First Pitch: When Do You Gain Confidence To Do Something You’ve Never Done?

I’m crazy.

That’s my only guess.

That’s my only reason for why I do what I do.

This is why I became a sports writer for approaching 15 years now, with nothing but a business degree.

It’s why I’ve written and produced over ten books about baseball prospects, even though I never played baseball.

It’s why I’m currently writing a seven novel series that I’m convinced will be in movie theaters when my plan is finished.

It’s why I’m taking my record collection and using it to start up a record store in my North Carolina town.

I guess I’m just crazy, because I think I can do all of these things that I want to do in life.

Or, perhaps it’s confidence, because I know I’ve done anything I’ve set out to do in the past, and I know I never set out to do anything unless I’ve fully mapped out a plan.

If this is confidence, it’s a feeling I’m unfamiliar with.

Making me wonder how I did everything else in my life without the confidence.

I must be crazy.

Or, I just had nothing to lose at the time.

*****

“What do you want to do in your life?”

It’s a question I ask a lot of people.

It gets a lot of blank stares and head-searching thought.

Most people I ask have no clue how to answer that.

I think it’s because most people aren’t doing what they want to do.

They’re doing what they’re supposed to do.

They’re doing what they’re told to do.

They’re doing what they can.

To survive.

When someone comes along and asks “What if you can change this?”

They stare blankly or laugh it off as a joke they don’t understand.

Staring at the Statue of Liberty toppled in the sand.

Beside the crying, raging man.

*****

I have a weird view on life.

It should be held by everyone, I believe. But, for some reason, it’s not the rule of this world.

That view?

Anyone can do anything.

I think we all know this.

Yet, we live in a society where we think greatness is born, not learned.

It’s easy to think that greatness is born when you see so many people at the top who got there because they were born into greatness.

We can apply the concept of Learned Greatness to anything in life. It’s a concept that can literally be scaled to any endeavor.

The instructions are simple:

  1. Realize that anyone can do anything they want to do.
  2. Identify the path from present day to the goal
  3. Take that path
  4. Realize there was nothing special about anyone who previously walked on this path, other than their decision to start walking

There are a lot of ways you can go wrong here.

Doubting that you can do anything is the biggest mistake people make.

Some people want to do something, but not enough to even identify the path on how to get there.

Some are afraid of taking an unknown path.

Some were just never told they were special, and maybe were told the opposite, so they don’t even approach this breakdown.

These all mostly wrap up into self confidence issues. If someone has confidence, they can avoid the pitfalls of these instructions and set out to do what they want to do.

There is a flaw in this set of instructions that even confidence can’t counter.

It doesn’t account for time.

*****

[Phoebe Bridgers]

I’ve been running around in circles

Pretending to be myself

Why would somebody do this on purpose

When they could do something else?

Drowning out the morning birds

With the same three songs over and over

I wish I wrote it, but I didn’t so I learn the words

Hum along ’til the feeling’s gone forever

*****

I used to wonder what it would have been like growing up with self-confidence.

Especially when considering, bereft of that character asset, I eventually believed I could chase a dream.

It wasn’t self-confidence that got me here.

It was a lack of options.

In the last recession, I was laid off while living in a small town. I had saved up some money to try and get out. That savings lasted me about a year of getting no job offers.

When you live in a small town and you’re just out of college, your options are limited. In this case, I had my choice of several factories to work for, hoping to move up in their ranks. My other options were working for free in hopes of getting a good job in the future, or pulling the trigger and moving to a new area while I still could.

I created my own plan.

I was 25. I had time.

If I was going to work for free, in the hopes of getting a job, I’d work for myself.

If I was going to shred my entire body to make sure someone’s company ran smoothly, it would be my own company.

This site started in 2009, and around mid-2010 I decided that this would be my path out of that town. This would be the dream I would follow.

I’d imagine it’s the same fear and feeling that an MLB prospect faces when he leaves his hometown for a low-paying job that no one he knows has ever attempted, in hopes that he’ll be one of the few who makes it.

What I’ve always found interesting about the baseball aspect is how a prospect can look so promising throughout the minors, then completely fall apart on the big stage.

I used to find that interesting.

Like a mystery.

Until I solved the mystery.

By freezing on the big stage.

*****

[Phoebe Bridgers]

So I gotta go, I know, I know, I know

When the sirens sound, you’ll hide under the floor

But I’m not gonna go down with my hometown in a tornado

I’m gonna chase it, I know, I know, I know

I gotta go now, I know, I know, I know

*****

I don’t know what the equivalent of the Major Leagues is for what I do.

I mean, how many people in the world do what I do? On an independent level, that is.

If there were even five of us, I’m sure we’d all have five different views of what the majors looks like.

For me, it was my own house, no debt other than the house and the student loan debt I’ll die with, and a site that was able to provide opportunities to aspiring sports writers.

Because, somewhere along the line, I realized that I don’t want to be a sports writer for the rest of my life.

I spent the last five or six years wondering how long I can do this. Not just the grueling aspect of baseball writing, which is more than a full-time job, but running a baseball site.

You see, time is a bitch.

On average, I’m going to live to 78 years old.

