Baseball, is a game of intellect, talent, and timing. Baseball, unlike many other sports, plays out each and everyday to the bitter end. There is no rush to the finish, no ticking time clock, simply 9 innings (or more for extra inning games). Widely noted as a national sport in the United States by the late 19th Century, baseball is a game of tradition and history. Terms such as “the integrity of the game”, or “purity of the sport” are often thrown into the mix. Baseball is a great reminder of how life “should work” and how it “actually works”. The infamous asterisk of Roger Maris’ 61 home run in one season record stood for many years as a reminder of changes and the effects of those changes moving forward. The baseball season had been 154 games before 1961. Purity, perfection, equal opportunity? Not really.
There is a human attempt at perfection, yet the beautifully perfect imperfection of the umpires captures the essence baseball more than anything.
On any given day, an umpire can call the same exact pitches balls or strikes. Of course, only technology can tell us that they are “exactly” the same pitch location. The human eye isn’t that good. Instant replay is making a small impact on limited plays in the game, but looks to remain at the behest of the umpires; the very human umpires who blew calls such as the obvious out that would have ended a perfect game in 2010 for Tigers pitcher Armando Galaraga. The human umpires who didn’t see the fan who clearly reached over the fence in the 2006 ALCS to “assist” Derick Jeter’s home run effort. I am not advocating any changes though. Even my beloved Angels were affected in 2005 by a terrible call that had the entire west coast scratching it’s head while the Chicago White Sox got an extra out and went on to win…and win…and win. While the Angels went home to fish. It’s Baseball’s utter humanness that connects us to the game. Every team and every player is so ridiculously close to greatness, yet so far. A batter getting a hit 25% of the time is mediocre. A batter getting a hit 30% of the time is great. That’s roughly 25 hits difference or 1 per week. How about a championship team winning 95 games being touted as great? The team at home watching the playoffs won less than 6% less games, and is forgotten.
Life, like baseball, is a game of inches. So often, it’s the little things that separate the great from the mediocre. The only way to separate the truly great teams from the mediocre is to play for a long time. Somehow, 162 games seems reasonable. Life is the same. My beloved Angels won the World Series in 2002. They won 99 regular games. They lost 14 of the first 20 games. Instead of giving up, they showed up. Every day. Baseball teaches us that our humanness; our imperfections are what make us perfect. We work through them and keep humanity humanly pure. So the point of all this is to show up everyday. We live in an imperfect world that sometimes throws us a “stinker”. We just ride that out and show up again. If you’re batting .250 in life, find a way to get 1 more hit per week. This might be seminars, books, sales calls, or whatever else you can do to make incremental progress.
What are you going to do today to get that “extra hit”?
Rocco De Leo