(This article popped up on the computer screen when I brought it home from the repair shop. Don’t know the date it was written. I can’t get last week’s thoughts to display, but the decade-old drama is available? Odd.)
When Coach Justin ran out of girls to ask to play, he wanted to know if I wanted to play softball with the blue team. Strange that my name has never come up while he put together the roster of the red team.
It has been a long time since I hit a ball and then ran. I’ve been to the batting cages, but there is no running in batting cage baseball. I run on the treadmill almost every day. But hitting a ball and then running is not just about eye-hand coordination. Add another component. I was swinging, hitting and running in front of people to whom I want to look moderately capable—No! That’s wrong. My real goal was not to look like a doofus. A solid grounder to the pitcher doesn’t send the center fielder back while looking over his shoulder.
The pitcher is a lady who I’m sure is a grandmother. Steve, who was drafted to pitch for us, contends she is a great-grandmother.
I can hear my grandson saying, “You gotta be so proud! You got a hit off a grandma. You hit it all the way back to the mound? Papa, was she throwing heat?”
Amanda can stand at the plate, never take the bat off her shoulder and she looks good. But “cute” isn’t going to get it done for me—even if I could! Several thoughts raced through my mind as I was not racing toward second base: Will they bring the oxygen tank out to me? What if I have to slide? Am I going to break an ankle, or even worse: start my slide too soon and stop three feet short of the bag?
I think it was Snoopy who said, “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose…until you’ve lost.”
To this point, my Church softball career has centered on cheering for the good guys, making sure no one drops over from dehydration and praying after the game. After the team high-fives the other team, Justin motions for me—like a manager motioning for the relief pitcher. “Now, coach?” (Pray-ers don’t get to spit or scratch.)
Praying after a game is not as easy as you might think. If we have lost, God knows I don’t really want him to bless that other team, but I don’t want to sound ungracious! If we win, I don’t want to sound patronizing. I appreciate a good play regardless of who performs it. I just appreciate it more when the right guys make it. I want my prayer to be uplifting to the losers and say words that celebrate fine playing while resisting calling fire down on an umpire who made some really bad calls.
One Tuesday when we had lost by a football score margin, I walked onto the field to pray. I stepped onto the field and felt something I wish I knew a sports psychologist, so he/she could explain it to me. That feeling compares to stepping out of an air-conditioned room into 90% humidity. The feeling was palpable. Until someone explains that to me, I’m thinking that winning and losing has an energy component.
I was in the dugout one evening when that heaviness was pervasive. We were behind a couple of runs and everything our team hit, regardless how far or how hard, seemed to be laser-guided to a defensive player. Then someone got a hit and the energy polarity changed. The atmosphere in the dugout changed. The spirit of losing left. Everyone began to hit. Our team won big.
Winning matters! Even after all those well-meaning clichés: “It is all about having fun.” “You have to learn to lose gracefully.” It matters! It isn’t all that matters, but it matters. A winning spirit does not mean winning every game. It does mean that losing doesn’t threaten your sense of self or measure your value as a person.
How do we build a winning spirit in our young? How do we maintain the winning spirit in ourselves? How do we Git’ r Done?
Check out the bridge connecting Barcelona and Paris. Bridges are structures that connect the spots. Winners continue to ask, “What’s going on here?”
Dr. Will Miller says in his Refrigerator Rights book,
“Helping ‘stuck’ people to change is slow and tedious work because too often they cannot or will not make the necessary connection between their personal wallpaper—assumptions, expectations, and experience—and the problems in their lives. They don’t, and often don’t want to, understand where they are and how they got there. Without that understanding, they can’t make the changes they need to live happier and more fulfilling lives. (24)
A double play is one of the prettiest plays in baseball. A grounder fielded by the second baseman to the shortstop covering second base to first. Fluid, seamless, effective. Dane and Justin can turn a double play nicely. One of the threats with bang-bang plays is starting to throw the ball before you catch it.
My grandson is playing a baseball tournament this weekend. He plays several positions. He is catching this weekend. Too many balls are getting past him. He is asking, “What’s going on here?” He is learning how to shift his weight to block a ball in the dirt rather than reaching or lunging for it.
Winners spend a lot of time learning correct footwork, how to shift your weight, how to offset weaknesses and watching game films with someone who knows how to do it right. Several years ago, the Cubs had a good-looking center fielder who struggled, got hurt and didn’t measure up to his obvious potential. A reporter asked manager Dusty Baker if the player was going to play winter ball to correct some bad habits. Dusty said, “It’s his career. He is responsible for his talent. It is up to him.”
An important realization: It’s up to me.
Two questions dominate the Day of Pentecost and the entire book of Acts.
- What does this mean?
- What shall we do?
If you’ve been around young Blake you know that his favorite word is “Why?”
MAKE DECISIONS–ACT ACCORDING TO TREASURES
What do you know?
What do you love?
Grant Wood left Iowa for Paris to make a name as a painter. One historian says “Wood’s separation from his native landscape was a shearing of his soul.” (Sweet) William Shirer was in Paris working as a journalist. Shirer from Cedar Rapids and Grant Wood knew each other from school days. Later Shirer would broadcast from Berlin and then write Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. But in 1926 in Paris, the two were unknowns.
(I don’t remember where I was going with this.)
In 1971 Bill Joy was voted most apt to wear a plastic pocket protector. He describes himself as a “no-date nerd.” He knew math, and biology. At the age of sixteen and a college freshman, he stumbled into a new building in Lansing where the University of Michigan housed its computer. Computers not as powerful as your laptop required full rooms to house them. Bill Joy was hooked. He programmed until he fell asleep at the keyboard.
Many of the basic programs that allow you to email your friends or search the internet were written by Bill Joy. He didn’t know what he loved until it was invented.
The Proverb says, “Teach a child the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” A literal paraphrase is, “Find the way a child is bent and help him go there.”
SET GOALS-MAKE PLANS
Malcom Gladwell says of Outliers like Bill Gates, The Beetles, Bill Joy, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie and fourteen Americans of the seventy-five wealthiest people ever to live, “Those are stories of how the outliers reached lofty status through a combination of ability, opportunity and utterly arbitrary advantage.”
If you want to git r done, find an atmosphere framed by YES! where people living in Kingdom life set goals, make plans with men and women who look for reasons to say “Yes! Go for it!”
- People who know you well enough to evoke your abilities that grow out of what you love.
- An environment where people will give you opportunity.
“I’m ready, coach.”
©2022 D. Dean Benton