Fernando Tatis Jr. is the starting Major League Baseball (MLB) shortstop for the San Diego Padres. He is 22 years old and is considered to be a rising star who is destined for greatness! His teammate Eric Hosmer said this about Tatis, “There’s just calmness….There’s just something out there. It’s like poetry when he’s playing the game. He’s so electric and moving all fast. You can tell it was just meant to be (Acee, 2019).” His dream is to become the best player in baseball, to win multiple World Series, and MVP titles. To top things off, he just signed a 14 year contract that will pay him $340 million dollars. With these dreams, and the added pressure to perform and live up to the investment of money that the San Diego Padres have given him, can be a lot to manage, especially at the age of 22.
Could History Repeat Itself?
Looking back to the 2000 MLB season, Alex Rodriguez (aka, A-Rod) at the age of 24 signed the richest and longest contract at the time, 10 years $252 million dollars to play for the Texas Rangers. He recently retired as a 14 time All Star and is considered to be one of the very best in baseball history. However, it came at a cost. From 2001 to 2003 he admitted to using steroids due to the enormous pressure to perform. The expectation being, to help the franchise win games and multiple World Series championships. As a Texas Ranger (2000-2003), A-Rod continued to set personal records, yet the team consistently finish dead last in the their division. As a result, in 2004 he was traded to the New York Yankees. A-Rod played for the Yankees from 2004-2016. He continued to set personal records, yet was only able to win one World Series Championship for the franchise. And, in 2013 he wound up getting suspended for 162 games for using performance enhancing drugs. One of the longest suspensions in MLB history. In the end, he played for three teams during his 20 year career. While he is considered to be a generational talent as seen by his many personal awards, his career is best defined as a roller coaster of ups and downs filled with success and scandals.
Will History Repeat Itself?
I’m not saying that Fernando Tatis Jr. will follow in A-Rod’s footsteps, however it is a reminder of what pressure and expectation can do to an athlete. And, while these two athletes represent the very best when it comes to professional baseball, it’s also a reminder of what pressure and immense expectation can do to any athlete. No matter the athlete, be it a star pro athlete or a freshman high school player determined to win a starting position on his high school team. The pressure for success can wreak havoc on performance and expectations.
As a young MLB player, Fernando Tatis Jr. isn’t a power hitter who wows by belting home runs. He is best described as a base hitting base stealer. This is how Damion Easley, the team’s hitting coach, describes Tatis and his ability to steal bases, “He provides an excitement for everyone to bring out that inner youth in everybody that a home run can’t. He really does. He creates a buzz in our dugout that only comes from someone who is bold enough to try and has the athletic ability to try it. I’ll just say it, ‘To try it.’ (Acee, 2019).
His love for the game, challenge to compete, and willingness to just play his game is what makes him great! If he can keep this mindset and not let judgement and expectation cloud is ability to perform, he will continue to thrill crowds and just play the game.
For tips on how to stay focused on what's important and to not succumb to the pressure, click on the pic!