To My Baseball Buddy
I personally have been in your shoes before in my life with an unforeseen injury taking not only your breath away, but making you face some realistic mortality issues both on and off the field. I have had an negative injury prognosis overtake and consume me to force my mind and soul into a unnaturally dark place that seemed to constantly suffocate all the good around me, and made me dwell and focus on the darkness just out of reach that was seeming to surround and confuse me daily. But, the stark turth is that you and your attitude and mindset are the best foundations to staying positive and remaining encouraged throughout this whole unfolding episode.
Sure all of us Rays fans miss our own unique “J P ” moments during the Rays season. Be it the special gestures, or even a head nod that tells us we are part of your Rays game traditions. But now it is time for us to return the favor. It is time for us to return all those hand gestures, photos and talks on the side of the field. It is time for all of us collectively to show undying support and to display to you our own levels of admiration and the baseball bond that has become supremely special to us. It is time for the people within the Rays Republic to visualize that we are there for you in any and every way possible during your recovery process.
And the greatest thing about this Rays organization J P is that you already know the guys in the Rays clubhouse, from the players, to the Medical Staff and all the way to the Fourth floor Rays offices are firmly behind you tri-fold. But there is an even bigger crowd that also want you to know you have our undying support and any positive vibes you might need in the future.
One thing I learned from my days after my injury is that the true fans of your team do not forget you. They are the one who make sure to see how you are feeling every time they see you, or ask you how things are going for you, even when you are playing for an opposing squad. And you have a large group of those fans right now hoping and praying for both a speedy recovery, and a time for you to renergize and focus on a date with the pitching mound as soon as March 2011.
These fans might seem like borderline stalkers at times, but there is a genuine emotional want and desire to see your Baseball Buddies have on-the-field success and a constant reminder of crowd confidence in their abilities. We have seen you not only grow in confidence, but become more extroverted and open up towards the fans in the stands to become a true Rays fan favorite for your smiles, waves and in-game gestures.
And you should pull on those special moments of talking with people like George Stone, or taking photos or chatting with the Pat and Christin Manfredo before the game. Of all the people you see and talk with on your journey down to the Rays Bullpen every night. Most of those same collections of Rays fans people are not only hoping and praying for a speedy recovery, but hope that you strive to maintain a positive outlook even when the pain get unbearable, and the rehab exercises drain you of all your strength in your body.
I know your impending struggles will at times seem totally disheartening and frustrating, but I hope the thought that we all collectively are pulling for you to again to sling a nifty 12-6 curve ball over the plate as soon as possible again for the Rays can provide some small foundation of support and affirmation we can’t wait to see you pitch again.
Working your way through the rehabilitation process after an injury or surgery is a seemingly never ending game of solitude and a roller coaster ride of emotions and painful moments. I can not say I envy the enduring trail ahead of you right now. But if I can offer any advice, it is to just keep those positive affirmations in your life close. Focus within those special moments, take positive emotional stands and push through the pain knowing it gives will provide you strength in the end.
My father once told me the true measure of a man’s fortitude is how he faced his adversities and overcame them. That to turn and run ruins not only your own aspirations, but those around you in life.
J P some doctors in Indianapolis still think it was a miracle I was running and sprinting less than 4 months after being on that field with no feeling in my extremities. But I put the things I cherished on a piece of paper and put to memorizing them into my subconscious so that when it got rough, tiresome and totally mentally and physically exhausting, I could pull out that list and find a few more reps, a few more steps, and even a few more moments of sweat and tears.
I remember a quote by the late Christopher Reeves, who said this passage during a motivational speech session I once attended: “Misfortune can force you into doing things you should be doing anyways. Lessons come from adversity. Anything can happen to anyone…You can find a new lease on life-more meaning that you thought possible in simple things…Let go. Live in the moment. Go forward.”