?m really excited that the ownership and front office here are so forward-thinking that they came to Jose Reyes and me and wanted to sign us to long-term deals.
One of the things the club wanted to do was avoid having the distractions of going year-to-year with our contracts. But it also speaks well of the ownership and the front office in that it shows everyone is thinking both short-term and long-term. Not only are we trying to win this season -? Wright Now! -? but we?re also trying to build a team that New York fans can be proud about for years to come.
I?m really flattered that I?m considered one of the core guys that the Mets want to build around and that the club has enough confidence in me that they would make such a big commitment.
There is the business side to baseball that you have to consider as a professional, but that?s why we have agents and my representatives are among the best in the business. We were able to hash this contract out in a period of just about three days. When the Mets came to us, we decided to set aside a window of a few days to get it done so that it wouldn?t drag on and become a distraction during our playoff push. The last thing we need as a club is having a contract negotiation become a distraction during the season. Fortunately, we were able to accomplish what we set out to do.
It will be nice not to have to consider the business side for a while and we also won?t be in a position of having to go to arbitration. I won?t have to think about contract issues for the next six, maybe seven, years if the option year is picked up. I look at this as a great first step. I?d like to play for the New York Mets my entire career.
But it really hasn?t sunk in completely yet. As someone who grew up in a middle-class household in which both of my parents had to work 9-to-5 jobs, it?s difficult for me to comprehend the idea of having that much money. But we?re in the middle of the season, so I it?s not like I ran out and got a new car or anything. We just went out to dinner and celebrated a little, but I?ll probably consider buying an apartment in New York during the offseason.
One thing for sure is that the contract won?t change the kind of person I am and it won?t change the way I go about my job on the field.
Carlos Delgado’s influence
It was great to watch Carlos Delgado hit those two home runs in Philadelphia. He means so much to this club in a variety of ways. His batting average may not be where he wants it to be at the moment, but he?s come up with big hits for us all season long in the most important situations.
It seems like whenever Carlos Beltran or I have struggled this year, Carlos Delgado has come through with big hits to carry the team. But I think that goes back to the way this club was put together. We have such a deep, talented lineup that nobody has to take on the entire load by himself, which, in turn, allows everybody to remain comfortable and play within their own abilities.
Beltran carries us for a month or so. Then Delgado comes up with big hits. Jose Reyes sets the tone and even adds some power. It?s almost impossible for us to go into a team slump because someone is always going to be hitting well.
Carlos Delgado means as much off the field to this club as he does on the field. If you were to ask Carlos Beltran, I bet he?d tell you that having Delgado around has helped him go out and have fun playing the game this season. They?re very close friends.
Delgado?s numbers speak for themselves, but you also couldn?t ask for a better leadership in your clubhouse than we get from him. Just watch the way he carries himself. He?s confident, he?s intelligent, he helps the younger players out.
Personally, he?s taken me under his wing and helped teach me about driving in runs and situational hitting. Who better to learn from? He?s been one of the most consistent RBI guys in baseball from the time he began his career.
Lastly, I?ve been getting a lot of comments ?- especially since the David Letterman show -? about sticking my tongue out, so I figured I’d better address the issue here on my blog.
First of all, I like to think of it as more Michael Jordan than Gene Simmons. I?ve been doing it forever, though. In grammar school, I would have my tongue out while I was taking a test and my teachers would tell me about it.
I don?t even think about it, but every picture I see of myself playing baseball, I see my tongue sticking out. It?s become kind of a running joke.
I don?t think about it or try to do it, but one thing you?ll notice is that whenever you see me with my tongue out, it?s always a moment when I?m really trying to concentrate and stay focused.
So whenever you see me with my tongue out, rest assured that I?m concentrating and 100-percent focused.
Until next time…
(Thanks to my friends at MLB.com for assisting in saving this post during the game, and please blog along with me down the stretch.)
Xavier, A-Rod and our teams focus
It was really difficult losing a guy like Xavier Nady. He meant a lot to us in the time he was here and contributed big-time to our success. He mixed in well with the rest of the guys in the clubhouse and he was really coming into his own on the field this season.
