Balls and Streich(s):

Brandon Streich
Sports Writer
The Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch

In the world we are in today where every bit of news brings frustration and arguing, it is good to hear of a feel good story. In the world of sports, MLB has finally gotten underway and other sports like the NBA are beginning and NFL begins training camp this week.

Colorado Rockies pitcher Daniel Bard had a story that took seven years to develop come to an exciting chapter on Saturday afternoon. Bard pitched in his first MLB game in 2,646 days. Bard first pitched in a Major League game on May 13, 2009 in his debut for the Boston Red Sox. Bard became the Red Sox main set-up man out of the and in 2010 appeared in 73 games and had 76 strikeouts with an ERA of 1.93. In 2011, Bard set the Red Sox record of 25 consecutive scoreless appearances. Bard however went 0-4 in the month of September with an ERA of 10.64 and issued more walks(nine) than he had the previous three months(eight).

In 2012, the Red Sox changed Bard into a starting pitcher and went 5-6 with an ERA of 5.12 before being optioned to AAA Pawtucket. In Pawtucket, Bard issued 15 walks and held an ERA of 7.08. In 2013, Bard made two appearances for the Red Sox before being designated for assignment.

After bouncing around the Cubs, Rangers, the Cubs again, the Cardinals, and Mets organizations, Bard retired in 2017.

Bard’s mysterious loss of control and the yips cost him his what was to be a stellar career. Bard is now 35 years old and last season worked for the Arizona Diamondbacks as a mental skills coach. While playing catch with his players, all of the things that once made him special early in his career was coming back. His butterflies and racing heart that caused anxiety now turned into allies. Bard also points to two life developments that helped him stage his comeback. His perspective away from baseball as a father and a deep, scientific understanding of his own mental process.

Coming into the year during his comeback process, Bard would have played a large role in the sport of baseball, this year and into the future. Bard can now speak on mental health and mindfulness that previous generations have not been able to do and he can help others across the baseball world.

On Saturday, not only did Bard return to the Major Leagues, but he earned his first win in relief pitching 1 and 1/3 innings of relief allowing two hits and no runs and struck out one.

People around the sport and youth especially can take away from Bard’s journey that you should never, ever give up. Adjust your perspectives at times to think positively, success will not happen overnight, it takes practice, intentional work, and that anything can be done if you work for it.