A lot has been going on. I do my best to remain positive and stay upbeat. But I must admit, sometimes it’s super hard. Back in August I was on a softball team that was argumentive, disorganized, and dysfunctional. So I quit.
Soon after I quit, I hear a knock on my cell door. It’s the coach. “Why’d you quit?” he demands! Right away I see he’s hostile and emotional.
I tell him, “Because it’s too stressful and I’m not having any fun. Guys are arguing with each other and we’re loosing too many games.”
He says, “Well then f*ck you! I’m done f*cking with you!” Then he slammed my door.
I immediately get an adrenaline rush. I almost open my door and call him back. But I don’t. I accept it and let him walk away. Because the last time I entertained such irrationality, I ended up knocking out the dude. And that cost me my EFV’s for 5 years. (see: How I Lost My EFV’s For 5 Years)
Today I’m a changed man. I’ve learned from my past. I try my best to avoid conflict.
So what could I have done to avoid this entire situation? It’s actually quite simple. I should’ve finished out the softball season with a positive, optimistic attitude. Regardless of our record and all the negativity.
I’m getting pretty good at avoiding physical confrontations. However, I need to work on avoiding confrontational situations all together. This has proven to be very tricky. I can be minding my own business, doing my own thing, and then suddenly find myself in an undesired situation.
So shortly after this whole softball fiasco, the Sergeant calls me in his office. He tells me that my celly, Dicky, is requesting that I be moved out.
Dicky is disabled and bound to a wheelchair, therefore we are in an ADA cell. These cells are bigger and have wider doors for wheelchair access. Which means Dicky always has top priority to live in these spacious ADA cells. So if he wants a celly gone, it’s always the celly who gets the boot, never him.
I’m genuinely surprised by this news the Sergeant it telling me. Dicky and I get along fine. So I ask the sergeant, “Why?”
Basically, Dicky said I’m too clean. I clean the cell too much. And that I organize his area when it gets too messy. Which I do. But Dicky and I have had discussions about this. And he said its all good!
So as the Sergeant is telling me all this, I’m confused. None of this is making any sense. REALLY! I’m getting the boot for being too clean and organized. What’s really going on?
Well it didn’t take long to figure it out. As soon as I moved out, Dicky moved in one of his dope fiend buddies. Dicky is an addict himself. He’s a pharmaceutical junky. He goes to pill line multiple times everyday. He keeps hundreds of pills hoarded in his cell constantly. But I guess the legal drugs aren’t enough.
Since I got kicked out, Dicky has been going downhill fast. Some dude ran up on him and in front of everyone and said, “Listen you punk ass bitch, that sh*t you gave me was bunk and I’m not paying you a f*cking dime!”
Wow! In front of God and everybody. Dicky was now exposed. Shortly after that, someone must’ve went and told. Because they suspended his visits. Tore up his cell. Took apart his wheelchair (looking for drugs). And subjected him to a piss test. Dicky refused the UA because he was dirty. Refusing a UA is a Major Infraction. Dicky is now out of the dog program.
It all makes sense now. Dicky kicked me out of the cell because he wanted to get high and sell drugs. And he knows I’m not down with any of that. So he reverted back to his lying manipulative ways to get what he wants. (see: Living With A Compulsive Liar)
When the Sergeant first told me I was getting kicked out of my cell, I was upset and stressed. But now I’m very thankful. It took me over 6 years to get in The Dog Program. By living with Dicky, he jeopardized my livelihood with his sneaky manipulative misconduct.
In a piece I wrote called, Stone Catchers: I Quit!!!, I talk about overcoming these exact type of challenges.
I know what I need to do. Now it’s all about having the strength, courage, and intelligence to successfully cope with any and all situations that come my way.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
I quit softball. I temporarily quit Stone Catchers. And sometimes I feel like giving up and smashing out some of these fools. It’s time I quit quitting. Giving up is NOT an option. Violence Is Never The Answer.
MY PRAYER: Please God, continue to give me the strength to endure and overcome. Guide me, guard me, and protect me as I continue my journey. Amen!
We finished the season strong, winning our last three softball games:
21-6 vs H3 Diamondbacks
14-7 vs G1 Cardinals
28-3 vs H5 Pirates
Our team is the #2 seed entering the playoffs.
