“Just Focus on What You Can Do Next”

By Jack Limpert

Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer pitched close to a perfect game yesterday. He had retired 26 batters and needed one more out. He had two strikes on batter Jose Tabata when Tabata appeared to lean into an inside pitch, letting it clip his elbow and allowing him to trot down to first base. Nats catcher Wilson Ramos said the pitch looked like a strike and most Nats fans would be forgiven for thinking that Tabata had cheated Scherzer out of a place in baseball’s history books.

Scherzer did get the next batter, finishing the game with a no-hitter and a 6-0 win. Was he mad at Tabata?

Washington Post columnist Barry Svrluga pointed out that Scherzer had pitched two great games in a row, missing a no-hitter against Milwaukee when Carlos Gomez lifted a broken-bat fly ball into right field just out of reach of second baseman Anthony Rendon and then coming so close to a perfect game against Pittsburgh.

“What if Rendon had somehow gotten to Gomez’s ball?” Svrluga asked. “What if Tabata had simply moved out of the way of that slider? Hasn’t Scherzer thought about how close he was to back-to-back no-hitters?”

Scherzer’s answer: “That’s a negative thought. Why would I have a negative thought? Let’s have a positive thought: I’m just going to get the next guy out. Your only focus in these situations is: What are you going to do next?”

To another writer, Scherzer said, “It’s just one of those things that happened. Just focus on what you can do next.”

Good life advice for almost anyone when things don’t go just the way you want. And if you’re a writer you always can blame the editor—I look back at too many good writers and good stories I missed.

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