When It Clicked: Rangers Reliever Eddie Guardado
We spoke to veteran lefty Eddie Guardado about a week before this happened. (Video clip: here.) So keep that fact in mind as you read Guardado's explanation below of how the birth of his first child, all the way back in 1996, "calmed everything down" for him and helped turn him into an effective reliever who constructed a long, successful career.
As for Thursday's meltdown, perhaps when you're 38 years old and lugging around a 9.64 ERA -- inevitably bringing The End into closer view -- that calmness has a way of evaporating.
"I'm a guy who grew up with nothing and a guy who earned what I have now. I got to the big leagues quick, too. Was I ready? I don't know. If you looked at my numbers [from early in his career], you'd probably say no.
"But what clicked for me was... I'm a family man. And when I had my first child -- his name is Niko -- that really brought everything together for me in my career. That's when things clicked for me, man. I told myself, 'Man, there's a lot more to life than baseball, but this is what we do to make a living.'
"I was young -- I was 22. I had struggled a little bit. [The Twins] put me in the 'pen. I was like, 'Man, can I do this?' And then I saw my kid come out, and that put it in perspective. That's when it clicked for me. I said, 'If I'm going to do this, I have to do it for him and my wife.'
"I never took anything for granted, I was just so caught up in the mental part of the game, and it was eating me alive. There was a point where my wife now, who was my fiancee at the time, said, 'I don't know if I can do this.' I enjoyed the game, but I wasn't really enjoying it -- because I was struggling and I didn't know what was going to happen. And after that... bam. Night and day, bro.
"It wasn't like I learned a new pitch, or anything like that. It might kind of sound funny to you, but to me [Niko's birth is] what did it. I looked at him and said, 'You know what? This is what it's all about.' It kind of calmed everything down for me. It helped me separate the game from home. You don't take it home with you."
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