I have this team dialed in and ready to make a championship run! I have all the best players in the right positions and our batting order is strong. I had to fire another guy due to his constant bad attitude.
There’s a lot of drama and challenges that come with coaching prison softball. But I welcome it all. It gives me an opportunity to deal with difficult personalities and to improve my communication skills.
It allows me to lead by example as I remain poised and positive during the emotional heat of competition.
Even though we lost two games this season, and my goal was to go undefeated, I still believe we will win the championship.
Those two losses showed me exactly what needed to be fixed. And I did my best to fix our problem areas. Not everyone agreed with my remedies. But through it all, I stayed true to myself and my philosophies.
Now it’s GO TIME! The playoffs are single elimination!
May the best team win.
Wish me luck.
It’s hard for me to not take a loss personally.
But the truth is, losing gives me an opportunity to develop coping skills. It gives me the opportunity to evolve and grow. And it gives me an opportunity to apply the practical teachings & philosophies that I study.
To me, if I lose, I failed. That is how my mind thinks…therefore that is my reality. And with failure comes a sense of regret, fear, limitation, lack, etc.
Unless these false thoughts are erased, I will continue to fail! Because according to The Law of Cause and Effect, for what I persist in recognizing I persist in keeping that in my life. But if I refuse to recognize failure and all minions, then it will vanish as far as I’m concerned.
Sure, we lost the game. But I didn’t fail. I gained.
I gained an opportunity to display good sportsmanship and a positive attitude in the face of adversity. I gained an opportunity to lead by example. I was able to practice what I preach during a time when it would be super easy to lose focus and project negativity.
We lost because our outfield let three balls get past them. One guy charged the ball, only to let it get past him.
How could that happen? That is the main thing we’ve been working on since our last loss!
But you know what? It is what it is. It happened. Just like other undesirable things in life happen.
The key is what we choose to focus on.
This loss really gave me the opportunity to learn and further understand an aspect of spiritual law that has huge impacts on my daily life. And that is: The Law of Cause and Effect – for what I persist in recognizing, I persist in holding in place. That which I refuse to recognize, I neutralize, and it is no longer there to affect me in a negative manner.
Sure, we lost our softball game 13-5. But I was still able to remain positive and encourage others to stay positive. I congratulated the other team for their win. I shook hands. And I consoled a couple of our players who felt bad about their mistakes.
I focused on all the positive opportunities that existed. And for the first time ever, losing lost its sting.
We played the H1 Astros. They have a decent squad. They jumped on us 3-0 until the 4th inning.
Then guess what happened?
Yep….their outfielder charged a ground ball. He missed it! It went right between his legs. That error cost them 3 runs!
My outfield didn’t charge any balls. They got down and waited for the ball to come to them.
That was the difference. Because later on, the other team let another ball get past them. Every time that happens, runs score!
We ended up winning 11-9. That’s a close game!
The Astros played an awesome game. They were hitting the ball well. Their infield was turning double plays. But the one thing they couldn’t overcome was the outfield errors. That was the difference.
We are now 3-1.
We won’t lose another game.
WE WILL WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP!!!
After our last lost I really had to juggle some things up. Not everyone was supportive of my decision to re arrange our line-up.
At least 6 different guys had an opinion. I’ve learned to NOT have these type of discussions with the team as a whole. Because they eventually start to argue and things can get messy real fast.
So I approached my guys one at a time, one on one. I listened to them. And I encouraged them by saying things like, “Thats a great idea” and “I see your point!”
I even gave them a pencil and paper so they could draw up what they think would be the best line-up.
Then I concluded by saying, “Thank you for your insight and perspective. I’ll definitely consider this.”
Meanwhile, I’m really thinking, “Your drunker than a skunk…there’s NO WAY I’m going with this line-up!”
Game time comes. I show the team the new line-up. As I explain, I give the illusion that I have incorporated everyone’s input. But really, it’s just coincidental that some of their ideas coincided with mine.
As we were on the field warming up, I pulled my hamstring! What a bummer!!! It’s bad! I can’t play. So I pull Kenny off the bench and plug him in the outfield. I also use this as an opportunity to encourage the bench players to stay positive and supportive, because you never know when your opportunity will come.
