Choices: Part V
Josh you played SS, sometimes referred to as the mid-field catcher. Is there a part of your game, that comes from that experience, that helps you to connect with Ryan as a battery?
A little bit. I definitely wasn’t that cerebral. Ryan is very thoughtful when he plays. I was more the aggressive-style player.
Something just drew us together. Like I said, how we were brought up, where we had our most impactful life occurrences, and baseball. Like you said, things kind of happened at different times in the same places.
I think, there’s a reason that now we’re together. Now we’re in the same place.
As a pitcher, he’s the most important person on the field. As his catcher, my job is to make sure he’s at his best because he’s the most important person on the field.
In that first game we won against Korea, because of the relationship that we were starting to build, we had a camaraderie. I could go out there and understand what he was feeling.
We were both free agents and our futures were uncertain. We each felt like our performance in that tournament was going to have an impact on the next 2-3 years of our life.
I would go out there and calm him down. He’s a high-energy, high-effort, sometimes low-confidence guy, even though he’s a high-performer. I can go out there and boost his confidence and re-focus him on the things that are important. That’s something that I’m really good at, and that he’s really receptive to.
Why, out of all the guys on the bench, did you two developed a deeper connection?
Ryan: I think that friendship is a choice, just like marriage is a choice and any relationship that you have is a choice. Josh and I constantly, and consistently, choose to be good friends to one another.
Any time that one of us has a crazy idea the other says yes, let’s do that together. Josh thought I was crazy when I asked him to do an Ironman. He had never swam two laps in a pool.
I never swam one lap in a pool.
That was a big, big commitment that he made so that we could do something together. Just like he chose to invite me on the crazy food tour in Korea.
Just like I chose to go out there and calm him down, choosing my words carefully to tell him what he needed to hear – whether it was true or not – to throw the right pitch. I feel like I tricked him into pitching well against Korea.
We constantly make choices to be a good friend to one another.
But there’s something between you that gets you to say yes.
I think it’s, we both always have selfless intentions.
That’s very fair. We hold each other accountable too. There are times where he’s called me and said, ‘You haven’t called me in five days, what’s going on?’ and, if I call him and say, ‘Why haven’t you answered my calls’, that, instantly, gets us back on track.
There’s just something about it that’s so easy. I definitely don’t have it with anybody else and I’m very lucky.
People that haven’t had a lot of the same experiences that we’ve had don’t, I don’t think, understand where we’re coming from, so I think a lot of shared experiences is a good base of knowledge and base of experience to be coming from.
And they came as adults. We don’t have shared childhood experiences together. We were already pretty well developed, as adults, psychologically, mentally, physically, everything was who we are. We met each other as almost finished products. I think, to be able to mold and to be the last piece of that puzzle is, it’s really hard and it has to come naturally. You can’t force it.
It’s hard to make friends as an adult.
It wasn’t forced. We just sat next to each other on a plane and, when we got off the plane, we did everything together. You can’t be afraid to do and learn new things. You can’t be afraid to open your circle a little bit more. You don’t want to limit yourself from something that might be the greatest thing in the world.
Do you think you found a missing brother in each other?
Josh: I don’t necessarily know if I ever looked for a brother. I don’t think that I needed a brother but I’m definitely happy that I have a best friend.
No. I think both of us love our sister but I feel closer to Josh than I might to a brother. Siblings you can’t choose. Josh and I continue to choose each other.
Is there anything about your relationship, on the field or off, that you wanted to share.
Ryan: I had a best friend from college. He was the best man at my wedding and I love him but, at this point, we don’t have much in common other than great memories and shared experiences.
I was holding onto that ‘best’ friend title with my old friend. As Josh and I were growing closer, I still remember the first time he called me his best friend.
Looking back, it feels similar to when I told my wife I loved her for the first time. We both knew it to be true already. We were both a little shy about being the first one to say it and, as soon as it was out there in the open, it became a universal truth.
Final question. Anything you want the world to know?
Ryan: Just that I love baseball and I am extremely grateful to be able to play the game I love for a living.
Ryan and Josh, thank you both for choosing to share your friendship and personal photos with us. Through your example may we all learn to make the best decision in life - to remain open, grab every opportunity and respect the gifts those decisions provide in return.
Ryan's social handles: I: rlavarnway; T: @ryanlavarnway
Josh's social handles: I: joshzeid28; T: @josh_Zeid14