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Phenoms get better with time — and practice

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Writing has always come easy to me.

I wrote my first story in the first grade, when my teacher assigned me to write about the day. Even then, with almost no concept of sentence structure and no training to speak of, he praised it. I got my first “A.”

Since then, I have continued to put thoughts on paper and have become more skilled at doing so. Creatively, I have evolved from talking about the weather to writing short stories and screenplays. Professionally, I have chosen to write about sports. In both areas, I have received some awards for the writing I’ve done.

There have been only a few moments in my life when I was told my writing doesn’t work. In other words, I don’t believe I had ever really failed at writing.

The Cyclones players and I share quite a bit in this department. All of them virtually walked on water for most of their playing time. They could do anything on the baseball diamond and they garnered attention and awards everywhere they looked. Baseball came easy to them.

That was the story for Cyclones’ outfielders Patrick “To infinity and” Biondi and Jared King. They grew up with the proverbial bat and mitt already in their hands. They went on to play baseball for Division-I schools, Biondi for Michigan and King for Kansas State. Their stats show how dominant they were in their sports.

Biondi played four years for the Wolverines, scoring 189 runs and stealing 103 bases during his career. Last season, Biondi scored 40 runs on 63 touched bases, meaning if he got on base, he would score a run an astounding 63.5 percent of the time. His run total was second only to Mike O’Neill, who, coincidentally, is now an outfielder for the Staten Island Yankees.

King also thrived in Manhattan (Kansas), home of the Wildcats. Through his two years there, he had an overall average of .343, and he led the Big 12 with a .378 during his senior year.

But for the players and myself alike, the journey into the professional world was tougher than expected. It is natural to think that with a higher standing to live up to, my writing would be judged tougher than it ever had before. But for someone who always had ease with writing, it was a shock to adapt to this level.

I wrote the first story out here the same way I had back home, and I thought it was good. When I read the edited version, however, I hardly recognized it, as almost everything was rewritten. I felt I had failed. I continued to write more stories, and I continued to see heavily edited versions online and receive constructive, yet tough criticism. I was, for virtually the first time in my life, behind the standards of writing.

Both Biondi and King were taken by the Mets in the first 10 rounds of this year’s draft, expecting to contribute immediately. But like my writing, both King and Biondi have experienced growing pains with the competition of professional baseball. The game which came so easy before suddenly got tough and they found themselves swimming, not walking, in the water. Even Cyclones’ skipper Rich Donnelly knew the adjustment would be hard.

“This is all new for them, everything’s going fast,” he said. “As the season progresses, you hope they get into the routine of a pro baseball player.”

Biondi is batting .219, much lower than his senior season average of .309. King, through 24 games, has seen his near .400 average plummet to .259. He has also struck out 21 times, just one less than the total number through 59 games in college. Biondi said it is tougher, but he is learning to adapt.

“It’s early in the season,” Biondi said. “We’re just getting into stride, trying to get a little bit more comfortable.”

All of us have had our moments of glory, however, that keep us doing what we do to experience more of the joy of success we used to be so familiar with. I continue to see more of my original writing in the finished product, and I can see the progress I’ve made in so short a time.

Biondi and King have also had their successes, and they’ve both done better with experience.

Biondi is tied for the league lead with stolen bases, and has scored more runs in the last two weeks than he totaled in his previous three. King has also steadily improved, having been placed in the cleanup spot in the batting order thanks to his ability to get extra base hits — he leads the team with eight doubles.

For each of us, it no longer matters how far we’ve come, from first grade or little league.

What matters is where we go from here.

And it’s looking bright.

Scott Hansen, an awesome intern from Brigham Young University, will be comparing his life to those of the Cyclones all season long — even after he goes back to school in late August.

Posted 1:27 pm, July 17, 2013
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