Monday, July 11, 2011

MLB: The "team" game lasts a full nine innings; when you climb a mountain, you don't quit until you make it back down; "life's lessons"

The other night, the Washington Nationals, with the chance for a four game sweep against the Chicago Cubs at home, blew an eight run lead after five innings, to lose, 10-9.  At one point, statistics gave them a 99.1% chance of a win. Pitcher Livan Hernandez tossed as if the game ended after five innings (like a convenient severe storm) and let go of a couple of hanging changeups that got smacked as balloons.  Six runs come back. 

You’ve got to play all nine innings, and you have to play half your games on the road, in someone else’s park, according to their agenda, their ground rules, and their chance for a walk-off win. (Oh, forget that recent exception with Seattle and Tampa Bay.)

You don’t always get to stop playing “in life” when you want to, and you don’t get to kibbitz when you want to.  On the other hand, you don’t always get your ups either. In sixth grade one time, the boy in front of me hit into a triple play. I never got to bat. The lunch bell rang before the next inning.
MLB and sandlot baseball (an d maybe kickball) can teach “life’s lessons”.  But I’m reminded of the times when all the elements are against success.  Yet, as President Obama and a concert pianist friend of mine have both recently said, “let’s do it”, anyway. 

We have a real issue today with balancing how much we welcome “the individual” to perform and perhaps self-publish his own work, without the approval of others – with the need to expect the individual to share the goals of and sometimes the risks and common consequences born by the group. Baseball has plenty of that (suicide squeeze sacrifice bunts, dangerous base stealing, Davey Johnson’s management style, etc.)   The Internet has brought this dichotomy back to the fore. There are a lot of people who don’t like to see people draw attention to themselves, with their own work or views, until they can play on the side “of the team” first  -- in other words, demonstrate that they can serve some bigger “purpose” than that which comes from their own egos.  (“Natural family”, anyone?)  Remember how Donald Trump’s “Apprentice” played out and what humiliation Troy McClain absorbed “for the team”?   But this tension is getting serious these days in all kinds of areas --- online reputation, employment, even insurance.  

Individual pursuits sometimes have a self-defined life, too. When you climb a mountain, Everest or not, your goal is to make it back down, not just to make it to the top. 

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