As another season of baseball begins, I’m hopeful this year I will be able to attend more games in person and spend some lazy days on the couch watching baseball with my kids (I still haven’t been able to fully convert my wife to a baseball fan, yet.).
When we watch, I’ll do my best to teach them the rules that make baseball great for some and maddening for others. I’ll try to explain the infield fly rule, what it means when the pitcher balks, why most guys won’t bunt with two strikes and the potential disaster of a suicide squeeze.
In addition to some rules of the game, I also hope to show them the many ways that baseball is similar to life itself.
3 STRIKES AND YOU’RE OUT- One swing and a miss doesn’t mean it’s all over for you. You’ll get more than one chance to make something happen. And if you don’t get a hit in that at bat, there’s always the next time.
BAD HOPS- Sometimes a ball is hit to a fielder, it looks like a routine play, then for some reason (it could be a small rock or a divot in the grass) it takes a bad hop and gets away from the fielder. There will be many, many times in your life when you are certain of a particular outcome, then all the sudden something unexpected happens that changes everything.
DIFFERENT PITCHES- When you’re at bat, a pitcher could potentially throw a variety of pitches at you. Sometimes you will be expecting a fastball and you will get a curve. Somedays you may get hit in the face with a fastball. In baseball, just like in life, you never know what will be thrown at you on any particular day.
FAILURE- Just like EVERY HITTER in Major League Baseball, you will fail at things far more often than you succeed. That’s not a bad thing either, in fact, it’s how you ultimately get better.
PRACTICE- A major league baseball season is long, 162 games. You know what PROFESSIONAL baseball players do EVERY DAY before a game? They practice. They hit. They take ground balls. They are the best at what they do and they still practice, everyday.
BEING AGGRESSIVE CAN PAY OFF, BUT DON’T BE FOOLISH- It is ok, and a lot of times a good thing to push yourself and be a little more aggressive than you would normally be. It’s not ok to be so aggressive that what you’re trying to accomplish is completely unrealistic and foolish.
LISTEN TO YOUR COACHES (PARENTS)- I could make an argument that baseball managers have more direct control over the games than coaches of any other major sports. EVERY pitch, about 300 times per game can be chosen by a manager. The batter, and every player on base, is told what to do by the coaches and manager. Why should players listen to their coaches? They’ve been there before and have more experience than the players. Kids, your parents have been there. Trust me, they know what’s best for you, probably more than you do.
NO CLOCK- We don’t know when the game is going to end. You don’t always play four 15:00 quarters like in other sports. Some games last three hours, others go 15 innings and last 5 hours. You never know how long your game will last, make the most of it.
So, this spring and summer, grab your kid(s), take in a ball game, whether it’s in front of your TV or better yet, in the bleacher seats somewhere, you never know what you and your kids may learn.