BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
We like to think of sports as fun and games, but that’s not reality these days.
The pressure to win and produce in professional sports has caused stress for players, managers, head coaches and general managers. They know if they don’t get it done, they will be replaced. It wears them down to the point it affects their health.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge experienced it on July 22 when he fainted during batting practice. He was sent to the hospital for a checkup, and he was diagnosed with a minor stroke.
Wedge makes his return to the dugout at Safeco Field tonight after taking a leave of absence for several weeks due to health issues.
The Mariners manager will relish the moment of returning to work. He missed being around the players, and he missed having an impact in games such as making managerial moves, creating game planning and motivating guys. Baseball has been life for him going back to his playing days.
It would have been devastating for him to not manage anymore due to his health issues. Managing is his dream. It’s all he lives for. He is always in the office in the afternoon before the game starts, and he stays up late after the game is over.
His work ethic may have caused him to lose sight of his health, and that’s why he was checked out. It’s admirable, but on the other hand, he knows he has to pace himself and realize being in the office is not healthy.
That’s easier said than done, though. Managers and coaches are wired to be in the office and analyze everything after a game. They want to make sure the same mistakes don’t happen. One can say they are perfectionists.
No one can blame them. They are being paid to win games. They know how it’s a bottom line business, which owners and fans are impatient more than ever if the results are not there.
There have been so many coaches and managers that have gone through health issues over the years, so what Wedge went through is common. It’s a harsh reality of the lifestyle they choose. They know it’s the best way to make a living, and they wouldn’t trade it for anything else.
Wedge will have to make adjustments on how to go about his business as a manager. It won’t be easy. If he starts changing, he could lose his edge altogether. He goes all in when it comes to working as a manager. He works with the players at batting practice. He engages in conversations with his team during the game. He is involved with what goes on.
For the Mariners manager to change his habits, that’s going to be tough. This is where he has to entrust his coaching staff to carry out what he wants to do.
Wedge will give it a try. He has no choice, but if it doesn’t work, he will revert to what makes him successful as a manager. It’s the only way he can do well.
The Mariners manager will receive a standing ovation at Safeco Field tonight after what he has gone through. It’s the least the fans can do. They should show compassion after what he has done as a manager in doing whatever he can to put the Mariners in a position to win.
Fans like to rag on managers and head coaches if they don’t get the results they want. That’s fair, but they should appreciate what these guys do on a day-to-day basis. Managing is a grind. One would think fans would relate since they have to go through the grind when they go to work.
That’s not what the fans think, though. They feel they are paying a lot of money to get results from teams, so coaches will overwork to give fans results.
After what Wedge experienced, it’s safe to say working in sports is not what’s cracked up to be. There is fame, but that comes only when a team wins a championship. It’s misery most of the time with all the pressure that is going on with these guys.
With the money everyone is making, accountability is a must from players to coaches to general managers.
That’s why working in sports has become stressful more than ever.
It won’t end just because someone is sick or dead as result of the grind.
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