I stepped up to the plate and kicked my cleats into the dirt. After three short practice swings I was ready for the pitch. My Little League coach was an active advisor during batting practice, and he watched me intently. My buddy Roger was on the mound and he was known for adding sound effects with his mouth to make his fastball seem faster.
I squinted the sweat out of my eyes and tried to focus. Here came the pitch, a little high but right over the plate. I took a deep breath, stepped forward with my left foot and put everything I had into that swing. Stee-rike!! I whiffed big time.
My coach seized on the teaching moment and called out, “David yer swingin’ for the fences. Just meet the ball.” Translation: I was trying too hard. If I could just relax a bit, concentrate on making contact and accepting a base hit, I was increasing my odds for success.
Baseball games are usually not won on home runs alone. If you can consistently deliver “moneyball” base hits and move runners into scoring position, the numbers are in your favor in the long run. You also get to celebrate more frequently.
It’s a well-known fact that Babe Ruth was a home run king, but he was a strikeout king too. Big rewards came with big risk.
I have many friends who work in sales, and they know this principle all too well: By all means swing for the fences when you can, but take your base hits when you can get them too. A balanced game gives you a better chance for overall success.
Are you sometimes swingin’ too hard for the fence?
I love the metaphor and the story, and especially the point. You bring up an interesting dilemma though: no one remembers who has the most base hits or RBI. It is enculturated that we praise the home run and ignore the base hit. If we cannot ourselves hit the home run we buy the jersey of the one who does so we can attach ourselves to their successes.
What is to be done? Let’s start celebrating consistent base hits, assists (sorry had to change sports for and sacrifices as much as the home run.
You are right, Tom. But history DOES remember which team won the most games and championships 🙂
That is a good point. But history only remembers the name of the team, the leader, and the heroes. Win for the team, or win for the personal glory? Which is better for the resume? (Mind you, this is all devil’s advocate stuff because I’m a get on base and consistently advance until the opening comes kind of guy).
I know Tom, but I appreciate the point. I tihnk you need both base hits and home runs as an individual, but if everyone is going for home runs every time, no one is going to win.