The professional baseball season is a long grind, 162 games beginning in the chilly days of early spring, continuing through the hot and humid dog days of summer, and ending with the crisp autumn air of late September. If you are lucky, you get to play on into October.
The 1962 expansion New York Mets are considered one of the worst baseball teams of all time. That hapless band of characters lost 120 games, yet somehow they still managed to win 40 games. The 2001 Seattle Mariners compiled the best record over the last sixty years winning 116 games while losing 46. So, even the worst team wins a quarter of its games and even the best team loses a quarter of its games. So the difference between the great teams and the lousy teams really comes down to how they do in that 50% of the games that are up for grabs.
Of course talent makes a difference, but just because a team has what it thinks are the best, most talented players, does not guarantee victory (see the 1992 Mets). It often comes down to the team that is prepared and ready to play every day. I had a statistics professor in college who liked to call on people at random. If you were not ready with an answer he would usually say something like, “you don’t show up at a game without your glove! You don’t go without your spikes! Why do you show up without your homework?”
My youngest son graduated recently from The Ohio State University. The graduation speaker was Chris Matthews host of Hardball with Chris Matthews. The main point of his address can be condensed to an admonition to graduates to “show up and be prepared.” That is good advice for graduates, for baseball players, for anyone.
Life like the baseball season is a long grind. Show up everyday prepared and ready to play: some days will be great and you win in spite of yourself, some days you lose no matter what you do. But there are all those other days, days that can be won or lost that make a real difference. In life and baseball if you keep plugging away and manage to win more than you lose you just might find that, at the end of the long season, you have safely arrived at “home” and accomplished something great.