Life Lessons from Watching Baseball

The baseball season opens today. I’ve been a Mets fan since I was nine years old and spent many Summer days playing catch when I was growing up; it’s still my favorite sport, and the Mets are still my team.

I recently got to thinking about the lessons I’ve learned watching baseball that have carried over to my “normal” life. So in honor of Opening Day, here are a few.

Three Strikes and You’re Out

In the very early days of baseball three strikes was not always an out nor four balls a walk. But after tinkering with the numbers a few times it was determined that three strikes and four balls made for just the right balance.

Three isn’t the right number in every endeavor. However, it’s generally safe to say that we shouldn’t give up if our first attempt isn’t a success, yet there’s also a point at which it’s wise to accept that things aren’t working. So always give yourself a second chance, and maybe a third or fourth. But when things aren’t going well, it may be time to retire to the dugout and wait for another opportunity. The real secret, of course, is figuring out how many attempts are appropriate.

There’s No Clock

Unlike most team sports, baseball games aren’t measured by a clock. Neither is life. You can’t run out the clock in baseball—every inning, every at bat, every pitch counts. A late-inning rally can turn a game around or force it into extra innings. It’s never too late for a comeback.

A few years ago I set out to lose weight. At the time I weighed 200 pounds and my Body Mass Index (BMI) was 31, which meant I was technically obese. I didn’t feel obese and I had no medical problems, but I knew I was quite overweight and that if I didn’t do something about it I would probably face problems later. (There’s a family history of type 2 diabetes.) So I lost 40 pounds, got my BMI down to 25 (right on the high end of “normal” weight) and feel ever so much better. There are things you can do to give yourself a “tenth inning” in life.

Baseball is Both a Team and an Individual Effort

Defense in baseball is a team effort. All nine players in the field have a role, with special skills, and it would be impossible to cover the entire field without a full squad. But offense is often an individual effort: a single batter facing the pitcher. Each play begins with that confrontation.

In life we celebrate self-starters and go-getters. We say there is no “I” in “team” and praise people who are team players. Yet the truth is that all of us need to be able to work with other and to take responsibility as individuals sometimes. Knowing how to do both—and knowing when it is appropriate to be one or the other—is an important lesson to learn.

Wait Until Next Year

As a Mets fan and the daughter of a Brooklyn Dodgers fan, I long ago accepted the fact that some seasons don’t turn out well. Being a fan means getting your heart broken. I’ve seen the Mets win a few National League pennants and World Series, but I’ve also seen the team finish near the bottom of their division. It hasn’t changed my loyalty. I watch the post-season playoffs and World Series with patient detachment and wait for Spring to come again.

And you? What are your life lessons from watching baseball—or whatever your favorite sport is? Share one in the comments.

4 thoughts on “Life Lessons from Watching Baseball

  1. Lee Patterson March 31, 2011 / 11:08 pm

    Hi Karen,
    I think it’s bad DNA; I somehow missed the gene for following professional sports of any kind (and can’t play any); MLB, NBA, NHL, NFL etc. I was born in SF and raised in the Bay Area, so always supported SF Giants, Oakland As, and 49ers. Now that I’m in CO, I support the Rockies etc. But not a true enthusiast.

    I do enjoy making music with friends, and writing, so it’s not an *entirely* empty life. ;-)

    Thank you for asking.


    • Karen E. Lund April 13, 2011 / 2:17 pm

      You reinforce a pet theory of mine: if you don’t become a sports fan as a child, you never quite get as hooked on it. But it’s fun to get outdoors on a nice day, with a cold drink and a snack, and watch a game with some friends.

      The ability to play has nothing to do with being a fan, else there would be a lot of empty seats in the stands!


  2. Lee Patterson March 31, 2011 / 4:50 pm

    Good observations, and lessons for us all. Thanks!


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