(Photo courtesy of the Oakland A’s)

As great as the regular season was, most people didn't get to see that version of me.

I play on the West Coast, most people on the East Coast weren't staying up until 1:30 a.m. to watch the Oakland A’s.

That was all supposed to change when our team traveled to New York for the Wild Card game. And the narrative going in was that we were going to have one reliever start the game and play it by ear which reliever would pitch next.

The bright lights of New York and the postseason were shining bright on our team, and when it counted the most, I had the worst game of the entire season. Through 162 regular season games I felt like I did my job to help my club win ball games. They scratch away and get runs and our bullpen arms close the door late. But that night I came up short of my best effort.

As we entered the bottom of the 6th inning, our team only trailed 2-0. It was still a winnable game, but when the Yankees grabbed a 3-0 lead and put runners on second and third, Bob Melvin called upon me to help minimize the inning.

This game was a big game, but I had done this before. Just trust the sinker. Expand your slider. You've got this. Unfortunately for whatever reason, my slider just didn't work. After a long at bat, Luke Voit hit a shot off the wall to clear the bases and suddenly make the game 5-0. I then gave up a sac fly to make it 6-0, and before my night was over I gave up a home run to Giancarlo Stanton as we lost 7-2.

It was the most disappointed I had been over a loss in a long time. The best part about baseball is you usually only have to wait another day to get back on the mound and wash a loss out of your system. For me, it's been nearly four months since my last pitch, and I have yet to thrown in a game since that night.

It took me about three weeks to truly come to terms with it, but Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence said it best.

"Football is important to me but it's not my life,” Lawrence said at a press conference. "...That comes from knowing who I am outside of that - I know no matter how big the situation is, it's not going to define me....putting my identity in what Christ says; who He thinks I am."

If my career has taught me anything so far, it's that I should stop putting limitations on God's power. I used to pray for attainable goals rather than big ones, but I'm not doing that anymore. Even though most people would look at my ERA last season and consider it a fluke, I know that the creator of the universe is capable of way more things than a 0.78 ERA. So I don't look at last season at the peak of my career.

I just always think to dream big, because dreams come true. If you're one of those kids with my "Proverbs 3: 5-6" autograph, or if you've ever seen me smiling with my wife and kids, you'd know that I'm proof.

Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6

Thomas Hager10 Comments