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Thursday, April 9, 2009

You Can't Think and Hit at the Same Time


I knew it was the end of my baseball career. I blamed it on my teenage patela tendinitis (look it up, friends), but I knew I had to stop playing baseball long before that day at the doctor's office. I remember the day well.

I was an Astro. While I did not like MLB's Houston Astros, I did love being a Chandler Little League Astro. Our jerseys were powder blue and we had the old school Astro's logo with the orange star. It was a saweeeet little uniform.

Now before you get ahead of yourself, let me inform you that this was still Coach Pitch little league. That means, that my coach, Coach Hannenberg, was the pitcher while our team was hitting. Coach Hannenberg knew how to pitch to each player. He knew that the tall kids liked it low and outside, the his son liked it a little faster, and that I...well, I couldn't hit no matter where he threw it.

We were in the back end of a double header. Double headers were my favorite because it meant that I could take full advantage of the snack bar in between games (Red Ropes!!). So there I was, up to bat, the bottom of the 6th (the last inning), with the bases loaded. We were down by one and there was one out. I remember that the sun had just set and the lights flickered on. Coach Hannenberg held the ball up as if to say, "you are going to hit this one, ok? This ball. Hit it. Please. This one. Ready?" He threw the first one, I didn't swing. Strike one. The catcher threw it back to him, he waited, prompted me again with the "this game is called baseball, please swing at this pitch" motion, and delivered the second pitch. I didn't swing. Strike two.

What happened next still baffles me. Our third base coach began going through the signs. He was calling for a hit and run. It was if he was eating his own Red Rope and entirely missed the first two pitches. I clearly did not want to swing. And if I was going to swing, didn't he know that I would miss? And now I have the pressure of him putting on the hit and run. Was he trying to stay out of the double play? When was the last time that nine year olds turned a double play? What an idiot. Anyways...

Coach Hannenberg, who had already delivered two perfect strikes, looked at me and yelled, "what are you waiting for? I'm putting it down main street!" And he was. They were strikes. That is after all the point of having your own coach pitch to you. He set up. Gave me the same, "this white ball with red laces is for you to hit" posture, and then threw the pitch. Right down the middle. Strike three. And the runner at 3rd was out at home. Game over.

Why didn't I swing? I thought the pitch was a bit high. And who knows, maybe the catcher was going to drop it and everyone would have been safe.

This story came to mind this morning as I was thinking about other areas of my life. So many times I watch the strikes glide right through the strike zone. Many times I even know that its a strike that is coming, but I watch it go by thinking that a better pitch is coming or that I have a better strategy then simply swinging at the pitch that is in front of me. The analogy is probably a bit cheesy and overdone, but I believe it applies to much of our behavior during transitional times.

Yogi Berra, who is much more qualified to tell you how to hit than I, once said that "you can't think and hit at the same time." Each day we watch strike after strike go by. We over think decisions and miss opportunities for ourselves and with one another. When will we just start swinging?

I believe in a God that is throwing us strikes. When will we stop over thinking and act?

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