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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

I am a novice when it comes to baseball.  I know there are nine innings (except in high school, there are seven). I know about the diamond, catches, runs, fouls and outs. I understand the outrage with which the coach addresses the referee on calls that seem unfair.  However, just about everything I know I learned when my son played pitcher and first baseman in Little League. For a period of his life, my son embraced the possibility that he would play ball in high school.  Then golf took over, his glove retired.  When I listen to the sports news and try to make heads or tails out of the reports, I understand just enough to follow along.  Not enough to form an opinion about salary, settlements or team stats.  I find that if I key in on the general discussions, I do best.
Last week, I was unsuccessful at blocking out the sound of the morning newscaster on an all-sports radio station.  Between the bright light streaming in the window, and the insistent banter of reporters about how players fared in spring training camp, I couldn’t possible go back to sleep. I was disappointed that it was only 6 a.m., I could have slept later.  I decided to simply bask in the nothingness of the moment.  As the reporters spoke, I gleaned that one of the players had been recruited to play at spring training camp with the understanding that he had to improve substantially if he wanted to play with the big boys. The interview flipped to include the player, whoever he was, and he affirmed that he was under pressure to perform.  He didn’t believe he had a realistic shot at it, but he was going to do his best.  Fast forward, the punch of the report came when the reporter disclosed that his player not only met the coaches' goals, he exceeded them  Apparently, he had aspirations of his own; his own standards were more demanding  than those of his coaches. He was chosen as starting pitcher of his team. Which team? I have no idea. 
My husband was almost as astonished as I was that I was inquiring about pitching.  
“How does a player go from mediocre to amazing in two weeks without injuring his shoulder?” I asked him. By now, I have repeated his answer so many times that it is almost a catechism. In the four decades that I have known my husband, this was the most profound, the most comprehensive piece of advice he ever proffered to me. 
His answer has a one-size-fits-all attribute that is rare to find. Here it is.
I asked, “ How does a player go from mediocre to amazing in two weeks without injuring his shoulder?’
He said,” Practice, exercise and mechanics.”
There it is, free to all comers.  Advice for life.  Whether living a good life, making a cake, playing baseball, they all come down to just three things.
“Practice, Exercise and Mechanics.”  
Next time that you find yourself in a pickle, need a seventh inning stretch or want to make a run for home base, remind yourself that, with practice, exercise and mechanics........... 
anything is possible.

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