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I've been closely watching baseball for half a century, and Hunter Pence is the most awkward major league ballplayer I've ever seen. Hell, he's the most awkward professional athlete I've ever seen. George Theodore was very oddly built -- Pence's build is perfectly normal -- but Theodore wasn't nearly as klutzy as Pence. It's amazing that any scout ever took him seriously.
Yet Pence performs well, and with remarkable season-to-season consistency (though week-to-week and month-to-month, he's all over the place). Most peculiar.
Pence is bat#### insane, right?
“I definitely read a lot, I study the mind,” Pence told me as we discussed his approach to the game at his locker Tuesday afternoon. “One of the most important things is, ‘Amidst violent chaos’—this is from Miyamoto Musashi—‘you have to be calm and poised within.’” (That Musashi parenthetical I’d never encountered before, in a baseball clubhouse or anywhere else.)
“And he was speaking of war, and this is not war,” Pence continued. “But it is kind of a violent chaos. There’s huge competition at the highest level—a bunch of fans, cameras—and being calm and relaxed within, not letting that affect you, even if it’s the playoffs, whatever the case may be. So I think there’s a strength to relaxing and being fluid.”
I wonder if Pence has read Sadaharu Oh's autobiography, A Zen Way of Baseball.
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