This past week I got the opportunity to return to the Reading Phillies for a playoff push. Although it did not end up quite as I imagined it on my plane ride to Akron, it was most definitely a wonderful experience.
In case you were wondering, no, my return to Reading was not planned and was quite spontaneous as I only became aware of it a mere 24 hours before the scheduled start. A lot of that had to do with my injury and trying to wait and rehab myself back to a point where our medical staff and I believed I was no longer at any great risk of further damaging myself. After my work out on Tuesday I felt like I had reached a point where I could endure the stress of a game situation
without having to worry about the consequences of a big swing, or reaching out to catch a line drive on the run. Plus, I definitely wanted to be a part of the playoffs in Reading because of the
atmosphere of that team and the simple fact that making it to the playoffs is never a guarantee and does not happen all that often for most guys.
As for results, as a team I do not want to focus so much on whether or not we could have played better - obviously we could have - but I think that detracts from the fact that for the three days that I saw them, Akron was firing on all cylinders. They won 89 games for a reason and for that weekend it showed. Personally, I was pleased with my mini "comeback" to say the least. I was 3-for-12 over a three-game stretch and if you eliminate my first three at-bats (all strikeouts by the way), I was 3-for-9 with four or five balls hit well. Most importantly the speed of the game slowed for me by day two and that was nice to feel after a month off. I had a great time and it definitely felt right getting back into the
swing of things, no pun intended.
Although we lost, I have yet to return home because Tuesday night I get the honor of
receiving the Paul Owens award. That's the Minor League Player of the Year award for our organization and that presentation happens at
Citizens Bank Park.
Now to answer a question from a reader:
Judith Barnett wants to know "as a professional ballplayer, how do you deal with criticism, particularly the knee-jerk type?" and "is it at
all disheartening to be judged purely on a day-to-day performance with its unpredictability in this sport?"
One of the great things about being a fan is that the speed of the game from the stands makes it look easy. I know that because I am a fan as well and I sit and watch games and think "what was he thinking" or "He should have done this instead of that". As a player on the field I think it's crucial to know that its not personal. There are
definitely moments when fans cross the line, I think we have all seen those instances, but for the most part they are trying to enjoy
themselves and escape their routine by cheering or jeering their favorite players. That's the entertainment side that you have to understand, especially if you ever hope to survive in a major market like Philadelphia.
Now, some guys personalities just are not cut out to be able to deal with the amount of daily scrutiny you will get from fans, writers, etc., especially in a place like Philadelphia, but I think what fans have to remember sometimes is that as much as we are "paid entertainers" we are also people who have personal issues as well.
Sometimes a guys performance has nothing to do with an approach, sometimes its because he's in a fight with his wife, or a loved one dies and that's just when someone screams "your mother this or your mother " and its not always like the fan knows, but his mother could be in the hospital and it happens more than you would think. As a player we aren't supposed to lash out, we are supposed to just do what your paid to do but it doesn't mean that sometimes it's not difficult. For me I try to interact with people, talk, smile, laugh, be respectful. I am always having a good time when I'm playing, because it's the three hour block of time that I have worked hard to prepare for all winter, all spring, all day. That time is my time and I am going to enjoy it as best I can.
Thank you all for reading my thoughts.
If you have a question or comment for Michael Taylor, you can send an email to MTaylor@PhillyBaseballNews.com and he may be able to address your thoughts in an upcoming blog.