Lou Piniella’s wife used to wake up in the middle of the night to find her husband standing on the bed practicing his swing. Or he’d be over by the mirror scrutinizing his form. I always wondered if he smoked a cigarette as he took his imaginary cuts.
I couldn’t help but think of Sweet Lou when I read this story by Peter Kerasotis in the Times yesterday:
There are people who keep a baseball bat next to their beds to fend off potential intruders. Carlos Beltran does so to fend off bad thoughts that have invaded his mind. The thoughts that will follow him home from the ballpark, lying dormant while he is with his family.
“When I’m home, I can put a smile on my face and act like nothing’s wrong,” he said. “But then at night, when I’m in bed, everything comes to my head: ‘Man, I was horrible today. How come I’m in this slump? Why am I hitting .220 this month? What’s wrong?’
“No matter how many years you’re in baseball, how much success you have, when you hit a bump, you worry.”
When that happens, when those worrisome thoughts settle into his synapses, Beltran will reach over the side of his bed and find his baseball bat.
“I’ll just feel my grip, work my grip, thinking, thinking,” said Beltran, who has also been known to hold a new bat close to his ear, listening to its tone. “Sometimes, a thought will come to me, an answer.”
I love baseball.
[Photo Credit: Rich Addicks]