Whining some more … for the last time

I get fan mail. And I-am-not-a-fan mail. Recently, I’ve been getting more of the latter. From reading my e-mail and the letters that come in, I’ve come to the understanding that I’m perceived as a whiner. I guess when you’re a big-name pitcher, you’re not allowed to be unhappy about anything.

I think this is more about the illusions of the average fan than it is about the reality of my life. Fame doesn’t bring happiness. If J. Random Fan has car trouble or marital trouble or whatever, it’s perfectly okay to voice that to neighbors, co-workers and other acquaintances. When something comes up in my life or crosses my mind, I have every right to speak up as well. This doesn’t make me a whiner.

Recently what’s on my mind is that this is the final season of EPL. It’s everyone’s last hurrah, but the league seems split between those who are going through the motions and those who want to go out on top. I’m not naming names–these people know who they are and it shouldn’t take a lot of work for the average fan to figure out which guys are which. I will say, for the record, that I’m doing my damnedest to bring the championship to the Threshers. There are a couple slackers on our team, but for the most part, everyone is united in the big push.

And that brings me to the close. This will probably be the last thing I write as a player in the EPL. So i want to quick thank a bunch of people. Achilles–my first GM whom I owe more than I can repay. Thunder Johnson–we had some good times together as competitors and teammates. Kaell–it’s a privilege to share a clubhouse with you. Night, Annis-Brown, Uzi–Hypnophobia was fun times. Priebe–called my first no-no. Wrangler–who called the perfecto. There are many, many others.

And I’d like to thank the fans. Without you, there is no market for my pitching. Especially those of you who are coming out to the ballpark to see us all one last time. You’re why we do it. Even us whiners appreciate your support.

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The buck stops here. But maybe sometimes I want it to land somewhere else.

Hits, runs, wins and losses, they are all charged to the pitcher. And every fifth day, that pitcher is me. It is what it is and I don’t want to change it. Overall, I’m happy with the arrangement. You have to suck up the bad to bask in the good.

But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy or fun. Or, in the strictest sense, fair. Because, like I said before teams win games or lose them. By their positioning, the fielders help determine what’s a hit and what’s an out. And strictly speaking the only thing I, as a pitcher have complete control over are walks and home runs.

And hit by pitches but I never try to hit anyone. That’s sloppy. Sure, I’ll pitch a guy inside. It’s part of the whole pitching role. But I’m not about to give a guy a base in return for dissing us.

So when they say a pitcher “allowed” so many hits or so many runs, the truth is, the team did. And most of the time that doesn’t bother me. But when I lose by the margin of unearned runs and read on the ‘net that I “allowed” them, I feel singled out. Because, I don’t take a turn at the plate (thank God) and the only thing I can do is keep them off the board. Unearned runs are almost always due to a lapse on the part of someone other than me. (That’s another rant for another time….if I make the error any runs involved should be earned.) So I pitch my heart out, but feel helpless as we try to recover. And then I fire up the computer and read that *I* allowed the situation. It just doesn’t feel fair.

I don’t mean to sound like I’m blaming my fielders. Stuff happens. Errors happen, sometimes followed by opponents’ RBIs. But when I come home and read that it’s somehow my fault … that’s where my issue is at.

We have some great gloves on this team. I want to give them props. Both the starters and the bench guys can usually be counted on to perform on both sides of the game. I mean, most plays are routine and those tend to be made like clockwork. And we’ve had our share of spectacular plays, too.

But the numbers fall to me as leader of the defense. Some days, I want to be a follower rather than a leader.

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