5 reasons why life should be more like baseball
Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,
I’ve been trying to slow the pace of our life lately. It occurred to me that the deliberately slow approach to the game is what makes me love baseball so much. I enjoy all sports, but there’s something special about baseball that helps me relax. You girls aren’t too excited about my love for baseball, but I’m happy to have a partner now in you, Max. You love to watch “ball”.
Here are 5 reasons we should be okay with living our life like a game of baseball:
1. It’s worth the wait: I think most baseball fans would agree that Albert Pujols is the most feared hitter in the game right now. Pujols career batting average in the majors is .328 and he’s never hit fewer than 32 homeruns in a season during his 11 year career. As of today he has 445 career homeruns. He’s assured to be a first ballot Hall of Famer. Taken in perspective though, Pujols 445 home runs required more than a little patience. Those 445 home runs happened over the course of 6353 plate appearances. That means Pujols homers only 7% of the time he steps into the batters box. 93% of the time the ball doesn’t leave the park, but when it does the crowd rises to their feet to watch the spectacle, releasing the tension of the “wait”.They witnessed the amazing 7%. They walk away talking about how great he is.
Life isn’t always going to deliver a home run each time you take a swing. Just ask Albert; he’s off to a bad start this season. Along the way there will be singles, doubles, triples, and more than a few strikeouts (Pujols has 710). It’s the challenges that we face that make the great moments that much more fulfilling. Be patient. Do the right things. And you’ll be great. (UPDATE: turns out I was right. Albert was back to his old self by June.)
2. It requires focus: We’ve all heard it said that there is nothing more difficult in professional sports than hitting a major league fastball. The average fast ball thrown by big league pitchers is over 90mph with many topping 100mph. Based upon a 100mph fastball it takes .40 second to reach home plate. Think about that, less than half of a second from the time it leaves the pitchers hand until it hits either the catchers mitt or the bat. Last year Miguel Cabrera lead the league in hitting with a .344 batting average. Think that took some focus? In less than half a second he has to decide to swing or not and where to swing – if he decides to swing at all. Miggy has to keep his eyes on the ball despite distractions all around him.
I’ve learned over time that if I really focus on an event or a goal I generally achieve it, but if my focus waivers I generally don’t get the desired result.
3. Slowness can be a great thing: in our modern culture lots of people are critical of our national past time. It doesn’t have the pace and excitement of the other major league sports. For me, that’s just another of the things that makes baseball beautiful. I enjoy watching the pitcher deliberate his next pitch as the batter steps in and out of the batters box, clicking his cleats with his bat. The catcher, and sometimes the manager, will visit the pitcher on the mound to discuss the next pitch. For real fans of the game these lulls in the action are part of the game. Imagine the discussions. Enjoy the sites and sounds of the ball park. Honestly, when i watch a game on TV I even drift off to sleep occasionally. What’s the hurry?
I’m personally trying to live this aspect out better in my life. I tend to be in a hurry for everything, whether its getting to work or going to bed. I have a post it note on my desk at work with three words written on it to help me: “Breathe. Be Still.” I think Jack Johnson said it best: “Slow down everyone, you’re moving too fast. Frames can’t catch you when you’re moving like that.” Enjoy the moments in your life without being in such a rush to get to what’s next. Accomplish less. Make more memories.
4. Simplicity first: a bat, a ball, 3 bases and home plate. Of course, there’s ultimately more to it than that. Baseball like anything else is a game of inches, but it’s about simplicity first. Take a sand lot or open field, a bunch of kids, a bat and a ball, and it’s on. Major League Baseball has lots of shiny features, but beneath them you’ll still find boys playing a simple game. Throw the ball, hit the ball and reach home plate.
Life gets complicated. As a family we need a home, each other, and a relationship with God. (There are some other things too – like an income, transportation, etc, but you get the point). Minimalism has taken hold of me and I’m not sure I can go back.
5. Age is just a number (don’t limit yourself): This week Jamie Moyer, pitching for the Colorado Rockies, became the oldest player to ever record a major league win at the age of 49. The opposing pitcher taking the loss for the San Diego Padres was Anthony Bass who at 24 is half Moyer’s age. While its true that the average MLB age is 27 and the average all-star player is 29, it’s clear that by doing the right things, players can play well beyond that average.
I’m 37 years old and 40 is getting is getting closer everyday. Seeing Craig Alexander win the Ironman World Championships in October at age 38 and seeing Jamie Moyer still on the mound at 49 is great for us “old guys”. How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?
Thursday: Swam 2100 straight in a new wetsuit. Beat my previous best for the distance by swimming 30:15.