Why James Shields missed his own milestone

05/14/2014 2:45 PM

05/14/2014 2:45 PM

Baseball is not played one game at a time, one inning at a time or even one out at a time. When it’s played correctly, it’s played one pitch

at time. Start thinking ahead and you’ll screw up what you’re doing at the moment.

Same goes for thinking about the past.

If you’re standing in the outfield thinking about the strikeout you had in your last at-bat, you might miss the fact that the guy at the plate just went into his

own

two-strike count and when that happens you need to play him to go the other way. Think too much about the last inning and you make a mistake in the inning you’re currently playing.

Staying in the moment, playing the game one pitch at a time; that’s how James Shields missed his own milestone.

Shields knew he was very close to his 1,500th strikeout and he had a good chance of getting it Tuesday night against the Rockies. But when the moment came, he missed it; he was locked in on making the next pitch. He didn’t know why Salvador Perez wanted the baseball, he didn’t know why the crowd was cheering.

When you have to play a 162 game season, you don’t look too far ahead. If you have to walk across the Sahara, you better not think about how far you have to go—it’ll seem impossible—just concentrate on the next step. Concentrate on the next pitch, then the next one, then the next one. Concentrate on nothing but the next pitch for nine years and you might wind up with 1,500 strikeouts.

But you also might miss it when it happens.

Royals beat the Rockies, 5-1.