Shawn Green Finds "The Way"
Former All-Star Shawn Green, author of the recently released book "The Way of Baseball: Finding Stillness at 95 Mph," stopped by the MLB Fan Cave Wednesday to discuss his book, the toughest pitcher he’s ever faced, and his legacy on the field.
MLB Fan Cave: If you had to give an elevator pitch response, describe how you found peace in the batter’s box.
Shawn Green: Well, I faced a conflict in my third year in the Majors. During that conflict, I grabbed a tee and started hitting balls into the net. Ultimately, the tee work became a meditation that I carried on for the rest of my career, and that led to the transformation of my swing and my life off the field.
MLB Fan Cave: Do you think an organization would ever buy into this as an organizational philosophy for teaching their young hitters?
Shawn Green: It wasn’t the goal of the book to have it implemented in that way or anything. It’s really just my experiences and the way I viewed how Eastern philosophy could enhance my baseball career. I think it’s a lot more effective than some of the old-school approaches when it comes to hitting: “Move your arms here, your elbow here, your feet here.”
MLB Fan Cave: How much of hitting would you say is mental?
Shawn Green: So much of it is mental, really. In the Major Leagues, everyone knows how to swing a bat and hit a fastball. So the ups and downs, really, and the slumps come more out of the mental or emotional side than the physical side.
MLB Fan Cave: Can you ever see yourself as a hitting coach one day?
Shawn Green: I love talking about hitting. I left the game at a young age, at 35, to be with my family, though. The idea of traveling around in the same capacity as a coach as I did as a player wouldn’t be in the cards in the near future. But at some point, it could be.
MLB Fan Cave: During your career, did you convey your Eastern philosophies to any of yourteammates?
Shawn Green: Yeah, and other guys do things in a different way, but may not present it in the same way. But players such as Tony Fernandez, Julio Franco, Carlos Delgado, and a lot of these guys went about their business in the same way by reallypaying attention and being present. They might not discuss it the same way, but by observing them you can see that they had a “Zen-like” approach to the game just by their actions.
MLB Fan Cave: Do you miss playing baseball?
Shawn Green: I do miss playing, as it was a big part of my life, the biggest part of my life, really, until I had kids. I think for every player, baseball kind of takes over who you are, so when you stop playing it’s definitely a strange feeling because hitting and being around the guys and all that was kind of second nature.
MLB Fan Cave: What was the one pitcher, going back to the title of the book, that was themost challenging to find stillness in the batter’s box against?
Shawn Green: Mariano Rivera was easily the toughest for me. I think there are probably a lot of guys who would say the same. He threw to me really one pitch - a cutter in - and when I faced him the late 90s, mostly when he was at his peak, he was the one guy that I saw walk up there on the mound, and I would say, “Oh, great. I don’t have a chance.”
MLB Fan Cave: What was your initial reaction to the news that Israel is getting an invitation to participate in the next World Baseball Classic?
Shawn Green: I think it’s great news. I hope the current Jewish players can embrace the new team and decide to suit up, and I think they will. It will be a great thing not only for Israel, but for all of baseball to start acting as ambassadors for the sport in other countries such as Israel.
MLB Fan Cave: Mike Piazza was the hitting coach for Team Italy back in 2009. Can you see getting involved with Team Israel in a similar role?
Shawn Green: Yeah, if they approach me about it, I will definitely consider getting involved in some way.
MLB Fan Cave: During your career, there were a lot of expectations placed upon you being the biggest superstar among Jewish athletes. What was it like to deal with that kind of pressure?
Shawn Green: I tried to do the best I could. It was a bit challenging, but I embraced it and was proud to be mentioned in the same breath as a guy like Sandy Koufax.
MLB Fan Cave: Shawn, thanks so much for taking the time.