I’m not a huge baseball fan. I rarely watch it except during the World Series, and I barely ever write about it. The best writing on baseball that I’ve read is Frank’s article from a few years back. If you haven’t read it, please do so soon.
I’m intrigued by Frank’s point that baseball is a lot like life—players play a long season, doubleheaders are a norm, and unlike other sports, baseball is very much a grind. One other thing about baseball is that hitters often get into a slump. It’s fairly common for even the best hitters to ground out, foul out, and strike out for days or weeks at a time. We call this a batter’s slump.
I’ve been in a batting slump lately.
A combination of many factors have made the last couple months feel chaotic and cacophonous at the same time. Health, work, clients, kids, emotions, and relationships, each contributing to the discord. I see the ball, but just can’t hit it. I have a bat in my hands, but just can’t get a feel for it. I’m batting .100 at best. I’m in a batting slump, and as a hitter, it’s discouraging, disorienting, and a bit debilitating. Have you ever felt like that?
Just like a hitter, I can’t quite point to one reason that explains the slump. Maybe I’m not getting my hands turned over fast enough, maybe I can’t find the ball once it leaves the pitcher’s hand, maybe my stance is off, maybe my swing has slowed down. I just can’t figure it out, but what I do know is it’s disappointing—every time I step into the batter’s box I lose an ounce of confidence in an already depleted emotional tank.
I suppose as a hitter I have two choices: I can chuck the bat, slam down my helmet, stop into the dugout, and quit. Or I can go out there just one more time.
The best hitters in baseball, like the best shooters in basketball, are the best not because they hit or shoot the best, but because they keep hitting and shooting. Quitting is never an option. Slumps are just valleys in-between peaks of dialed-in greatness. The answer is to keep hitting. Try anything, do anything to fix the problem, and always work to get better. But never quit. The only thing you can’t do is to stop doing.
For the hitter, it’s one game at a time. For me it’s one day at a time. I slip on my helmet, grab my bat, and dig into the red clay. Maybe this is the hit that snaps the slump. But even if it isn’t, I know there’s a next time to try again.