Thursday, July 2, 2009
Failure is Part of the Game
Baseball endures because its myth and statistics endure. It is constant. Winning 20 games as a pitcher or batting .300 is still the same measure of excellence today as it was before my grandfather was born.
Someone much wiser than I once wrote that whoever wants to know the heart, soul and mind of America had better learn baseball. How true. I doubt that many football fans can say how many touchdown passes Joe Montana threw, or the number of goals Michael Jordan scored. But all real baseball fans know that Ted Williams hit .400, Hank Aaron ended up with 755 home runs and broke Babe Ruth's record of 714 (sorry Barry, 762 hasn't quite sunk in yet) and Joltin Joe had a 56 game hitting streak.
In many ways, baseball is a simple game that anyone can follow and enjoy. It is also a complex game. I once read that somebody computed 18,000 different situations that players have to react to without having the time to think about it.
But like America and it's roller coaster history of stops and starts and ups and downs, failure is an acceptable norm. My former coach used to quote Confucius and state, "A man who has committed a mistake and doesn't correct it is committing another mistake."
Babe Ruth struck out twice in one inning 32 times. Hank Aaron ground into more double plays than any other player. Nolan Ryan lost more games than all but 7 pitchers in major league history. Yet, they are all in the Hall of Fame.
That's the essence of baseball, of life and how you deal with failure. If any of you young men out there are having an off day or summer, learn from it and know that even the greats of this game had much, much worse games than you. They just worked harder and made the adjustments. The harder you work, the easier it can get. Work hard this summer boys and above all, have fun. It's a game, after all.