The Bullpen

Maintaining a Starter's Mentality

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In the game of baseball, there is an area segregated from the primary field and dugout referred to as the “bullpen.” This area is where relief pitchers on the team stay who have not yet played in the game. From time to time, especially if the starting pitcher has thrown a few bad innings or appears fatigued, the camera crew will pan over to the bullpen. As the cameraman pans, images of the young men throwing, stretching and warming up are visible.

If you have ever watched a game, you have seen the moment where the manager goes out to the field after the phone call is made and the starting pitcher makes his way back to the dugout with the rest of his teammates. Out comes the relief pitcher, fresh and ready to close out the inning.

Both men are important. One starts, but the other finishes. It’s how we finish that is the key. The starter is on the field, in the dugout in between innings, and has direct contact and feedback from his team and manager. In contrast, the relief pitchers are limited to the warm-up area, a couple of regulation distance home plates and themselves. Each is waiting for the phone on the side of the wall to ring indicating the need for them to come onto the field, often for hours and even games at a time.

How then do the pitchers in the ‘pen’ stay in the state of readiness they need in case they are called up? They maintain a starter’s mentality. Acting, thinking, training, stretching and behaving as if they will be called to the mound at any moment.

We are all in life’s bullpen in some way. We are someone’s option for something at some point in our lives. We could be waiting for a call from a prospective boss, a promotion we applied for, our date last night, a friend about Friday night plans, or a fabulous new future and career; waiting for days, weeks and maybe even years. 

The key? Do whatever you must to maintain your starters mentality. Stay sharp, healthy, relevant, take classes, freshen up your look, talk about your best self, and most importantly believe you ARE the starter. You may not have been called yet, but soon. You don’t have to be standing on the mound to do it.

The boys in the ‘pen’ don’t think about the waiting or the fact they aren’t with the rest of the team. They don’t dwell on or gaze longingly at the field. They stay busy throwing the best pitches they can right in the middle of the mesh. They don’t care how long it takes, because once on deck, it’s their moment to shine. 

They can’t afford to miss that moment, and neither can you.

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