PUEBLA, MEXICO â€“ The playoffs are different here.
The top five teams in each division get in. Currently, weâ€™re in second place with two games to play. We are assured a spot in the playoffs but with just one win in two games we stay out of the 4/5 spot. Those two play in a winner take all one-game playoff.
I have been on a few teams that went to the playoffs but I have only participated in two. The 2004 Durham Bulls and the 2008 Milwaukee Brewers, both of which were first round exits. This year, I hope to play a little longer, be a little more sore and win the last game we play.
With today's game a need-to-win, we will be playing it like a playoff. They have pitched me a lot and it seems I am warming up just about every day. I am throwing the ball very well, which is great â€“ it keeps me pitching but doesn't allow for much rest.
I love being counted on. Pitching important innings is much different than being a long guy or an innings eater. Every out is stressful and exciting at the same time.
The high fives in the dugout are harder. The managers eyes while saying "good job" have so much more appreciation than when you go one two three in a mop up situation.
Of course, the opposite is true: when you mess up in mop up duties and you just eat the innings and give up a few runs, at least youâ€™re saving the pen. You mess up in high leverage situations and you kill the pen, you kill your teams chance to win. All things good in this game come with a dark side if you don't succeed. You have to be able to have a strong willed mind and heart to pitch out of the pen! Or be completely stupid and talented. Both works.
One thing that is different here in Mexico is the clubhouse commerce. Every place we play, people are in the clubhouse selling you things. Kids and adults run around taking orders all hustling to make a few pesos off the ball players. At any given time there can be 10 people in the clubhouse who have absolutely nothing to do with the team.
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