As I watch my replacement warm up, I notice he is struggling with ground balls. In just a few minutes he lets four balls get past him.
I ask him if he’s alright. He says, “Yes, I’ll be good in the game.”
I continue to watch him. Another ball gets by him! I know he can catch, but he struggles with ground balls. And that’s what killed us last game. I’ve seen enough!
I switch him with Bundy, who is at the catcher position. Immediately Bundy does much better!
Pino is the captain of the outfield. He yells to Bundy, “Charge those balls a little, then get down.”
Bundy does. He misses!!! The ball gets by him.
I call all four outfielders to me. I say, “Look, the key to winning is simple. Just don’t let any balls get by you.”
Then I look at Pino and say, “I know your used to charging balls. But that’s why we lost! On this raggedy field, just get in front of the ball and LET IT COME TO YOU!!! THAT’S IT!!!!”
Pino said, “Well you can run up on it a little bit.”
I said, “NO! DON’T!! Trust me. You just saw Bundy miss a ball he ran up on.”
Then I looked at the other three outfielders and said, “Error on the side of caution. Don’t charge. Let it come to you. If you do that…we’ll win!”
The game starts. I have all my outfielders playing deep. My philosophy for this game is: KEEP THE BALL IN FRONT OF YOU
A ball is hit in the air. It’s not going very deep. But it is headed in the direction of Bundy. He runs forward! It looks like he might be able to catch it. Then he does something amazing! He slows down and lets the ball hit the ground. The ball takes one bounce right to him. The batter
is held at first base.
Immediately our third baseman yells at him. He says, “Come on man, catch those!”
Then Pino chimes in, “That’s horse sh*t! I’m going to quit if it’s going to be like that.”
Now I admit, Bundy probably could’ve caught that. But he erred on the side of caution…just like I told him to.
I yell out “Keep it positive guys.”
Then I yell to Bundy, “Good job, way to keep it in front of you!”
Meanwhile I can’t help but to hear a benched player say, “I would’ve made that catch. I’m the best outfielder on this team! Whatever happened to “open tryouts”? How you gonna bench the best player…blah blah blah…”
He’s not talking to me, he’s just talking. Being negative. Being a distraction. Spreading negativity.
I ignore him and focus on the game.
The second batter gets up. He hits a pop fly that is easily caught by Pino.
The third batter hits a grounder to our 2nd baseman who easily turns a double play.
That’s three…switch ‘em up!!!
I gather all the players and reinforce why the outfield is playing so deep. I praise Bundy. And I tell everyone, “Trust me, if we play this way, I promise we will win!”
And “WIN” we did! The score was 19-5.
There were four balls that probably could’ve been caught in the outfield. But my guys played it safe. NOTHING got past them and six balls were caught.
The infield played “lights out”! They turned three double plays. Our pitcher even struck out two guys.
After the game I pointed out ONCE AGAIN why we play the outfield so deep. I referenced several plays in the game that validated my philosophy. Including the time the other player charged a ball that he could’ve easily played on the bounce. He missed it! And we scored three runs!
I feel like my players are starting to buy into my philosophies.
All except one guy. That negative bench player. He’s been a constant distraction. I’ve tried to work with him, but he just doesn’t get it. All he does is argue. So I had to take him off the team.
Our record is now 2-1. We won’t lose another game.
WE WILL WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP!!!
We lost our 2nd softball game. The score was 17-18.
We never should’ve lost that game. We were winning 7-1 after the first inning. Then 10-2 after the second inning.
I have to admit, it was a good game. But we never should’ve lost!
Here’s what happened: Last game when we won, I played outfield. I instructed the other outfielders to, “Play deep and keep the ball in front of you.”
They did. But for some reason, our 3rd baseman (Todd) kept yelling, “Charge the ball…play aggressive!”
He thought that there was a few balls that should’ve been caught if the outfielders would’ve charged up on them. And perhaps he was right. But I specifically told my guys to error on the side of caution…and keep the ball in front of you!
Well tonight I played catcher. That aggressive 3rd baseman played outfield. He instructed the other outfielders to be aggressive!!! To charge every ball!!! To lay out and dive if need be.
That aggressiveness cost us the game. On three occasions the outfielders charged the ball. They missed all three times. The other team scored 9 runs on those errors!
