This past season held many highlights for me. One of the best was getting the chance to reestablish myself in the big leagues. It felt so good to be competing at that level again.
Overall, I thought things went really well for our team, and personally, I know I made some great strides in my pitching game. Of course there are some performance aspects of my game I’d like to improve on for next season. I want to work on refining my body more and perfecting techniques so I can repeat my delivery, be more limber on the field, and ultimately throw more strikes.
So now that I’m back home in Cincinnati and working on my farm, I plan to hit the gym and work hard on these goals. If I had my way I would have a personal conditioning coach who could train me one-on-one. I’d also love to have a nearby gym that’s designed to focus on baseball, but I’ll work with what I’ve got. My motivation doesn’t have to come from a group of guys or a trainer. I’m motivated to work hard to be the best baseball player I can possibly be because ultimately I want be stewarding the talent and passion God’s given me for the game.
Another highlight for me this season was the unique brotherhood we formed on the Diamondbacks. Those of us who regularly gathered for prayer and Bible study before each game were really focused on our relationships with Christ. In fact, we were much more focused on our Godly calling than we were on our baseball career alone. Diving into God’s Word together gave us each a daily renewed mindset and helped us recognize what truly was most important.
One of my favorite parts about this study was watching as some of the guys who usually were not confident or comfortable enough to share or speak up suddenly do so. Each time one of these guys stepped out and shared what God was teaching them, or when they chose to lead us all in prayer, I was so excited. This was a really special season in that way.
I would love to see this Bible study continue and even go deeper next year. This past season, a group of us were going through a Bible study while we were on road trips, and I’d like to see these men become more connected with each other as we continue. In addition, I’d love to see us focus more on creating disciples within our baseball community.
This can be hard in baseball because each year can look so different from the last. You never know who is coming back and who will be traded from or added to your team. But with whoever is on the team next year, I’m excited to both build into the current relationships and establish new ones. Instead of each of us only looking within and trying to become the best baseball player on the field (which we all want to become), the eternal impact comes when we allow ourselves to really open up to each other. By allowing our brothers to walk through the ups and downs of life with us, we can share much more than just baseball. We can share the love of Christ.
In the meantime, my wife and I look forward to diving into God’s Word more consistently together. One of my favorite things about the offseason is getting the chance to do Bible studies with Megan-Kate. During the season, I miss reading a few chapters together each night; I miss discussing passages we’re reading together and sharing what God’s teaching us. When you’re three hours away from each other, that’s a lot harder to do. So I’m going to cherish the moments I get to grow with her, as well as the opportunities the two of us have to serve our local church here in Cincinnati.
I’m also excited to prepare for an incredible season in 2018 to refine my game and reconnect with our baseball community.
— J.J. Hoover
J.J. Hoover is a pitcher with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.