That gives me about 40 more years on this Earth.

Except I’m 37 now, and I can’t work to the extreme like I did in my 20s.

I’m in the early stages of exponential loss.

That gives me a limited amount of time to do what I want to do, both on a daily basis and in a lifetime.

Maybe the Pirates win a World Series during that time.

Maybe MLB collapses in on itself by then, caving to the weight of decades of short-term profit grabs.

I used to think “How long can I keep doing this?”, envisioning a time when I’d be too old to keep up with this grind, and wondering what I’d do at that point.

I have no problem writing until the day I die. I’d love to write about baseball until I die.

But, would it be my choice?

It was lost in that question that I found my confidence.

What if it is my choice?

You see, baseball reporters operate like baseball players.

You work excessive hours for no pay, making money for billionaires, and in the event that you prove yourself good enough to elevate the status of the company they own, the billionaires will hire you to that role and give you the bare minimum, while pointing to all of the people who want your job.

So, you work ungodly hours, which leads to a very short career where your body is 20 years older than itself when you hit your 30s.

And we’re not athletes, so when we’re 50 in our 30s, we’re dead in our 70s.

I don’t want to be a baseball reporter.

Not in the way that everyone else does it.

I don’t want to be the seventh person making sure I’m giving you every single news story that the other six are also tirelessly reporting.

I want to be the one who gives you the analysis that you can’t get elsewhere.

I can do that by analyzing the game, rather than chasing the news. In the end, you get new content to read, rather than the seventh spot for the same stuff.

I also want to still provide opportunities for aspiring sports writers.

All I really want to do is entertain and captivate people.

Give them an escape from life.

Get them thinking.

And make them realize.

There’s nothing special about anyone else.

And you don’t have to wait until a tornado wipes away everything and leaves you in the dirt to realize this.

*****

I’ll always remember 2020 as the year I gained self-confidence.

Or, maybe just identified it and realized how to use it as an asset.

I remember various moments, but one stood out.

“I think this stuff is really good. I think I could be like Stephen King if I wrote fiction books,” I said over the phone after reading my work.

“You’re not Stephen King,” came the swift, definitive reply from someone who has never dreamed a day in life.

Momentarily, my hopes were dashed from someone I trusted most, in the wake of reading something I had written.

I went to another person. Showed them the same work. Didn’t dare offer the Stephen King comp, as the last encounter had slightly chipped away at my confidence.

“Oh my god, you’re just like Stephen King!”

That response set me on a path to the current plan.

I’m going to write until the day that I die.

It’s going to be mostly baseball, because that’s what I’ve loved the longest in life.

I believe that I can be the greatest baseball writer that Pittsburgh has ever seen.

I’m more interested in giving you the greatest baseball outlet Pittsburgh has ever seen.

And I’ve got time.

In that time, as I’ve mentioned, I also will be working on non-baseball projects.

Call it a retirement project, or just extra security for this site.

I call it soul cleansing.

The ability to help others.

By telling real human stories about others.

Showing that no one is alone in this dark world with their seemingly unique problems.

It’s been really easy telling “chasing your dream” stories over the last decade while covering MLB prospects.

I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of those. They get me out of bed in the morning.

I just know that the “Stephen King” side of me can tell stories that can make a bigger impact in this world.

I say that as someone who knows how difficult it is to make it in a world where they don’t hand out confidence at birth.

I say that as someone who grew up around the poor and disenfranchised, seeing they were no different than anyone else, other than lacking the same opportunities and head starts.

I say that as someone who has over a decade of experience telling other people’s stories.

I say that as someone who wants to now tell stories that matter.

I say that while still knowing we all need the escape from life that baseball provides.

I say that knowing that there are a lot of stories from people inside the game that matter, that you don’t have time to tell when you chase the news.

I say that knowing that we will also need an escape from baseball if we’re following the 2021 Pirates.

I’ve been working to get First Pitch to an off-topic article on the weekends, giving you new, entertaining material to read.

Not like this one. I doubt this is entertaining.

This one is just another to explain what is coming and why.

This one exists because my priority has been analyzing baseball, and I’ve been too busy writing baseball articles to give you anything else.

Ideally, I’d share a short story I was working on this week, which might help forget last night’s loss. But, it’s not finished. I’m more interested in finishing my upcoming articles on the prospects in the system, JT Brubaker’s start, and everything else coming to First Pitch this week.

The weekends for First Pitch are going to be my mad scientist lab. I’m hoping that can start next weekend, assuming I’m ahead on baseball writing.

Until then, here’s my favorite poem that I wrote this week.

Thanks to Phoebe Bridgers for writing such inspiring words that got me through the hellscape that was 2020.

Poem of the Week

I didn’t invent Play-Doh, but I can shape it into anything

Pirates Highlights

Daily Links

**Game Recap: Cahill Bombed as Pirates Suffer Another Two-Inning Loss

**This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: April 17th, Various Opening Days Throughout the Years

**Card of the Day: 1940 Play Ball Frankie Frisch

**1925 Pirate Replay, September 8: Bucs Can’t Solve Pete Alexander

**SPORCLE QUIZ

Song of the Day

First Pitch

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