Looking at it from the business side, Xavier played so well that he became a valuable bargaining chip when the club really needed it. That taxicab accident, a freak thing, was a huge blow for Duaner Sanchez and the team. Happening right on deadline, our front office did a great job by bringing back Roberto Hernandez in the trade with Pittsburgh.
You can?t really replace a set-up pitcher the caliber of Sanchez. The bullpen has been one of the strengths of our team and he?s been the guy that you can count on late in a game, night after night. But Roberto?s been
here in a similar role. He?s comfortable in this atmosphere, he knows what it takes to win and he?s obviously been very successful here.
Hopefully, Roberto will be able come in, pick up where he left off and the bullpen will remain one of the team?s strengths.
That other NY third baseman
A lot of people in New York seem to think Alex Rodriguez is struggling. It?s hard to imagine having such high expectations that you can be putting up A-Rod?s numbers and still not be satisfying the critics.
I guess he?s always going to be under scrutiny because of the contract he signed, and with the payroll over there the Yankees are expected to win the World Series every year.
Plus, when things go wrong in New York, even a little bit, they tend to get magnified. The fans in New York are passionate, knowledgeable about the game and they?re going to express their emotions. They don?t hold much back, good or bad.
But Alex and everyone else in baseball knows that he?s one of the top few players in the game and he does everything exceptionally well. Alex is going to be fine. He?s a great player. It?s only a matter of time before he starts putting up those MVP-type numbers again.
When the wins start rolling in, he?s going to be right in the middle of it.
One game at a time
One of the keys the rest of the season now that we?re in August is to make sure we don?t become complacent. We have to be mindful of the things we?ve done to get the lead in our division. That means we have to keep taking it one game at a time, one series at a time. We can?t look in the rearview mirror and we can?t look ahead to October, either.
(Posted courtesy of MLB.com during the game.)
All-Star was more than I ever imagined
Jeff Wilpon arranged to have two private jets take the Mets? traveling party to Pittsburgh. It was my first time flying in a private jet, so that was exciting in itself, but to be traveling to the All-Star Game with my teammates and with the Mets in first place made it a truly memorable experience. The flight was one of the first opportunities I had to take a deep breath and let it set in. While I was sitting on the plane, talking with my teammates and their families, I just began to realize how fortunate and lucky we were. It was almost overwhelming.
Everything happens very fast at an All-Star Game, so I?m glad my brothers — Stephen, Matthew and Daniel — were with me as well as my parents (Rhon and Elisa) and my old AAU coach. My brothers took a lot of video at the Home Run Derby and again during the All-Star Game, so this offseason I?m sure we?ll get together and relive the experience. It was really nice to be able to share the experience with all of them.
I even surprised myself a little by sticking around until the final round of the Home Run Derby. Paul Lo Duca had come up to me on Sunday and asked if I had anyone to throw to me and I told him no, that I was just going to use someone in Pittsburgh. Then he told me he was a pretty good batting practice pitcher and I kind of laughed at him.
I was skeptical, but then we went up to the cage and Paul threw some good BP. We practiced some more on Monday before the Derby and it turned out pretty good. He hit my bat a few times, especially in that first round. He did a great job of putting the ball where I like it.
I wish I could have mustered up a little more power towards the end to try and win the thing, but my arms got a little tired and I began to swing a little late. By the end, both Paul and I were a little weary. Plus, Ryan Howard was very consistent. He has a ton of power and he was dropping those balls in the river with some frequency.
I have to admit I felt a little intimidated standing in line with the other Home Run Derby contestants for introductions. I was one of the smallest guys there, along with Miguel Tejada. We were sandwiched in there between monsters like David Ortiz, Ryan Howard, Troy Glaus, Jermaine Dye. But I think I?ll be able to hold my head high when I get back with my teammates in Chicago later this week. I?m pretty sure I surpassed the expectations they had for me back in the clubhouse.
