In case you’ve forgotten what happened to me and my team in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series in Philadelphia, here’s a link to the summary posted by the New York Times’ Bats blog. We won the game that night, and with that win, we won the series.
When you don’t pitch, you’re not frustrated with your teammates. It’s the coaches and managers that you get pretty angry with. But you have to realize that they have to make the best decisions they can to win games, and they’re not going to make everybody happy.
That doesn’t necessarily make you any less frustrated though. I remember sitting in the outfield before Game 6 and praying. Realizing the job the coaches and managers have to do, I prayed, “God, I’m in a ‘poor me’ situation. It’s a pity party that I’m throwing here for myself. And I just want to ask for forgiveness for judging my manager and judging my coaches. And maybe judging the situation, even umpires if they miss calls. God, I pray that our manager will use a ton of wisdom today. I know I’m a prayer warrior for this team and I pray for my team, but I want to be in a situation today where I can make a difference. Because I’ve been given a gift, and sometimes I feel the only way I can worship You is on the mound. That’s my altar of praise, because that’s the gift You’ve given me. And I want to do that today. So God, please, just let me be prepared mentally and physically to do my job when I’m called upon.”
I had no idea that I was going to get called upon in the third inning. That is not what I was thinking! But there I was warming up in the bullpen when we had that brawl. I went to run out and help my teammates, and our bullpen coach Mark Gardner grabbed me and said, “You can’t go out there. You’re in this game. Bochy was walking out to pull Sanchez. He was calling you into the game. You are going to be in this game. You have to warm up.”
I hadn’t warmed up. I’d only thrown about seven pitches when Bochy went out to get Sanchez. I was just hoping to get through it. But thanks to the brawl, I had the opportunity to take 20 extra pitches in the bullpen. And I felt so good. I felt I had rhythm. And when I walked out there to the mound, I was not emotionally attached to the disagreement taking place on the field. I was more focused on what I had to do.
It was awkward because my bullpen mates were actually walking back up the stairs as I was running down the stairs, so it was kind of an interesting transition there. They were kind of like, “go get ’em,” and I was like, “okay,” like we didn’t know what to say to each other! You’re not supposed to sit out brawls in baseball.
But when I got out there I focused on what I needed to focus on. I got through two innings, and I took away their momentum. Then I sat on the bench for the rest of the game, feeling really confident that we were going to win. We took away their momentum twice that game. I came in took away their momentum, and then Bumgarner went in with a runner on third and one out and didn’t let them score.
So we took away their momentum twice, and we won the game and the National League Championship. And then it was so interesting to see how, as upset as I had been with some of the management and how I was being used, the first thing out of our manager’s mouth was, “Let’s not forget what Affeldt did today, because he saved us.”
When I heard that, I looked to heaven. It was a pity party I was throwing about me. And through prayer I had been able to release that pity, that anger and frustration, and those judgments. What Bochy said was just a real encouraging thing. It was like God smiled, and let me know that He loves me and He loves me well, and there was a perfect time for Him to use me. Basically God looked at me and said, “Jeremy, I will win every time. My servants are my servants for a reason, and I will win. I’ve got a plan and you need to trust my plan.”
I still have more to share with you, about this game, the postgame, and some of the wisdom I earned this season. See you Tuesday.