Dealing With Failure – Brandon Crawford
I can’t explain last Thursday’s game against the Marlins. My at-bats were bad. My defense was bad – two errors. It was a bad day all round.
The first grounder of the game, from Marlins’ leadoff hitter Jose Reyes, went between my legs. It was hit hard on wet grass and it kind of skipped, but it’s a play I always make. It’s a play I HAVE to make. This is the big leagues. Missing a ball like that isn’t OK on any level. Reyes ended up scoring. So my error cost us a run. And we lost by a run.
For the first time ever in my baseball career, I felt a little crack in my confidence. It’s something I have never experienced. I’ve made two errors in a game before. But never like on Thursday where I just completely missed the ball and didn’t know why.
And confidence is such a huge thing in baseball. It’s way bigger than the physical side. You have to be confident that you’re going to make every play.
So I had a blunt conversation with infield coach Ron Wotus, who has seen it all and does not sugarcoat anything. And Bochy told me he was going to sit me Friday and Saturday. I came early to the park the next few days and took lots of extra infield practice. Wotus hit balls at me and we worked on basics like eye-hand coordination — kind of reloading on muscle memory.
On Friday, the day after my bad game, Matt Cain pulled me aside to remind me that everyone has down times. As a pitcher, he said, he knows he’s going to have bad starts. That’s baseball. He said everyone knows I’m a good player and I should never doubt myself. It was a really nice thing for him to do, and helpful, too.
Friday was also the day of the team meeting. I know it wasn’t directed just at me, but it was great to hear the veterans say they have confidence in the younger guys even if we’re struggling right now.
In some ways it was good to have those two days off to regroup. But I couldn’t wait to get back out there, too. I started on Sunday, and I was really glad to get a grounder in the first inning. It was like, “OK, you’re off to a good start. Back to normal.’’
As a player in the major leagues, it’s not that you’re embarrassed about errors as much as you’re frustrated. You feel bad for letting your team down. At this level, it’s not about yourself and how a mistake reflects on you personally. It’s about the team and about winning and losing. If you cost the team a win, you take it hard.
At the same time, you have to let it go. It’s a tricky thing sometimes. When I was younger, I’d hold onto mistakes. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten better at putting them behind me and moving forward, taking each game pitch by pitch. You can’t let failure defeat you. This game will crush you if you do.