That’s the exact reason why I like to play deep and let the ball come to you. Because the worst that can happen is the hitter will be safe at first…or maybe even second. But if an outfielder lets the ball get past him, it’s usually a home run and all other base runners score too!!! Like what happened tonight!!!
I let another player impose his will and incorporate his aggressive playing style. I KNEW BETTER!!!
The good news is…IT WON’T HAPPEN AGAIN!!! And it’s only the second game of the season. I have plenty of time to make adjustments and iron out differences in philosophies.
Our next game is Sat June 27th. I’m putting our best players in the outfield…including myself. We will all play according to my philosophy, “error on the side of caution”.
I’m also juggling up the infield a bit. Our short stop is moving to outfield. Our aggressive outfielder is moving to short stop. Our first baseman and third baseman are trading places. And one of our other outfielders is moving to catcher.
And only the guys who play the field will bat. IM NOT PUTTING IN A DESIGNATED HITTER. I put in a designated hitter and he got out EVERY TIME!!!
This loss opened my eyes. Because of it we will be a better team. I will be a better leader and a better coach. I will impose my will and do things my way!!!
No more Mr. Nice Guy!!! It’s time for beast mode!!!
Wanna see how I run a softball team from the joint? Okay, here goes: First I submit a kite.
Then, once I officially have a team, I call a team meeting. We go over goals and philosophies.
Our goal is: WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP.
Our philosophies are: KEEP IT POSITIVE and COMIT TO A CHAMPIONSHIP.
Now we are just waiting for the rec staff to bring out the equipment. Meanwhile, I’m still tweeking the roster. Only 10 guys play. My roster is 15. That means “open tryouts.” Anyone can challenge for a spot on the field. The best player will earn that position. Some guys will have to ride the bench.
In the past, this decision has caused drama. That’s why I apply goals & philosophies to the system. It’s a great way to keep hostile players in line. If they continue to “break the code”, I remove them from the roster.
As of now, I have 3 competitions going on. They are competing for 1st baseman, pitcher, and 3rd baseman.
I’m excited! I love this time of year. I love my wife. I’m happy.
Wish me luck…
(to be continued…)
Correction Officer Whipple is one hard core dude. He gives direct orders in a hostile tone. He frowns a lot. He’s my boss.
When I went to the annual Native American Pow Wow, he docked my pay 2 hours. That’s $0.84! Do you know what I can buy for $0.84? Two soups and a chick-o-stick! Orrrr…a fruit danish. Orrrr…a pack of Now & Laters. Orrrr…aw heck! I’ll just post a store order sheet. Look for yourself at all the wonderful items c/o Whipple stole from me.
Okay, maybe that last sentence was a little harsh. Oh well…that’s how I feel. He didn’t have to do that. He was just being a jerk. None of the other c/o’s I work with do that! I’m a hard worker and I do a good job. I complete all of my duties in less than one hour, but I get credit for 6 hours…unless Whipple is working. He loves to doc pay.
It’s Friday, 8:00am. We have baseball yard at 9:00am. This is one of two opportunities to get some softball practice in before our biggest game of the season. Because on Monday we play the only other undefeated team.
I need to find a way to get Whipple to let me go to our 9:00am practice.
I could just ask him. But there’s always other people standing around, listening. And Whipple likes to act “hard” in front of others. I’m in no mood to play his “power trip” games.
So I approach him and ask, “Does the break room need any work?”
As I’m cleaning the break room I casually bring up the Seahawks. Whipple loves the Seahawks. I give praise to Pete Carole and how he coaches every game like a championship game…including pre-season.
Whipple adds, “If you practice hard, you’ll play hard, and hard work pays off.”
This conversation is going perfect. It’s time to make my move. I verbally agree with his philosophy. Then I explain how hard we practice softball and how we’re the only team that practices regularly.
He asks, “What’s your record?”
I respond, “6-0, and we’ve outscored everyone 80-18.”
He says, “Yeah…see, all that hard work is paying off.”
Then I say, “Our next game is huge. On Monday we play H-3, they’re also 6-0. So do you mind if I go outside at 9:00am to practice with my team?”
Whipple lets out a slight sigh as if this pains him, then he answers, “Yeah…go ahead.”
