At his mom and dad’s insistence, Todd continued to practice with the Angels and to attend games, but his heart and his mind were no longer in the game. Even when the Angels started to rebound from their slow second-half start, Todd’s attitude toward the team and toward baseball didn’t change. The days of being the first to practice and the last to leave were a thing of the past, as were the countless hours that Todd insisted he and his dad spend in the batting cage or on the practice field each week. Instead, Todd was routinely the last to arrive at practices and games and the first to pack up his gear and leave the field when they were over.
Not surprisingly, Todd’s lack of practice did little to improve his performance. Strike-outs, which once were an anomaly, became commonplace, as was the chatter of discontent among Todd’s teammates when he hurriedly returned to the bench after another failed attempt to get his first base hit. Soon, his performance in the field also began to suffer, as he booted one ground ball and made one throwing error after another. Todd was just going through the motions, riding out the season. Truth be told, he couldn’t wait for it all to end and had already begun to think of better ways to spend his time, perhaps a sport that was a little easier to play, that allowed a little more room for error, that would be a little less frustrating.
The Angel coaches quickly sensed and then grew increasingly disappointed by Todd’s obvious lack of enthusiasm and commitment. It wasn’t long before they moved Todd down in the batting order, and when that didn’t work, sat him out completely, hoping that one or both would motivate Todd to work harder, to break out of what they hoped was simply an unusually long slump. Little did they know, however, that the bench was precisely the place that Todd Douglas wanted to be.