Down on the Farm with Stockton Ports Pitcher Brandon Bailey

bb669064bBrandon Bailey grew up in Colorado and attended Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, where he struck out 125 batters in 100 1/3 innings while posting a 2.42 ERA in his final season for the Bulldogs.

After the right-hander was selected by the A’s in the 6th round of last year’s amateur draft, he spent most of the season playing for Vermont, the A’s Class-A affiliate in the short-season New York-Penn League, where he put up a solid 3.08 ERA in 10 appearances. But Bailey was even more impressive for Beloit this season, posting a 2.88 ERA while notching 61 strikeouts over 68 2/3 innings of work for the Snappers before being promoted to the Ports at the start of July.

Last summer, we shared a few of Bailey’s blog posts about some of his experiences in the A’s minor league system in the weeks and months after the draft. We heard from him again just last week about some recent changes in his life, which you can check out here, and now we’re happy to share his latest update from Stockton. You can check out his personal blog here and you can follow him on Twitter at @BBailey_19

 

One thing that never ceases to amaze me is how quickly humans can get caught up in a routine or daily schedule. With iPhones, iPads and Surface Pro 3s receiving our undivided attention, it seems like more and more people are forgetting to soak in all the blessings God has put in front of us on a daily basis. Things that on the surface seem so small or insignificant that we set them off to the side. Memories that we often take for granted, thinking that it’s always going to be there for us to appreciate. I will be the first to admit that I am guilty of being glued to my technology and taking things for granted during numerous points in my life.

Over the past week, I have set aside some time to self-reflect, asking myself a set of questions: “What is my current routine? What do I like about it and what do I want to change?” With the help of family members, friends and teammates, I have discovered over the past five years that my life has been revolving around discontentment – always looking forward to the next step, the next goal, the next phases of life. Whether that’s in baseball, school or daily events, I am always planning for something further on down the road. This can be looked at as a positive trait as well as a negative one.

For starters, I don’t think there is anything wrong with people who like to plan out their school and/or work week. This is definitely me, and if you are anything like me, you probably find creating a to-do list to be oddly satisfying. Whether it’s something as simple as turning in a homework assignment or something as complex as solving world hunger, if it’s on my list and I complete the task, you can bet your ass that I will cross it off with a solid ballpoint pen (organized nerd geek for the win!). This technique, along with utilizing a planner to construct a strategy for my typical 9-to-5 work day, ultimately directs me on a path towards maximizing productivity, erasing wasted effort, and most importantly, eliminating wasted time. By being efficient during the set hours of the week that are designed for work, I:

1) Put myself in a position to have more free time to do fun stuff like binge watch House of Cards or talk to my family and friends on the phone.

2) Have a clear conscience that everything I needed to do in terms of “adulting” has been completed.

3) Give myself the opportunity to be in the present moment.

Brandon Bailey  (photo by Meghan Camino)

Brandon Bailey
(photo by Meghan Camino)

What I discovered over the past week is that, even though I am extremely organized with my time, I am still not taking advantage of being in the present moment. Why? Because I’ve let my work mentality transfer over into my personal life. Simple fix, right? Not so much – at least for me.

As a pitcher, I’ve been taught to constantly focus on the next pitch – a basic mindset that keeps me focused on the task at hand – letting go of anything that has happened during the previous pitch, at-bat, inning, game, or even the season, for that matter. This mentality, in my opinion, is the leading outlook on the art of pitching, simply because it forces the athlete to control what they can control, and that is – the NEXT pitch. Once the ball is released from the pitcher’s hand, he or she has zero say in what happens next. Gravity, the umpire’s opinion, and the hitter’s decision to swing or not are all up in the air. All the pitcher can do is hope that:

1) He made a quality pitch that is difficult for the batter to hit.

2) The hitter perceived the pitch as enticing and decided to swing, and hopefully miss.

3) The umpire felt that the pitch was within a certain area that gave the hitter a fair opportunity to put the ball in play (i.e. “the strike zone”).

If any one of these things doesn’t go the pitcher’s way, odds are there will be a negative outcome. It could be something as simple as the umpire calling the pitch a ball or something as catastrophic as a three-run walk-off Jimmy Jack to lose Game 7 of the World Series. Regardless, it’s out of the pitcher’s control. Like the great Clayton Kershaw said earlier this year, “They pay me to get the next guy out,” once again, emphasizing that pitchers, even the greatest in the world, are always looking ahead to the next pitch or the next at-bat.

On the positive side, I am aware of what I want to change. On the negative side, it’s unfortunate that it took me five years to come to this realization. All those times when God wanted me to just enjoy where I was currently at in life, I was looking ahead six months down the road. If I could do it all over again, I would praise him for the blessings of that day and let him handle all the worry, stress and uncertainty of my future.

Again, I think it’s okay to be excited for the future. It gives us hope. But if you let what’s to come blind you from the blessings of today, your life will be driven by discontentment and a restless aspiration for improvement. When in reality, the way to improve your future is by giving 100% to today.

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