Santiago Casilla has been having a rough couple of months.
Casilla is the closer for the San Francisco Giants baseball team. For my unbaseballed readers, “closer” is the informal term for a pitcher whose role is to enter the game late and usually only pitch one inning. The strategy is to use the closer in a close game in which the team is leading, so that the closer can pitch a few quick outs and end the game in a win for his team.
But Casilla not been very good at his job lately. Recently, when he has entered the game with a small lead, he ends up pitching poorly and letting the other team score, often resulting in a loss for the Giants. Fans are frustrated, sometimes now to the point of booing when Giants manager Bruce Bochy calls for Casilla to enter the game. (And I don’t think they were saying Boo-ochy.) Two months ago, the Giants were the best team in all of Major League Baseball, but since then they have slid precipitously in the standings, now barely clinging to life in the playoff race.
The moderator of a Giants Facebook posted last night that the only thing that makes sense at this point is that Casilla must have compromising pictures of Bochy. In other words, Casilla must be keeping the closer job by blackmailing Bochy, because Bochy should know better than to use Casilla in these situations when he has caused the team to lose so many games.
Last night, I was playing board games with friends, but keeping an eye on the Giants score on my phone. The Giants were leading 2-1 over the St. Louis Cardinals going into the 9th inning, but then Casilla came in to pitch, walked a runner, gave up a couple of hits, and left the game with the Giants behind 3-2. The Giants could not score in the bottom of the 9th. My friends who also follow the Giants were expressing similar thoughts about why Bochy continues to use Casilla in these situations, and how Bochy keeps deflecting the question when asked this by reporters. Everyone has a bad day sometimes. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes. I get that. If a closer blows a save or two, it shouldn’t cost him his job. But when your team’s closer is leading Major League Baseball with nine blown saves this season, most of them coming relatively recently, then maybe it’s time to find someone else to do the job.
Finally, I said, “Bochy needs to let go and move on, and use someone else as the closer. He’s acting like a guy who can’t get over his ex-girlfriend and keeps hoping they’ll get back together.”
I’ve been that guy before. This is a hard life lesson for many of us, whether or not it has any connection with baseball. Sometimes what used to work isn’t working anymore, and sometimes life has changed to the point where it may never work like that again. Change is hard, but sometimes not changing is even harder in the long run. Just like the Giants, I can’t stay stuck in my same old patterns and expect to stop being sad all of a sudden. If I’m doing something that I don’t enjoy, taking time away from other things in life, then it’s time to do something else. If I’m spending time and energy on people who aren’t making me a priority, then it’s time to stop making them such a priority. Time to let go and move on.