As soon as I opened my eyes this morning, I jumped out of bed and into the TV room to play my recording of the latest Albert Pujols interview on the MLB channel. I only caught a little bit last night when it aired originally, but I saw that it was on again at 3:30 AM. Rather than stay up and watch it (I did consider it), my trusty DVR allowed me to get my beauty sleep and watch it first thing this morning. (Not a bad way to start of the day in my opinion!)
I can watch Pujols swing all day long. But I love listening when he speaks even more. Who wouldn’t? I mean when the best player in baseball wants to share some of his secrets, you’d be crazy not to pay attention!
If you haven’t seen the half-hour show, I suggest you find out when it’s playing again, and either plop yourself down in front of the tube and take some notes, or record it like I did, so you can take it all in when the time is right.
But if your sans a DVR, or you just want to see my notes, here are a few keys I took away from the interview:
“Compulsive” – That was the word used to describe his work ethic. By definition, the word means “resulting from or relating to an irresistible urge.” I know most people attach that word to negative characteristics. I think it’s great that here the word is attached to Pujols’ insatiable drive to be, well, Albert Pujols.
“Confidence” – It’s pretty obvious Pujols is dripping with confidence. There was one line that completely illustrated that point. He said when things are right, pitchers can throw the baseball anywhere, and he knows he can hit it out, or at least drive the ball to the gaps. Key word: KNOWS.
“Never gives away an at bat” – Whether the Cardinals are up 10 or down a bunch, Pujols never gives away an at bat. The thinking: he may be facing a pitcher today (in a meaningless at bat) that he might have to face tomorrow in a big situation. If he takes today’s at bat for granted, tomorrow’s AB won’t be as successful as it could have been.
His first Big League Spring Training – Pujols said he’d be lying that he planned to make the Big Club in his first spring training. As a matter of fact, he said it wasn’t even a goal of his. His only goal: give his best every day and the rest will take care of itself. How many times have you overlooked the obvious goal for one that you can’t control?
His swing – Pujols threw out the key phrases that you hear all the time: ‘let the ball get deep,’ ‘use my hands,’ and not having too much movement. But his biggest goal in his swing is balance. He feels if he stays balanced in his set up, his approach to the ball, at contact, and finally in his finish, he knows he took a great swing. How many times do you get preoccupied with too many swing thoughts, and forget that if you stay balanced throughout your swing, you must have done a lot of things right!
30,000 swings a year – Pujols said that before he gets to spring training, he’s already taken 5,000 swings. Combine that with spring training and the rest of the season, he believes the number of swings he takes in a year is over 30,000. He said that he started to swing a bat right around the beginning of the year, which means he took a few months off after the season. Let’s just say he swings a bat nine months out of the year. That means in order to take 30,000 swings, he takes over 100 swings every day for nine months straight. Now, he said he takes between 150-200 swings a day, so even 30,000 is a gross underestimate!
This is the reason why he is the best hitter in baseball! This also leads me to my questions for you: how many swings will you have under your belt before the season rolls around? How many swings will you take during the year to keep your swing where you want it? (BTW – If you use 5,000 swings as a goal, and take advantage of only two months of your off season to get ready, you will only have to take a shade over 80 swings a day to reach 5,000.)
Bottom line: It’s no secret that Albert Pujols is the best at what he does. But it doesn’t just fall into his lap. He works at it, and is driven to see just how good he can become. He’s the best, and he’s outworking you right now! What are you going to do about it? (Remember: a huge part of self-confidence is preparation!)
One last quote from the Prince:
“I wish I could do it (take the same swing) more consistent.” – That’s a scary thought, isn’t it?
P.S. – I took this next part out of today’s post because it didn’t really fit in to today’s message. Here it is anyway:
402nd pick in 1999 – Looking back now, its hard to believe Pujols had to wait until the 13th round to get picked up by the Cardinals. (Interesting note: When Tampa Bay passed on Pujols, the scout that “discovered” him resigned.) Although he was only 19, Pujols thought he should have been picked much higher – and offered much more by the Cards in their initial offer. But a few days after turning down the offer (and catching an interview by George Brett addressing his “new motivation” after he felt slighted by his draft selection), Pujols remembered when he was a kid growing up in the Dominican Republic, his only goal was to play professional baseball, and would have signed for – get this – “used batting gloves.” He went back to the Cardinals and said, ‘pay me whatever, as long as you pay for college, and I’m ready to go.’