Ahead in the Count

5th Inning….Get a “W”

written by Matt Whiteside

For starting pitchers, even those with the lead going into the 5th inning, it is a difficult one for them to get out of while maintaining that lead.  I look at this point in my career as a cross roads.  I was now recently married, and in a new organization again, the San Diego Padres.  I had worked diligently in the Venezuelan winter league on my mechanics, and psyche, and was ready to get it going again.  I had a very good spring training, but still was sent to Triple A.  This presented a challenge again, but for new reasons.  Triple A for the Padres at that time was in Las Vegas !  The next two years were without a doubt life changing for me.  I went into Vegas weighing 210 lbs and married, and left two years later 185lbs and divorced.  I would not suggest any newly weds  move to Vegas, especially if you play a sport there.  We, as a couple, were struggling when we arrived, and decisions by both left us with unmendable fences when we left two years later.( I am not advocating divorce here, nor am I proud of it for the record).  While this may look like a game where I might get a no decision at best, or quite possibly a Loss, I actually came out of it with a W, although a hard earned one.  

 

A constant theme throughout here for me, are the people who come into your life, the relationships your form with them, and how they influence you.  I had told myself that no matter what situation I was put in for the rest of my career, I would enjoy the experience, appreciate the opportunity, and be a good influence/teammate in the locker room.  While I enjoyed some time in the Big Leagues with the Padres, and was around quite possibly the greatest closer and teammate of all time in Trevor Hoffman, my time in the clubhouse with my teammates in Vegas was what I cherish the most.  Here is where I began to enjoy being a leader, being a resource of information and “paying forward” some of the things veterans before me had provided myself. I started to feel the satisfaction and gratification of having that ability to help and teach.   In doing so I formed friendships that will last a life time, and relationships that have, what seems like never ending tentacles, that continue reaching out to this day. At the center of these relationships was Brendan Sullivan, a member of the blog team here, and the reason I have the good fortune of knowing the rest of the group assembled here.  We seemed to hit it off from day one. It started out as workout partners, throwing partners and bullpen mates. It evolved into best friends for life.  I tried to provide support and information where I could. Wise beyond his years, Brendan helped me through a tough time in my personal life by being a friend and counselor.  I am glad I did not have an ego that would prevent me from appreciating the influence someone younger could make on me.   Seeing, and experiencing first hand, the great work Brendans personal business, Headfirst, was doing when I would make trips to Washington DC in the offseason, gave me a glimpse into the future of what I would like to do post baseball.  Regardless of where you see yourself in life, young, old, successful, struggling or accomplished, if you remain open to and conscious of those around you, you will continue to be influenced and learn. Having the ability to learn from others can, and will, enrich and enhance your life.  I am certainly appreciative of what it has done for me.

 

 

December 17, 2008 - Posted by | On the Field, written by Matt Whiteside

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