All in all, the All-Star Game was more than I even imagined. From all of the pageantry to the game itself, it exceeded my dreams. It was disappointing for the National League to lose the game, but to hit a home run in my first All-Star Game at-bat is something I’ll always remember.
I enjoyed every second of my time in Pittsburgh. It was hectic, but you can?t get caught up in that. You never know how many All-Star Games you?ll get to participate in, so I really tried to make the most of it. I?m young, so hopefully I?ll get to come to a few more of these, but I?ll always have this one. I feel like I was really able to soak it in.
The snapshot I?ll always carry with me is just sitting around in the clubhouse and talking with some of the best hitters in the game and seeing how they go about their business. You get to know another side of them that you don?t see when you?re playing against them or watching them on TV. Hopefully I?ve made some lasting friendships.
As players, we?re all part of a fraternity, but we?ll all be enemies again by later this week when we get back to competing against each other on the field.
Heading to Pittsburgh on a high note
I can?t think of a better way to finish off the first half than going to the All-Star Game with a bunch of my teammates. It?s a great honor to be selected to represent the National League for the first time, but it?s even better to be heading to Pittsburgh as one of six representatives of the first-place team in the NL East. We?ve put ourselves in great position. We?re where we want to be and it?s only right that we have so many guys on the team.
Having six guys on the team ?- Jose Reyes, Paul Lo Duca, Carlos Beltran, Tom Glavine, Pedro Martinez and me ?- is a testament to the way we?ve played during the first half. We?re the Mets representatives on the team, but we?ll be carrying the flag for the rest of the guys in the clubhouse, too, because everyone on our roster has contributed to the success we?ve had so far this season.
I?ll be in awe the entire time. I?ve been a fan of Major League Baseball for a much longer time than I?ve been playing here, so I?ll have my eyes and ears wide open. The guys who will be on the field with me are the elite players in the game. Some of them will be future Hall of Famers, so I?ll have an opportunity to learn a few things from them while I?m in Pittsburgh, too. I figure I?ll be able to have a lot of fun and become a better baseball player at the same time.
People have been reminding me the last few days that the last time the Mets had six guys in the All-Star Game was 1986 when they won the World Series. That?s a fun piece of trivia, but it?s not a good omen any more than getting swept by the Red Sox last week was a bad omen. How well we do in the end will be a matter of how well we perform on the field.
We?re barely halfway through the season at this point and we still have a long way to go. As well as we?ve done so far, we can be even better in the second half. Personally, I?m going to strive to be more consistent. I feel like I?ve taken a baby step toward becoming the player I want to be. But there?s still a lot of hard work ahead, still many long hours in the batting cage and many long hours in the weight room before I get there.
The other highlight of the All-Star break for me will be appearing on the Late Show with David Letterman next Wednesday night. I don?t know exactly how it came about, but it was arranged through Jay Horwitz in our public relations office and it took about two seconds for me to accept the invitation.
I watch Letterman all the time. We?ll have to wait and see, but knowing the show, I?m sure Dave will have some funny stuff lined up for me, probably some good one-liners for which I won?t have any response. I?ve gotten better at making media appearances since coming to New York, but I still get a little nervous. It?s amazing that I can hit a 95 mph fastball or catch a screamer down the line at third in front of a packed stadium, but when that little red light goes on the TV camera, I still get anxious.
You don?t have to worry about me getting a big head from all of the attention I?ve been getting from the media and fans in recent weeks, though. My teammates aren?t about to let that happen. I?ve actually become one of my their favorite targets in the clubhouse. They love to tease me and give me a hard time. It?s all fun. That?s one of the things I love about our club. You have to really check your ego at the door of the clubhouse and be prepared to take a little ribbing.
Thanks for sending me to the All-Star Game. I?ll let you know what it?s like while I?m there next week.
Still plenty to prove
We haven?t accomplished any of our goals yet. We?ve played about 70 games and we?re where we want to be at this point, but there?s plenty of the season left. It?s not even the All-Star break.
Everyone in our clubhouse knows that and nobody?s about to become complacent. We have to continue to push, play good baseball and develop. We want to keep becoming better and get better as a team over the course of the season.