At this point I wonder if he feels manipulated. Does he realize that I set up this entire situation just so I could increase my odds of him allowing me to go to practice? I feel a slight hinge of guilt. Then I conclude by expressing my gratitude, “Thank you. I appreciate it.”
So now I ask you, did I manipulate Whipple, or did I demonstrate good people skills?
Coaching prison softball has been great so far. It teaches me how to deal with different personalities in a delicate, respectful way. At times, some of these guys piss me off. It’s in that moment when I must lead by example and “Keep It Positive.” Let me explain:
Mike is our 3rd baseman. He’s been playing on this team for the past 3 loosing seasons. He occasionally skips practice. He complains a lot. He makes a lot of errors. So I moved him to catcher. He was pissed! I pulled him aside and explained that I liked him as a person, but his attitude and performance is not in line with our team philosophy. He just rolled his eyes and his body language sucked.
So when our 3rd game rolled around, I benched Mike. He didn’t even get to play catcher. He sat on the sideline and watched us smash our opponents 14-2. After the game, he didn’t join the team on the mound for our post game celebration. I yelled for him to join us. He ignored me.
I later approached him. I told him that he’s still a part of the team and there might be a time when we need him. Three games are on visiting days this year. So it’s important to have a quality bench. But Mike wasn’t trying to hear it. He simply doesn’t have a winning attitude. He’s a big cry baby.
Now in the past, I would have told him to “fuck off.” But today, that’s not what I’m about. I spoke to him with a kind tone and gave him several chances to get with the program. In the end I had to inform him that he’s off the team. I felt bad. But I know it was for the best.
We just played our 4th game. We have a new 3rd baseman and a new catcher. They got those positions because they have great attitudes and they embrace the team philosophies:
“Keep It Positive” & “Commit To A Championship”
We won that game 15-0! We’ve now outscored our opponents 53-8! This domination validates the power of positive thinking and positive attitudes.
I know that Mike and all the other guys I cut from the team don’t like me. But that’s okay. Because they ALL have negative attitudes, and I have no place for that in my life.
I focus on the 16 men on my roster who are all positive and committed to a championship. They show me a great deal of love and respect as I lead them down the path to victory by way of one of the BEST prison softball teams EVER!
To Be Continued…
This year I’ve decided to coach our softball team. For the past 3 years I’ve been on loosing teams. I HATE to loose. So I’m taking matters into my own hands.
Most teams consist of a bunch of buddies that “just wanna play.” That concept does not work if you want to win. So this year I held “open try-outs.“ Not everyone made the team.
I typed up a mandatory practice schedule. On it I also included our team philosophy: “Keep It Positive” and “Commit To A Championship.”
Almost immediately, guys started to skip practice. I let each guy hear about it long and hard. It happened again. So I cut them from the team.
Some guys weren’t happy with me for doing that. I had to explain, “I’m committed to a Championship, not making people happy.”
After a few weeks of practice, we were looking good. Word quickly spread that we looked like “the team to beat.” We are the only team who practices regularly, rain or shine.
At one practice, two guys started to argue. I stopped practice and got the team together. This is the exact thing that tears teams apart and leads to failure. I like to embrace solutions, not problems. I basically told the two guys in front of the entire team, “If it happens one more time, you’re off the team.”
It happened again. So I took both guys off the roster.
After 5 weeks of practice, it was time for out first game. I have 16 guys on the roster, and only 10 can play. I started my 10 best guys. The other 6 guys felt they should get to start. Feelings were hurt and attitudes came out. One guy said I was “power tripping.”
I didn’t engage in any of the negativity that was coming my way. I got my starters together and said, “Lets play how we practice. Outfield, hit your cut off. Infield, back each other up. Lets keep it positive.”
We won 15-1. After the game the rec. director said we looked awesome. I had to agree.
The next day I dealt with the negative bench guys. I took 3 of them off the roster.
A week later we played our second game. We won 10-5.
I now have a team full of positive players who support my decisions. We all like each other and play very well together. It wasn’t easy getting to this point. I had to fire 7 guys and cut several others. A lot of those guys don’t like me because of that. But I don’t care. I’m committed to a Championship, not their feelings.
To be continued…