I was badly bullied when I was in the seventh grade - relentlessly, mercilessly - by a group of 12-year-old girls. And it left me with a determination that no matter what, I had to throw my shoulders back, stick out my chin, and project a sense that no one and nothing could hurt me. That turned out to be a life-changing mistake.
You feel like a stud out there when people swing and miss. As I've gotten older, I've preached to our young guys that strikeouts are sexy, but outs are outs, man, no matter how you get them. It's a lot cooler for me pitching in the seventh or eighth inning than it is going 5 1/3. Your manager likes it a lot more, too.
During my childhood, Washington was a segregated city, and I lived in the midst of a poor black neighborhood. Life on the streets was often perilous. Indoor reading was my refuge, and twice a week, I made the hazardous bicycle trek to the central library at Seventh and K streets to stock up on supplies.