I just read an article about a veteran baseball player, Carlos Beltran, who at the age of 36, just signed a big contract to play for the New York Yankees. Thirty-six isn’t tremendously old for a ballplayer, but it’s old enough so that if you’re not hitting, or your fastball has lost a bit of its pop, you start to hear whispers.
Beltran is hearing those whispers this Spring. In the wake of signing a three-year, $45 million contract, he’s hitting just a few points higher than his weight. It’s shaken him. “When I’m home,” he said, “I can put a smile on my face and act like nothing’s wrong. But then at night, when I’m in bed, everything comes to my head. How come I’m in this slump? Why am I hitting .220?”
What Beltran’s taken to doing to battle his slump is something I wholly understand and wholly endorse. It’s something I do, too, in my own way.
Beltran takes his bat to his bedside. He’ll stir and reach over the side of his bed and find it. He’ll grip it. “I just feel my grip, work my grip, thinking, thinking. Sometimes a thought will come to me, an answer.”
Beltran will pop out of bed and practice his stance.
“This is my life,” he said. “You’ve got to care. I learned,” he continued “that you have to be strong mentally. Don’t worry about what people say about you.”
These are challenging times for aging ballplayers and copywriters. I might wonder when I lay in bed at night, ‘have I lost a step?’ As Beltran says, “when I’m in bed, everything comes to my head.”
I reach over to my Mac, or I get up and go into my office. I type. I try putting words together. Try making thoughts clear. I write something just to write. I'm not striving for a screenplay, a novel or even some copy. I'm just typing, but what I’m really doing is practicing my grip.
This is my life.
I have to care.