As Collin McHugh followed up his fantastic Astros debut with another impressive outing yesterday, I just wanted to call attention to his blog. I will preface this by saying that this link is not overly original, as his blog has been mentioned here before. I still think his entire blog is worth reading, especially his terrific and insightful entry about Expectation Management. I fell this piece really humanizes not only McHugh, but probably the vast majority of athletes. It is really hard to make the transition to professional play in all sports, but especially baseball. Even for top ranked prospects, the expectation is still that it can take a solid 2-4 years of development before even sniffing the big leagues (and then a year or two to get settled in). Young players like Manny Machado, Jose Fernandez, and Mike Trout that come in and excel rather quickly are the exception, not the norm (although even Trout, the greatest baseball player on the planet, had to have a transition period). Ultimately, the life of a professional baseball player (especially a minor leaguer trying to get his chance to make it big) is not as glamorous as most think. For every $100M contract signed, there are hundreds of stories of good baseball players and good people that never quite make it to the Show, perhaps due to injury, or results, or simply circumstance. The life of a minor leaguer is hard, a fluid situation that is filled with constant change for both the player and their family. From McHugh's blog:
I looked over at my wife in the back seat of my parents' car and we both felt that first tear crawl down our cheeks. We would officially not be living in NYC. Not be hanging out with Greg, Kai, Murph, or any other teammates and their significant others. We would be moving across the country and leaving everything that resembled security and safety. It all hit us in that moment and we silently wept in the car, holding hands and internally managing whatever expectations were building inside of us.
Keeping all of that in mind helps me put everything in perspective just a little better. These guys that I root for are not just players or potential trade pieces. They are people with families just like you and I. And living in constant uncertainty does not seem very appealing, and has to be emotionally taxing on the player and their families. Having read McHugh's blog over 4 months ago makes me that much happier for him. As excited as we the fans are, just imagine how ecstatic McHugh must be right now. He's probably on cloud nine right now, and probably feels vindicated, and rightfully so. There are no guarantees in baseball, so this might just be a temporary flash of genius, but I will certainly sit back and enjoy, and be very happy for the McHugh family.
Also, doesn't McHugh personify the current Astros' situation quite nicely? We are underdogs going into every single game. We have had an historic amount of losses over the last few seasons. Our franchise has been written off and ridiculed by the national media. But the turnaround is close, and the cavalry is on the way. The hopefully steady stream of talent from our minor league system will eventually turn more losses into wins. When exactly? I am not so sure, but as an optimistic, I hope for sooner rather than later. But one thing is for sure, the fans that have stuck by their team through these years of futility will most certainly appreciate the wins when they come. When we are all celebrating the city's first World Series, we can look back at these woeful years and see them as building blocks to great and sustained success. I am very much looking forward to the Astros' McHugh-like breakout.
And just to get a little philosophical:
Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail."