Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Life is Like Baseball (and That Sucks)

by Mitchell Richards

I really don’t care for baseball much. I love sports in general and I stay informed of the headlines with most sports, but when it comes to sitting down and watching an entire baseball game, I can’t say I've done that in years.

Baseball is boring to watch. Not a lot of action spread out over a great deal of time.

Today I realized that life is a lot like baseball, which is probably why I’m not a big fan of either one.

Baseball seems like the only job in America where if you succeed about 30% of the time (see batting averages) you’re the best at your job. In my job at the paper, I’d be fired if I only did 30% of an article. Elite baseball players are paid millions of dollars to succeed 30% of the time and often less.

But then again, baseball is a lot like life. 

I remember playing baseball as a kid and the only thing I enjoyed about it was running the bases and catching pop flies. Unfortunately, to run the bases you had to get on base and that meant batting, which I hated.  

I didn’t really understand as a kid how the odds of getting a hit were not in my favor. I remember crying almost every time I struck out. I just wasn’t used to not being able to succeed at something every time.  

Baseball, like life, is about how you deal with the failures and struggles. Odds to succeed are stacked against you in both things, and I suppose it’s about getting back up to bat and seeing if you’ll strike out again. Baseball is about bouncing back.  

Baseball is a lot like life because the possibility of failure is always there and imminent, and the odds of succeeding are less than the odds of failing. 

I believe that life isn’t as much about succeeding as it is about failing. I don’t think you can truly appreciate success without the inevitability of failure. In fact, I don’t think you can truly have success without failure. Failure is the necessity, the cause and the effect, of desire. I’ve heard the opposite of love isn’t hate, but rather indifference, and accepting failure is the evidence of not being indifferent.  

Baseball is also a lot like life because there is just so much time spent standing around and waiting for things to happen. You never really know when a ball is going to be hit your way and you don’t get to bat every inning, but success is determined by how you respond when these moments come your way. 

In life, we will not always meet these moments and incidents with metaphorical great plays and proverbial spectacular catches, in fact we may fall on our faces, but the beauty of baseball and life is that you’re still in the game. If you drop a pop fly, your job is not done. You still have to make the most of the opportunity that life has dealt you. You still have to throw the ball in. You can still make a play.

I used to cry when I struck out in baseball because I thought I was terrible and striking out was proof of that. From all the years I played baseball I remember two things specifically. First, there was the time when I caught a ball in the outfield that made me flip over, and the other was when I slid into home plate and collided with the catcher, resulting in an injury to my knee that still clicks and cracks on cold days.

Like life, we win some and we lose some, but we have stories to tell regardless and an obligation to tell them. Stories of victories come and go and you won’t hit a home run every time you are up to bat. Often times you have tales of pain and hard times, but they are still a part of our story.

I assume the better we are at going through life, the more opportunities we get to succeed and fail at it. Some days I’m out in right field, looking at the empty seats in the stadium, and other days I’m pitching and my arm is about to fall off, but I have to keep going.  

Life isn’t about hitting a home run every time, it’s about how we deal with it when we don’t. It’s about how we deal with striking out, dropping the ball, and slamming into the catcher. Life is about striking out and batting again when it’s your turn. It’s about dropping the ball and picking it up and still trying to salvage the play. It’s about slamming into the catcher and stomping on the plate because you made it home.

Mitchell writes at mitchellrichards.com. He tweets a lot and has a weird fascination with John Tesh. You can follow him @MitchellWords. He also wrote a book called Definitive Blurs which you can find it here. 

Also, you can subscribe to On Pop Theology via RSS feed or email on the top right corner of the main page. 

No comments:

Post a Comment