It’s Monday, September 10th and it’s a travel day. The Trenton Thunder won the first series of the post season in four games against the Reading Phillies and, I am not trying to jinx us, but we are now three wins away from becoming AA Eastern League Champions. It has been a very long season full of ups and downs, nevertheless, the Thunder have been at the forefront of a grueling race to the finish.
After what seemed like endless struggles in the last few weeks of the regular season, many doubted whether we would beat the Phillies AA Affiliate and advance to the Championship game. Not only did we beat the Phillies, we did it with three straight wins after a very close loss in game one. Truth be told, there was not a single game in the series that was easy to sit through. All four were nail biters and games 2 and 3 were won in the very last two innings. Good matchups, they sure were.
Interestingly enough, the struggles the team endured down the stretch echo those of David’s. Two years ago when the Thunder made it to the postseason he had to watch from home as the team fell short. I never realized this was even a concern of David’s until this year when it was brought to my attention, by none other than, the media. Watching and not being able to help the team as they lost was one of the hardest things he has done throughout his baseball career. As a wife, I can actually say that I know a bit too much about feeling helpless.
I have learned so much about the intricacies of baseball this year, but one of the hardest things I have had to learn is how to cope through the ups and downs. David came back this year with a testy ankle, just hoping to be able to play everyday without lingering pain. While I can say that the first few months were nerve racking I think it’s safe to say we are past the ankle issues. Now, however, those nerves have transferred to other aspects of his game. This is something I work daily on for the simple fact that worrying helps absolutely nothing.
When David was a junior in college he experienced one of the worst slumps in this baseball career, one, that unfortunately spilled over into his first year playing professional ball. He had a lot of kinks to workout of his swing and he eventually got past them in a big way going into 2009. It was incredibly rewarding seeing David’s hard work pay off, allowing him to play well enough that year in Low-A to earn a promotion to Hi-A mid year. It was a good season overall, one he could be proud of. When 2010 rolled around it was as if David never lost a beat, he started the year in AA and managed to play as well as we could’ve hoped. A mere 39 games into the season, though, everything came to a screeching halt.
I have told the story of David’s injury many times with details of the two years he lost trying to recover but we are well past that now. He and I both feel that he is in a great place mentally, physically and spiritually and that everything happened the way it was meant to happen. We are very fortunate to have a relationship with God and as such have accepted this fate. I am extremely happy to say that we are at peace with everything that has transpired and that David will never blame his struggles on the “ill fortune” of the past.
Despite all the ups and downs he has experienced at the plate, David managed to end his year with a .306/.385/.450 slash line. Sure, those numbers look good on paper, but it has been extremely hard to watch from the stands. I am proud of what David has been able to accomplish this season, but I think he and I – along with everyone who has witnessed his career from the start – would agree that he is capable of far greater production. Nonetheless, this year has been a learning experience and now we are nearing the time where we must move forward and strive for greater things in the future.
Going into the postseason David has undeniably struggled at the plate. Up until this point I never paid much attention to the details of every single game he played. I find that the more aware I am of the daily happenings, the harder the difficult times are to bare witness to. Then I remember this is a game of failure. It’s expected to have these struggles and even the best go cold once in a while. All I can hope for is that he adjusts what is not working for him and becomes comfortable enough again to do what he has always done best – hit. So while David isn’t the flashiest hitter – he doesn’t hit a lot of homeruns – he prides himself in hitting for average and drawing a good amount of walks.
As we go into the last series of the season, the one that means the most, I pray that he finds the clarity necessary to help his team win a championship. It’s been a long time coming and it is the Thunder’s time to shine.