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Catch A "Wild Pitch?" You Must Be Kidding!

Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. is a seasoned clinician with experience working with adults, couples, families, adolescents and older children since 1976. His aim ...Read More

I didn’t cause it,
I can’t control it,
I’m not to blame for it,
And I don’t have to fix it!
—Barbara Johnson

Consider a powerful metaphor for recognizing and then “buying out” of all manipulations. For clarity, manipulation can be considered any behavior that aims to influence another that is irresponsible, indirect and dishonest. Thus, manipulation is the use of untoward means to gain some end, benefit or advantage at the expense of another.

Consider the baseball catcher on a baseball team. The catcher handles the ball more than any other player on the field and is clearly the key defensive player on a baseball team in knowing how to pitch to the various hitters on the opposing team, how to handle bunts and foul balls at the plate, throw out base runners and, most importantly, cover home base. Imagine yourself to be a catcher on a professional baseball team.

Oftentimes pitchers start to “lose their stuff” somewhere along the fifth to sixth inning of a game, often requiring the catcher in conjunction with the manager, to consider replacing him (or her) with a relief pitcher to complete the game and help insure a victory by restricting hits and runs by the opposing team. The manager typically stalls as long as is feasible to allow the relief pitcher sufficient time to warm up before coming into the game. Sometimes this is possible with enough advance warning, and sometimes it isn’t if the pitcher’s game collapses quickly and precipitously.

In coming into the game, the relief pitcher is entitled to a maximum of eight warm-up pitches according to the official rules of baseball, and then the umpire yells, “Play ball!” However, sometimes the pitcher is not all that warmed up and ready to pitch with the necessary control. It is not uncommon that somewhere within the first six pitches, one of these pitches “gets away” and is a “wild pitch.” By definition no one knows where a “wild pitch” is going, not you, not the pitcher, not anyone. What will the catcher, that is you in this illustration, do at this moment? Please pause and consider.

Most baseball players in the position of catcher learn by high school, or college at the latest, how to handle this type of situation. Yet most of us do not. If you try to catch it by lunging, then you are likely to hurt yourself, even bruise, sprain or break your hand, including one or more fingers. Given how almost all athletes, including baseball players, want to excel and succeed in their sport, position or event, the catcher may well “try” to catch the wild pitch, so he or she lunges in the apparent direction of the pitch. Even with the padding of the mitt, given that no one knows where this wild pitch is going in fact, the catcher is at some significant risk of hurting his fingers, hand or wrist. Not a good idea!

If you do attempt to catch a wild pitch and end up physically hurting yourself, your team’s owner, manager, coaches and players generally will not be very understanding of their reliable and competent catcher being sidelined for weeks on end. Sidelined with an injury, while paying you a huge salary and not having your services in the race for their division and pennant, is not a welcome prospect for any baseball team.

So how do you effectively handle a “wild pitch” like a catcher in baseball? Actually, if no one is on base, the batter didn’t touch the ball with their bat, and there is nothing to lose, it may be best to DUCK, let the ball go past you or keep it in front of you. If runners are on base or the batter nicks the ball, then you can carefully block the ball, again keep it in front of you, and pick it up to hold or throw out the hitter or a runner stealing a base. Alternatively, you can wisely position yourself to play the ball off the backstop, and most practically and effectively do just this.

In any event, there is no compelling reason to ever catch a wild pitch and hurt yourself, no matter what. Besides, in baseball, the manager, coaches, players, owner and fans will be much happier if you don’t. So will you! Also you will be pleased in not falling for any manipulation. To astutely do what you naturally and normally do, that is aligned with your core value, principles and who you are, is to stay non-manipulated.

Consider adopting a new self-protective policy here-and-now: I very quickly spot all “wild pitches” in life and absolutely refuse to catch them! I save myself from injuring myself, falling for some manipulation as well as encouraging and reinforcing another’s manipulative behavior. Not a bad deal, huh?

So, when your mother-in-law or girlfriend, husband or boss, sends a “wild pitch” in your direction, consider whether or not you need to catch it. It’s likely, after reading this article, that you will say, “Gee, I’ll pass,” and feel pretty pleased with yourself. It’s nice to dodge one or more broken fingers, hand or wrist, isn’t it? In truth, it’s a real sweet deal—a Win-Win—for you and everyone.

Keep Reading By Author Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D.
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