This is the fifth straight year the Washington Nationals have sent just one player to the All-Star Game. Other than that, they had a pair featuring Livan Hernandez and Chad Cordero that participated in the All-Star Game during the Nats inaugural 2005 season.
Matt Capps is the lone Nats All-Star in 2010.
The Nats closer is 3-3 with a 3.18 ERA and 23 saves going into the break, but there’s more to this man than his numbers.
There was a revealing piece, compliments of Nationals beat writer Adam Kilgore, in Sunday’s Washington Post shedding light on the importance of Capps making his first All-Star Game appearance of his career this Tuesday.
Before this piece, it was a known fact that Capps lost his father whom he was very close with last October. To gloss over this part of Capps’ life when thinking about the context in which it lies would be a mistake.
Capps continues to post stellar numbers as the Washington Nationals’ closer, but it’s the rough outings in which the game’s outcome doesn’t go his way where fans could easily get upset and begin raining on his parade.
A professional athlete’s career depends on performance, but what happens when occurrences in one’s personal life begin to take a slight toll on a players performance level.
For Matt Capps this is not the case. His personal life is at the core of his personal motivation no matter the outcome of the game on a daily basis.
This is why there are lessons to be learned from Capps.
To continue living your life without your go-to person available on the other end of a phone call leaves a hole in your heart. But no matter how big that hole is, you don’t let it defeat you. In essence, you have to do that person’s work for them now that they’re no longer with you.
Capps spoke to his father every day over the phone, often times more than once according to Kilgore’s article “All that’s missing is his father“. His father’s absence hits him the most at his most joyful moments Kilgore wrote. All Capps wanted to do after being named to the the first All-Star team in his professional career was call his dad, but he couldn’t.
“You learn a lot about yourself as a person, as an athlete, through your failures,” Capps told Kilgore. “It’s easy to play this game when you’re good, you’re pitching well, you’re playing well. You really learn about how much you love the game, how much it means to you, when you’re fighting through those hard times.”
“It’s part of life,” Capps said. “I’m moving forward and doing what I want to do. That would make him proud to know. By going out and playing and working hard off the field, preparing every day, that’s the best way of remembering and representing the name that I carry.”
Imagine going into a work each day with thousands of people watching, coaches breathing down your neck, and media outlets digging for quotes. None of these things are necessarily bad, but it sure doesn’t make life much of a cake walk.
Despite the stress and heartbreak, Matt Capps continues to go into work everyday and hones his pitching as best as he can. That’s all he can do. He, like all of us, is human after all.
You can see Capps and the National League duel it out for the World Series homefield advantage Tuesday night on Fox. The National League hasn’t won an All-Star game since 1996.