Before I get too far into my column this week, I wanted to give you, the reader, a better sense of who I am.
Five years ago next month, I reached an impasse in my life where major decisions had to be made. Weeks before, I nearly made one by hitching a train ride out east to New York.
No plan, just the thought of trying.
But one broken washing machine and reimbursed train ticket later, I was at this point of trying to figure it all out. I was stuck and needed a focus, so to gather myself I went to the one place that seemed to clear the fog of the mind.
I went to Tacoma for the batting cages at Point Defiance Park.
“Baseball is the one sport that I feel like I can be myself,” former Bonney Lake High player Stephan Hansen told me a couple weeks ago. “It’s a part of who I am … it will always be a part of my life, just like it is for my dad (Mark).”
That time at the cages helped me rethink, refocus myself and head back to college. One year later, this voyage into sports journalism began.
There are some aspects about ourselves we cannot lose — these are those inherent traits that remain even after years of never using them.
It’s like riding a — well you get it.
“It’s become my life,” said Emilee Buckles when discussing what softball has become to the Puyallup High senior. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else than out here with my family.”
Last week when I was at Diamond Sports Complex in Sumner, I began to experience one of these life traits. Nothing big in the macro view of things, but a refreshing thought nonetheless.
A baseball life has always been present.
A few months ago I joked with Rogers High senior Troy Johnston on Twitter about the prospect of him teaching me how to hit. It meant nothing at the moment in time but a jest — a little play from one Rogers grad to a current Ram.
Last week that back and forth became reality as Johnston was gracious enough to spend his afternoon taking me through the ropes.
“Nice gloves … I used to have a pair before they tore,” Johnston quipped at my new and necessary batting gloves — necessary because I was sure enough to take one (or two) off the hands.
It was over five years since I held a bat with purpose, a long time for any person to be absent from a sport they are passionate about.
I joked to Johnston and his father, David, Rogers’ wrestling coach, how I was going to embarrass myself, like all those videos of people flailing about as they attempt to connect with the ball.
“Oh, you’ll be fine,” Johnston assured me, adding that that the sport is ingrained in my being. “It’s only soft toss, so it shouldn’t be too bad.”
The thing about journalism is that the story intended to be written can change — it’s the outside curve at the knees.
When it comes, just make the adjustments and do what can be done. As each swing from Johnston’s borrowed bat went — talking about baseball with both Johnstons the entire time — it felt right.
Not the stretch in the cages, but just the time.
“I find that quality is better,” Troy Johnston said. “I’d much rather put in some quality swings in the cage than hit hundreds of baseball.”
“It’s about quality, really, that helps you improve,” Johnston added.
It’s finding that quality and recognizing it when it happens. Johnston’s right here in this one philosophy — it’s about the quality we find. In this case, for five years the cages haven’t been needed. It was a good realization last Thursday.
It’s about finding that quality out there and embracing it.
“That’s what I like to think,” Johnston said. “It’s not just for here … I’d try to incorporate that into my life where I can.”