If You Understand Baseball, You Understand Life
This past Saturday, the Houston Astros fought a hard battle in the ALCS against a very talented New York Yankees to win the series in 6 games, at home in Houston. I have been a life long Houston Astros fan (yes even through the dark ages of 2007-2014), but my love for the sport and team has flourished over the last 2 years into a nightly October shout fest at my TV. My neighbors have become accustomed to a series of melodious dissatisfied shouts at umpires and the occasional bellowing 'Let's goooooo!' when my team scores.
Baseball has become an outlet of mine. Watching the games is cathartic - it's a sort of therapy that I didn't realize I needed. When you're 21, not in college, and trying to make a life as an artist, you need something to distract you from what feels like constant failure and opportunities that waste away. Baseball has become that distraction for me.
A few days ago, I heard Alex Bregman (3B Houston Astros) in a post-win interview, with a giant smile on his face say something to the effect of 'It felt great to get that hit. Baseball is a game of failure. So the moments everything comes together are magic'. That statement blew me away. This guy, who so clearly loves the game of baseball with every fiber of his being, also acknowledges it as a "game of failure". How could you love something that is inherently characterized by failure? I suppose the same question could be asked of life?
What baseball players understand about the game of baseball is exactly what enlightened gurus and leaders understand about life. Struggle, pain, and failure do not hinder the beauty of the game. They enhance the beauty of the game.
Across all of the MLB in 2018, the league average for batting average was .248. That means on average, the best baseball players on the planet are hitting the ball just under 25% of the time. That means, on average, the best baseball players on the planet are failing just over 75% of the time. So why do we criticize ourselves so deeply for failing? We do we allow failure to determine our value? Why do we not let determination determine our value?
Chris Davis (1B Baltimore Orioles) had a historic season... of failure. At the beginning of the season, he embarked on a record setting 0-54 slump. 54 chances to success. 54 failures. To boot, Chris Davis has a $161 million contract ($23 million a year for seven years). Can you imagine? For 210 days, he went hitless, wondering 'what will they say?' ' Do I deserve this money'? 'Is my career is over'?. It had to have been draining. Yet, Davis persisted.
On April 19, 2019, Davis hit a 2 run single against the Boston Red Sox to break his slump. He smiled big, and asked if he could keep the ball he hit. The Boston crowd (yes, not even his crowd) erupted into a standing ovation. It was just a hit. But it represented something bigger, something people can get behind - It represented persistence in failure.
Ultimately, that kind of persistence is what we are commissioned to practice in our lives. We will ultimately not be celebrated for the success that comes easy to us, but rather our persistence through hardship. The grandest moments in our lives won't be the times things go as expected, but the times they don't, we adapt, and overcome.
Baseball is a game of failure. That is precisely what makes it beautiful. Life is the same. Embrace your failure. Learn from it. Drink from it. It does not define you.