After recording 3 errors in one game and enduring a long chorus of boos from the Atlanta fans, Brooks Conrad is a broken man. True, he’s a utility man who has been inserted into the Braves lineup due to injuries, and really shouldn’t be playing a major role in critical playoff games, but, the fact is, that he’s a MLB player, and should be able to make routine plays. Unfortunately for him, he is now the scapegoat in Atlanta, and, assuming the Braves don’t come back to win the series, his name will live on forever in infamy alongside other infamous postseason goats like Bill Buckner and Mickey Owens. Your heart goes out to the guy. I feel bad for him and for what he has endured. He’s hurt, he knows that he let his team down, and that fans will never let him live it down.
But now, he’s got to recover. He needs, to “pick himself up, dust himself off, and get back to playing the game he loves (or at least, the game he used to love) with a confidence and intensity that he didn’t have before.”
However, the recovery process is easier said than done. In the game of baseball, more than any other sport, it takes time to build up one’s confidence. In most other team sports, for example, players are constantly involved in the game and are thus don’t have the time to wallow in their mistakes. In baseball however, a fielder may stand around for innings at a time without a ball being hit to him. And when the ball finally comes his way, there is no one else around to help him. It’s him, the ball, and the national audience waiting to see if he will mess up again. All that individual pressure, makes baseball a uniquely difficult game, psychologically. Just think about all those pitchers who were great, and then, in the blink of an eye, forgot how to throw strikes. See: Rick Ankiel, Mark Wohlers. Or consider poor Chuck Knoblauch, the Yankees All-Star second baseman, whose case of the yips curtailed his career.
So how can Brooks recover? One of the best ways to rehabilitate an injured psyche is to realize that this is only a game. OK, he may not be a fan favorite, and may not be allowed into certain bars and restaurants in and around Atlanta, but at the end of the day, there are greater things to worry and stress about. True, it’s playoff baseball and the Tomahawk chop is in full effect, but it’s true; there really are more important issues to solve. He must Look to his faith to help guide him in the right direction and put this baseball playoff GAME in perspective. God can help foster this feeling inside of him, enabling him to relax and find inner peace; becoming a better person and athlete, as a result.
Brooks, I don’t know if you are a religious man or if you believe in God at all, but I suggest you try centering your life around God, and understand that your current travails are only a but a small fraction of what others go through on a daily basis. This one was tough to swallow, and it will be hard to forget what happened. I know. But what’s best for you is to find that inner peace, gain a greater appreciation of what you do have, and get back out there to show everyone that you are capable of playing at a high level.
Don’t let the hometown fans get you down. They won’t let up for a very long time. Perhaps never. But you can have God pick you up and help you rebuild your confidence. This can be a great experience for you. Be with God and enjoy the ride. I just hope you can pull it off in less than 24 hours.