As much as I?ve liked the way our team has performed, there?s no doubt we can become even better.
In New York, you?re always under a lot of pressure. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves, too. But I wouldn?t have it any other way. Being constantly under the microscope, always being scrutinized, that drives me to perform.
The people on the other end of that microscope are the fans. They?re the ones you play for. They can really pick you up and motivate you sometimes. On one of those dog days of summer you?ll hear the crowd and really get pumped up.
My whole approach focuses on doing what it takes every pitch of every ballgame to help the Mets win ?- and nothing else. It?s easy that way.
My biggest fear is letting my teammates down. I want my teammates to have confidence in me and want me on their side. Letting my teammates down is the worst thing that can happen to me on a baseball field.
Following a 9-1 road trip we had lost two straight games at home before tonight?s win. Losing just makes us angry and upset. We hate losing, so it makes us push that much harder. It demonstrates we have a long way to go before we become the team we want to be.
Thanks for reading and root for the Mets.
Golf tournament a huge success
My first David Wright Foundation Golf Classic was a blast. There was an unbelievable turnout. The sponsors and golfers came out in full force. It?s nice to drive up to your own tournament and see the type of atmosphere we had at Leewood Golf Club, which is a really nice course in Eastchester, N.Y. There was a lot of great golf played. Some ugly golf, too, but everyone seemed to have a great time. Importantly, it raised a lot of money. It was a huge success. We sold the thing out very quickly and the auction went extremely well. I?m a rookie when it comes to running a charity golf tournament, so I was ecstatic to see how well everything turned out.
Steve Trachsel played well and so did Michael Strahan of the Giants. Strahan’s group won the tournament. I didn?t get to watch each group but I bet Michael helped his group a little bit. There were some ringers on the course, though. I saw some nice swings and impressive scores. Actually, I was surprised I didn?t see Jeff Wilpon among the long drive contest winners. He?s beaten me up on the course a few times. He can hit it.
I only played about seven or eight holes because I had obligations as the host, but I surprised myself a little. I had a new set of Wilson clubs that I was using for the first time. I played with my agent, Keith Miller, and an executive from MLB. I struck the ball a little better than I expected but I?d say all facets of my game need improvement, starting with my short game. Chipping isn?t a strong point.
Miller, a former player, has become real close to me the last five years. His wife, Stephanie, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, so I want to focus on that cause for the first couple years of the tournament. We?ll gradually branch out with more charities. I?d like to get involved with children?s hospitals, both here and in Virginia and eventually figure out how to help some local police and fire departments.
No gray hairs
We were rained out last night, but we had another great win on Wednesday night, winning 1-0 in 13 innings against the Diamondbacks. Pedro Martinez and Brandon Webb both pitched great, which you expect from those two. But getting another late win was satisfying and pretty typical of our club lately. If I don?t watch it, I?m going to start getting like Paul LoDuca and Cliff Floyd with all of those gray hairs.
We just find ways to win. The amazing thing is that we get new heroes each day, too. We get great starting pitching, the bullpen will come in for a few key innings, we?ll get picked up by our bench. Contributions are coming from all over the place. It?s fun to be part of our team right now. We?re all on the same page, playing to win and having a great time together as friends when we?re off the field.
About Lastings Milledge
Lastings Milledge will help us until Xavier Nady returns. He?s a talented young player. It was only a couple of years ago that I was in that position. He?s young, he?s got all of the tools. He needs to go out and play and not let all of the hype get to him. He?s fortunate, like I was, to have been put into a lineup where there isn?t any pressure on him. He just needs to relax and let his skills take over.
He?s accomplished a short-term goal by getting to the big leagues. It?s a great accomplishment but he has to realize now that it?s just a start. Now he has to establish himself and help our team win a championship. Getting to the big leagues is fine but the goal is contributing to a championship.
When I first came up, the veterans made me feel comfortable and things are pretty much the same now. Players on our team realize how important that is to success. If you feel comfortable in the clubhouse and feel like one of the guys, that allows you to relax when you play.
