On a whim, Yankee Bird and I are going to drive 2 hours tonight to Waco, Texas, to see the final game in the Little League Regional Finals. The winning team goes to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA. (Watch the game on ESPN 3 tonight, see if you can spot our ‘ESPN’ signs).
In honor of that trip, here’s a post about baseball.
It’s been said that baseball is a metaphor for life.
I hope to share these with Little Bird when he’s old enough; I’ve started sharing a couple with Yankee Bird and Sister Bird (although its way easier to share baseball lessons with Yankee Bird…Sister Bird could care less about sports).
1. Anything can happen, if you just do the next right thing.
Every hitter goes through a slump, and every pitcher struggles at some point in a season. When this happens, players go back to the basics, and do the next right step in the sequence. In no time, they are back on track.
Same thing in life. Bored? Lonely? Depressed? Pessimistic? Sad? Start doing the next right thing and you’ll not only get through it, but amazing things will start happening.
2. You can’t play by yourself; you need a team.
Ever noticed how the Little League teams that make it to the final tournaments are from smaller towns? Smaller towns have a huge advantage – their teams have kids that are more likely to have played together for a longer period of time.
Look at the teams that win the World Series in MLB: they invariably have a group of core players that have been playing together for multiple seasons.
In life, too, you can have all the individual talent you want, but without a team that works together towards a common goal, that talent means largely nothing.
Except Buddhist monks. Those freaks can do anything all by themselves.
3. Results follow effort.
The 2013 Yankees are horrible. They look like an independent league team, stocked with a bunch of players that 2005 desperately wants back.
They could win games, though, if they just tried. Mix it up on base and get aggressive. Be unpredictable at the plate. Make bold defensive plays. Yeah, you’ll make mistakes, but if you put in enough effort, the baseball gods will reward you – generously.
This is life. Go out there, take some chances. Push the edge of the envelope. Work hard, play hard and just be out in the “game”. If you keep at life, and take bold action, life will reward you. I’m always surprised by what happens when I just put my nose to the grindstone and put in the work.
4. If you watch it, it seems slow. If you play it, it goes very fast.
People complain about baseball being a slow and boring game. One ass-clown at the Wall Street Journal wrote that there is only 18 minutes of action in a baseball game.
If you are on the field and in the game, there is a lot going on. You have to watch the batters count and his swing to know where to best position yourself on the field. You are following the pitchers motion and grip and the catcher’s signs, because this tells you where the ball is likely to go if he makes contact. If you are a batter, you are watching all these things to see if you can piece together how the defense wants you to hit. Every fielder has to be aware of the “3 B’s” on every play (Where do I go with the Ball? What Base do I cover? Where do I go to Backup?). There are umpires to chat up. If you sit in the stands and blankly stare at the field, the game will go very, very slow and not give you any pleasure.
Life is no different. If you sit on the couch all day on a Saturday, watching reality TV re-runs, time will drag by and fill you with a sense of ennui. When you get outside and feel the sun, or the rain, or the wind, or hang out with friends – this is where you get the lifelong memories.
5. Let go of the errors and mistakes: its how you play the whole game that matters.
Everyone makes mistakes – in baseball and life. Its how we respond to them that matters, and how we act over the course of a lifetime that matters. If you mess up, think “big picture”. Think about the long-term, forgive yourself for making a mistake, and get your head back in the game.
6. If you complain about the nasty stuff, you miss a lot of opportunities for more good stuff.
I was playing wiffle ball with Yankee Bird a few weeks ago, and he was livid that I was just crushing the ball and scoring a ton of runs. (You should know, he was already up 18-0 when I finally got to bat).
At one point, I hit a deep drive, and if I raced I could score on an inside-the-park homer. As I rounded 2nd Base, I missed the base, and decided not to lose time going back to tag it.
Yankee Bird was moaning about how I hit “another home run”, and so he didn’t see me miss the base. If he hadn’t been complaining, he would have seen the missed bag, touched the base and I would have been out.
In life, too, the louder you complain, the harder it is to hear Opportunity Knocking.
7. Once in a lifetime, you get a chance to play on a Magical Team.
About 8 years ago, I played amateur baseball with a bunch of guys here in DFW. The first 2 seasons we played together, we stunk. We couldn’t communicate on the field, everyone tried to take the lead, we all pushed each others buttons, etc. The result – we ended up in last place 2 years in a row.
Then, in that third year, something happened. Relationships clicked. We starting moving as a team. We were smiling and having fun. And we won the league championship that year.
Life is the same. Tomorrow is my 5th wedding anniversary; I dated a lot of people in the 20 years before that. Some of those women were bat-shit crazy, and some were just place-holders. Now?
I play on the greatest team imaginable with my wife, 3 kids, and this worthless lump of hair we call our dog.
8. Live for Opening Day.
Nothing feels better after a long winter than the warm sun on your face, the smell of fresh cut outfield grass, and the sound of a ball popping a leather glove.
Find what you enjoy, and when it happens, enjoy it. Try to experiment each moment with all 5 senses. It won’t always happen, but when it does, enjoy it.