I am a lukewarm baseball fan, but I am a huge baseball fan when my team is in the World Series, as they are right now. Go Astros! Generally speaking, I enjoy sports more than most people in my family and find myself leaning over to watch a good play whether football, baseball, or soccer. I can generally ignore basketball, but maybe I would enjoy it more with the sound off. At any rate, the World Series is in full swing, and I can’t help but reflect on my life as I watch the players put their heart and soul into something, if only for a few swings of the bat.
Regardless of the team, I can’t help but hope for an exciting game. I would rather give up the lead for a few innings just to see an exciting come back. I have also been known to cheer for a great play by the other team because a true sports fan can’t help but get excited about a diving catch, perfectly placed bunt, or walk-off home run. The crowd roars and everyone is standing in anticipation of the 3-2, 2-out pitch. It’s those key moments that get our hearts beating, and it can feel like those moments are the ones that make all the difference in the game. They are the moments we tend to remember and credit or blame for the way the game ended. In reality, it generally isn’t the last at bat that wins or loses the game, it is the small ball in the first eight innings where the game is won. It is the single to right field, the bunt to move the runner to second, the fly ball that moved the runner to third, and the line-drive down the left baseline that sent the runner home. It’s the seemingly insignificant at bat that adds one run after another.
So often I find myself at bat with three on base. I want so badly to knock the ball out of the park, bring my runners home, and win the game. I watch the first pitch and swing so hard I end up facing backwards. I take a few more killer swings, knocking the ball foul several times before finally swinging at a ball in the dirt. I want so badly to hit the grand slam that I forget a blooper in shallow right field would send the winning run home, or even a run home. Sometimes it is about making the key play at just the right time, but it can’t be all about that. It’s about consistently getting on base. One base, two bases, then strategically moving to the next. By waiting for those key moments to knock it out of the park, we can miss the opportunity to take the small, consistent steps that keep us moving forward.