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Collin McHugh provides a glimpse at life on the fringes of the major leagues

Jan 4, 2014, 1:49 PM EDT

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that baseball players are, you know, actual people with lives, families, and hopes and dreams like the rest of us. In his personal blog, Astros right-hander Collin McHugh provides an insightful glimpse at the experience from the perspective of a player fighting to prove himself at the major league level.

Three weeks in AAA Colorado Springs and I got called into the manager’s office again. I know I told you that no one wants to be called in there, but that was in the Big Leagues. In the minor leagues there is the possibility of a promotion every time that door swings open. Sure enough, that was the nature of that particular managerial meeting. I was told that I would be starting in a couple days against Milwaukee at home in Denver. Finally!! My chance had come to prove myself. To prove that their investment was a good one. To prove to myself that I was capable, worthy. 5 innings and 6 runs later, my expectations were once again dashed against the rocks of failure.

I spent about 36 hours in Denver during that brief stint. I was sent down the next morning after having packed for a 10 day road trip the team was about to take. The trip went through New York and finished in my home town of Atlanta. My wife was supposed to meet me in both NYC and ATL, but instead I was sent with my bags packed and suit freshly ironed to Colorado Springs.

I was embarrassed. Embarrassed that I had allowed myself to expect so much. Embarrassed that I had failed again and that my reputation was forever stained. Embarrassed that I couldn’t hang on for another 3 days so that I could see my wife.  Life, it seemed, was telling me at every turn that being hopeful was a useless emotion. That the moment I allowed myself to hope, to expect, in something good, the opposite was sure to happen. So I went back to Colorado Springs, tail between my legs, determined to expect nothing from here on out.

It seems pessimistic, I know. That expecting nothing is preferable to expecting success. But the problem I had, the problem I assume most of us have, is that I had substituted expectation for entitlement. I felt as if I had earned some sort of success. As if the work I put in and the price I paid had secured for me some cosmic balance wherein some good things would balance out the bad things. I was playing this eternal game of tug-o-war against a brick wall, determined to pull hard enough to tear it down. The words “fair” and “unfair” kept trickling from my mind to my tongue. I had deemed the events of the year to be good or bad. When in reality, they were just events. Life changing events? Of course! Hard and testing events? Most certainly. But simple turns in the road nonetheless.

It’s rare to hear a player be so candid about the ups and downs of the business in real time, so do yourself a favor and read the whole thing.

2013 was a hectic year for McHugh, so he didn’t update his blog as much as he did in the past, but here’s hoping that we hear more from him this year, both with his writing and on a major league mound. Now a member of the rebuilding Astros, the 26-year-old is in a fine situation to prove himself.

  1. tigerprez - Jan 4, 2014 at 4:00 PM

    This guy is a gifted writer! With those kinds of insights he could be another Dirk Hayhurst once he retires.

    • unclemosesgreen - Jan 5, 2014 at 10:24 AM

      The Garfoose!

  2. cur68 - Jan 4, 2014 at 4:25 PM

    That was great. He expresses himself well. He’s a got a fundamental problem with his expectations, though. He thinks only of his own practice, his own time, his own life. He extends that to his family, of course. Where this fails is his lack of acknowledgement for the players he faces. He fails to understand them.

    They too have practiced. Hoped. Worked like dogs. Been embarrassed. Hoped for the best and gotten the worst. They were, in effect, just like him as he faced them.

    When facing a direct opponent, understanding him or her at a personal level is important. Are they afraid? More afraid than you? How hard did they work to be where they are? As hard as you? Are they coasting on talent? Or, did they work hard at their craft.

    In the moment, as you face them, what do you see? Sweating? Fear? Confidence? Nerves? Is the moment getting to them as much as it is to you? Or are they calm? Ready for you? Expecting you to do what you always do?

    Guys like Jamie Moyer survived in the Majors for a long time because they feasted on hitter’s emotions. Reading your opponent’s state at the plate dictates the pitch.

    Figure that out and you’ll get more guys out.

    • unclemosesgreen - Jan 5, 2014 at 10:35 AM

      He has more serious problems than that. Mediocre changeup, mistake-prone slider, and he tips his curve. He was waived by the Rockies and snatched off the wire by the Astros. Current upside appears to be long reliever.

      All that being said, he probably has found himself on the only team in MLB that could use him as a starter at some point in the season.

    • paperlions - Jan 5, 2014 at 11:58 AM

      One of my major advisor’s favorite saying was “it is easy to under the contributions of others because you weren’t there to see the work, time, and effort required and to over estimate your own because those are the only contributions you are fully aware of”.

      • donniev77 - Jan 5, 2014 at 3:19 PM

        Maybe you should have had your advisor write your post too. Then we could have made sense of his “saying”

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