As I’m sure most of you know by now, Mat pitched his second complete game of his career striking out 13 batters at Great American Ball Park on Monday against the Brewers. I tweeted a little about it, but figured I should give you more detail for good measure. I hate to admit it, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt more emotional during one of his starts in the history of life.
In a word, this season has been frustrating. Mat has had other great starts this season and that’s not to say that all less than stellar starts are frustrating because they’re not; They’re learning experiences that are bound to happen. The frustrating part has been watching Mat struggle and having no quantifiable explanation. Meanwhile, I’ve wanted to scream from the mountain tops to Reds fans, “GUYS- HE REALLY IS GREAT! GIVE HIM TIME! LET HIM SETTLE DOWN. HE’S GOT THIS!”.
If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I’m a baseball wife but that I also watch this game as a fan. I’m just as emotionally invested as any other baseball fan, but I happen to root for a certain player a little extra. This season, I felt like I kept watching Mat pitch over and over again, but he wasn’t pitching the way I know he can pitch and I just kept waiting for him to figure it out.
Helpless. Concerned. Empathetic. Did I say helpless? There was nothing that I could do for Mat to help him get on track and it sucked. I’m not a baseball analyst, expert, or coach, but it’s safe to say I know Mat too well for my own good. Deep down, I knew what was wrong and also knew that time was the only way to fix it.
Fast forward to the 8th inning of Monday’s game… I’m elated at his performance thus far, texting my friend David to see if he thought they’d send Mat back out for the 9th (he’s way better at this baseball stuff than I am). Mat comes out in the 9th… I’m literally sending jedi mind tricks to will the ball into the strike zone with my friend Cathleen whom I met at the Hall of Fame gala the night before. You think I’m kidding? I’m pretty sure someone sitting in the diamond club that night caught a glimpse of us wiggling our finger powers onto the field. (don’t judge) (also, I think it worked).
I stood up for his last strike feeling like I was going to spontaneously combust. I was SO happy for him. Proud. Relieved. Excited. Overwhelmed with positive emotions. I don’t want Mat to do well for any competitive reason that’s naturally laced into my being. I want him to succeed because 1) he’s ridiculously talented and 2) I want him to be proud of himself when he comes home from work. I want him to know that he gave his best effort and got the best result. I’m not sure if this is normal in marriage and friendship or not but it’s our normal and maybe I’m psycho.
I tell people this quite often but, in my short time as a baseball wife, I’ve concluded that pitchers wives have a completely different experience than the wives of position players or outfielders. There seems to be more pressure on our significant others and we tend to stress way more every 5th day. I’ve done my fair share of analyzing why this is the case but I’m sure you can figure it out. I have a tremendous respect for pitchers. Even more so, I have a soft spot for their wives. (This is kind of a cheesy post so you’ll have to forgive me).
With that being said, I was SO happy for Matt Cain and his wife, Chelsea, when he threw his perfect game a few weeks ago. Every time I see a tweet about the amazing year Ryan Vogelsong is having, my heart smiles for his wife, Nicole. I root for Brandon McCarthy to do well partly because he’s on my fantasy team but mostly because his wife, Amanda, is freaking excellent. Point being- I want EVERYONE to do well. (As long as they aren’t in our division and this isn’t the playoffs.. just kidding.. or am I?).
I don’t mean to take away from any of the friendships I have with other baseball wives, I’m just giving you a highlight reel of the past few months that pertains to this situation of being obscenely proud and happy for great pitching performances. I now know that if I’m ever in Chelsea’s shoes and Mat pitches a perfect game, I’ll likely pass out around the 9th. We’ll worry about that when we get there…
I think I’m getting a bit off topic, but my point is this- seeing people succeed is one of my favorite things ever. The emotion when my own husband does something great is simply overwhelming. After the start of this season, however, I have a new-found appreciation for a good struggle because it makes success that much sweeter.
I try not to pretend to be some inspirational role model, but I think we can all take something away from this.. Be proud of the people in your life and stay supportive, even on the days that aren’t their best.
We’re all destined for greatness… the biggest trouble is getting there without self-destructing in the process.
p.s. Smile for me.