Barry’s in town
Finally, Barry Bonds is here in New York for the first time this season. It?s special for me to play against someone of his caliber. He?s not just one of the best hitters of all time but one of the best
players of all time. I?ve enjoy watching him for a long time and someday I?ll be able to tell my grandchildren that I played against him.
For Barry to hit as many homers as he has is something special. As another player, I understand how hard it is to accomplish. So I plan to congratulate him. You?re not going to see many other hitters like him in a lifetime.
A new name for my blog
I appreciate all the responses I received when I asked for your help naming my MLBlog. I probably got 50 or 60 different suggestions out of your hundreds of comments. Some of them were really clever, a few of them made me laugh and a couple had me shaking my head and wondering … but I?ve finally picked one that I consider the best fit — Wright Now.
"Wright Now" conveys the immediacy of baseball. You don?t look ahead, you don?t look behind, you just try to stay in the moment and take it one game at a time. So with the help of people like Shawn, who was the first of you to throw that suggestion out there, the name of my blog will help remind me of the mindset I need to take to the field every day.
Right now, for example, we?re putting this past weekend?s series with the Yankees behind us and focusing on giving our best effort in our series with the Phillies. The Yankees series got a lot of attention and required a lot of energy. But the Phillies are in our division and playing very well recently, so we need to give our full attention to trying to beat them.
Our rotation has been banged up recently and we?re working through a stretch where we?ve had to make some adjustments, so it?s our job to make sure whoever we bring in to start is comfortable and prepared to give his best effort, whether it?s on a one-game basis or more permanent. The veterans on the staff have been doing a good job with that.
The uncertainty at the back end of the rotation doesn?t really put any more pressure on the offense, at least from my standpoint. No matter who?s pitching, we go out there pretty confident that we?re going to score runs. So far, we?re doing a pretty good job of working through the injuries and finding ways to persevere.
Our ability to weather injuries over the course of the season demonstrates the versatility and depth of talent on our club. General manager Omar Minaya and his staff have done such a great job of putting the pieces in place that no one is concerned.
We had two of our starters go down, but there was never any sense of panic or anything. We know we have the talent in the organization to fill whatever gaps may arise and we feel confident in whoever pitches on a given night, whether it?s a veteran from Triple-A or one of our younger pitching prospects.
As I?ve mentioned before, we have the luxury of knowing that we don?t have to necessarily be clicking on all cylinders to win. We have a good offense, good starting pitching and a good bullpen. If we falter in one area, the rest of the team will be there to pick us up.
One day, we?ll beat you with our offense, the next day it might be the speed game or the bullpen that comes through.
Ready for the next 1,000 at-bats
I didn?t even notice until someone told me that I just got my 1,000th at-bat for the Mets during the final game of the Yankees series. It?s happened pretty quickly.
Overall, I guess I?m pretty satisfied with that first 1,000. But the way the game works, you?re never totally satisfied with any aspect of your game. So although I?m satisfied in some respects, I also know that there?s plenty of room for improvement in my next 1,000 at-bats.
Hopefully, I?ll be more consistent with that next 1,000. I believe I have a good chance of accomplishing that because I?m in good position to improve with all of the quality veteran players surrounding me and our great coaching staff. I?m still learning every day.
At-bats are precious things in baseball. You try never to even think of wasting at-bats. But, realistically, when you look back, there are times when you don?t feel right or you feel like something?s wrong with your swing. But you try to learn from those experiences and prevent those things from repeating themselves.
You try to have a good plan every time you step to the plate and make the necessary adjustments with each succeeding at-bat. You?re naturally going to have better at-bats with experience because you?re constantly growing and learning in this game.
Prepping for the David Wright Foundation Golf Classic
Off the field, I?ve been busy getting ready for my first charity golf tournament, which will take place on June 1 — less than 10 days away now. It?s called the David Wright Foundation Golf Classic and it will be held at the Leewood Golf Club in Eastchester, N.Y.
It should be fun. Some of the guys here and front office folks will come out to support the event and we?ll have a few other celebrities on hand to liven things up. We?ll have a live auction and a dinner in addition to hacking up the golf course, so I?m looking forward to the opportunity to have some fun and help raise funds for some worthwhile organizations.
If you want to find out some more about the golf tournament or my foundation, all of that information can be found at my Website — davidwrightfoundation.com. We?re always looking for some new sponsors!
Until next time …
Mets dont miss a beat
Until last night, I?d been in a little rut. But it didn?t really matter that much because we were still winning as a team. We have enough talent on this club that when one of us is scuffling, the rest of the lineup finds a way to pick him up and win anyway. As long as we get Ws, individual performances don?t matter that much. We have the luxury in our lineup of being able to win, even during those times when we?re not running on all cylinders.
When one of us gets hot -? Carlos Delgado, Cliff Floyd, Carlos Beltran ?- we can carry the team a little bit and maybe single-handedly win ballgames. When we are running on all cylinders, we can be a dangerously potent offense.
Plus, we have enough depth that we don?t miss a beat when we give someone a rest. Like last night, Julio Franco stepped into the lineup and we were able to give Carlos Delgado a breather. Being able to move people in and out of the lineup like that keeps the starters and the bench players fresh. We?re in a position to do that because we have one of the best benches in the National League.
So if I?m not hitting for a week or so, or Cliff?s not hitting, or Carlos isn?t hitting, we have the luxury of working out of it without taking the team down with us. That takes some of the pressure off whoever is in a slump at any given time.
I really haven?t been that concerned, even though I?ve been scuffling for a couple weeks. I learned a lot about how to deal with failure back in 2003 when I was playing high-A ball in the Florida State League. I scuffled the whole first half. Going through that period, I realized that the mental challenges of being a slump are usually bigger than the physical aspects.
I?ve been playing the game for some time, so I have the muscle memory and I?m confident I have the physical ability to hit. The key is not to let the slump eat you up mentally. Sometimes you overthink the situation and get in your own head too much. If you take it home with you and think about it too much and criticize yourself, you?re in danger of prolonging the slump.
So I?ve learned to trust in my ability and keep my confidence level up. As much as I?d love to go out there and hit .500, realistically it?s probably not going to happen. Learning to deal with failure is one of the keys to succeeding in baseball because, like they say, if you fail 70 percent of the time, you?re still a .300 hitter.
I?m also fortunate to have so many veterans surrounding me. These guys have all been through slumps before and know how to react. Sometimes, as a young player, getting a hit or not getting a hit can seem like a life-and-death situation. But if you watch and listen to the veterans around you it can help you put things in better perspective.
I definitely consider myself a young player still. We?ve got guys in this clubhouse who have been doing it for 10 or 12 years and I almost have two years under my belt, so I have plenty to learn from them. I feel like I?m still going to school every day.
You may have noticed some new looks …
A few people have asked about the new helmets we?re wearing this season. I like them. I consider myself an old-school type of player, but I?ll try new things. The helmets are a little flashy and futuristic with the two-tone look. But they?re also light, so I?ve convinced myself that they allow me run faster and jump higher. If I seem a little more athletic this season it?s because of the helmets.
It?s still a little cool in New York at this time of year, but hopefully they?ll also keep me from overheating during the summer months coming up. I?ll keep you posted.
I?ve also gotten some questions asking why I?m wearing my pant legs down again. It?s simple: the last time I wore my pants up, we got beat, I made three errors and didn?t get any hits. So I?ve decided to retire that look, at least for the time being.
The veterans on the team give me a hard time about it when I wear the pants up, anyway. Of course, they?ll give me a hard time about just about anything.
I guess the general feeling is that the pants-up look is a high school or college type of style. Not that there?s anything wrong with that, but there?s a high value on looking and acting like a professional in this clubhouse.
Narrowing down the list of names …
I?ve been studying the names that everyone?s been sending in for my blog. I didn?t realize there would be so many of them to consider. But I?m really impressed with the level of creativity and I?m beginning to narrow them down. I have a few favorites, so maybe by the next time I post a blog, I?ll have made a decision. I need a little while longer.
Until next time …